China's growing middle class isn't only becoming fixated on products that connote (or claim to connote) "the good life," cars and luxury goods among them, it's becoming obsessed with looking good both inside and out. As of 2010, China had around 3,000 health clubs, according to China Sports Business, with around 3 million active members paying annual fees generally ranging from 600 yuan (US$95) to 5,000 yuan ($793). And along with the usual spas, free weights and treadmills, rising demand from stressed-out middle class urbanites has been the popularity of yoga skyrocket over the past decade. Now, looking to address that demand by training qualified instructors, China is set to get its first official "Yoga college," the brainchild of a former ELLE China editor and her yoga-teaching Indian husband.
Formally inaugurated this weekend in Beijing, the new yoga college is an offshoot of the Yogi Yoga Institute of China, established in 2004 by Yin Yan and Manmohan Singh Bhandari. Over the past eight years, Yogi Yoga claims to have trained over 10,000 instructors at its branches in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. With its new institution, Yin says, "We want to take yoga to a different level in China, as it has become immensely popular."
According to the Press Trust of India, the new institute will offer a three-year course focusing on Hata Yoga, a popular Indian form, taught by a faculty from India and abroad headed up by Yin's husband, Bandari. According to Yin, the entire 36 month course will cost around US$4,000, with its completion degree enabling graduates to become full-time yoga instructors throughout China.
Via the PTI:
Ever since it was established, Yogi Yoga has become vastly popular venture as its revenue touched USD eight million last year.
"It is an impressive effort by Yogi Yoga centre to spread yoga in China," said [senior Indian diplomat Arun Sahu], who heads the cultural section of the Indian Embassy.
The institute appears to be very professionally run and the very Indian way with Vedic chants and Indian cultural practices, he said.
Over the years it turned out to be massive centre, he said.
As yoga took roots with many Chinese taking to it as a stress reliever, its exponents here also called for a more organised approach to it to provide qualified trainers as ill trained instructors could cause injury.
In recent years, we've seen a greater focus on health among China's middle class build niche industries for products like organic vegetables and foods, vitamins and supplements, and even "luxury" bottled water. With the population increasingly concerned about the ill effects of urban pollution and food safety, health clubs have been keen to pounce. This new "Yoga College" is, then, a predictable development, and we wouldn't be surprised to see copycats spring up in major cities throughout China before too long.