YOGA: IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY, HONEY!
Friday, April 23, 2010 The Star of Mysore
Spend Rs. 29,000 per month in City and earn Rs. 7,50,000 in the US
Mysore, Apr.23 (JP)-It is all about money, Honey! Yoga is no longer a simple, time-tested form of exercise aimed at rejuvenating the body and the mind but one of the biggest money spinners in the West. There are a few million Yoga practitioners in the USA alone and the number is growing.
SOM found that a couple of hundred Americans with a sprinkling Europeans come here to learn yoga from the six to seven schools in the City. They spend anywhere from a month to six months either learning yoga or upgrading their skills by learning advanced techniques.
All the yoga students come on a tourist visa and unwittingly break the law by taking up yoga courses. ‘Yoga talk’ among the closely knit Western groups centre around ‘yoga visa.’ But it is found that there is no such thing as a ‘Yoga Visa’ and there is only a Student Visa for which none of the westerners are eligible to apply as, not a single yoga school in the State is recognised by any University or the State Education Board.
It was also found that the City Police Commissioner had sent a circular to all yoga schools not to admit any foreigner on a tourist visa. When SOM spoke to Sashi Kumar of Mystic Yoga School in Gokulam, it found that a Police team had visited his school. Sashi also said that Police had been double-checking on yoga schools in Lakshmipuram to see if foreigners are being taught and what kind of visa they have.
SOM spoke to Harish Bheemaiah who runs the Mandala Yogashala in city. Harish said that the Police will not admit whether the circular came from the Ministry of Home Affairs or the State Home Ministry. Harish Bheemaiah said that it is more than three months since they and other Yoga schools in the city got this notice from the Police Commissioner’s office asking them not to entertain any foreigner on a tourist visa. He said that he along with several of his students had met MLA Ramdas and apprised him of this situation and he in turn spoke to the Police Commissioner. The Police Commissioner was supposed to have had a meeting with them on April 14 at 4 pm but for some reason the meeting was put off.
SOM traced the origin of Police Commissioner Sunil Agarwal’s circular to the one issued by the Kerala State Police who had issued a special circular since that State has an even larger number of Yoga and Kalaripayat schools. Clause VII of the Kerala Tiruvananthapuram Police Chief’s circular says: “As several foreigners coming to India with tourist visas seek admission for studying yoga and meditation, as per the prevailing norms they should hold proper student visa for studying yoga meditation etc. And their venue of study should be clearly recorded on the side of the visa stamp. (The institution should be an authorized one). Moreover change of institution is also not permitted.”
Sashi Kumar told SOM that the Police circular is ridiculous and said he would file a Writ petition about the illegality of this circular. Says Sashi Kumar, “If someone comes on a tourist visa to see Mysore and spends two days learning how to make a Mysore Masale dosa, does it mean that this tourist has violated the law?”
But why this eagerness to learn Yoga in the City? SOM discovered that many student turned teachers now advertise “Mysore style” classes, or Pattabhi or Iyengar style and charge even more. The money just doubles when it is advertised as Mysore style yoga.
Michele Nichols and Steve Dwelley run the Ashtanga Yoga Centre at Santa Barbara, California. They offer a special ‘Mysore Monthly’ course in yoga and they charge $ 150.a month for twice a week classes. This means if they teach 20 students a month, they stand to make $ 3000 a month. Michele and Steve charge $ 1500 for a year’s course of two classes a week. That means even if they have 10 students for the yearly class they will make $ 15,000 or Rs. 6, 75,000 per year. And in Mysore they spend around Rs. 29,000 for six months of Yoga classes.
The School of Yoga in Croydon, United Kingdom, charges 12 pounds a week for a six week course. SOM found that with the exchange rate at Rs. 75 to a pound, a yoga teacher in the UK makes a little over Rs. 5,400 per person for a six-week course.
Kristina Karitinos conducts Mysore style Ashtanga yoga in Athens, Greece, for 90 Euros for a five week course. Govind Kai also has a Mysore Style Ashtanga yoga studio in Athens. David and Catherine Garringues of Seattle, Washington are regulars to Mysore where they spend time upgrading their skills.
Each of those mentioned above spend not more than Rs. 30,000 a month here in the City for two months and this includes their fees, food and stay. But when they get back they make five times the money they have spent.
………. End of article……….
…except that the cost of living is much higher in Europe and the United States. And one month of study at certain yoga schools is much higher than in the west. Hmm.