Ed Michael Reggie, a health care executive from New York, is even more devoted to his yoga practice on the road than he is at home.
By JANE L. LEVERE
Mr. Reggie, who spends 30 percent of his time traveling domestically for business, says he looks for classes in yoga studios in cities he visits but occasionally practices yoga in his hotel room or spa, if equipment is available there.
“Yoga is very important to me when I travel,” he said, adding, “Being in front of a client or asking someone to become a client is high pressure. Yoga is calming, centering. It focuses your concentration, breathing. In New York, yoga is an important part of my day, but it can be more profound when I’m in San Francisco pitching someone.”
Hotel companies, and even some airports, are beginning to cater to people like Mr. Reggie as more and more Americans take up yoga. Hotels are providing yoga equipment and videos in guest rooms, as well as classes, often for no charge, while airports are offering yoga studios to passengers in transit.
According to a study released by Yoga Journal last month, the number of Americans practicing yoga jumped 29 percent, to 20.4 million — or 8.7 percent of American adults — since the previous study in 2008, when 15.8 million practiced.
Hotels’ yoga initiatives represent their response to “travelers’ desire to lead healthier lifestyles,” said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst for Hudson Crossing, a travel industry consulting company.
Supplying yoga mats and videos in guest rooms results in “very little incremental cost” to hotel owners, said Bjorn Hanson, dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at N.Y.U. Offering such amenities also might justify higher rates, he said, since yoga devotees could be more willing to pay more for a room if the hotel met their yoga needs.
COMO Hotels and Resorts, based in Singapore, has been at the forefront of the yoga trend. Its founder, Christina Ong, has a yoga studio in Singapore, and has been promoting yoga to guests since 1997, when the Metropolitan by COMO, London, opened. That hotel, along with the Halkin by COMO, also in London, and the Metropolitan by COMO, Bangkok, provide yoga mats and a yoga television channel in guest rooms. The company has also developed what it calls “Shambhala” cuisine of healthy foods and even sells a line of clothing for yoga practice.
Kimpton Hotels has offered yoga equipment — including mats, straps and exercise bands — free in guest rooms since 2003. It also provides on-demand yoga classes on guest room TVs. Many individual Kimpton hotels offer guests free yoga classes as well.
Similarly, Affinia hotels in New York and Washington have offered guests free use of yoga mats, blocks and DVDs in guest rooms since 2009, while Westin began increasing space for yoga practitioners in its fitness centers last year.
Peninsula Hotels in New York and Chicago offer a minimum of one or two yoga classes daily free to guests. Enid Aquino, spa director for the Peninsula New York, said the hotel doubled the number of yoga classes since they began 14 years ago. She attributed yoga’s increasing popularity among business travelers to the “physical and mental balance” it brought “into hectic life while you’re on the road.”
Newcomers to hotel yoga offerings include IHG, whose new wellness-oriented brand of hotels called EVEN will provide yoga mats in guest rooms as well as a private space to practice yoga in the gym.
Last year, Hilton Hotels and Resorts tested a guest room for yoga practitioners at hotels in McLean, Va., and San Francisco. The room featured special flooring, a full-length mirror, mat, cork bricks, a stretch strap, foam roller, stability ball and on-demand yoga on TV. Jodi Sullivan, senior director of global fitness for Hilton Worldwide, said the yoga room, with an average daily surcharge of $30, was well received, though, she added that the company had not yet determined whether it would offer this room beyond the trial.
Many individual hotels in business travel destinations — including the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica, Calif.; Fairmont Battery Wharf and Ritz-Carlton, both in Boston; Ritz-Carlton, Denver; and Four Seasons Hotel Miami — offer yoga classes at spas and fitness centers onsite or nearby. Other individual hotels provide a variety of yoga initiatives, including Fairmont Singapore’s “Full Moon Yoga” program held every September; a yoga mat, deck of cards illustrating 52 yoga poses and “harmony of life” music CD delivered upon request to guest rooms at the Pierre in New York; the abdominals yoga classes at the health club of the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto; yoga classes daily from early morning through early evening at 889 Yoga & Wellness Spa at Thompson Toronto; and the services of an in-house, yogic, lifestyle trainer at the spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.
San Francisco International Airport opened a yoga studio last January that is immediately past security in Terminal 2 and is open at all hours. A yoga studio opened last April at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in previously unused corridor space connecting Terminals D and B. It offers exercise mats, a privacy screen and a beginner’s yoga video that runs 24 hours a day on a large-screen TV.
Business travelers who want to maintain their yoga practice on the road can use the Mindbody Yoga app, which is available to Apple and Android users and finds and books local yoga classes. Travelers can also subscribe to yoga videos on demand from MyYogaOnline.com, a company in Vancouver, Canada.
Alyssa A. Pfennig of Indianapolis, who arranges and teaches yoga sessions at professional meetings, urged business travelers to practice yoga deliberately and unself-consciously, however and wherever they do it.
“Get rid of your fear that someone is going to watch you or judge you if you do yoga at the airport or on an airplane,” she said. “Ignore everyone and just practice. It helps prepare you for whatever business you have to conduct, it sort of helps you get a game face on and focus.”