Yoga vs. Meditation? Why Do the Most Successful People Meditate?


Is it too early to call an end to yoga madness?

  • Yoga has become big business. From 2012 to 2016, the number of Americans practicing yoga — three-fourths of them women — doubled to 37 million, creating a $17 billion industry.
  • As it became super trendy, it got more gimmicky with studios concocting fads like beer yoga, ganja yoga, and even goat yoga, to distinguish themselves in an overcrowded field.
  • As we’ve seen with many other fads from zumba to P90X, what goes up invariably comes down and yoga studios are indeed starting to close.

Having just finished reading Tribe of Mentors, I would say, YES, the time is right for a more mindful approach:

  • What struck me in reading this fantastic book was the frequency with which meditation was mentioned (at least three-quarters of these high performers meditate).
  • At the same time, there was only a single mention of yoga (in 600 pages). I thought that was telling.

Read on below.


Meditation turned up in response to 3 of the 11 questions each of the interviewees was asked in Tribe of Mentors:

#1:  What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

  • One of the best payoffs for the amount invested was learning to meditate. My mind is continually racing at 1,000 miles per hour. If  you want to perform optimally, at anything, you need to find a way to recover. I tried everything. Yoga, exercise, even hypnosis. In the end, meditation turned out to be one of the most practical, powerful, productivity-enhancing tools ever created.   (Adam Robinson, Chess Master, Co-Founder The Princeton Review, AI specialist)

#2:  In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?

  •  Transcendental Meditation is the biggest gift that keeps on giving. It is amazing what a great “reset” TM can be.   (Mike D, Beastie Boys)

#3:  When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

  •  I meditate.   (Ray Dalio, Founder, Bridgewater Associates – largest, most successful hedge fund in the world)


So why meditate?

 In an interview with Business Insider, Tim Ferriss explains:

  •  “Meditation, or mindfulness practice, is about decreasing emotional reactivity so you can proactively create your day and create your life; versus, just being a walking reflex that sometimes screws up.”
  • Ferriss also frequently uses the Headspace app to meditate – as do several of the people in the book. Headspace sponsors Ferriss’ podcast.

Regardless of how one chooses to meditate, there is proof that it’s like a workout for building the skill of emotional control, and that in turn is a valuable skill to have when you’re a high performer in any field.


I checked for yoga and meditation on Google Trends. It shows there has been a gradual decline in yoga searches but no comparable increase in searches for meditation or mindfulness.

However, I know anecdotally this is happening.

  • Over the last 6 months, I’ve seen fewer women walking around with yoga mats.
  • Lululemon, the brand built on the yoga craze, doesn’t seem to be as popular as in the past.
  • Googling “why are yoga studios closing” nets 1.7 million results with the bulk of closures being the smaller, independent studios who have a tougher time competing against big business yoga.

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