Editor's blog: is India cashing in on yoga?

Monday 14 January, 2008

taj hotelsA thought-provoking article in India's Economic Times argues the country's yoga heritage is a powerful way for hotels and companies over there to become known in the West, raking in the cash in the process.


The article makes some valid points. Like it or not, ayurveda and yoga are an integral and increasingly important part of the ubiquitous spa industry.

Now worth $40 billion worldwide, this sector has now become so mainstream that no self-respecting hotel brand in India can afford to turn the other way, the author says.

The argument is that India and its holistic exports are a powerful way for brands and companies from the sub-Continent to make their presence known in the west.

The author writes: "Many European and American customers are increasingly bored of the same old brands which are now being mass marketed across the globe and looking for authentic options with substance, to offer meaningful experience.

"These mega trends are visible across categories, from food, fashion, entertainment, luxury to fitness and wellbeing."

It's difficult to argue with this. For whatever reason (stressful jobs and lives is normally the knee-jerk explanation), Westerners can't get enough of wellbeing and yoga.

In the USA alone, 15 million Americans practiced yoga in 2006 - that figure is growing by 25% a year.

This same huge group of people is responsible for a yearly spend of $20 million on yoga products; at speciality outdoor store REI, sales of yoga mats, blocks and other props were apparently up by 98% in 2006.

The famous Indian hotel group Taj Hotels is one company to recognise this mega-trend - its Taj Spas division offers an enticing range of "authentic and traditional Indian wellness treatments".

Its luxurious spa hotels are equipped with yoga and meditation pavilions, relaxation pools and a huge menu of massage treatments. I would imagine it's all too much for the stressed out London or New York city worker to resist.

Purists may throw up their hands in despair - yes, yoga and commercialism are uneasy bedfellows. But there's no arguing that yoga, wellbeing and ayurveda are hugely popular outside India, and becoming more so.

What better way for big Indian brands to crack western markets, at the same time as bringing diversity and a holistic focus to The West's increasingly homogeneous Big Business landscape?


Read the Economic Times article at -

Spa, yoga and chicken tikka adding value to brand India


Lucia Cockcroft, editor


Picture source: Taj Spas



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