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Yoga on the rise

Yoga on the rise
June 16, 2009

The practice of Yoga is extending far beyond its meditative and philosophical roots to become a fashionable mainstream lifestyle pursuit, with health clubs and fitness centres redefining the practice through a range of traditional and diverse classes.

In an article, 'Bend and Stretch', in the May/June 2009 issue of Australasian Leisure Management, Karen Sweaney reports that Yoga is growing in popularity and being adapted as a fitness pursuit.

According to figures from the Australian Sports Commission, Yoga is practised by 2.9% of Australians and has become the 13th most popular physical activity -ahead of Aussie Rules (2.7%), fishing (2.1%) and martial arts (1.8%).

While Yoga has been in the public domain for more than five thousand years it was the 20th century that saw its rise and spread, in several forms and styles, around the world. Over the last ten years the popularity of Yoga has seen a global shift in the way health clubs and Yoga studios have been delivering Yoga to their members - with moves from traditional Yoga classes to more inclusive classes opens the practice to a broader audience.

Shirley Archer, IDEA Health and Fitness Association's mind/body exercise spokesperson expects specialisation yoga classes to boom in popularity and says "clubs should consider adding kid yoga, teen yoga, older adult yoga and yoga for athletes to their mind/body programming. Many kids, teens and young adults are enjoying yoga today, and among college students, it is one of the more popular physical activities.

"All of these people will continue to practice as they age."

Yoga helps those in the fitness industry to become more aligned with the wellness industry. Yoga is now part of the 'wellness revolution' with pundits tipping the trend to good living, healthy eating, prevention-not-cure philosophy, and all forms of wellness, to be worth $75 billion over the next ten years in Australia. The target market cuts right across the demographic spectrum.

The recently launched Virgin Active Frenchs Forest health club dedicates an entire studio to mind and body offering its members Ashtanga, Iyenga, and Hatha Yoga. And Virgin Active is not the only health club to be innovating in this, with a growing number of centres in Australia and New Zealand now offering their members some form of Yoga as part of their overall health and fitness package.

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