Washington: With more yoga studios per capita than any other country (7,000), America has emerged as the industry's hub. Each year, they spend $16 billion on yoga instruction, apparel, gear, and accessories. According to Yoga Journal, more than 36 million Americans (or around 12% of the population) practise yoga, which was popularised by Paramahamsa Yogananda about a century ago and was first presented by Swami Vivekananda in 1883.
Last week, thousands of Americans, many of them Indian-Americans, was out on their mats in New York and other cities as PM Narendra Modi leads a yoga session at the United Nations’ Secretariat to mark the International Yoga Day (June 21), a formal designation sought and obtained in 2014 by New Delhi in an effort to propagate its ancient heritage for its health benefits.
The outcomes, at least in terms of numbers, are already evident: Since 2012, when just 20 million people practised yoga, there has been an increase of around 50%. One in three Americans have at least tried yoga, and during the past four years, the number of those over 50 who practise it has tripled. Female practitioners make about 72% of the workforce.
“Acceptance of another country’s culture and heritage on such a large scale. . . it might be difficult to find another parallel. Yoga has indeed lifted and popularised the Indian way of life,” India’s envoy to the UN Ruchira Kamboj told the media ahead of the prime ministerial push in New York before he departs for Washington DC for his state visit.