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Hard-up Americans turn to Yoga

Hard-up Americans turn to Yoga

Author: Reuters
Publication: The Times of India
Date: January 13, 2009

As layoffs loom and pensions plummet, more people are unrolling their yoga mats and polishing their poses to find flexibility and sanity amid the financial chaos. Fitness experts say gym memberships are holding steady, or rising, and yoga classes are thriving.

"The economy may have taken a downturn, but attendance in our yoga classes has grown," said Jess Gronholm, national Yoga coordinator for the Crunch health club chain.

"A yoga practice becomes a refuge from the negativity of an economic recession, and the studio becomes the sanctuary," said Gronholm, whose employer has over 100,000 gym members in five US states.

Yoga, which originated in India, uses movement and postures to strengthen the body and breathing techniques and meditation to quiet the mind.

Gronholm believes the 5,000-year-old practice is just the ticket in these nail-biting times, when banks aren't lending, consumers aren't buying, and experts are calling the latest economic numbers terrifying.

"At the very least members can come in and 'take a break' from whatever else may be going on in their lives. And at the very most, a practice can become a transformational experience that reenergizes and rejuvenates you," Gronholm said.

A recent Roper poll, commissioned by Yoga Journal, found that 11 million Americans do yoga occasionally and 6 million perform it regularly.

These days, devotees are eager to cite the tranquility they have found by twisting their bodies into pretzel-like contortions. "People want to do something relaxing and physically active," New York-based Yoga instructor Adam David said."My experience is that attendance in classes has gone significantly up in the past few months."

California-based YogaWorks, which operates yoga studios on the East and West coasts, agrees that business is thriving. "In our experience attendance is up year over year," marketing director Terri Seiden said.

So is yoga a recession-proof shelter from the storms of economic turmoil? "We don't say yoga is recession-proof but rather recession-resilient," Seiden said. "Yoga is one way that people can take care of multiple needs-it is a complete workout for your mind and body, a form of stress relief, entertainment and there is a sense of community as well."

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