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January 15, 2010

Someone (Jennifer) had once told me that yoga is a billion dollar industry these days. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when a single drop in class ’round these parts is $23 a pop.  Even the cheapest of studios are $10/class…if you think about the fact that the avid yoga practitioner will do 3-7 classes a week then even the cheapest yoga classes become more like an Equinox financial commitment.

The prices of classes are pretty steep, but don’t forget looking cute during class also factors in.  I mean, seriously, Lululemon? $75 for yoga pants? Do you know what I do in yoga pants? I sweat. A lot. Mercilessly, really. And after a few times, they’re not the freshest daisy in the field if you know what I mean…so, unless this naked yoga thing really takes off for me, then I’ll be continuing my patronage of Target.

But in all seriousness, as an avid yogini (yoga obsessed), I find the yoga craze, and the subsequent study done by Yoga Journal to be fascinating. While a small part of me feels the way one feels when their favorite obscure band starts getting major radio play and then all of the sudden they only play at venues like Madison Square Gardens, a much larger, more generous and yogic part of me thinks the growth of yoga in the USA is the bees’ knees. Part of me also loves inexplicable long run on sentences. Apologies all around.

As all studies are, this one is just chock full of statistics. First and most importantly, in 2008 yoga became a 5.7 billion dollar industry. It has grown by 87% since 2004.  Yoga is my significant other, so I obviously am part of these stats and a large contributor to the 5.7 billion dollars…but that kind of growth of a fitness/recreational/spirtual industry is bizarre, don’t you think? Ok, here’s my theory. Slumdog Millionare came out in 2008 and swept the oscars. It was full of cute Indian children and sweet ass bhangra and bollywood music. India is the birth place of yoga. Therefore, yoga rides the coat tails of completely unrelated adorable Indian child stars.

A long shot, you say? Well, you’re probably right…as long as you agree that it was a delightful movie.

Further statistics (unrelated to past or present bollywood-hybrid films) were equally compelling. Granted, the fact that 72.2% of practitioners being female was not really news to anyone, but distribution of yogis through the age groups was a lot more evenly divided than I would have expected.  Yes, there are a lot of old people doing yoga, and I bet they look fabulous. I can’t wait to bust a full split and fracture my hip at 80. If I’m going down, I’m going down in a full split.

Another group that Yoga Journal presents as a main consumer group of yoga and yoga products is the rich, and also the educated. Well, I guess if it is a 5.7 billion dollar industry I’m not shocked that well off people like doing yoga. I mean, your minimum wage recipient with 6 kids on food stamps can’t afford $23/class, or a baby sitter to watch all those kids.  Something like 44% of people who practice yoga have above a $75,000 household income. I’m be willing to posture two things here for greater understanding of this statistic.  1) Yoga thrives in urban environments, and 2) In those urban environments, those people in that income bracket are probably a house hold all to themselves. In a place where a family of four can live comfortably on $75,000/year there isn’t much yoga around. Take Delaware for  instance.  Yoga Journal’s study doesn’t really go there….but, well, I just did.

I for one, plan on pouring an unending sum of money into the yoga industry. I just can’t help myself. The only thing I’m hoping for is a piece of the pie some day. I’m not saying I’m going to be the next Bikram…but well, he’s like 1/4 of the 5.7 billion dollar industry, so I won’t say no either.

[Image via: Ehow]

[Stats via: Yoga Journal]

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