Mind-body practitioners have always asserted that what helps or hurts the mind helps or hurts the body, and vice-versa.
That assertion will be put under a microscope literally and figuratively as researchers continue to examine therapeutic applications and outcomes from yoga, Pilates and other popular mind-body practices. Without a doubt, this heightened attention translates to increased business opportunity.
Yet it’s also going to challenge some of the most passionately held convictions in the mind-body community.
For example, consider the implications of studies showing that software that blends mindful meditation and cognitive-behavioral techniques can produce the same mental health benefits obtained through long-term and intense devotion to traditional meditation. Or studies which indicate that actually, for most people yoga doesn’t build strength and cardio capacity equivalent to weight-training and running.
Growing appreciation for the power of the linkages between mind-body will also attract new well-funded national players, some from the healthcare end of the health and wellness spectrum. For example, we’ve already seen the emergence of integrated cancer treatment centers that combine mind-body practices like mindfulness with traditional medical care. Mind-body techniques are also emerging in the treatment of chronic pain and a long list of other health concerns.
And these new entrants will often bring consumer marketing savvy and capital that far exceed the resources of current mind-body providers. Further, they’ll take mindfulness well beyond the walls of the yoga studio.
As a result, the emergence of new national brands will be accompanied by consolidation among local and regional mind-body practices and a gradual decline in the number of single-site yoga businesses as competition for consumer attention and dollars becomes much fiercer. In fact, a private equity firm acquired YogaWorks, active in four markets and with a very strong online presence, in 2014.
True enthusiasts will find even more esoteric opportunities to strengthen their practice, like kirtan. These niches will fuel success for local businesses as sanitized and simplified national mind-body brands continue to emerge at the national level, attracting new customers who aren’t interested in the usual spiritual and cultural aspects and are instead simply open to any mainstream practice that can enhance health, wellness and the satisfaction of a life well-lived. These national brands will quickly coopt yoga as part of therapeutic programs as well, limiting growth opportunities for many local yoga therapy providers.