A market research study released this month claims that some 36 million American practice yoga in one form or another — up from 20 million in 2012, an 80 percent increase in just 4 years. That’s roughly 15 percent of all American adults, about the same number who say they practice golf. Clearly this is no mere niche practice confined to dingy basement apartments in the urban demimonde. Yoga, for better or worse, is now thoroughly “mainstream.”
It’s also a ubiquitous sales prop. Look at the number of television commercials that feature everyday consumers practicing yoga in the background. Yoga these days is helping to sell everything from hamburgers to insurance. Buick, the American car company, recently hired a world renowned supermodel, Bar Rafaeli, to strike a number of yoga poses alongside its newest offering, while a self-styled guru extolled the vehicle’s “meditative” qualities.
It’s not just Americans, in general, that seem to be taking so readily to yoga — it’s above all, women. The latest study, in line with previous surveys, finds that three-quarters of yoga practitioners are female. Men are increasingly being marketed to – for example Lululemon, the world’s leading manufacturer of posh yoga apparel, including its ubiquitous butt-hugging yoga pants, is developing a new male clothing line – but there’s clearly something about yoga that appeals to women, especially upscale white women, both young and old. Continue reading >>