Yoga is for everyone. And everyone is doing it – at least 34 million people in the U.S. are practicing yoga. That’s up from 20.4 million in 2012, or 50 percent, according to the newly released 2016 Yoga in America Study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. You don’t have to be athletic or already in shape. Yoga is an accessible exercise program that provides mental and physical benefits including relaxation, increased strength and flexibility, weight loss, and decreased pain.
Who is practicing yoga?
According to the survey, women represent the majority of practitioners – 72 percent to be exact. But the number of men and older Americans who are practicing in the U.S. is increasing. Men make up 28 percent, and Americans over 50 represent 38 percent. With its growing popularity, an additional 34 percent of Americans, or 80 million people, say they are likely to try yoga for the first time in the coming year.
What are the benefits?
Perhaps its popularity lies in the many ways yoga can improve overall health. Among the many benefits, it improves flexibility, builds muscle strength, and perfects posture, just to name a few. According to the study, the top five reasons people start practicing yoga is for flexibility, stress relief, general fitness, overall health, and physical fitness. In addition to its physical benefits, yoga has far-reaching emotional and cognitive effects like:
- promoting a healthy body image
- connecting the mind and body
- developing concentration
- boosting self-esteem and confidence
“Beyond yoga’s increasing popularity, what’s fascinating is the data shows that those who practice and teach yoga have measurably better perceptions of their individual strength, balance, dexterity, and mental clarity versus non-practitioners,” said Yoga Alliance Executive Director and COO Barbara Dobberthien. “Practitioners are also much more likely to be involved in a variety of other forms of exercise, as well as focused on sustainable living and eating.”
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