Luxury yoga mats beat recession

May 30th, 2009 - 9:36 am ICT by IANS  

New York, May 30 (IANS) In these times of recession, US consumers are shying away from luxury but one thing that continues to beat the trend is a mat for yoga, costing $100.
A company called Manduka, which makes luxury yoga equipment, has seen its sales rise 55 percent in the first four months of 2009, a period when sales of other luxury items and services registered a drop, reports the web edition of Time newsmagazine.

Sales of Manduka - which means frog in Sanskrit - at during this period are up 87 percent, and the company has signed a deal with Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major retailer with 389 stores across the US.

Manduka offers a thick, cushiony black mat for between $74 and $130, depending on its length, and a biodegradable variety for between $42 and $70. They come with lifetime guarantee.

“Manduka is the Porsche, the Ferrari of yoga mats,” Phil Swain, CEO of YogaWorks, a 22-store chain of studios and retail shops in California, was quoted as saying.

According to many yoga enthusiasts in the US, the thick black Manduka mat makes a real difference in their practice.

“When you sweat during yoga, it’s easy to slip and slide. You don’t slip with the Manduka,” said Dayna Macy, managing editor of the Yoga Journal.

“If you practise vigorously, you’ll be moving up and down a lot, and you’ll use your knees. The mat is comfortable. And when you feel what’s under your feet, it can be a distraction,” Macy said.

The report noted that the popularity of pricey mats reflects the increasing popularity of yoga.

The number of yoga practitioners grew from 4.3 million to 12 million between 2001 and 2008, according to a recent study. Of the 12 million people who reported doing yoga in the past six months, nearly one million said they were trying it for the first time.

Yoga workshops and studios in the country have reported increased participation since the economy shifted from downturn to recession in September 2008.

Irene Narissi, a New York City yoga instructor, said her business jumped 10-15 percent over the past seven months. Her new clients are either unemployed and thus want to maintain their mental health or are insecure about their current job status and want to maintain their mental health.

“The meditative aspects of yoga satisfy the need to chill out,” she said.

But the real reason for the $100 yoga mat’s success is that the new crop of yoga enthusiasts is young, educated and affluent. “In other words, yogis are yuppies. And if there’s one thing yuppies do, it’s copycat their brethren,” noted the report.

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