Yoga Stretches From Physical Activity To Mental Health Tool

Stress release has replaced flexibility as the top reason Americans begin doing yoga, according to research from industry nonprofit Yoga Alliance.

“The perception of yoga must shift from solely a fitness modality or hobby to a vital, low-cost, high-value self-directed health intervention,” Shannon Roche, president and chief executive officer, Yoga Alliance, said in a statement.

Some 11% of Americans -- 38.4 million people -- practiced yoga in 2022, Yoga Alliance reported, up 4.6% from 36.7 million in 2016, the last time the nonprofit did such research.

New practitioners are now largely coming on board due to health care providers recommending yoga to prevent or improve health conditions, with 49% of practitioners saying they had received such advice.

Yoga practitioners spent $21 billion on classes, clothing and equipment in 2022, up from an inflation-adjusted 420 billion in 2016.



But yoga has a long way to go demographically, Yoga Alliance said, citing “underrepresentation and limited access to yoga for underserved, historically marginalized, and vulnerable communities.”

Yoga practitioners, yoga teachers and yoga studio owners all lean overwhelmingly female and white. White people represent 71% of practitioners, 88% of teachers and 85% of studio owners. Women represent 74% of practitioners, 85% of teachers and 87% of studio owners.

Yoga’s increasing role as a mental health tool was also noted in the Global Wellness Institute’s (GSI’s) recent Global Wellness Economy Monitor, which stated that yoga “has grown rapidly in popularity since the pandemic – not only as a good at-home exercise option when gyms were closed, but also as a stress reliever.”

GWI said yoga at home has grown due to a “rise in free and low-cost digital platforms (including apps, YouTube, etc.)….People who do yoga may take a class at a specialized yoga studio, may take a class at a gym or YMCA, may use a streaming or on-demand class, or may simply practice yoga alone at home.”

Yoga Alliance’s research involved a quantitative survey conducted via online and telephone by marketing agency Sensis in October 2022, for, and focus groups of Asian, Black, and Hispanic Americans conducted by Ebony Marketing Systems in November 2022.

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