21 Million Americans Practice Yoga

Good news for yoga pant manufacturers everywhere. More and more Americans are hitting the yoga mat in attempts to improve their health. A large survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institute of Health shows the number of Americans using yoga and (other mind-body approaches) to improve health not only remains high, but has increased. Since 2002 there has been a significant increase in the number of people using yoga.

The complementary health survey is administered every 5 years as part of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health. The most recent survey is the 2012 survey, and is “the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on the use of complementary health approaches bu U.S. adults and children,” says Josephine Briggs, M.D., Director of the National Institue of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

In order to better identify and understand trends in Americans’ use of practices like yoga and meditation, the 2012 survey data has been compared with the same survey conducted in 2002 and 2007.

21 Million Americans Use Yoga

According to the 2012 survey approximately 21 million adults and 1.7 million children in America are practicing yoga. That number has nearly doubled since 2002. Additionally, nearly 18 million adults and 927,000 children practiced meditation. The 2012 survey results are based on combined data from 88,962 American adults.

Even more remarkably, this increase in yoga and meditation usage has occurred across all age and ethnic groups. The number of Americans aged 18-44 who practice yoga has nearly doubled since 2002. The number of Americans aged 45-64 who practice yoga has increased from 5.2% in 2002 to 7.2% in 2012. Additionally, 400,000 more children and teenagers aged 4-17 practice yoga than in 2007.

So what’s causing this increase? It could be due to the growing body of research that indicates yoga and meditation can help one manage pain, reduce stress, and live a happier life. Another factor may be accessibility. In the past 10 years there have been more yoga studios opening up across the country and more websites (like 42Yogis) which are dedicated to making yoga accessible to all.

But whatever is causing this increase, I’m just happy it’s happened. Yoga is a force for good and transformation, and I believe developing a regular yoga practice can help everybody.