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WSJ on Asana Assets: Where Are India’s Yogapreneurs?

in Business of Yoga, World News, YD News, Yoga Origins

Hey India, shake what your mama gave you! Or as a Wall Street Journal article points out, at least start by taking a big bite of this gazillion dollar yoga sandwich, eh? After all, you started it, right? And everyone else is eating the cookies out of your jar. (is it lunchtime?) Lindsay Clinton takes on what we know as the birthplace of yoga and ayurveda with the simple suggestion: India, darling, now that you want to officially lay claim to yoga, etc., why not capitalize on your history and optimize your assets, for you know, loads of money? While we know the West has enough yogapreneurs to fill an Ashram the size of Texas, and companies like Lululemon making $19 million in 3 months on stretchy pants etc, why haven’t Mumbai and Calcutta become authentic hot beds for profit-yielding yoga?

Clinton, whom we should mention works at social development consulting firm Intellecap in Mumbai, explains:

We encourage India’s youth to pursue monotonous low-paying work in call centers when they could study and/or promote some of India’s finest assets.

These assets — yoga and ayurveda — are not yet fully valued in the market. If they were, it might be a more sustainable approach to improving the long-term wellness of India’s middle-income population. (It should be noted that the “unaffordable wellness” market has plenty of capital behind it and a growing number of people who can and will pay for it.)

We’re all for affordable wellness. Does she have a point here? Cause guess what? Contrary to stereotypes, a lot of Indians DO NOT practice yoga, or at least the asana form of it, and they could certainly use it. According to the National Family Health Survey, India has the second highest rate of diabetes in the world and 20% of urban Indians are obese.

There must be a way to provide more value to communities, bringing a social return, while also making a financial return by injecting more energy, clinical R&D, and capital into these assets. If an entrepreneur took on the job of spreading yoga in a way that retained allegiance to the philosophy and enabled practitioners to enjoy its health benefits, perhaps we’d see fewer patients end up in hospitals in the long run.

And then we’ll all find world peace, cure man’s diseases and live on sunshine and lollipops! In other words, ideal scenarios=fat chance.  Granted we admit, words like “assets,” “financial return” and “market value” in reference to yoga make us want to barfasana, but can we really blame Ms. Clinton for suggesting the land of the yoga free take some business advice from the opportunistically brave? She means business. Some would say Ramdev already has a head start.

EarlierClimbing the Ladder of Yogapreneurship: Can You Earn a Living Teaching Yoga?

Patently Preserved: India Will No Longer Let You Steal Their Yoga

Lululemon Triples Q1 Profits, Discovers Millions of Fit Skinny People

10 Things You Need to Know About Pierre Bernard, ‘The Great Oom’, America’s First Yogapreneur

6 comments… add one
  • i have said it before and i will say it here…”Indian people do crappy yoga”. the reason is right here in this article. they have the yoga ” in their blood” but it ain’t “in their bodies”. they dont practice!

  • Guest

    That’s sort of like saying Greece should capitalize on the philosophy market, i.e. doesn’t make a lot of sense. Especially when you consider that what Americans are doing was pretty much invented single-handedly by Krishnamacharya, one (1) Indian dude.

  • Kath

    Perhaps India values yoga above and beyond the dollar.

  • The author herself says that she has done yoga in India “on and off.” For someone whose yoga practice in India has been sporadic (that’s what “on and off” means to me) I would take what she says with a grain of salt.

    “Where are the great Indian teachers and the great Indian studios?”

    Many Indians do yoga regularly. They just don’t go to fancy “studios” to do it. There are simple places everywhere. You can walk into two or three of the largest parks in Hyderabad and see people practicing. Yoga classes are being run by yoga institutions in India for free. The hype about yoga in the West and in parts of rich India is nothing new to these folk.

    And the fact of the matter is that despite what the West sees in the media about call centers and Bollywood stars, etc., the majority of Indians still remain poor and rural. Believe me, Eat Pray Love is an anomaly.

    IMO, fewer Indians will be taken up with the hype of celebrity yoga teachers like people are in the West. While there are the yoga “bigshots” in India, you can go to shalas in Mysore or Rishikesh or Haridwar and other cities and find teachers that have been teaching for years but are unknown. Not every “good” teacher is going to be well known even in India.

    Some Indians may be taken in by the hype, but fewer Indians will pay through their noses for the privilege of studying with some yoga rock star. Which is why most Indian “yoga entrepreneurs” go West. More rupees here.

  • p.s. I also have this to say about the article: it is written from a Western perspective and that’s not necessarily the way to look at things in India because usually when you do your turned on your head. (no yoga pun intended.) There are no black and white rules in India.

    I sent the link to a few Indian friends in India and this is what one had to say:

    “Because, culturally, it is not clever to spend money: it is clever to save it, invest in property, spend on education, marriage, etc.

    But it will come. The generation which considers money something to be spent is growing fast (Chennai’s wealthy, once content in their Ambassadors, are increasingly to found in BMWs and Mercs); the institutions that charge hundreds, if not thousands, for their classes/consultations, are bound to rise to serve the market. Doubtless, some of the ones that grow to satisfy this economy will not necessarily be of integrity and quality.”

    Just like in the West.

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