The Growth of Yoga

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Here is a blog I wrote as a guest blogger for Healing Hands Chiropractic. They offer chiropractic care at a sliding scale and are located right here in Portsmouth at 40 Pleasant Street Suite #206.

Yoga is everywhere. From TV commercials, celebrities, yoga festivals, p90X and gyms and health clubs, yoga has hit the mainstream. Even right here in Portsmouth, there are 8 studios all within the city limits and this doesn’t include the many other yoga options and teachers throughout the Seacoast.

Here are the latest stats about the popularity of yoga in the United States, according to Statistic Brain.

http://www.statisticbrain.com/yoga-statistics/

Total Number of Americans who practice Yoga 15 million
Percent female 72.2%
Percent male 27.8%
Percent between the ages of 18-34 40.6%
Percent between the ages of 35-54 41%
Percent over 55 18.4%
Percent who are college graduates 71.4%

Percent of practitioners that live on the West Coast 20%
Percent of practitioners that live in the Northeast 30%
Percent of practitioners that live in the Midwest 30%
Other parts 20%

Amount spent annually in the US on yoga products $27 Billion
Percent increase on yoga product spending over the last 5 years 87%
Average annual increase of the number of people who practice yoga 20%

Why is yoga on the upward trend? Its roots date back to 5,000 years ago and it was brought to the US in the early 1900s, so why now? Well, for one obvious reason is people want to live healthier. Like other physical activities like running, swimming, and biking, yoga is exercise. Looking at the trends above, 20% more people are practicing yoga every year, and spending more money. Unlike the many yoga options in town, there are only a few gyms. According to statistic brain, gym membership sales are down 16% from 2010 to 2011.

Is yoga just going to be a trend, like jazzercise, leg warmers and gangnam style? Or is it going to last and become the way humans stay fit? Maybe this yoga thing has more to it than just sweating it out and showcasing your best Warrior 2 butt and legs. Maybe there is something more than just getting a work out. In this age where we are constantly distracted by media, internet, Facebooks, cellphones, video games – you name it; maybe yoga is calling our culture and world to something more.

The heart of yoga doesn’t reside in the yoga poses. In Sanskrit, Yoga means “to yoke”, or in simpler terms, “union”. There are many facets of yoga: from poses, to breathing exercises, and even moral principles to follow. There are techniques ranging from the simple to the weird and complex. For example, what are we trying to yoke when we balance on one leg?

The heart of yoga is connection. Yoga aims to connect you to you, and to connect you to others: other people, other living things and our planet and universe. It’s not religion, but when you connect whole heartedly to yourself and others, and know we are all living and breathing on this planet together, there might be more to just us spinning randomly on this ball of blue.

But what do I know? I’m just another one of us on the growing yoga bandwagon. I’ve been practicing for 7 years, teaching for 2, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what yoga means. As a yoga teacher, I do see people coming in for their first class. Their bodies like sacks of potatoes and maybe harboring an injury. Their minds are racing and distracted. But, after some steady practice, they feel better. They seem happier, lighter, stand a little taller, and are a little more aware and mindful. Not to mention a trimmer waistline and maybe a healed injury.

So, if you have never done yoga, or tried it and didn’t like it, give it another shot. Make it a challenge. Make it a relationship. Go try one of the many great studios and teachers in the area and find the one that resonates with you. Who knows what will happen?

–Bjorn

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