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, though, it’s an effective, body-positive exercise option that can either stand alone or complement another training routine. And, likely because it at least 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 graph).
Of course, yoga’s not without its controversies. It’s gotten plenty of pushback in western culture. Even early adopters in ancient times had their issues. It’s by no means perfect. Like any form of exercise, over exerting 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 generally considered positive. So here are some of most basic facts about yoga — and its economic impact — that may surprise you.