Market Focus Yoga Enthusiasts
Stretch Into a Healthy Market
By Irene Cherkassky
Americans are concerned with their health more than ever before. Not only are we struggling with the battle with bulge, but we're also trying to improve the overall quality of our daily lives. It's not surprising then that the practice of yoga, as a form of exercise and as a way to achieve well-being, steadily has gained popularity, particularly within the past decade.
The number of yoga practitioners is growing by leaps and bounds. According to Yoga in America, a February 2005 study conducted by Yoga Journal, a consumer magazine serving yoga practitioners of all levels, there are now 16.5 million U.S. adults practicing yoga. That's a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year, and a 43 percent increase from 2002.
The fastest-growing segment of yoga enthusiasts is the 18 to 24 age group, which expanded by an impressive 46 percent in 2004. However, the largest segment of practitioners of this discipline falls into the 35- to 54-year-old range, at 41.6 percent. "Yoga really has entered mainstream society," says Tisha Tyler, account manager for Millard Group, the list management and brokerage firm that handles the Yoga Journal file. "There may still be a remnant of the perception that anyone who practices yoga is also vegetarian and in support of environmental causes," she says. "While that may very well be true in some cases, yoga enthusiasts really cannot be classified with sweeping generalizations." If anything, Tyler notes, the majority of yoga enthusiasts can be described as people interested in achieving optimum health holistically.
Yoga enthusiasts range from experienced teachers/instructors to people who have been studying for some time—typically practicing poses several times a day—to novices. A wide range of people study yoga for varied amounts of time for a variety of reasons, whether to improve overall health and/or body strength or to emulate their favorite movie star who swears by it. John Abbott, president and CEO of Yoga Journal, says in the February report, "That the number of yoga practitioners has grown so strongly in the last 10 years shows that yoga is not a passing fad, but a genuine cultural phenomenon and an integral part of the wellness trend in this country."