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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 86-88

Globalization of Ayurveda and Yoga: Status, Scope, Challenges, and Ways Forward for Scandinavia & the Baltic States

Land Surveyor Engineer BSc, Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant at Veda Management, Ängelholm, Sweden. Head of Ayurveda Sweden Association, General Secretary of European Ayurveda Association, Slottavägen 6, 266 52 Vejbystrand, Sweden

Date of Submission12-Apr-2023
Date of Acceptance18-Apr-2023
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Stina Andersson
General Secretary of European Ayurveda Association, Slottavägen 6, 266 52 Vejbystrand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_84_23

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How to cite this article:
Andersson S. Globalization of Ayurveda and Yoga: Status, Scope, Challenges, and Ways Forward for Scandinavia & the Baltic States. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;7, Suppl S1:86-8

How to cite this URL:
Andersson S. Globalization of Ayurveda and Yoga: Status, Scope, Challenges, and Ways Forward for Scandinavia & the Baltic States. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 8];7, Suppl S1:86-8. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/7/5/86/374511

Yoga connects the heart and mind and acts as a medium for freedom from ailments and lust. Now, it is has been widely proven that Yoga can also act as a medium for connecting the world.

- Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra D. Modi

(Mann Ki Baat, 31 May, 2015)

Ayurveda and Yoga hold immense benefits for the people of Sweden. This article introduces the scope and challenges for advancing and integrating Ayurveda in the community in Sweden and within the Swedish healthcare system, including education and research. It echoes the thoughts of the Prime Minister of India expressed in his Mann ki Baat dialogues on the growing global footprint of Ayurveda and Yoga. In the sections below, brief about the land, the culture, the people, and the healthcare system of Sweden; the health challenges, including the most common diseases; how and when Ayurveda came to Sweden; the Ayurveda Sweden Association - a platform for Ayurveda in Sweden, ongoing projects and finally suggestions for the future of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation in the healthcare system in Sweden are described.

“If every citizen of my country is healthy, then my country will be healthy.” (Mann ki Baat 27 March, 2016)

Sweden: Its culture, people and healthcare system

Sweden, the land of the Vikings, the land of ice and cold, the midnight sun, and the northern lights, is a land of paradoxes. Science has been the fundamental paradigm for the last 300 years. The land of Carl von Linnaeus and the Noble Prizes, where men and women have equal rights, and a land where people adore and worship nature, also believes that the body, mind, and soul are separated. Traditional medicine was once banned in this land of technocrats, witches were burned, and until 1779 the use of magic spells attracted the death penalty. In this land of high GDP and high living standards where wealth is for everyone, we suffer from anxiety, depression, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases caused by increased stress levels and unhealthy lifestyles.

Sweden has 10 million citizens and a low population density of 25.5 inhabitants per square kilometer. Most people live in urban areas, and as many as 36% of households are single. Healthcare in Sweden is included in the tax system, which is approximately 1/3 of all taxes in the country. In Sweden, healthcare providers must register their activities with the Health and Social Care Inspectorate, per the Swedish Patient Safety Act. The Health and Social Care Inspectorate is responsible for managing the register and monitoring the activities of the healthcare providers listed.

In Sweden, all healthcare, including psychiatric care, must be based on “science and proven experience,” which is a fundamental principle of Swedish law. The National Board of Health and Welfare (Social styrelsen) develops evidence-based national guidelines for clinical practice. The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) methods, such as acupuncture for pain relief and mindfulness for preventing depression relapse, is supported by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare guidelines for specific symptoms or conditions.

Common morbidity conditions and health problems in Sweden

The most common diseases in Sweden are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity[1]. More than half the population (52%) are obese or overweight.[2] Improper diet and lack of physical activity is the leading cause of diseases in Sweden today. Over 90,000 people every year suffer from diseases resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle. Diseases related to mental illness are increasing every year. Over 41% of the population suffers stress and mental health problems.[3] Over 40% of all patients with chronic diseases seek alternative medicine.[4]

A brief history and Introduction to Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda, Yoga in Sweden

Transcendental Meditation (TM) as a meditation form was established in Sweden in the 1970s. Yoga followed a few years later. However, unfortunately the Yoga movement was labeled as a religious sect and something alien and for hippies. But later people became aware of the benefits of Yoga. In the years since, Yoga has slowly gained popularity, and today over one million people (12% of the population) regularly practice Yoga.[5]

Yoga has been established nationwide and in over 352 hospitals thanks to the pioneer Göran Boll. It is worth mentioning that this Yoga is called “Medical yoga” and is based on the principles of Kundalini Yoga.[6] There are now several publications on Yoga in Sweden, and Yoga is also a popular field of research. At Karolinska Institute, there is a growing interest in CAM, and since the 1990s, all medical students have been offered a one-week course on CAM.

Ayurveda came to Sweden about a decade later, in the 1980s. Recollections of some of the early history, background, and rationale are in an extended conversation now archived online.[7] Today, five different schools offer education programs on the basic principles of Ayurveda.

These schools offer basic courses on Ayurveda, including a 250-hour program. This training is adequate to qualify as an Ayurvedic health practitioner/counselor in Sweden. Over 7000 people have such basic knowledge of Ayurveda and over 300 works as Ayurvedic health practitioners.

As stated on different occasions by the Prime Minister of India in his Mann ki Baat, in the traditional knowledge of India, the world is looking at ways of a sustainable future, and with the trend of people around the world regarding medicinal plants and herbal products increasing, Ayurveda and Yoga have immense potential.

Ayurveda Sweden Association - a platform for promoting Ayurveda in Sweden

The first Ayurveda association in Sweden, the Ayurveda Sweden Association (ASA), was formed to create a strong foundation for the practice of Ayurveda in Sweden and provide a platform for practice, education, and research in the coming years. ASA has regularly participated in Stockholm’s International Day of Yoga and World Ayurveda Day celebrations. More recently, the Embassy hosted the first gathering of Ayurvedic practitioners and the start of ASA in February 2022. ASA was also invited to participate in the cultural festival in Gothenburg in 2022.

Again, as stated in another edition of Mann ki Baat, ASA was invited to the recently concluded 9th WAC in Goa in December 2023 as one of the international delegates. An invited talk on the scope of Ayurveda in Sweden was also delivered. The Indian Embassy in Stockholm has been a source of strength and inspiration for ASA. It is particularly indebted to His Excellency Ambassador Tanmaya Lal and Counsellor Mrs. Anita Shukla for their continuing support and guidance.

The future of Ayurveda in Sweden: How can the people of Sweden benefit from Ayurveda, the ancient science from India?

Is it possible to establish Ayurveda as an alternative medical system in Sweden? Ayurveda Sweden Association offers an approach that can be used throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics. For instance, it will be possible to implement Ayurveda at a community level, including clinical trials and intervention programs for women’s health, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health. Such programs can be conducted through collaboration between Sweden and India, with support from the Ministry of Health of Sweden and the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. Exchanges and collaborations between India and Sweden go a long way back. The first principal of the Government Medical College in Trivandrum, in the state of Kerala, was the Swedish physician Axel Höjer who shaped the early years of the new college till 1954.[8]

Implementing Ayurveda must consider the uniqueness of Swedish nature, culture, people, and tradition. The current certification programs for Ayurvedic practitioners in Sweden are offered at an elementary level, with only 250 hours of training. However, there is also a scope of development of expertise in Ayurveda through full-fledged courses in the country.

The WHO document “Benchmarks for the Practice of Ayurveda”[9] provides several pointers for other medium and more advanced levels of training. ASA is planning a meeting with the Indian Embassy to open discussions and dialogues with different stakeholders on how the WHO Benchmarks can be helpful. The current AYUSH Chair at the University of Latvia in Riga can also oversee some of these early discussions with Swedish universities.

Sweden demands and relies on research and statistics, so let us set a good example and show that Ayurveda is a system not only for lifestyle but also for treating different diseases. Such a strategy of evidence-based implementation of Ayurveda in Sweden is beneficial for our country and advancing Ayurveda globally.

Many citizens in Sweden today are ready to consider the shift of paradigm towards connected body, mind, and soul and, to be reminded that we are co-existing and part of nature. Ayurveda is the language between humans and nature, which we all know but might not yet have learned. Healing is just one breath away, and we need to be reminded. We together can meet those challenges and turn them into our strengths.

  Conclusion Top

In conclusion, while there are still challenges to be overcome, the potential for Ayurveda to establish itself in Sweden is excellent. Ayurvedic treatments are still considered expensive, and adopting a health system from another country requires awareness that health is universal. We now reach out to India for future collaborations and interactions because we know that Ayurveda is one of the ways to create a society with sustainable healthy, and happy people. Hence, the way forward is Ayurveda, among other traditional complementary systems.

Thank you India for holding the knowledge and now making it accessible to us all for the health of the planet and the people. “Do not look back and do not dream about the future. It will neither give you back the past nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward, your destiny, is in the present moment.” (Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1953–1961)

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing interests.

  References Top

https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/living-conditions-and-lifestyle/obesity/  Back to cited text no. 1
https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/livsvillkor-levnadsvanor/fysisk-aktivitet-och-matvanor  Back to cited text no. 2
Stress mental health https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/livsvillkor-levnadsvanor/fysisk-aktivitet-och-matvanor/overvikt-och-fetma/overvikt-och-fetma-hos-vuxna/  Back to cited text no. 3
https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2019/03/sou-201915/  Back to cited text no. 4
https://idrottsstatistik.se/motion-och-fysisk-aktivitet/fysisk-aktivitet/  Back to cited text no. 5
https://mediyoga.se/  Back to cited text no. 6
https://www.youtube.com/live/81x6id4jxXM?feature=share  Back to cited text no. 7
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axel_H%C3%B6jer  Back to cited text no. 8
https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240042674  Back to cited text no. 9


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