The Yoga Market


Since I skipped my yoga class, I'm covering the yoga market to make up for it. If you have never taken a yoga class you might think it's breathing, stretching, hippy nonsense, but if you belong to a hip studio, have all the latest towels, mats, props, and stylish workout clothes, you know that yoga is big business. A $6 billion business to be exact. According to the 2008 Yoga In America Study released by Yoga Journal, these yogis are a pretty affluent group. Of the US yoga practitioners 44% have household incomes of more than $75,000 and 24% earn more than $100,000. Business Week reports the latest craze to hit the market is trademarked yoga styles. You have probably heard of Bikram yoga - the sequence of 26 poses practiced in 105F heat. In 2002 Bikram Choudhury trademarked and copyrighed that yoga style and now "charges fees for instructor training ($10,900), studio setup ($10,000), and franchise royalties (up to 5 percent of gross monthly revenues)—all contributing to $5 million in annual revenue." With results  like that others were sure to follow. Since 2001 more than 2,000 trademarks have been filed relating to yoga styles and products. A lot of these styles appeal to a certain non-traditional yogi or to anyone who doesn't have a lot of time. Now you can practice BROga®, Circus Yoga®, Snowga®, and my new favorite Hillbilly yoga®.

On a side note the  Indian government doesn't take to kindly to what it calls yoga theft. "Since 2001 their government has been cataloging more than 1,000 postures in a compendium created to protect against intellectual property infringement." It doesn't seem to be stopping anyone though. The creators of the styles claim that although they didn't invent the forms they invented a new style or sequence of how they go together. Even if the courts one day decide you can't trademark yoga, there are still lots of books, clothes, props and classes still to be sold.