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Yoga, rest and play

By Erik Nilsson  (China Daily)

09:01, June 08, 2012

An expecting mother from Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, does yoga. (China Daily)

A trend for yoga in the Middle Kingdom flies in the face of traditional beliefs and has even got expecting mothers involved. Erik Nilsson reports in Beijing.

Yoga is catching on in China - so much so, that some of its practitioners aren't even born yet.

Prenatal and postnatal yoga are becoming health and social trends that fly in the face of widely held Chinese beliefs that new and soon-to-be mothers shouldn't exert themselves.

"I didn't do yoga years ago, because I thought it was weird," Su Ziyue, an instructor at Beijing's Yoga Yard, says. "But when I got pregnant, I found it made me more comfortable. Many expecting moms come to our classes."

That number is growing as yoga catches on in its various forms. Body & Soul Yoga Club in Shanghai, for instance, even offers classes on golfing yoga, intestine-cleansing yoga and yin yoga, which infuses Chinese Taoist concepts into the Indian tradition.

Niu Zhuhai studied yoga for two years and resumed after she became pregnant.

"There aren't other safe sports for pregnant women," the 27-year-old Hebei native says. "I'm 7 months pregnant, but I never have back pain. That's probably because I do yoga."

Wang Shanshan, who's 6 months pregnant, also points to the health benefits.

"It helps my body, especially the breathing," the 30-year-old Beijing resident says. "And it helps my mind and soul. It also keeps me emotionally stable."

Wang practiced yoga for five years and says prenatal yoga offers additional socializing advantages.

"We mothers-to-be talk about how many weeks we are in, what feelings we have and what discomforts we're experiencing," Wang says. "I'll do postnatal yoga, too."

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