Yoga is considered as a discipline that deals with the physical, mental, as well as spiritual aspects of life. This discipline is widely practiced in India from where it originated. The ultimate goal of yoga is to attain a state of an ideal spiritual insight and mental tranquility through meditation. In India, the discipline is popularly known as a special way of uniting human spirit with that of the supreme beings (Pandit 1985). However, the true meaning of yoga as applied in the current age revolves around attempting to raise the base of the spine. This is particularly achieved through a series of physical and mental exercises. The physical aspect encompasses a variety of postures that seek to keep the muscles stout and the body healthy. On the other hand, the mental aspect often involves breathing exercise, as one meditates about their lives as a way to discipline the mind. In overall terms, these exercises aim to help individuals obtain self-enlightenment (Barbara 1996).
Market for Tourism in Yoga
The United Kingdom has become a fertile hunting ground for tourism in yoga. According to current research, the general population is quickly gaining interest in yoga as a form of exercising the mind and brain. This has led to the emergence of several schools that provide basic knowledge on yoga. For instance, the Lancaster University offers a full course in yoga and has indeed established a new school known as the “British School of Yoga”. This portrays a typically bright future for the business of tourism in yoga in Britain (Cooper 2005). As a matter of fact, there are several companies that have already hit the ground in an attempt to cash in from this new idea. For example, “Kent Yogaworks” is a business enterprise that provides retreats at affordable rates in the Kentish countryside. According to them, tourists visiting this area can experience a wonderful enjoyment of the hatha yoga as well as the kulandini yoga, that would perfectly enable them to regain a peaceful mind (Denise & John 1996). Indeed, customers are already streaming in, especially the older generation that is faced with the stressful situations related to retirement. Yet still, this has not prevented the working class from embracing yoga tourism during their limited holidays, considering the stressful situations under which they work. Although this is still largely limited to domestic tourism, the world would soon seriously reconsider Europe for yoga tourism. In fact, it could make up a better tourist destination, considering its strategic location to the rest of the world as well as the good infrastructural development it enjoys as compared to India (Feuerstein 1996).
Although not as much popular in Europe as it is in India, a little more promotion and publicity will greatly boost its presence. Kent, for instance, has embarked on a strategic campaign that would help them make it an ideal tourist destination for yoga lovers. These include a vigorous media campaign as well as establishing working partnerships with leading yoga tourism providers in India (Beaver 2002). This is a strategy that they wish will not only attract their local population, but also make the entire Europe as an alternative yoga tourism destination for the whole world. However, much is yet to be done, especially in eroding the perception that yoga is a cultural reserve of the Indian people (Samuel 2008). This perception can ably be rooted out through public health education that targets to portray yoga as an alternative form of releasing stress. This will see a considerable number of people embrace the whole idea, considering that virtually everyone is faced with a stressful situation each day of their lives (Eliade 1958).
The last few years has seen several people from the United States exploring the southern parts of India for yoga tourism. Particularly, Mysore, a city located in India’s south has been cashing in on the new American craze. Indeed, this has caused a great deal of transformation to the entire city, especially in the tourism sector. According to Lucy Craft, the little known city of Mysore that has a paltry population of only six million people has lately hit the international radar with its identification as a tourist destination for the Americans. This surge of American people in the little city has been quite pronounced during winter (Wood 1959). Accordingly, the existence of an ideal climate interval between the seasons of winter and the monsoon has additionally attracted the Americans who are escaping the cold winters of America. As such, there is no doubt that setting up yoga tourism sites within the United States would generate a lot of income. This makes a lot of economic sense in that such a business would have a ready market, considering that people are already adequately informed of these opportunities (Heehs 2002). Besides, a majority of Americans mainly composed of the middle class would be able to afford the rates. In fact, it would form the ideal destination for both workers and students taking their winter vacations. However, the business community in America has to be properly informed of these opportunities before they can decide to invest into it. For instance, the government could offer incentives for such businesses to start off, as the eventual returns would be tremendous, especially when people from all over the world would start going to America as tourists in yoga (Deka 2007).
Africa has not been left out either in as far as embracing tourism in yoga is concerned. For instance, South Africans have come up with a community yoga program that seeks to deal with crises that face young kids especially those enduring poverty, child abuse, as well as death of parents. This program has seen over 20,000 workshops conducted in schools and the community at large. As a result, children have greatly benefited in teachings about yogic techniques that are generally fun as much as they increase the body awareness (Chatterjee 1984). The organizers hope that in the long term, the program would enable them to develop a higher sense of security and engender a sense of identity, especially among orphans, and model them into the motivated leaders of tomorrow (Taimni 1961). However, not much progress has been made in popularizing this idea, considering that it remains limited to a small section of the society. As such, attempts to educate the entire society on the social and mental significance of yoga would greatly popularize the idea. This is true in the sense that there is already a success story among the orphans and vulnerable children who have lately been living wholesome lives (Olson & Shadle 1996). In light of this, the idea of yoga tourism could rapidly get popular in Africa if serious attempts are made to publicize it. Although the economic gains could not be as large as elsewhere in the world, considering a good majority live below poverty line, it is a worthy adventure, especially with a focus on the future (Donatelle 2005). Perhaps, that is why several non-governmental organizations are using this program to endear themselves to the society. For instance, “Rena Le Lona” is a project that offers refuge for AIDS orphans. Besides, it helps them meet their intellectual, spiritual, as well as emotional needs. These efforts certainly stem from the belief that the future of yoga in Africa is bright and that the institutions that associate themselves with it will greatly reap from the good public perception they will gain (Wilkerson 2003).