Study Follows Evolution of Yoga and Yoga Marketing in U.S.

Yoga pose, Abstract color background
Researchers from Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics published a new study about the evolution of yoga in the American marketplace. They concluded that its rise has been largely associated with its perception as a fitness, rather than spiritual, practice.

“What we discovered was the U.S. yoga market delineated itself not only in the different types of yoga that emerged, but also in the logic behind why people do yoga,” Gokcen Coskuner-Balli, an assistant professor and co-author of the study, explained to Chapman University’s news service. The study shows that the changing meanings of yoga have had to do with the training of yoga gurus or instructors, as well as the distinct branding practices of the many players in the yoga market.

To gather data for the study, the research team dove into a wide variety of popular sources. They searched for all articles in the New York Times and Washington Post archives that were published between 1980 and 2012 and had the word “yoga” in the headline or first paragraph. They also examined published books containing the word yoga, interviewed founders of yoga brands and even participated in multiple types of yoga classes between 2009 and 2012.

This approach allowed the team to identify key moments that positioned yoga as a health and fitness regimen, such as when Berly Bender Birch’s Power Yoga became the best-selling book of 1999.

The full paper, with Burcak Ertimur listed as co-author, is published in the Journal of Marketing.
Yoga and Stress Management
The evolution of yoga into a popular American workout doesn’t mean that it has completely lost its meditative quality for participants however, as probably most of the busy moms who see it as their escape would explain.

According to a newly released study out of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, mindfulness-based practices including yoga can help decrease overall stress levels and reduce the risk of burnout even in extremely demanding jobs.

“As a yoga practitioner, I have dabbled in various forms of yoga,” said Malek Neman, President of NUX Group, Inc. “While the fitness and flexibility benefits of yoga are difficult to dispute, there is a magical, and often unexpected, experience that brings most practitioners back to the mat. In the process of focusing on the yoga routine and breathing practices, the mind does slow down, and the practitioner experiences a meditative state. I often walk away from the mat with a deep sense of gratitude.”