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Deepening cultural ties: Yoga College in China attracts thousands

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Beijing: It’s truly said that Yoga knows no bounds. One such evidence is the China-India Yoga College which has drawn thousands since it opened in November last year. It is in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province.

Based in the Yunnan Minzu (Nationalities) University, the country’s first yoga college frequently has students queue up for free lessons in the ancient art, reports Xinhua news agency.

Lu Fang, deputy director of the college, said more than five dozen full-time students have completed yoga sessions. Close to 3,000 people participated in free yoga sessions offered by the college.

“Several companies and government offices invited our teachers to teach yoga,” said Lu.

Yoga was first introduced into China by Hong Kong practitioner Wai Lana in the 1980s. Her workout programmes, which aired daily on China’s Central Television, were the starting point for many Chinese yogis.

China’s white collar workers have adopted yoga as a way to stay fit, with many attending a couple of sessions per week in the gym or studio.

Lu said a growing number of people want to learn from Indian yoga masters.

“They not only learn yoga positions, but also sutras, philosophy, culture and dining habits from the Indian tutors,” Xinhua quoted Lu as saying.

“I only knew about Iyengar style, but after extensive learning with Indian tutors, I have come to a much deeper understanding of the yoga art,” said Han Mingxue, a Chinese yoga teacher in the college.

The college figured in one of 24 agreements reached during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May last year.

Under the agreement, India sends at least two tutors to the college. It does not issue degrees, but students who want a degree in yoga can pursue further study at Indian colleges.

Velusamy Subbulakshmi, who came from India’s Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, has spent the past five months giving yoga lessons.

She said it was not hard to communicate yoga culture with Chinese learners. “For example, the Chinese Taiji (shadowboxing), has a great deal of similarity with yoga,” she said.

“Yoga has become the most popular form of cultural exchange between China and India,” said Ding Shaoxiang, vice governor of Yunnan province.

China and India, as neighbours and two of the world’s fastest growing economies, have great potential in deepening cultural exchanges, he said. (IANS)

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Yoga Face-toning May Compete With Fillers, Face-lifts

"The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of aging," he said in an email.

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Yoga face toning is an effective way of reducing the signs of ageing. VOA
  • Yoga face toning may take over botox and face lifting procedures.
  • 27 participants noted changes in their faces after weeks of this experiment.
  • It is still a matter of discussion if this method can reverse ageing or not.

In his toolbox of Botox, fillers and plastic surgery, cosmetic dermatologist Dr Murad Alam has added a new, low-cost, noninvasive anti-ageing treatment: facial yoga.

Dermatologists measured improvements in the appearance of the faces of a small group of middle-aged women after they did half an hour of daily face-toning exercises for eight weeks, followed by alternate-day exercises for another 12 weeks.

Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay
Facial exercises are healthier than surgeries. Pixabay

The results surprised lead author Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“In fact, the results were stronger than I expected,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s really a win-win for patients.”

Participants included 27 women between 40 and 65, though only 16 completed the full course. It began with two 90-minute muscle-resistant facial exercise-training sessions led by co-author Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island.

Participants learned to perform cheek pushups and eye-bag removers, among other exercises. Then they practised at home.

Improvements noted

Dermatologists looking at unmarked before-and-after photos saw improvements in upper cheek and lower cheek fullness, and they estimated the average age of women who stuck with the program as significantly younger at the end than at the start.

Face yoga is a healthier substitute to surgical procedures. Pixabay
Face yoga is a healthier substitute for surgical procedures. Pixabay

The average estimated age dropped almost three years, from nearly 51 years to 48 years.

Participants also rated themselves as more satisfied with the appearance of their faces at the study’s end, Alam and colleagues reported in JAMA Dermatology.

“Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of ageing,” Alam said. “Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way of looking younger or augmenting other cosmetic or anti-ageing treatments they may be seeking.”

The exercises enlarge and strengthen facial muscles to firm and tone the face, giving it a younger appearance, he said.

Happy Face sells instructional worksheets — promising smoother skin, firmed cheeks and raised eyelids — for $19.95. DVDs cost $24.95.

Some skepticism

But not all dermatologists are rushing to promote the videos or the exercises.

Dr John Chi, a plastic surgeon and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, said the study raises more questions than it answers.

“The jury is still out on whether or not facial yoga is effective in reversing the signs of ageing,” he said in an email.

Chi, who was not involved with the study, said he would recommend facial yoga to patients who found it relaxing and enjoyable but not for the purpose of facial rejuvenation.

“While the premise of facial exercises to improve the facial appearance or reverse signs of ageing is an appealing one, there is little evidence to suggest that there is any benefit in this regard,” he said.

Chi said facial yoga had not been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed scientific studies. Asked whether procedures such as face-lifts, Botox and fillers had been rigorously examined in peer-reviewed studies, he replied: “Great question. Attempts to do so have been made in the scientific literature with variable levels of scientific rigour.”

Alam agrees that his study raises additional research questions, such as whether the exercises would work for men and how much time people need to commit to doing the exercises for them to be optimally effective. He would like to see a larger study. VOA