Yoga is an industry that is growing and thriving all over the world. In the United States alone, it is believed that over 36 million people consider themselves to be yoga practitioners. That’s an increase of over 16 million people in just 3 years.
In the past 4 years [2012-2015], the amount spent in the United States on yoga classes, equipment, clothing, and accessories has risen from $10 billion to $16 billion. The total economic impact of the US yoga industry is estimated to be $27 billion annually, according to reporting by the Huffington Post.
Despite the high levels of growth in the past few years, the yoga industry trends look toward even more growth within the next decade. 34% of people in the United States, or about 80 million people, say that they have plans to try yoga for the first time within the next year. According to Carin Gorrell, who is the editor in chief of Yoga Journal, the data offers something compelling to the industry.
“More people than ever across all age groups are realizing the benefits of yoga, from stress relief to flexibility to overall well-being. Yoga is a thriving, growing industry.”
Here’s Why the Yoga Industry is so Excited
- The Wall Street Journal has recently reported that there are yoga classes that are so overcrowded that yoga practitioners are getting into fights with each other because there is a lack of space available.
- Teresa Anne Power, who wrote the book ABC Yoga for Kids, told USA Today that her book sells better today than when it was originally released in 2009. One of her biggest clients has become schools who have realized that yoga isn’t about religion, even though it does have a basis in spirituality.
- Fitness professionals ranked yoga among top-ten trends for 2014 and 2015 in surveys for the American College of Sports Medicine.
- Since 2012, Medicare has covered cardiac rehabilitation programs that include yoga. The programs also include a vegetarian diet and meditation.
People might be fighting for mat space, but some people are leaving yoga because they have the wrong expectations. If the industry can offer beginner’s classes on a regular basis and refer people who may have chronic pain or health issues to classes that are covered by insurance so there are few out of pocket costs, then it is on the precipice of a major breakthrough for growth. Many see yoga as a gentle stretching class, but it can be fast-paced, include mindfulness meditation, and feature a number of different techniques which offer a well-rounded experience. This versatility allows the industry to be flexible, which allows those interested in the industry to explore how they can become more flexible. It’s a win/win situation for the future.
Geography Means Everything to the Yoga Industry
- Yoga studios are largely concentrated in the Western region, according to IBIS World, which accounts for 21.6% of total establishments. This is followed by the Southeast (20.1%), Mid-Atlantic (18.3%) and the Great Lakes (10.4%) in the United States.
- Studios are primarily located in the following states: California (12.1% of total establishments), Texas (8.2%), New York (6.2%) and Florida (6.1%).
- Yoga studios and classes are generally offered in greater numbers in population centers because most practitioners do not wish to travel a great distance to perform the routines.
- Because of this ultra-local mentality, many studios have sought to expand product portfolios based on the need of ancillary items, bolstering industry revenue now and for years to come. Annualized growth from 2010-2015 is 7.5%.
To continue boosting local sales, watch for studios to form relationships with other local providers to create product offerings that are specifically tailored to that region. Individualized recommendations, classes, and products will also help to connect first-time practitioners to the industry in a meaningful way and potentially attract younger Millennials in the process. It’s a unique dilemma – to grow, the industry must keep offering something new to long-time practitioners, yet offering something enticing to new practitioners, but it’s a good dilemma to have.
How Men Could Make Their Own Industry Movement
- Surveys of yoga participants show consistently that less than 30% of regular practitioners are men.
- 37% of those who say they incorporate yoga into their daily lifestyle also have children under the age of 18 that also practice with them.
- People who practice yoga on a regular basis are also involved in a number of other exercise formats, including strength training and running.
- The 2016 Yoga in America study indicates that 3 out of 4 Americans who are currently practicing yoga have only been doing so for 5 years or less.
- The top five reasons for starting yoga are: flexibility (61%), stress relief (56%), general fitness (49%), improve overall health (49%), and physical fitness (44%).
- There are two people who say that they are in interested in becoming a yoga teacher one day for every one current yoga teacher that is running classes. Half of today’s yoga instructors have been teaching for 6 years or more.
- The 30+ age demographic dominates the practicing public in yoga, accounting for 81% of the industry today. Only 1 in 5 people under the age of 30 say that they would seriously consider practicing yoga.
- The keys to a successful yoga experience include instructional clarity, knowledge of yoga, and a friendly demeanor. Yoga practitioners are more likely to pay for classes from instructors who are seen as industry experts in these three areas.
- The number of men who practice yoga has increased from 17% of the industry to 30% in just three years. For this reason, stores like Lululemon have begin offering stores that are offering yoga apparel accessories for men only.
It’s not that women are stopping their practice of yoga. It’s that men have found that they enjoy yoga just as much as women do. Much of the explosive growth in the last 5 years has come from men who have tried and liked yoga. If similar growth happens in the next 5 years, then there could be more than 50 million people practicing yoga on a regular basis and industry revenues and impact could double. If that is going to happen, then the yoga industry is going to need to find the balance between offering a spiritual experience and becoming a big business premium lifestyle.
How Yoga Could Lose Everything
- Regular yoga practitioners are concerned that the emphasis of products, accessories, and lifestyle options within the industry is causing something to be lost along the way. Not only is yoga being seen by many as a leisure activity, catered to the wealthy class, it is fast becoming inaccessible to those who would like to start.
- Yoga Journal is not immune to this demographic issue. 30% of their readership has a household income that is $100,000 or above.
- According to Bill Harper, who is the VP of Active Interest Media’s Healthy Living Group, the amount of money that must be spent in order to successfully practice yoga has increased dramatically in the last four years just as the number of people have increased.
- Yoga has been shown to help fight everything from addiction and lower back pain to diabetes and aging, in addition to boosting overall well-being and stress relief, which according to the Huffington Post, may be why so many people are experiencing it for the first time.
- Philip Goldberg, who is the author of American Veda, says that just because there is a new practice or adaptation of this ancient spiritual practice means that it is a beneficial one. People are concerned about the authenticity of the yoga they practice.
- Watch for the industry to adapt to these concerns by making yoga more accessible to everyone. This won’t make the $100 smoothie packages disappear, but there may be shorter classes that are more affordable.
- Yoga practitioners will also look to increase the perception of authenticity in their classes by offering more specific information about the form of yoga that is being offered. In return, this may attract younger Millennials to yoga for the first time.
If an emphasis isn’t placed on accessibility and authenticity, then yoga could lose all of its credibility outside of the wealthy class. Right now people are spending all day in front of computer screens in order to earn a paycheck. They’re on the phone all day. You can barely get away from this technology sometimes. Yoga offers the escape that so many need and it doesn’t take much time for the health benefits to begin appearing in a measurable way. There are even mental health benefits which can be promoted. Yet if yoga loses its way and focuses only on the big business aspect of the industry, the high levels of growth could potentially disappear overnight.