Indian weaves yoga magic in China
Jan 23: He is popularly known as "Kabbi Laoshi",
or Kapil the teacher. At just 27 years, Kapil Gautam is spreading
yoga in China where many people believe it is the best way
to stay slim.
mastered Japanese and Spanish in Delhi University, Gautam
came to China two years ago to study a new language. He ended
up in Shenyang town, about 700 km northeast of Beijing where
temperatures dip in winter to a bone chilling 37 degrees.
as he taught Putong Hua, the dominant Chinese language, Gautam
started teaching yoga to a people hungry to know the ancient
Indian science. In the process he became a celebrity of sorts
as the town's magazines and television channels vied with
one another to interview him.
is only one of an estimated 400 yoga teachers from India who
have made China their home and are making a mark. But his
success came the hard way.
he flew into Beijing in March 2006, Gautam spoke no Chinese
and the only person he knew in China was a woman teacher from
Shenyang who had persuaded his brother to send Gautam over
to learn Putong Hua.
had no idea how to take a flight to Shenyang. A crisis hit
him when his plane got diverted to another city due to bad
weather and the battery in his mobile phone, the only link
to the world, went dead.
I reached Shenyang and how I managed the initial months without
understanding a word of what was taught, I can't forget,"
Gautam said. "One or two (South) Korean students knew
a little English and tried to help me.
thought I had reached a different planet. It was a different
society, a different culture, different customs and different
cuisine. I became desperate to get back to Delhi."
he was urged by people to stay on. His determination to prove
himself also helped. Gautam slowly gained confidence. He was
soon teaching English to a professor's son, and learning Putong
Hua from the young lad too.
just four months, the Indian surprised everyone by becoming
a better language student than even most South Koreans who
flock to Shenyang.
he had learnt in New Delhi and Haridwar came to Gautam's rescue
when someone opened a yoga class. He was taken as a teacher,
and quickly became a hit.
a bigger school hired him at 5,000 yuan a month. His students
were all women, from 20 to 50 years in age, eager to be in
teach Hatha yoga, Power yoga and Hot yoga," he explained.
"The last two are American varieties which I learnt in
China. I am now a familiar face on the streets of Shenyang.
Chinese are crazy about yoga. Many feel that it is the best
way to stay slim all through life."
popularity means that residents of Shenyang pester him constantly
about India. "Many think that India is a Buddhist country.
When I say I am a Hindu, they are surprised."
quickly added: "But I never talk about religion while
teaching yoga. I draw no connection between yoga and Hindu
culture. Religion is a sensitive issue here, and I respect
humble Gautam, who said it took time for him to make peace
with Chinese food, admits there are many better-qualified
Indian teachers of yoga in China.
he insists, has a great future in this country.
long will he live in China?
am not sure," said Gautam, who now speaks with the locals
effortlessly. "If I get better opportunities, I would
like to stay on. Otherwise, I am not sure. I have not planned."