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Yoga: The Business Of Wellness

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Yoga: The Business Of Wellness

Yoga is a billion-dollar industry and everyone wants a piece of the pie

While you wake up to a lazy Sunday morning, promising yourself to begin the long due workout routine from Monday, there’s someone out there thinking about yoga, day in and day out. Not for the perfect body or a healthy mind, but for a hefty wallet and higher bank balance! A fad, a need and an in thing, yoga has become not only physical but a social requirement now-a-days. Consequently, it is also a money-making machine! Yes, yoga is a billion-dollar industry worldwide, 80 billion dollars, to be precise.

Although it originated in India, yoga is no longer confined to Indians alone. It is a global trend gaining more followers with each passing day and raking in the moolah.

From a need to a fad

Now, we all know of the mental and physical benefits of yoga. Dating back to pre-Vedic era, yoga was developed around the 6th century BC; it has patronage not only from the Hindus but Jains and Buddhists too. Given it multi-faceted benefits, yoga of course gained popularity in the West sooner than we knew it. Moreover, Indian yoga gurus and spiritual leaders were also responsible in introducing the benefits of yoga to the Western world, one of them being Swami Vivekananda, whose contributions have been the greatest in taking the Indian gem called yoga abroad during 19th and 20th century. It was in 1980s that yoga’s popularity was at its peak in the west and then there was no looking back, as yoga started emerging as a business.

Stressed-out city dwellers in both India and the United States started turning to yoga, and year after year it became a flourishing business for yoga teachers and yoga institutes. (Also read – 5 Trusted Indian Institutes To Learn Authentic Yoga)

As Srishti, a freelance yoga trainer tells us, “Yoga truly holds its roots in India where it was a lifestyle, and certainly not something which came as a product to (cater to) the changing demand and supply. I believe yoga is a way of life and not only part of life.” She adds, “The awareness towards yoga–not just as a form of workout but also an alternate therapy to cure chronic pains and bodily imbalances–has made it a vital part of the fitness industry.”

A twisted tradition?

Along with the growing trend of gym for fit body and other diet plans, yoga came up as the most positive and holistic alternative and rather more beneficial and effective. Traditionally, yoga means meditating to discover your inner self and follow the path of conscience to achieve liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death. But modern yoga studios these days hardly follow the traditional school of thought. Today yoga is about fast fitness and fast relief from work overload, stress and anxiety. Heck even our Bollywood actors promote yoga as a means to achieve ‘size zero’!

The West also made several changes to yoga as well as its practice, with all its ridiculous variations like sauna yoga, zen yoga, iron yoga, what not. Yoga is also performed as a therapy for medical issues like back pain, stress, depression etc. But this twisted form of yoga still has many takers, unfortunately. (Also read – Yoga: A Misunderstood Legacy)

Yoga: A cash cow

Back in 80s, yoga teachers ran hourly classes from simple studios or even their homes, focusing on the true traditions of yoga. Many of them were trained by yoga gurus and practiced for decades before they started teaching others. Today, however, anyone with a 3-month “Teachers’ Training Course” can call themselves a yoga teacher! Imagine how your body will end up if you learn from them. But the sad truth is, there’s a demand for yoga classes and therefore, for yoga teachers too. So it’s not surprising that so many untrained and under-qualified ‘teachers’ are coming up and making money in the name of yoga.

Corporates were not far behind. Production companies also cashed in on the trend by coming up with yoga DVDs, yoga mats, designer yoga-wear or ‘active fashion’, and so much gimmicky stuff that real yoga gurus would be put to shame (they survived on simple Indian food and the most basic of basic clothes!)

The popularity of yoga led to the formation of a special day dedicated to yoga alone and thus, June 21 was coined as International Yoga Day. Today, yoga is becoming a booming industry as putting up a picture on Instagram doing a complex asana is considered ‘trendy’. People are ready to shell out any amount of money for that hour-long class at a fancy (read gimmicky) yoga studio in the city.

The way ahead

From value-driven to now vanity-driven, yoga has seen many religions, castes and countries joining in. Even Bollywood celebrities swear by yoga to look stunning on screen. The future of yoga looks bright, the reason why it has become a full-time career for many. But while our generation cashes in on yoga as a business, we only hope it does not forget what yoga truly stands for and retains its traditional roots.

Image Credit: Imagesbazaar

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A wife, a mother and a blogger and has gradually managed to handle all three together (though not without coffee). Shilpa is keen on pursuing her lost dream of becoming a writer. She likes to eat and wants to reduce at the same time.

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