Working at Yoga + Joyful Living magazine--and serving as a certified Sivananda yoga instructor--have opened my eyes to our expansive national yoga community. Downward dog pose, ayurveda and sun salutation have become household words, if not household practice. And commerce has kept pace: From the first time that batik-clad flower children got a whiff of yogic practice, the market started to integrate the nirvana-bound consumer with everything from hemp pants to rudraksha malas.
About 16 million Americans now practice yoga, and there are dozens of spiritually inclined publications catering to them. Today, yoga magazines are fixtures at newsstands and on coffee tables, amidst Cosmopolitan and Esquire, and are supported mostly by the demographic of 25-45 year-old women (some marketers call them Yoga Mamas). Here are some of the top yoga publications:
- Yoga Journal – Founded in 1975 by members of the California Yoga Teacher’s Association, YJ hit mainstream circulation in 1990 and has continued to grow to its current readership of over a million. As the most popular yoga magazine in the country, YJ also features an extensive Web site with links for the yoga community. The publication is a glossy amalgam of trendy new-age style, health tips, travel and practice.
- Yoga + Joyful Living – Produced from the non-profit Himalayan Institute, this bi-monthly magazine was founded in the 90s by Swami Rama as a response to the watering down of traditional yoga practice he was witnessing. Featuring articles from renowned spiritual teachers Rolf Sovik, Rod Stryker and Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Yoga+ covers topics of holistic living, classical yoga scriptures, journeys and spirituality in action.
- Integral Yoga – Formed in 1970 on the principles of Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga magazine is composed in Yogaville, an ashram in Virginia. The quarterly magazine draws from a variety of faiths and traditions with a theme of yoga philosophy. Articles range from interviews with spiritual personalities (Dean Ornish, Dharma Mittra) to features on hatha yoga.
- Yogi Times – Focusing on the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, Yogi Times calls itself the premier media resource for the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) market, a $208 billion industry. With a circulation of 50,000, YT promises a balance of yoga principles with an urban edge. Recent content has featured eco-friendly cocktails and an interview with the CEO of Putumayo World Music.
- Fit Yoga – New York-based Fit Yoga was founded in 2004 and calls itself the fastest growing yoga magazine in the country (current circulation: 110,000). Editor-in-chief Rita Trieger was formerly the editor of FIT magazine. Promising “easy-to-read, informative, non-preachy,” articles, Fit Yoga offers articles on applying yoga to sports, creating meditative spaces and finding earth-friendly products.
Yoga magazines have evolved out of worldwide yoga schools, organizations and celebrity teachers. Locally focused publications like YOGAChicago and LA Yoga penetrate smaller, more concentrated yoga communities. Fit Yoga takes a wider, less philosophical approach in its coverage, while the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center’s Yoga Life magazine adheres to classical tenets.
Freelance writers and yoga instructors are welcome contributors, on everything from “green lifestyles” and Indian travels to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. With the mind-body-spirit community pervading every industry from medicine to media, the scope for writers and marketing will continue to rise as yoga classes remain packed to capacity at local studios.
Please leave us your thoughts, on these magazines or any other yoga publications you turn to. You are also welcome to leave comments about the general state of yoga influence in the U.S. (Anyone know what the state of yoga-media is in India itself?)