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The Mat Pack: Yoga finds new fans

December 1, 2009

Yoga has finally hit the mainstream, leaving the big cities of the world for smaller, quieter places. Although the economy twists us in all kinds of knots, yoga appears to be thriving, and has even been experiencing a resurgence. According to a recent survey, the number of people on yoga mats is on the rise, climbing from 4.3 million to 12 million within the past decade, half of which started within the past two years.

Yoga first took off in the West about two decades ago. Until recent years, though, its devotees seemed to fit the stereotype of very alternative women on vegan diets chanting Hare Krishna mantras. Not so anymore. People have come to realise that it isn’t a religion or a cult, just a way to gain a little calm within today’s crazy world. Now you can buy your yoga equipment at Pick ‘n Pay, pick up ‘Yoga for Dummies’ and ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Yoga’ at your local bookstore and catch some yoga moves in the background on DSTV’s hottest new show. Huge corporations such as Forbes, Apple, Nike and MTV, to name but a few, are even offering yoga programmes to their employees which, according to a Healthnet report, improve production and decrease absenteeism.

Today, yoga is a multibillion dollar industry, with classes taught around the world, and more and more styles of yoga available – hot yoga, cold yoga, stone yoga (incorporating crystals), yoga for moms and babies, yoga for guys too stiff to stretch, laughter yoga, facial yoga and now even doga – yoga for dogs and their owners. Yoga is for everyone, or rather, there’s a style of yoga to suit anyone, at any age or fitness level.

Women still dominate the discipline, making up 72% of yogis, but men are fast catching up, as are the over 55s, now making up 18% of the fan base, according to a Yoga Journal report. The 18-34s lead the mat pack at 41,6 %, followed closely by the 35–55’s at 40,4%. Today’s fans are smart – 71.4% are university graduates, and 27% have postgraduate degrees. They’re also affluent: 44% have household incomes of R600 000 plus. Even those with less cash to spare are turning to the discipline long championed for uncluttering the mind and providing a feeling of serenity.

According to yahoo.com, the number of online searches for ‘Free Yoga Exercises Online’ was up 59% during a recent 30-day period. Some yoga instructors are attributing the rise in its popularity to the widespread availability of information, with celebrities promoting its age-defying effects, and studies showing its success in combating an array of diseases and disorders from depression and anxiety to diabetes, asthma and heart problems. But this year, there’s an extra incentive. People think it’s absolutely essential to stay calm and reduce stress.

To keep yourself in shape, physically, mentally and spiritually, be sure to visit http://www.yogaaa.co.za to find a teacher in your area

Text: Zara Bosman

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Farah permalink
    December 8, 2009 1:54 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! It is absolutely great to see South Africa have its own online Yoga newsletter. So proud of you guys. THANK YOU> I always read the Yoga Journal online, but now we have our very own!!! Your articles are always excellent, and very sensitively done. Well done. I look forward to many, many happy times of reading through your web page.
    Kind regards
    Judy Farah
    (Iyengar Yoga teacher Cape Town)

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