A Report on the China International Yoga Show and Conference
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IAYT in the Global Community:
A Report on the China International Yoga Show and Conference
By Veronica Zador, IAYT President

Veronica Zador in China

The China International Yoga Show and Conference was held from October 20-23, 2005 in Beijing, China. As an invited presenter, I was joined by presenters from China, India, Thailand, and Australia. The conference organizers and attendees enthusiastically supported the mission of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). The conference highlighted the growing international interest in Yoga therapy, and the supporting role that IAYT can play. The conference also provided an opportunity to learn more about the state of Yoga in China, including trends in Yoga business, teacher training, and research.

IAYT in the Global Community

Morning sessions were dedicated to both discussions and practices related to various topics in Yoga, such as stress management. Afternoon sessions focused on discussions of Yoga teacher training, the business of Yoga, and the future of Yoga therapy. Of particular note was the interest shown in Yoga therapy, including the applications of Yoga as a partner to traditional and 'Western' approaches to healing. Conference discussions about Yoga research allowed me to distribute several editions of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Interest in the journal was so high that participants waited in lines to view the publication.

IAYT was recognized as the international voice of Yoga therapy, and an important supporting organization. There was interest in IAYT's ability to (1) build community among those with similar interests in Yoga, (2) advocate on behalf of those involved in Yoga therapy and research, and (3) broadly communicate research in the field. 

Yoga in China

Yoga classes are popular in China and are attended primarily by women between the ages of 20-35.  Entry-level classes focus on the physical aspects of Yoga asana, although there is a growing interest in the traditional literature. 

With the growing popularity of Yoga in China, there is a growing interest in the business of Yoga.  Among the 20-something generation, being a Yoga teacher or owning a Yoga studio carry prestige and status. A number of individuals in China are leaving high-power positions to open Yoga studios. For example, YogiYoga Center is a well-established Yoga studio chain, with 17 Yoga studios in Beijing, and dozens in major cities around China. They have already formed a second brand, Blue Lotus Yoga, which is designed to appeal to those who prefer a more simplified form of Yoga with the same well-trained teachers, but at less cost per class.

Teacher training programs in China include yearly visits to India to study with the masters and to maintain the traditional teachings of the lineage. Yoga teachers from India, such as A.G. Mohan, train Yoga teachers at YogiYoga Center. Their teacher training programs graduate 480 students per year. (yogiyogacenter.com)

Due to government regulation and a high premium on education in general, Yoga teachers are guaranteed an income and benefits comparable to those of academic school teachers. Like other teachers, Yoga teachers are expected to meet high standards of education and experience.

There are as yet no copyright or trademark laws in place for the business of Yoga in China. There are also no supporting Yoga organizations that speak to and for the needs of Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists in China. This highlights the prominent position that IAYT occupies as a global community and forum for these rapidly expanding fields in China.

Yoga Research in China

An interesting research study was conducted at the conference. Funded by a teaching hospital, this study investigated changes in the blood chemistry before and after asana practice. Volunteers were encouraged to have their blood drawn and analyzed at the conference site. Mats were provided for brief asana practices and blood was once again drawn and analyzed. 

The purpose of this study, and several other ongoing studies, is to show changes in the body that can contribute to, or reverse, what is described as the 'sub healthy state'. This is a state in which the individual does not present symptoms of disease, but does experience a lowered tolerance to regular activities and impaired concentration and sleep. Yoga is widely considered to be a catalyst for reversing the sub healthy state, similar to the various herbal products on the market in China today.