Those of us who work in the ‘yoga industry’ (funny even to put those words together!) are well aware of both the growth of the industry, and the ‘frenzy’ around this growth.
This article from the Times is a great ‘window’ into the mindset of what the general market (whatever that is) thinks of when they talk about ‘the yoga market’.
The article begins by focusing on Yoga Journal’s 11th Annual Estes Park Conference. Of course, bear in mind that this is the Yoga Journal sold by John Abbott to Active Interest Media in 2005, so this is now strictly a financial play…a company owned by shareholders as an investment vehicle, not a mission based organization.
After a quick mention about Shiva Rea leading a sort of yoga ‘rave’, we turn immediately to the 64 vendors and isles of clothing.
Then another one-liner about the “renowned” yoga teachers, followed by about 20 paragraphs focusing on shopping, fashion and more shopping.
We hear about Prana, bought by Liz Claiborne, Lulelemon, “a professed “yoga-inspired athletic apparel company” (owned by Advent International and Highland Capital Partners), who “last year hired a veteran Reebok exec as CEO”, Prudential Financial’s efforts to tie health into their marketing, Ford Motor’s approach to reaching young women to sell cars, and a few jewelry designers selling into the market with “Price tags for ..(that) can be heaven-high”.
Where’s the yoga????
You can see in this article the real challenge of bringing yoga into the west. The only lens that this author – and really our culture – has for thinking about it’s place in our world is materially based and economic. There is no context or ‘listening’ for the depth of what yoga offers.
What if the author worked to stress the real benefits of yoga in bringing health and happiness into our society? What about even looking at examples of the health care benefits, scientifically proven?
What about simply spending some time talking about the genuine contribution that thousands and thousands independent yoga teachers make day after day, quietly bringing more happiness, less stress, more health and a more positive outlook on life to the millions of yoga practitioners in communities far and wide.
Its harder work to communicate this difference, but it is actually the difference that is being made. The jewelry and the clothes do NOT bring the results. Its okay for the clothes and jewelry to be spoken about…but PLEASE….lets try to communicate that none of the results happen without practice. Yoga is simply one of those things that you cannot just ‘buy’ the result with.