The Business of Yoga

20 Jun 2019

Yoga has been an integral part of Indian culture since times immemorial and has been practiced across the country by many people. This ancient Indian science, which brings harmony between the mind and body, was taken to the western world by Swami Vivekanand, who popularized it there and found many ardent followers of yoga. Over the decades, yoga has become more popular and has been adopted as a way of life by a growing number of people within India as well as overseas.  

“Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed” according to Late Shri B.K.S Iyengar who played a seminal role in popularizing yoga in India.  

Many people have been inspired to adopt yoga, so much so that several different forms have emerged over the decades to cater to the different needs of the people according to their age, fitness levels and expected outcomes such as fitness and flexibility, peace and calm and spiritual development.

Some of the popular forms that are practiced in the modern world today are Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Kriya Yoga. Other forms emerged to meet specific needs of people such as pre-natal yoga and restorative yoga which are practiced by people looking for specific outcomes depending on their need at the time.

With the establishment of the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), the promotion of Yoga has intensified, and it has been reintroduced in people’s lives, rekindling in their minds the value of yoga and the role it plays in holistic well-being. Yoga received a further fillip when June 21 was declared the International Day of Yoga and 36,000 Indians joined the largest yoga class in the world in 2015.

The Business of Yoga

Encouraged by the promotion by the Ministry, the business around yoga has increased manifold. The business ecosystem around yoga comprises yoga gurus or teachers; yoga schools and studios; yoga ashrams; yoga retreats and other yoga-related businesses such as apparel and equipment and books and videos etc.

Yoga classes are major revenue earners, and the number of participants sees a sharp rise in the summers with the International Day of Yoga serving as a gentle reminder to people to adopt this ancient Indian science. Personal branding and marketing of yoga reflects the growing popularity and business potential of yoga with personal brands such as Iyengar Yoga and Bikram Yoga being extremely popular. Several celebrities from the media and entertainment industry have also released videos and books on the yoga they practice, giving a boost to the business around yoga. These books, while being niche, are an important part of the publishing industry.

Yoga now is seen as an important component of the global wellness industry, estimated at USD 7 billion. The Indian wellness market is worth INR 499 billion, of which 40% is attributed to wellness services.

With a large number of people becoming health conscious and enrolling themselves for yoga classes, the estimated value of the yoga industry globally is said to be around USD 80 billion.

The yoga apparel, yoga equipment and accessories market are growing rapidly and according to a research firm, the global yoga apparel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 6% during 2019-2023. In 2018, the bottom wear segment accounted for the largest market share, followed by top wear and accessories respectively.

The biggest businesses in the athletic wear space like Adidas, Nike etc. have invested heavily in yoga apparel. Their products have found a huge market, especially amongst fashion-conscious people.  In fact, some e-retailers in the Indian market have seen a growth of over 225% year-on-year (Y-o-Y) for yoga products under the sports category.

Clearly the business potential of yoga is rising and given the growing popularity of yoga, it is set to rise even further.

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