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October 29, 2009

Is the Yoga Fad over?

Bloom off the Rose? Or Ancient Tradition, still Going Strong?

Years ago, when I first started elephant, I had the honor to interview John Abbott, the then-publisher and owner of Yoga Journal. He told me how he’d bought it a few years before, and instantly took the great little (30,000 circulation) magazine up to 300,000 circulation by simply printing lots more, shipping ’em, and seeing what happened.

Lo and behold, the Yoga Fad was on—studios opening as fast as Starbucks, yoga in the news, yoga in Vanity Fair, yoga businesses opening up faster than you can say Namaste.

Click for larger image:

10 years after Abbott made his big move, I often wonder if yoga will die back a bit, now that it’s no longer New! and Hot! and now that the economy has cooled. Well, it hasn’t.

Yoga studios continue to open, and despite a down economy, yoga classes are as full as ever, by all reports. Yoga businesses continue to grow. Yoga continues to garner the attention of mainstream press. And Yoga Journal’s circulation has continued to climb:

Active Interest Media today announced substantial gains in newsstand sales for its flagship health title, Yoga Journal. From 2005 to 2006, newsstand circulation grew 13.4%, and averaged over 100,000 copies in newsstand sales per issue, according to the December 2006 Audit Bureau of Circulation Fas-Fax.

So yes, the yoga fad is over. It’s no longer new news to the mainstream. But it’s taken root—as Trungpa Rinpoche used to say about Buddhism in the West, the flower has taken root upon the rock. And it continues to bloom.

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