The yoga industrial complex

My entrance into the world of yoga was a surprise, happened by accident when Maile opened her studio, and my immersion has been at least as much in the context of business, if not more, than the yoga itself. 

While I still consider myself a complete novice when it comes to the practice of yoga, it's teachings and the ways in which one can improve their life through yoga, I do feel that over the past few years we've been able to get a pretty clear picture into the business of yoga and various trends in the industry.

One theme that comes up repeatedly in my mind, as well as in conversation, is that there very much seems to be different yoga worlds. I've noticed though that these different worlds often fall into one one of two categories:

Independent business on the one side, and what I've started referring to as the yoga industrial complex on the other side.

Like I've written before about some of our competitors, different doesn't necessarily have to mean better or worse, but different is.....different.

The yoga industrial complex sells volume.

Independents sell loyalty. 

The yoga industrial complex is Groupon, calling every studio multiple times per week trying to get them to sell their yoga for a dollar, while the independent shuns the daily deals and instead works to get a new monthly member.

The yoga industrial complex is Lululemon, mocking the women who shop at their stores, while selling to them at the same time. The independent is Teeki, coming out with intriguing designs and working to be sustainable and making the world better at the same time.

Yoga Journal, owned by Active Interest Media which publishes over 100 magazines, is definitely part of the Yoga Industrial Complex. Yoga Iowa is the independent.

Core power is part of the yoga industrial complex. Your new studio is the independent. 

I bring this up, and it's worth thinking about, because small business often think they need to emulate big businesses. This usually isn't true, I think even more-so in the world of yoga, and even more-so still when we're talking about yoga studios.

As yoga becomes more and more popular, as more studios open, as more clothing manufacturers like Reebok, Nike and Under Armour all work to gain market share in the world of yoga, it's important to ask, what kind of business are you trying to build?

Are you trying to compete with core power? Or are you trying to inspire someone that's never done yoga to give it a try?

These are very different questions that lead to very different business decisions. Are you building a studio that aims to be part of the yoga industrial complex?

Or are you an independent?