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India’s New Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Aims to Rebrand and Promote Yoga in India

By: for The Washington Post on Dec. 5, 2014
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 Shripad Yesso Naik, India’s new yoga minister, dreams of a day when sun salutations and downward-facing dog pose will be as popular in their homeland as they are around the world.

Yes, India now has a minister of yoga — and he and his government want their cultural bliss back.

Indian yogic tradition appears in Hindu texts written thousands of years ago. But the discipline bears scant resemblance to the popular exercise regime that has become a multibillion-dollar industry in the West, home of $90 Lululemon stretch pants and Mommy and Me fitness classes.

In recent weeks, Indian officials have begun efforts to reclaim yoga for the home team, making plans for a broad expansion of the wellness practice into all facets of civic life — including more than 600,000 schools, and thousands of hospitals and police training centers. They are spearheading efforts to promote and protect India’s most famous export, even quietly weighing a “geographical indication” for yoga, a trade protection normally given to region-specific goods such as Champagne from France or oranges from Florida.

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