In times of economic crisis, people turn to yoga

Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:34am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As layoffs loom and pensions plummet, more people are unrolling their yoga mats and polishing their poses to find flexibility and sanity amid the financial chaos.

Fitness experts say gym memberships are holding steady, or rising, and yoga classes are thriving.

"The economy may have taken a downturn, but attendance in our yoga classes has grown," said Jess Gronholm, National Yoga Coordinator for the Crunch health club chain.

"A yoga practice becomes a refuge from the negativity of an economic recession, and the studio becomes the sanctuary," said Gronholm, whose employer has over 100,000 gym members in five U.S. states.

Yoga, which originated in India, uses movement and postures to strengthen the body and breathing techniques and meditation to quiet the mind.

Gronholm believes the 5,000-year-old practice is just the ticket in these belt-tightening, nail-biting times, when banks aren't lending, consumers aren't buying, and experts are calling the latest economic numbers terrifying.

"At the very least members can come in and 'take a break' from whatever else may be going on in their lives. And at the very most, a practice can become a transformational experience that reenergizes and rejuvenates you," Gronholm said.

A recent Roper poll, commissioned by Yoga Journal, found that 11 million Americans do yoga occasionally and 6 million perform it regularly.   Continued...

<p>People participate in a YogaWorks class in Santa Monica, California in this handout picture taken early 2009. REUTERS/Handout</p>