Chinese university to offer academic programs in yoga

India-China Yoga College (ICYC) under Yunnan Minzu University (YMU) plans to recruit 30 yoga graduate students starting from the end of 2017, becoming China’s first institution of higher education to offer master’s degrees in yoga. In addition, YMU will also enroll 40 yoga undergraduates to begin classes in September.

Deputy dean of ICYC, Lu Fang, told Beijing Youth Daily that the college carefully considered the program before beginning official recruitment. According to Lu, ICYC has offered 12 non-certificate training courses for the community since last November, and 221 students have acquired corresponding certificates.

The college’s official yoga program will start from this year, recruiting both graduate and undergraduate students, Lu explained, adding that many people have already made inquiries about the major though recruitment hasn’t officially begun.

Lu noted that the graduate yoga program grew from a cooperation project with Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, a yoga university located in Bangalore, India. The project aims to promote the exchange of both faculty members and students. Graduate students will spend half a year studying in India, while those in the three-year program will spend 12 months abroad.

“It will enhance the experience of undergraduate students, and graduate students will obtain two degrees – from both China and India,” Lu explained.

In addition to yoga courses such as asanas, pranayama, yoga therapy and physiology, the college will also offer courses on Indi and Sanskrit, in a bid to eliminate the language barrier for its students.

The establishment of the major has triggered concern among some Chinese netizens, who believe yoga is merely a method to keep fit and question whether it should be considered an academic subject. In addition, some have expressed worry over grim employment prospects for students after they graduate.

Responding to those worries, Lu explained that students can choose to become college professors or therapists at hospitals and rehabilitation centers if they don’t wish to be yoga instructors. In addition, graduate students can continue their academic studies and research.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily Online)

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