Bali profits from business of soul-searching

Being a Hindu yogi once meant renouncing worldly pleasures for a life of solitary meditation, wandering the jungle in search of union with god.

Today, new-age yogis wander the globe from one retreat to another, stay in luxury hotels and preach to the converted masses through a headset microphone.

At the Bali Spirit Festival last week, yogis sold their take on life - along with complementary DVDs - as visitors from as far afield as the United States, Australia and Europe lapped up expensive yoga apparel, mats and mala beads. Just stepping through the festival gates cost $100 a day.

"I bought a gold pass for $500 and I find it hard to get $100 worth of yoga a day. At the same time, all the classes have been amazing, so in the end, I'm happy to have paid that," said Australian Jean Cameron, 39.

A 2008 study published by the Yoga Journal valued the yoga industry in the United States alone at almost $6 billion a year, with some more recent estimates for the global industry rising to $18 billion.

Bali is an obvious hub for yoga fanatics. The Balinese are Hindu, the Indonesian island is rich with natural beauty and the government supports spiritual tourism including temple tours and visits to traditional healers.

Demand for such experiences spiked recently with the publication of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" - a romantic journey of self-discovery featuring a mystical encounter with a Balinese soothsayer.

Uma Inder, a Hatha yoga teacher, has witnessed the radical transformation of yoga in Bali. She moved from England to the island 22 years ago, spending her first seven years practising yoga alone in the jungle.

"In those days you didn't talk about yoga and no one really knew about it. Nowadays, it's a social buzz. It's now talked about, it's paraded and it's very much about entertainment," Inder said.

Festival organiser Meghan Pappenheim makes no apologies for the commerciality of the event, and sees it as a positive way to draw more people to yoga.

"I'm the first to admit I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a capitalist. This event has a target market, and those are the people with the money who can go home and make a difference," she said.

"My philosophy is that you make money and then you give it away. You make enough to buy a phone and a nice car, and you give the rest away."

Only four years old, the festival itself is yet to turn a profit. But Pappenheim and her Balinese husband, Kadek Gunarta, say they have used the yoga boom to raise $36,000 for charity through various events.

The festival has a sponsor, Fiesta condoms, which donated $25,000 for an HIV/AIDS outreach programme for Balinese high school students.

So far, Pappenheim and her husband have funded the festival from money they make from a small empire of businesses, which include a yoga centre, an art gallery, an eco-friendly furniture studio and a cafe.

Pappenheim is optimistic that the festival too will become profitable as attendance numbers double annually. This year, she estimates 4,000 people participated.

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Langley James : Field Support Engineer; Dynamics, SQL; Manchester, £33k+Car

    £33000 - £36000 per annum + Car+Laptop+Phone: Langley James : Field Support En...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planning MRP Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innovativ...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Sales Executives

    £19000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to our clients continuing s...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game