Yoga Has Become A $27 Billion Industry In The U.S.

WASHINGTON – While the world celebrated the first International Yoga Day June 21, over 20 million Americans have already been practicing the ancient Indian meditative exercise, fueling the whopping $27 billion yoga industry in the country.

Years ago when the U.S. was first introduced to the 5,000-year-old Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice that aims to transform the body and mind, people would confuse yoga with yogurt. However, nowadays a higher and higher number of Americans have resorted to it for health benefits and no longer make this confusion.

A whopping 20.4 million Americans reportedly practice yoga in the U.S., a significant increase from the 15.8 million yoga practitioners in 2008.

The business of yoga is growing fast, too. Americans are spending over $11 billion a year on yoga classes and gear (pants, mats, bags and blocks), up by 88 percent from 2008, according to media reports.

With an increasing number of yoga practitioners comes an increasing number of places to practice. Bikram, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga studios can be found all across America but are more concentrated in some states than others.

Alaska hosts the most yoga studios per capita out of every state in the U.S. despite its minuscule population, the Huffington Post reported in March.

“Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular form of exercise in the U.S., and it is imperative to systematically examine its health benefits, especially the mental health benefits that this unique mind-body form of activity may offer,” said Edward McAuley, Illinois kinesiology and community health professor.

Many breweries have also joined the yoga bandwagon in hosting happy hour events, where one can attend a yoga class and grab a beer at an attractive price.

Washington’s Hellbender Brewing Company has launched a “Detox to Retox,” a monthly summer series of yoga, tastings and discounts, while Capitol City Brewing Company offers “Asana & Ale” in Shirlington, the Wshington Post reported.

Yoga was first introduced to America by Swami Vivekananda, who came to America in 1893 to address the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

The Huffington Post, in a January 2014 article, traces the growth of yoga into a $27 billion industry to Sat Jivan Singh Khalsa, “a lawyer moonlighting as a Kundalini yoga teacher,” who moved to New York to open a yoga studio in 1971.

It was a time, as Khalsa told the Post, when “people confused yoga and yogurt. They were both brand new, and nobody knew what either of them was.”

At that time, there were only a couple of yoga studios in New York. Today dozens of yoga variations can be found within a 1-mile radius of his studio.

“The love of yoga is out there, and the time is right for yoga,” Khalsa said.

In June 2014, over 11,000 people preformed yoga at the busy Times Square in New York and stretched out in the sun to commemorate the summer solstice.

The UN adopted an India-led resolution declaring June 21 as the International Day of Yoga in December 2014, less than three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the idea.

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