What Makes A Yogi Tick?

Yoga and wellness has become one of the fastest growing sectors and is now over a 20 billion dollar sector. This is probably why you are getting in on the action. You have a great idea, now how do you market your product to this community? Do you know what makes a yogi tick?

As a Yogi for over 14 years, I have observed how my purchasing behaviors as a consumer have been completely altered by my practice. I buy from brands that practice sustainability and give back to their communities. I scan every ingredient on a box to see if it’s organic and GMO free. I shop in thrift stores to practice recycling. I care about how a product impacts the environment.

In this article, let’s explore the philosophical influences on the yogi to see what makes a yogi tick and how you can speak their language.

The seminal text of Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, an ancient, sacred exploration of the science of Yoga. This is a wonderful read for any marketer and a great resource to gain a deeper understanding of how the Yogi may perceive the world. It contains rich layers of concepts that shape the information that yogis are digesting with their practices, thus hypothesizing that this can affect their perceptions.

In the Yoga Sutras, there is a concept called The 8 Limbs of Yoga that defines Yoga as a practice that encompasses all aspects of our lives. In essence when practiced in totality, it will help to remove impurities and ignorance to reveal the light of our wisdom. Reverend Jaganath Carerra, author of Inside the Yoga Sutras, explains, “The eight limbs seamlessly integrate selfless, active participation in life with introspection and contemplation. This exquisite balance is designed to encourage self-knowledge, expand and transform consciousness and culminate in Self-Realization.”

As a marketer in this industry, its beneficial to understand the motivation of the Yogi, thus understanding the influence of the eight limbs. The first two limbs are of most notable importance, as these are the guiding principles that shape the internal and external perceptions of a Yogi.

Let’s look at the first two limbs and illustrate how this information may affect the Yogi’s consumer behavior.

1. Yamas

The Yamas consist of nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, abstinence and non-greed. The Yamas are the way that Yogis operate in the world and the virtues that strengthen their mind. This is how one’s own personal truth and inner values align with the external world.

A)  Non-violence – Yogis practice being kind to themselves and to the world. They will expect the same from the brand they buy from.

Lulu Lemon has made some grave mistakes in the past regarding the company’s image. The founder, Chip Wilson, once said that the company didn’t make pants larger than size twelve because “it’s a money loser.” On another occasion when the quality of their yoga pants was criticized, he went as far as to say “frankly some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for it.” Wilson has since resigned from the company, but the many insensitive comments that were made publicly during his tenure had a detrimental effect on the brand’s reputation and on its support from the yoga community.
(BusinessInsider.com, 8 Outrageous Remarks By Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson, Hayley Peterson)

B) Truthfulness – Yogis buy from brands that are transparent about their goals and values.

C) Non-Stealing – Yogis want companies to have fair labor and best practices.

D) Abstinence – Yogis desire brands that expend energy and time efficiently and in a balanced way for the planet.

E) Non-Greed – Yogis want to see companies give back to their communities. To practice in sustainable ways that are helping the environment, the world and humanity.


2. Niyamas

The Niyamas consist of purity, contentment, accepting but not causing pain, study and worship of God (or Self-Surrender). These internal practices will govern spiritual growth and prepare the Yogi for Self-Realization. This is the practice of internal mindfulness.

A) Purity – Yogis regulate what goes into their bodies. They will want to buy from brands that are clean, organic, non-GMO, sustainable, and use non-toxic materials and processes. “Soybu is a sustainable active-wear brand available at many major sporting goods stores. Its clothes are made from soy, organic cotton, bamboo, and recycled materials. Soybu’s environmental values are increasingly appealing to consumers.” [15 Awesome Brands besides lululemon.com, BusinessInsider.com]

B) Contentment – This is the practice of shifting one’s attention away from craving and living more in the present moment. Yogis like to see companies that recycle and re-use as a way of reflecting living in the present moment and using current resources so we are keeping the planet from over-production and harm.

C) Accepting But Not Causing Pain – Pain is seen as a teacher and opportunities to learn and grow. Yogis try to refrain from anger or blame and want to see justice and actions that create positive change. They will buy from brands that engage in positive and impactful ways and accept responsibility for their actions.

D) Self-Study – Yogis engage in continual education of all living beings as a way to understand more about themselves. Yogis believe that everything around them is a reflection for higher learning. Yogis love to engage with brands that understand the whole of life and the grand vision of the planet.

E) Surrender to God/Self Surrender – This practice is to give oneself over completely which includes dedicated service to humanity, also known as Karma Yoga. Once again, the Yogi will be interested in brands with a strong message to serve and give back to humanity and the planet. A great example of this concept’s success is yoga mat brand, Kharma Khare.

Now you have a basic understanding of some of the prevailing principles of Yoga and how this may affect consumer behavior. Today we are seeing a much greater emphasis placed on corporate social responsibility, for big and small companies alike.

Hazel Barkworth in a recent article in Forbes, said it well:

Mindfulness is one of the top trends in consumer behavior. In a world full of buzz and surface interactions, people are seeking more depth and meaning… They are encouraged to think about–and take responsibility for–the ethical status of the things they do, buy and support.

How does your brand align? Can you make the Yogi tick?

One thought on “What Makes A Yogi Tick?”

  1. What a Great topic! As a Yoga Instructor in multiple studios and working for myself- i am exposed to many types of yogis! However, there is a simple common ground weather how dedicated or not they seem to be to the yogic lifestyle. People are seeking deeper meaning and connection to reason behind their practice, their work, their life. The tools of the 8 limbs helps people accomplish this – even to a small degree, and it makes people feel better about buying decisions!

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