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Yoga Statistics, an Indian Travel (B)Log, and Finding Bliss

Posted Feb 29 2008 11:32am 4 Comments

A few days ago, Yoga Journal released another Yoga in America market study. This study comes four years after the last one. You can see all of the statistics here, but the general gist is that we spend a lot of money on yoga (billions apparently), more women than men practice, and most folks started to practice yoga to improve their health. Here are a few stats, however, that had my eyebrows raising:

  • A whopping 71.4% of practitioners are college educated
  • Almost half (44%) of yogis have household incomes of $75,000 or more

Gee, I guess that explains why there's so much money spent on yoga. It appears from the stats that yoga is a practice of the affluent. Yep, those yoga workshops and monthly yoga studio passes are mighty expensive. Those numbers don't totally come as a surprise, but they do make me a bit sad.

The good news is that the trend indicates that more people are seeing yoga as a way to improve their health (mental, physical, and emotional?) and that yoga is making inroads into the medical community. Nearly 14 million Americans said that a doctor or therapist recommended yoga. Nice. I have a feeling that the next 5-10 years are going to be big for the field of yoga therapy. As the International Association of Yoga Therapist scramble to define the term "yoga therapy" I'm sure rules and regulations aren't too far behind.

On the lighter side -- how would you feel about taking a mini-retirement and spending 3 months trekking through India? One couple in their 20s is doing just that and they're chronicling their adventures (and sharing some helpful tips for others who want to follow in their wake) on their blog. I love the fact that these two aren't waiting for retirement age in order to travel and enjoy their lives. I know that everyone is talking about The 4-Hour Workweek (which I've read and enjoyed), and these folks seem to be following the advice therein. I happen to love watching people live outside of the norm (yep, I think it's FUN to color outside of the lines). Think radical, I always say. Check out Adam and Tina's blog and you might want to get a little inspiration from outside-of-the-lines thinker Tim Ferriss (the author of The 4-Hour Workweek).

And for those of you who can't seem to stick to a regular meditation practice (I've been guilty of this myself), I've saved the best for last. The Buddhist Channel offers up an excellent article on meditation and the simple truth about it -- you have to do it in order to reap the benefits. I laughed when I read this article because it reminded me of myself. I used to read books about meditation and Buddhism and intellectually experience the benefits. HUH? Yeah, I chuckle about it now. Of course we all know that meditation is something you need to experience, not simply study.

The takeaway for the day comes from that article:

Deep meditation is like climbing the pyramid above the jungle of our thoughts, our family life, our work life, our world. Only when you rise above it and attain stillness can you see the bigger picture of reality.

All you really need is a little perspective (and the 8-limbed path of yoga, of course).


Comments (4)
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So true! I practice at home. I'll go to a studio on occasion, but it's not my norm. I save up my bucks for workshops and conferences. It can be hard to find good yoga, that's for sure. Maybe that's why I trained as a teacher and yoga therapist -- so I could practice on my own! LOL! Not really, but it is a help. I was lucky enough to find a teacher with the same views on yoga nearby, but it took me years to find her. But I agree with you -- it's worth the hunt!

Hi Nirmala --

I couldn't agree more! I try to mix in pro-bono work to work with segments of the population that can't afford to practice yoga otherwise. Unfortunately, the media is linking big bucks and sexy with yoga in the minds of America. Not true. There's so much more to the practice of yoga than hip clothes, yoga vacations, being "in" on a fad, etc. I work with clients all the time that are amazed after a session -- "Gee, I didn't realize that that's what yoga is all about." It's really pretty simple -- mind, body, and breath -- but powerful. I think everyone is entitled to the benefits of yoga -- regardless of income.

I am finding that there are more and more community yoga centers opening up to offer the practice to anyone who's interested but might not be able to afford it otherwise. To me, this is important--I think American yoga needs to be taken back from all the yuppies and the moves to commodify the practice through expensive yoga attire and yoga vacations, etc. This is a practice that should be accessible to anybody and everybody.
Yoga can be soooo expensive, it is true. While there are community classes available (some as low as $8), it does seem that to have yoga classes that fit into your schedule you are looking at paying a good deal of money per month. Unlimited yoga in my area usually costs $125/month or more, while membership in a martial arts dojo is more like $80-85/month. My gym costs me $35/month. I pay for yoga because I know the health benefits for me are worth it but I still have to be careful with my yoga spending.
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