Yoga is gaining more and more popularity among the local people in Uzbekistan who regard it not as a physical exercise only but have accepted it as a way of life.
The Indian Cultural Centre in Uzbekistan, established in 1995 and renamed as Lal Bahadur Shastri Centre for Indian Culture in 2005, organises regular yoga classes in its premises in Uzbekistan.
"Yoga is getting very popular among the local people. Considering the number of people practicing yoga at our centre regularly and those queuing to be enrolled for the classes, one can easily see how popular yoga is," says the centre's director Rajesh Mehta.
"People see yoga not merely as a physical exercise but have accepted it as way of life," Mehta told PTI.
He says the goodwill that India is providing for the development of relations with Uzbekistan - free classes on yoga, Kathak, Hindi and tabla - is highly appreciated by local government and the people.
The centre has a dedicated yoga teacher T N Manjunath. There are 282 students currently in the age group of 16-70 with 80 per cent of them being women.
Five one-hour duration classes are conducted daily from Monday to Saturday. "On Saturdays, there are special classes on meditation," says Manjunath.
So what attracts them to yoga? "Most of them say it is a stress buster. Some come here to get rid of ailments like arthritis and bronchitis. Some come here to lose weight," says Manjunath.
According to Mehta, yoga and other regular classes are often attended by officials of various entities. "These include ambassadors and officials of the embassies of various
countries at Tashkent, regional Mayorates and Medical Academy of Uzbekistan."
He also says the Indian Cultural Centre conducts yoga orientation, master-class and yoga classes at various organisations on regular basis, such as Ministry of Health of
Uzbekistan, international medical clinics, cultural centres of foreign countries and various regions of Uzbekistan.
"We are currently working on organising yoga classes at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Uzbekistan, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Protection," he says.
The centre offers courses all free in three different levels six-month basic, six-month certificate and one-year diploma.
Though the Indian Cultural Centres at Moscow and other few countries are charging some amount for classes conducted by them, Mehta says circumstances in Uzbekistan are completely different.
"Charging a nominal registration fee from the students is a matter of reiterative discussions at the moment. But circumstances in Uzbekistan are completely different. We