It's a yoga mat rainbow! In hues that say 2001-2005.

So it’s no secret that yoga is booming (or rather, continues to boom) during this whole recession thing (unless you work in yoga publishing). The most read article on the Time magazine website today was a rant about the price of yoga mats, and how their sales continue to rise despite the recession.

$100 for a stinkin’ mat. A company called Manduka, which makes these luxury yoga props, has seen its sales rise 55% in the first four months of 2009. Sales at during this period are up a stunning 87%, and the company just signed a deal with Dick’s Sporting Goods, a major retailer with 389 stores across the country. [via Time]

The article goes on to tell us that yoga practitioners have increased from 4.3 million in 2001 to 12 million in 2008 and that yoga has experienced a “spike in popularity” since the economic downtown last September. Owners of yoga studios around North America have seen increased traffic. “The feedback from new clients: they are either unemployed and want to maintain their mental health or insecure about their current job status and want to maintain their mental health. ‘The meditative aspects of yoga,’ [studio owner, Irene] Narissi says, ‘satisfy the need to chill out.'”

The article also has some interesting stats about yoga demographics, pulled from a 2008 Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Yoga Journal.:

  • 40.6% of those who do yoga are between 18 and 34
  • 71.4% are college graduates and 27% have postgraduate degrees.
  • 44% of yogis have household incomes of $75,000 or more

These are the kind of people who can afford to pay $100 for a yoga mat, even in the midst of a recession. And these affluent, educated people are turning to yoga as a way to cope with the stress of an uncertain economy, job loss and change. This CNN article back in January pointed out, “As recession-rattled Americans look to stretch their dollars, it looks like yoga is a little luxury they’re holding on to — or adding to — their schedules in the hopes of shedding some stress.”

Okay, so back to the article, which is just more proof that the popularity of yoga continues to climb. I also highly recommend clicking through to the random Related (though not quite) posts on the sidebar. The facial yoga photo gallery is just creepy and the “Recession Shopping: 10 Things to Buy Now” post is kind of interesting but poorly organized. But the “Joel Stein: Acrobat Yogi” link (in which a TIME Columnist gets the spa treatment at the Democratic National Convention in Denver“) is hilarious, and I almost missed out on it because of the stupid title. Watch it for yourself here: