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Yoga, Inc.

Is the bustling business of yoga—a practice rooted in renunciation and greedlessness—good karma?

By Russell Wild

Boga, Yogilates, hip-hop yoga, and other yoga offshoots may all become trends within themselves, says Minkin. More traditional yoga almost surely will lose customers to some of the upcoming yoga hybrids. And one or two of them may eventually spin off into something that hardly resembles yoga at all. Remember how Taebo spun off from karate and dance aerobics to become a hot trend all by itself for a while?

The same kind of "fragmentation" is easy to spot in the ever-increasing lines of yoga apparel, props, literature, recordings, and Om paraphernalia. Sara Chambers, founder and co-owner of Salt Lake City-based Hugger Mugger, says that the number of manufacturers and wholesalers trying to tap into the yoga market is forever increasing. "I've been approached to stock everything from cookware to candles, but we try to carry only things that will benefit the yoga practice," she says.

As to Minkin's forecast of the yoga trend eventually peaking, Chambers acknowledges that it undoubtedly will. But she has her doubts that that time will come soon. "The trend has been carrying us along swiftly. We haven't spent any energy in trying to forecast the yoga market. Right now, we're just trying to keep up with fulfilling orders."

As part of a larger report for a major food company on consumer dining trends, Minkin once did a study of New England pizza shops. "Pizza was so popular that there got to be a shop on every street corner. It became obvious that they couldn't all survive. And sure enough, many disappeared," he says. "Looking around me today, I see many, many yoga studios, and a lot of outfits selling yoga products. When the trend reverses, not all will survive." But Minkin, though not a yogi himself, echoes the optimism often heard within the yoga community: "I don't think we need to worry about yoga disappearing, as many other things have," he assures. "After all, how many trends have been around for 5,000 years?"

Russell Wild is a freelance journalist based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and often writes about money for various national publications.

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Reader Comments

Skyhart

Laura Pellegrini - the article was written in November 2002. I was annoyed they didn't write it at the top - how are people meant to reference it? But a bit of Google digging worked out fine.

Laura Pellegrini

Can anybody please tell me when this article was written? Year/Month? Thanks!

Rara Avis

I must say that I strongly disagree with the content of some of the ads that Yoga Journal chooses to put in their magazine.

I fully understand the amount of cash flow involved in selling ad space, as I myself have looked into advertising in YJ and was blown away by how expensive it was.

Being that your magazine is profiting so highly from the yoga movement, you'd think you'd have the integrity to be a little more selective with the kind of adds you place in your mag.

It turns the real yogis off immediately... and I can honestly say that I wouldn't recommend your magazine to anyone truly interested in a spiritual approach to life.

Between the Mantra bling, and the Tantra boom, it's hard to find a place for the truly sacred when you're constantly being bombarded with shallow, poorly conceived messages that tell you to buy a product just because some plastic looking yoga babe tells you to.

I discovered yoga about 14 years ago while seeking further depth in my music career and also trying to find ways to heal from a devastating car accident. My roots in yoga had nothing to do with advertising or marketing, as I was thankfully guided by my intuition and graced by spirit with an amazing teacher to begin my practice with.

I truly hope that you find it in your collective hearts to start being more sensitive to what yoga really is and in doing so stop taking money from the highest bidder and instead have some self respect and think about how your audience is perceiving themselves and the 'spiritual' catch phrases on almost every page.

Come on people! The world is changing and it's time to wake up... no more profit without a truly conscious approach. Get out of the business office and back onto the yoga mat... perhaps there you will find some integrity.

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