KUNMING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Taichi and yoga, two practices which originated from the world's ancient civilizations of China and India, respectively, have served as bridges to promote bilateral communication in recent years.
Three years ago, when Ping Ruijuan, then a graduate student, took up yoga to condition her body, she knew little about the practice and its country of origin India. To her, yoga was all about learning acrobatic asanas.
"Initially I signed up for a training course at a yoga studio and was happy to find that my health improved after three months of practice, so I renewed my membership for another four months," the 29-year-old said. "Then I realized yoga was not just a physical exercise, but a philosophy."
Slowly, yoga became her passion and she wanted to dig deeper. "I want to learn about the 'roots and trunks' of yoga, not just the 'fruits,'" she said.
After graduation in 2017, Ping entered the China-India Yoga College (International Taichi College) of Yunnan Minzu University to pursue a master's degree in yoga.
"We are taught not just yoga disciplines and theory, but also Indian philosophy and culture. We also have courses on traditional Chinese medicine and the history of Chinese philosophy," she said. "Learning yoga has given me a deeper understanding of both Chinese and Indian culture."
Ping said she found the two cultures share a lot in common, just as Taichi and yoga. "Though their external forms may differ, their pursuit of harmony is internally interlinked. They are the embodiment and inheritance of their own civilizations, both of which aspire to break physical limitations and seek spiritual joy on a higher level," she said.
Her view is echoed by Yatendra Dutt Amoli, her yoga teacher who also learns Taichi in his spare time. Amoli said both Taichi and yoga use breathing and meditation to heighten effects and help practitioners to cope with stress and balance body and mind.
"Both Chinese and Indian civilizations were born from nature, and we always try to find ways to connect human beings with mountains, rivers, forests and lakes in the class," Amoli said.
As the interactions between Taichi and yoga become increasingly frequent, Ping decided to apply for a research program that concentrates on how Taichi and yoga helped promote cultural exchanges between China and India.
"Taichi and yoga form an important bridge to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries," according to Yu Xinli, director of the international cooperation and exchange office of Yunnan Minzu University. "A growing number of young Chinese are learning about India through yoga, and vice versa."
In early 2018, two sub-centers of the China-India Taichi College was set up in India.
The China-India Yoga College (International Taichi College) is the first yoga college in the world outside India and the first to open an international Taichi branch in India, according to Xu Chuankun, executive director of the college.
"We focus on the training of senior professionals of yoga and Taichi, and promoting the localization of yoga in China and the internationalization of Taichi," Xu added.
Luo Haibin, vice president of the college, said more than 390 students are currently studying at the college which has trained more than 500 Taichi practitioners in India.
"Indian students always came half an hour early for class," recalled Liu Sanhong, who visited India last December. "They could not wait to learn more about Chinese culture."
Prerna Tyagi was one of Liu's Indian students. The classes on Taichi's origin and techniques gave her a deeper understanding of Chinese martial arts. The young woman even mastered the implication of the etiquette of Baoquan, or hold fist salute -- which means we are all friends from all corners of the globe.
Tyagi said she admired many Chinese Kungfu stars like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and hoped someday she could study martial arts in China.