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What the Future Holds

Who can predict the future of yoga? No one, of course, but we talk to some experts and make a few serious and not-so-serious prognostications. Take a look at our scenarios and see if they match your own imaginings.

By John Hanc

It's late morning in September 2030 and you're watching the news on your holographic television as you get ready for work.

"The president left the White House today for his weekend yoga retreat at Camp David," the announcer says, as a three-dimensional image of the chief executive in Triangle Pose materializes on your living room floor. "A minor diplomatic flap ensued when the Russian prime minister, who is to visit the president at the retreat, insisted on a Bikram class. White House aides hastily installed extra solar heating panels in the Camp David studio."

You glance at the chronometer on the screen: It's 8:30 a.m. But, then again, who really cares about time anymore? Most companies, including yours, long ago adopted a "get here when you can ... but get here knowing who you truly are" policy.

The announcer continues as your dry ionic shower cleanses you. "In business news, yoga-rapper Sits Bone announced the formation of a new company, Downward Facing Dawg Productions, with a group of fellow musicians, including Warrior 4, Sal. U. Tation, and members of the yogic heavy-metal group Irongar."

You make a note to buy some shares of that stock, asthe weather forecast comes on. "We'll be letting go of that tense, pent-up moisture in our atmosphere in the next few days," says the meteorologist.

Before leaving for the office, there's one more thing to do before you go: You ask your voice-activated recorder to capture this morning's edition of your favorite soap opera, the new yogic ratings grabber, More Than One Life to Live. (Today's episode: Vidhya confronts Sanjeeb about stealing her mat.) You command the TV to turn off, take a deep breath, and head out the door.

The world is full of prana, you think. It's going to be a beautiful day.

Is this where yoga in America is headed in 25 years? To an era when a 4,000-year-old discipline has become so fully integrated into 21st-century culture that politicians will cater to the yoga electorate for votes, the fast-growing franchise Yoga Works will be as ubiquitous as Starbucks, and an obese, sedentary society will climb out of its recliners to stand Tadasana tall?

OK, so we don't really expect yoga to have totally conquered and colonized every aspect of American life by 2030. But it may indeed play a much larger role in our culture than it does today. To find out how big a role, we asked some yoga experts to help us predict how current trends will play out 25 years down the road. Join us as we look into the crystal ball.

The truth is that, while Loyola Marymount and a few other accredited colleges and universities offer yoga classes or teaching certifications, much of the yoga taught today is offered either through specialized nonaccredited schools or yoga and fitness organizations.

Research into yoga, on the other hand, is increasing: Elizabeth Yost Hammer, associate professor of psychology at Loyola University in New Orleans and a yoga practitioner, says she found 670 citations of recent studies in psychology alone that involved yoga, many of them inquiring into the benefits of yoga for drug recovery, insomnia, and depression. Such a groundswell of research is the basis of academic scholarship in any discipline-and could eventually lead to greater acceptance of yoga as a field of study.

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