NEW YORK CITY. In this day and age, exercise has become more prominent than ever before. From cross-fit and boot camp to soul-cycle and Pilates, there is a trendy, obscurely-named class out there for everybody.

In New York City, you’ll find options ranging from Glow Yoga, where strobe lights are involved, to Aerial Dance, which is inspired by acrobatic movements of Cirque Du Soleil.

Yoga, specifically, has become so popular that it is now a culture in and of itself. Ask a sample set of women in NYC and there is no doubt that they have either tried yoga at least once or is already an avid Yogi.

Being a Yogini myself, I can’t help but get excited when I see people walking their yoga mats from the streets to the studio, or when I happen to find myself engaged in conversations about which backbend asana give me the most satisfying kinds of heart opening.

However, in the midst of all this yoga excitement, I can’t help but notice how expensive it can be to be a part of this world.

Yogis are already digging fairly deep into their wallets to pay studio membership fees, but now other considerations like having the best yoga apparel and accessories are being taken into account more than ever to nicely complement this lifestyle.

Lululemon, the leading yoga apparel and accessories brand, has aided the birth of an increasing number of similar brands. The brand carries leggings for $90 and yoga mats for $70, officially setting this price-quality correlation as the standard for not only competing brands, but for its customers as well.

Walk into a Lululemon store and its brightly-clad associates sent from yoga heaven will make you feel as if all your yoga qualms will be answered. So naturally it’s preferable to purchase their $60 tank top paired with that $200 jacket you can easily throw on after your Bikram class.

“Lululemon is so expensive, but I wear it every time I work out, so it’s worth it. I feel the best when working out in their clothes,” claims my fellow Yogi in my Hot Vinyasa class.

Lululemon along with similar brands like Athleta and So Low are selling us a lifestyle; which preaches that luxury and healthiness run side by side. Meanwhile, Yoga studios are selling us a steep membership fee, ranging anywhere from $120 to $200 per month.

“I can’t function when I miss a yoga session, which is why I go so often. So I don’t mind paying what I pay. The benefits outweigh the cost,” claims a stay-at-home mother.

More and more businesses are tapping into this Yoga-lux phenomenon. Spas, such as Exhale Spa, are now trying to get a slice of this pie, selling us a safe haven that combines yoga classes with massages, facials, and yoga retreats. Total cost—$150 per month for spa membership plus a package of 5 yoga classes for $125. Throw in a Yoga retreat to Turks and Caicos for $2500.

Sure, there are bank account-savior businesses like Groupon and Living Social that often sell yoga classes at a great discount. But what happens after these classes are used and one wants to continue with their practice?

“I think about yoga all the time! I get into headstands and handstands at home; it makes me feel like a little kid again and it’s playtime. It’s a big part of my life,” says yoga instructor at my local yoga studio.

For all fellow Yogis and myself, the benefits of yoga outweigh the costs. We love the way we feel and look as a result of our practice. But will this lush yoga culture turn down outsiders looking in?

“A big reason I won’t do yoga is because it’s so ridiculously expensive. I go to my gym for $10 per month and I can do workouts that will actually work the parts of my body that I want to work,” says male weight lifter.

Hopefully something as beneficial as yoga can continue to infiltrate into our culture, ideally with the right intentions attached.

It’s a rewarding workout that everyone should experience, not only the right kind of demographic that will meet the asking price.

— Michelle Leung