Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yoga in America: the numbers are in

Yoga Journal Releases 2008"Yoga in America" Market Study

Practitioner Spending Grows to Nearly $6 Billion a Year

February 26, 2008 (San Francisco, CA) – The latest "Yoga in America" study, just released by Yoga Journal ( shows that Americans spend $5.7 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations and media (DVDs, videos, books and magazines). This figure represents an increase of 87 percent compared to the previous study in 2004—almost double of what was previously spent.

Data for this survey were collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau on behalf of Yoga Journal. The poll surveyed 5,050 respondents, a statistically representative sample of the total U.S. population. Yoga Journal commissioned RRC Associates, a research firm in Boulder, Colo., to perform the data analysis.

The 2008 study indicates that 6.9% of U.S. adults, or 15.8 million people, practice yoga. (In the previous study, that number was 16.5 million). Of current non-practitioners, nearly 8%, or 18.3 million Americans, say they are very or extremely interested in yoga, triple the number from the 2004 study. And 4.1% of non-practitioners, or about 9.4 million people, say they will definitely try yoga within the next year.

The study also collected data on age, gender and other demographic factors. Of the yoga

practitioners surveyed:

  • 72.2% are women; 27.8% are men.
  • 40.6% are 18 to 34 years old; 41% are 35 to 54; and 18.4% are over 55.
  • 28.4% have practiced yoga for one year or less; 21.4% have practiced for one to two years; 25.6% have practiced two to five years; and 24.6% have practiced more than five years.
  • 71.4% are college educated; 27% have postgraduate degrees.
  • 44% of yogis have household incomes of $75,000 or more; 24% have more than $100,000.

"While the yoga population has stabilized, spending among practitioners has nearly doubled," says Patricia Fox, senior vice president and group manager of Active Interest Media's Healthy Living Group. "Yoga practitioners are a devoted consumer group supporting a thriving and vibrant market."

The 2008 study also indicated that almost half (49.4%) of current practitioners started practicing yoga to improve their overall health. In the 2003 study, that number was 5.6%. And they are continuing to practice for the same reason. According to the 2008 study, 52% are motivated to practice yoga to improve their overall health. In 2003, that number was 5.2%.

"Yoga is no longer simply a singular pursuit but a lifestyle choice and an established part of our health and cultural landscape," says Bill Harper, publisher of Yoga Journal. "People come to yoga and stick with it because they want to live healthier lives."

One significant trend to emerge from the study is the use of yoga as medical therapy. According to the study, 6.1%, or nearly 14 million Americans, say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them. In addition, nearly half (45%) of all adults agree that yoga would be a beneficial if they were undergoing treatment for a medical condition.

"Yoga as medicine represents the next great yoga wave," says Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor in chief of Yoga Journal. "In the next few years, we will be seeing a lot more yoga in health care settings and more yoga recommended by the medical community as new research shows that yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool for many health conditions."

The growth in the yoga market is reflected in the growth of Yoga Journal. The magazine saw an increase of 5.8 percent in paid circulation, and an increase of 9.2 percent in paid subscriptions, in the period from July through December 2007, over the same period in the previous year, while the first two issues of 2008 were record issues in terms of ad revenue and ad pages. The magazine is also a top-selling health and fitness title at Barnes & Noble nationwide as well as at Whole Foods.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tara Comes to HSU

Today in my class Meditation, Contemplation, and Imagination, we had a wonderful guest lecturer, Allison Rader. Allison is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who is now the head lama at Chagdud Gonpa Rigdzin Ling, a Vajrayana community out in beautiful Trinity County. I had the pleasure of doing an experiential retreat weekend through the Religious Studies department last year, led by Allison at the Gonpa. She is an incredible teacher, so real, and engaging. And she has the ability to hold such sacred space. In a room full of 30 people, I felt like we were engaged in a private conversation (and so did everyone else!). For an hour and half she gave an incredible Dharma talk, describing the spiritual path of the Vajrayana, and particularly leading towards a general understanding of Tibetan visualization mediation practice. We then closed our eyes, sat up straight, and she led us through a basic Red Tara practice, visualizing some of the basic elements of Tara - compassion, loving-kindness, humility, etc. It was so beautiful, I slowly opened my eyes feeling tingly all over. Then we read aloud:

