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Careers in yoga on the rise

Sarah Gross Dec 12, 2011

Jeremy Hobson: If you look at the latest data from the Labor Department you’ll find a couple of things: Not enough jobs, of course, and high productivitiy — which means we’re working harder. Add it all up, and it’s sending more young people into careers in Yoga.

Sarah Gross reports.

Maya Magennis: Inhale deeply, and fill your lungs with air.

Sarah Gross: This class in New York City may seem like a typical yoga session —

Magennis: Exhale all of the breath out.

— except that what you hear is the sound of student debt being worked off.

Yoga class: Ohhhmmmmm.

Maya Magennis is teaching the class. She’s 26 and found herself in the thick of the economic meltdown after graduating from Duke University in 2007. She had wanted to pursue a career in finance. But after months without work, she enrolled in a yoga teacher certification class.

Magennis: At that point, I don’t think it was really my intention to become a full-time yoga teacher but during that training, the seed was planted.

As many as 30 million people in the U.S. practice yoga, and there are some 70,000 teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that number will jump 30 percent within the decade.

Andrew Tanner: We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of younger students applying to our teacher trainings.

Andrew Tanner heads the teaching program at Kripalu Yoga Center in western Massachusetts.

Tanner: From 2008 to 2011, there’s been more than a 70 percent increase in the number of 18-to-25-year-olds.

Teaching yoga can be fairly lucrative. Instructors can get between $25 and $100 an hour for group classes, considerably more for private lessons.

But for Magennis at least, it’s not just about the money.

Magennis: It’s both financially sustainable, and also sustainable for your soul. I think there are many other careers out there that sort of eat away at people and you can see it in their face.

And although Yogis have traditionally been older — capable of teaching life lessons along with poses — Magennis believes her youth affords her some advantages.

Magennis: Epecially given that I’m a newer teacher, you get people that say: oh, you might not have enough life experience. But then once they’ve taken my class, I think that I provide a very fresh perspective.

With more people Magennis’ age teaching yoga, it’s a perspective that could be coming to a yoga studio near you.

I’m Sarah Gross for Marketplace.

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