The Business of Yoga

Spending on yoga and related products was reported at a staggering $10.3 billion in the USA last year with 20.4 million practitioners in America alone (that had increased by 29% from the 2008 study).

 

I've just returned from London's annual Yoga Show at Olympia and have been attending every year since it first launched.  Over the course of time, it has evolved and changed, as we all do.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate and accept change (well, as a practising Buddhist, impermanence is very much a watch-word).  What saddens me though, is how far it has travelled from its roots.  Visitors to the show without any prior knowledge or experience would assume that yoga is about lycra clothing, coconut water and an array of ancilliary products all with a certain price tag.  Not to mention yoga holidays and retreats in exotic places.

 

Yes, I embrace any means which can bring somebody to a yoga mat to experience it and to discover the many ways it can support and in some cases, transform your life.  However, all the show displayed was that yoga is not a means to step outside of the run-of-the-mill rushed, daily routine in which to re-balance and restore and to practice presence, but instead, is just as fast-paced as the world around us and hell-bent on consumerism.

 

The question this raises though is how far do teachers have to stray from the teachings in order to appeal to the 'new' student of yoga if this is what the media is feeding them about this ancient practice?  This is an important question, at a time where there is still economic down-turn and many of the established yoga centres have either closed or are under threat of closure.  What is a yoga student expecting of their 1 / 1.5 hours a week at a cost per class of between £8 - £14 per session?  I don't know the answer to this, but what I do know is that really being present for every person who turns up and showing how much you value their presence by knowing their name is a major starting point.

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