Has the wellness industry jumped the shark?
In a week known for its pranks and gotchas, we were almost tricked by the announcement of this new “Soul Cycle for Meditation” enterprise. So, spinning is meditation is spinning? Well, not quite. Thank goodness. In fact, it’s the opposite, though the founder of Soul Cycle wants to make it just as ubiquitous. Because what we all really need is a meditation franchise.
“Suze Yalof Schwartz knows the business of helping women be their best,” this Fast Company article starts out. Yalof Schartwz is responsible for creating Soul Cycle, a chain of high-energy spinning studios catering to the young, exercise-obsessed lot, and building it into the powerhouse craze it is today. For her new venture, she wants take her trend-spotting business savvy to a new activity: meditation. It’s called Unplug Meditation, and it’s a drop-in meditation studio. Revolutionary.
How did she come up with the idea? She wanted to learn to meditate and didn’t want to spend lengthy hours and dollars on doing it.
The new business grew from her simple desire to learn how to meditate. Last November, she went in search of a course that would not cost thousands of dollars or demand more hours than the mother of three could dedicate. And she came up with nothing, except for an idea. “I thought, why can’t there be a Soul Cycle for meditation?”
Mind you, this is before she had any sort of meditation practice herself. Let us repeat that, Yalof Schwartz came up with the meditation studio idea before she had ever sat down to figure out this meditation thing herself. But don’t worry, she now knows how and has a daily practice, so there.
Self-described as a “spiritual entrepreneur” Yalof Schwartz may be both the heroine and the evil genius that the yoga community at once cheers and never asked for. Bringing meditation to the masses is a beautiful thing no doubt, and having this chain of meditation studios makes us excited for the opportunities that some people may not have encountered otherwise; so many folks just don’t know where to start and guided meditation could be really beneficial. It also makes us want to throw up in our mouths a little, like when we’ve had too much lunch and try to pop up into headstand too quickly. No bueno.
On April 15th the first Unplug Meditation location will open in Santa Monica, CA (where else?) but Yalof Schwartz has big plans for taking her meditation chain global. What about that whole thing where people can meditate at home without paying $20 per class? Yalof Schwartz isn’t worried.
Meditating at home is not fun for me,” she says. “But meditating in a room with someone guiding me in, with music, then guiding me out…it feels like you did something. This isn’t just meditation, it is an experience.”
Unplug Meditation will feature “an amazing dose of spirituality and science-based structure” in 30 and 45 minute classes broken down into different techniques like breath awareness, mantra, lovingkindness, gratitude and moving meditation. So far the teachers listed on the schedule seem legit, and we have no doubt the spaces will be pretty (and very, very white, judging by the photo above), but $20 for a class seems steep when a lot of yoga studios we know offer meditation by-donation or for free. (Side note: for those needing guides, lots can be found online, in app form or on those old plastic things called DVDs).
Do we need a special studio just for meditation? Some people, like ABC News’ Dan Harris who practices meditation and not yoga, might agree. Meditation and yoga often go hand in hand, but they can be separated just as easily, and might do better that way for the squeamish types — yoga? ew isn’t that for girls/skinny/flexible/yuppy people? Meditation? Oh, I’ve been hearing about all the benefits. Don’t the Seattle Seahawks do it? — See? Yoga studios can have that woo woo spiritual stuff scaring some folks away, but a meditation studio, well a meditation studio side-steps all of that.
Bottom line, we’re torn. More meditation is cool. This whole meditation chain thing, though, reeks of unnecessary commercial crap and capitalizing on something that could, and does, come for free. Will they start selling special cans of “ayurveda-infused meditation air” next?
photo via Fast Company
- ‘Nightline’ Co-Ancher Dan Harris Tells Stephen Colbert How Meditation Made Him Happier (VIDEO)
- Study Finds Meditation and Yoga Affect Brain, Body and Genes, In a Good Way, Warding Off Stress and Disease
- Powerful Short Film Shows How Meditation Can Help Prison Inmates
- Should All Yoga Studios Offer Free Meditation Classes/Sessions?