New York, NY: Wai Lana (Zhang Huilan in Chinese), the international yoga teacher known as the “Mother of Yoga” to China for introducing and spreading yoga throughout that country, has been honored with India’s prestigious Padma Shri award for her extraordinary achievements in popularizing yoga globally. Wai Lana is one of only two Chinese nationals to ever win a Padma Award in its 62-year history.
Wai Lana said, “I’m very humbled and don’t feel deserving. I’ve just been trying my best to share the gift of yoga with the Chinese people and the rest of the world. My real reward is seeing so many people experiencing the many benefits that yoga has to offer.”
Wai Lana’s achievement in Yoga has been astonishing. Years before the yoga boom began in the West, and even in India where yoga was still seen as something just for holy men, her 30-minute television show “Yoga” was being broadcast daily to hundreds of millions of Chinese.
For over 17 years, the “Wai Lana Yoga” 30-minute television series has been airing nationwide in the US on PBS, making it the longest-running fitness series on public television. The show has aired internationally on five continents including North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
Wai Lana has influenced billions in the world, especially among Chinese. Inspired by her teacher, Wai Lana introduced yoga to China in the late 1970’s—long before yoga became popular in the West. Her popular television series “Yoga” started airing in China on CCTV since 1985, 3 times a day every day. The series was so popular it became one of the longest running television series in China’s history, airing nationwide uninterrupted from 1985 to 2000. Daily viewership exceeded one hundred million people. Each 30-minute class included instruction on yoga asanas, yoga wisdom, and lifestyle. “Wai Lana Yoga” continues to air on local Chinese stations today.
In 2015, Wai Lana produced her acclaimed “Namaste” music video to celebrate the first ever International Yoga Day on June 21. She wrote the Namaste song to help people remember one of yoga’s greatest lessons—humility and respect for others. Namaste was presented at the headline event held by the United Nations at their headquarters in New York City and was streamed live to tens of thousands of yoga lovers gathered at Times Square. It got millions of views on YouTube and other platforms.
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