A 2016 study reports that yoga continues to grow in popularity as more people recognize its health benefits in the U.S.
A comprehensive national study was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance to understand the practice of yoga in the U.S. and how Americans perceived yoga. The survey polled over 2000 U.S adults and 1700 yoga practitioners online to reveal that the number of yoga practitioners, or people who have practiced yoga in the last 6 months, increased to 36 million people in 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. Of these, women represented 72% while men, 28%.
The known physical and mental health benefits associated with yoga are reflected in self-reports from yoga practitioners. Practitioners were likely to have a more positive self-image, and be concerned about their health, environment and community. They also acknowledged that yoga complemented other forms of exercise like running and weightlifting, and were far more physically active than non-practitioners.
The perception of the exclusivity of yoga remains a barrier to its practice, with many Americans believing that yoga is spiritual, not physical enough, or only for young and flexible people. However, the study highlights that people of all ages practice yoga and 38% (or 14 million) are 50 or over. Other barriers to practicing yoga include a lack of information, convenience, and cost. Of the 208 million people who currently do not practice yoga, 23% of them say they would try yoga in the next 12 months. The top five reasons to start yoga were: 1) flexibility, 2) stress relief, 3) general fitness, 4) improve overall health, and 5) physical fitness.
The yoga industry doesn’t seem to be faltering either. Yoga practitioners spent $16 billion this year on yoga classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories, well over the $10 billion spent in 2012. $5.8 billion was spent on yoga classes alone, making it the largest part of yoga’s market share. With respect to consumables, it was discovered that function, comfort, and price were the most important factors for purchasing yoga products, and practitioners often relied on recommendations from their friends or instructor prior to purchasing items.
“Yoga in America Study” Available from: http://media.yogajournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016-Yoga-in-America-Study-Comprehensive-RESULTS.pdf Last Accessed: January 19, 2016
Written by Fiona Wong, PhD