International Yoga Day: Hit by Pandemic, Yoga Tourism Sector in Mysuru Banks on PM Event to Revive

Hit by the pandemic, the yoga tourism sector in Mysuru is hoping to regain its former glory as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to attend celebrations for the 8th International Yoga Day in Mysuru on Tuesday.

A Tier II city of Karnataka, Mysuru is a global attraction for its heritage, heritage and annual Dasara celebrations. Also known as a retirement paradise, the city attracted around four million tourists each year in pre-pandemic times.

According to the Mysuru Yoga Federation, at any one time there were about 2,000 foreigners learning yoga in the pre-pandemic era in the city.

However, the pandemic has also provided an opportunity, with online yoga class enrollment showing a slight increase. But this trend has not helped the yoga tourism sector in Mysuru as the influx of tourists has remained low due to travel restrictions.

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Notably, there are about 50 registered yoga centers in Mysuru and more than 50 unregistered or unrecognized that cater to thousands of yoga students across the world.

Sri Hari, head of the Mysuru Yoga Federation, said the pandemic was both a boon and a bane for the yoga sector. “As yoga tourism has come to a halt due to the blocking of international flights and the lockdown, the demand for yoga classes has increased. The number of trainers has also increased,” he said.

The number of trainers has increased at least two or three times and people have started taking yoga classes online. Also, the demand for individual yoga trainers who visit learners’ homes has increased due to the pandemic situation, Hari added.

He said they expect more people from all over the world to choose Mysuru as their yoga tourism destination after the Prime Minister’s visit to the city on International Yoga Day. Mysuru’s yoga trainers may also get more opportunities elsewhere in the future, he added.

Praveen from Mysore Hatha Yoga Kendra said: “The demand for online classes after Covid-19 has increased, but we are not for it. Offline classes are the ones that are authentic and they respect the ethics of yoga. We observed a lack of interest among online students. The influx of yoga students is still not up to par, but there has been an increase in the number of yoga experts.

Archana Bharath and Bharath Shetty, a couple who run Yoga Bharata and India Yoga centers, said they hope restrictions on international travel will soon be lifted. Archana said: “The number of foreign nationals enrolling in centers here has yet to rebound to pre-Covid-19 numbers but is gradually increasing. As for the Indians, the belief in yoga has increased as many suffer from stress.

Citing an example, Archana said, “The India Yoga center which is specifically for foreign nationals is registering 36 students per batch. After Covid the numbers have dropped but they are slowly picking up. We now have 15-18 students in a batch.

Notably, Mysuru and yoga has over a century of history and yoga was patronized by the royal family of Mysuru before and after independence. During the regime of Krishnaraja Wadiyar (1884-1940), Tirumalai Krishnamacharya started teaching yoga in Mysuru. He is said to have learned yoga in a cave at the foot of Mount Kailash. He first started teaching yoga to the royal family and then the king decided to hold classes for the public as well.

Later, Krishnamacharya’s student BKS Iyengar continued to teach yoga in Mysuru. Even to this day, BKS Iyengar Yoga (the format that bears its name) is widely practiced in Mysuru. As yoga grew in popularity, another student of Krishnamacharya, Pattabhi Jois, made a name for himself. Today, many yoga centers in Mysuru teach specific styles of yoga.

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