Yoga Is Much More Popular Than You Think
Yoga is more than a fitness trend. It’s a billion-dollar business with millions of participants.
Between pictures of bodies bending in mind-boggling ways and celebrities raving about the benefits, perhaps your curiosity has been piqued. You're not alone. Yoga’s popularity is real.
Here are some facts about yoga — and its economic impact — that may surprise you.
1. Yoga Strengthens Your Mind, Body and Soul
Yoga is an ancient practice that’s been developed over thousands of years.
It is an immersive physical, spiritual and mental study — a mind-body approach to improving your overall lifestyle.
2. The Practice Has Gone Mainstream
Part of the study of yoga — arguably the most popular part — is "hatha" yoga, the physical practice of bending your body into "asanas," or various postures that improve your strength and flexibility.
Though in the past, yoga may have been considered an out-of-the-mainstream exercise practice, it’s gained popularity across the world.
3. Yoga's Goal Is to Make You Feel Better
The goal of the physical practice of yoga isn’t exclusively to improve the overall mind-body connection through physical exertion and breathwork.
For many people, it’s an effective, body-positive exercise option that can complement another training routine or be a stand-alone program.
4. Yoga Beats Many Other Exercise Options
And because yoga attempts to promote an accepting and open culture no matter your physical abilities, there’s far more interest in yoga than other popular exercise options beyond walking and running.
See the graph above. From 2014 to 2019, Google searches for yoga (blue) outpaced those of CrossFit (red), spinning (yellow), SoulCycle (green) and zumba (purple).
6. The Good Outweighs Any Potential Drawbacks
Yoga is by no means perfect.
Like any form of exercise, overexerting yourself or trying to practice without proper alignment or instruction can be just as dangerous for your body and health as any other form of intense physical activity.
Still, the overall benefits of yoga are considered positive.
7. It’s a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
In 2013, a Huffington Post story called yoga a $27 billion industry. A 2016 study by Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance reported it’s a $16.8 billion industry. Statista concludes that yoga’s 2015 revenue in the U.S. alone was $9.09 billion, and it’s estimated to rise to $11.56 billion by 2020.
So while the exact billion-dollar number seems difficult to lock down, the conclusion is real: Between classes people pay to attend, and the equipment and accessories practitioners buy, yoga has become a big business.
8. Yoga’s More Lucrative and More Popular Than CrossFit
To put yoga in perspective, let’s compare it to CrossFit, another fitness craze that has sharply risen in popularity in recent years.
CrossFit is an estimated $4 billion industry.
9. Yoga vs. CrossFit
On Google, people search for yoga far more often, too.
Over the past five years, Google searches for yoga (blue in the graph above) consistently outpace those of CrossFit (red).
11. Or Is It 300 Million Practitioners?
However, the number of yoga practitioners is somewhat contested.
Other sources claim the worldwide number of yoga practitioners is closer to 300 million.
Either way, it’s a pretty impressive number.
12. Yoga vs. Tinder
More people regularly practice yoga than use Tinder daily.
Tinder users are estimated at 50 million.
13. 34 Percent of Americans Express Interest in Practicing Yoga
According to the 2016 study by Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, 34 percent of Americans reported that they’re "somewhat or very likely to practice yoga in the next 12 months."
The same survey pinpointed the actual number of U.S. yoga practitioners at 36.7 million.
14. It’s Been in America Since the Late 1800s
It took a few thousand years, but the first yoga practitioner to make it to the United States, Swami Vivekenanda, came over in 1894.
He published a book, "Raja Yoga," out of New York in 1896.
15. Anyone Can Learn to Open Up Their Spiritual Dimensions
There was a resurgence in the 1920s, thanks to another famous yoga teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda.
He spoke, taught and published the classic book "Autobiography of the Yogi."
That book remains popular to this day around the world with more than four million copies sold since its 1947 publication.
17. All Are Welcome
Some studios are independent and homegrown. Others are more corporate.
Today, you can find a yoga studio to meet just about any need.
18. Yoga’s a Popular Amazon Search, Too
Through 2018, "yoga mat" ranked No. 58 on the list of most popular Amazon searches, with around 769,000 people looking for it.
Just below it, at No. 59 with 767,000 searches, was "gaming chair."
19. You Can Get a Comfortable Yoga Mat for Under $100
So more people were looking for a comfortable way to move than a comfortable way to sit down for hours.
Though, to be fair, the more sedentary Nintendo Switch topped the Amazon list with more than four million searches.
Still, you can get a good mat for $20 to $100. That's not a huge expense for something that could change your life.
20. Instagram Loves Yoga
A quick Instagram search for #yoga yields more than 82 million results.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
21. The Biggest Influencers Have Millions of Followers
Being a yoga lifestyle brand or influencer is a growing business.
According to Heepsy, the top 10 yoga-themed influencers each have more than 370,00 followers. Six have more than 1 million followers.
And one, Shannon De Lima (@shadelima), has more than 2 million.
22. Teaching Yoga Is a Popular Job or Side Hustle
According to a CNN story, being a yoga teacher is one of the best jobs in America based on the income, growth potential and overall stress levels (in this case, a general lack thereof).
23. There Are Thousands of Yoga Schools and Instructors
Many people have been trained to teach yoga and are eager to share their knowledge.
Through December of 2015, 52,746 teachers had graduated from the more than 18,000 Yoga Alliance-registered schools.
Will you be next to teach, learn or both?
24. There Also Are Many Ways to Practice
Yoga can be incorporated into other popular workouts in many creative ways.
Some of them include yogalates, power, kundalini, hot, Iyengar, vinyasa, bikram, Yin and trauma.
25. That's Because Yoga Is Flexible (Literally and Figuratively)
Yoga, as you can see, gives practitioners many choices.
Because yoga can be modified to fit any lifestyle or fitness goal.
26. Class Costs Vary
The average cost of a yoga class in the U.S. ranges from $12-$16, depending on where you live.
Many gym memberships include group yoga classes.
27. Yoga Has Lots of Deals
Some yoga studios offer class packages and monthly memberships that can reduce that overall cost in exchange for a one-time fee.
28. Yoga Can Be Addictive Once You Get Started
The trick is, of course, getting to classes to make that membership cost worth it.
As one anonymous said, "Yoga is not a workout. It is a work-in. And this is the point of spiritual practice to make us teachable to open up our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are."
29. You Can Do It With Online Instruction
If going to a class isn't for you, that's fine.
You don’t need to be a member of or even physically attend a more traditional yoga studio in order to practice regularly.
Between free YouTube videos, yoga DVDs, online yoga communities, tutorials for yoga and tons of yoga apps, there are countless ways to get involved in the yoga community without belonging to an actual physical community.