In the space in front of me the mother of all the victorious ones, Arya Tara, actually appears and to her I pray:
Now, as I and countless others are lost in the ocean of samsaric suffering,
I seek buddhahood to gain temporary and ultimate happiness for myself and all living beings.
For this reason I take refuge in Arya Tara, embodiment of pure awareness,
inseparable from all perfect qualities of buddha, dharma, sangha, lama, yidam and dikini.
From the depths of my heart I pray, evoking from Tara's forehead, throat and heart
a brilliant surge of rainbow light.
As the light rays touch me and all other beings, the poisonous fruits of negative karma-
sickness, demonic afflictions and obstacles - evaporate like dew in the morning sun.
Merit, wisdom, glory, wealth and longevity increase beyond measure.

Illustrious Tara, please be aware of me. Remove my obstacles and quickly grant my excellent aspirations.



The last part in Tibetan we sang/chanted in harmony. There was a brief moment of rational discomfort, to be chanting in the classroom... then I realized, we're chanting in the classroom! It was such a beautiful practice. The Tibetan syllables left my body vibrating in illumination. We finished with a proper Buddhist dedication.

Throughout my many lives and until this moment,
whatever virtue I have accomplished
including the merit generated by this practice, and all that I will ever obtain,
this I offer for the welfare of sentient beings.
May sickness, war, famine and suffering be decreased, for every being
while their wisdom and compassion increase in this and every future life.
May I clearly perceive all experiences to be as insubstantial
as the dream fabric of the night
and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom display
in the arising of every phenomenon.
May I quickly attain enlightenment in order to work ceaselessly
for the liberation of all sentient beings.

Prayer of Aspiration
Buddhas and bodhisattvas altogether:
whatever kind of motivation you have,
whatever kind of beneficial action,
whatever kind of wishing prayers,
whatever kind of omniscience,
whatever kind of life accomplishment,
whatever kind of benevolent power
whatever kind of immense wisdom you have,
then similarly I, who have come in the same way to benefit beings,
pray to attain these qualities.

The Auspicious Wish
At this very moment, for the peoples and nations of the earth,
may not even the names disease, famine, war and suffering be heard.
Rather may their moral conduct, merit, wealth and prosperity increase,
and may supreme good fortune and well-being always arise for them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just a word...

What an experience it is to be a human California... in 2009! Such a diverse and complex world that we find ourselves in - so much information, technology, products, advertisements, and the choice, oooh the freedom to choose, which kind of toothpaste we want from the infinite variety available on the shelves. Humans have clearly made immense progress technologically in the past few hundred years. Our external world has drastically changed. But I often wonder has the human condition changed? Do we not still have the same basic needs and desires in our modern world as did the peoples of the ancient? Food, shelter, warmth, to love and be loved, to be happy, peaceful, to live a joyous life... While we have made much progress externally, have we done much internally as a society to fulfill these basic human desires? Are people more happy now with their iPod's, televisions, SUV's, and hair conditioner? Perhaps. I admit it is pretty incredible to have 5,000 tracks of the most amazing music ever created all in one device that fits in your palm, ready to make you feel warm and fuzzy at the press of a button. Or has this material gain and freedom to choose actually pushed us further away from the things which we truly care about?

I believe we each have these basic human desires, a basic spiritual yearning towards wholeness, towards peace, freedom. Yet unconsciously so many of us are looking outside of ourselves through material pursuit to fulfill this basic humanness. And guess what... it ain't working, the most basic needs are not being met. You can't subsitute prozac for peace. A quick fix won't do. Temporary satisfaction ain't the game. We're talking about true freedom, infinite lasting peace.

I got one word for ya...