The powerful and profound practice of yoga has contributed a great deal to our contemporary ideas of fitness, health, and wellbeing. More and more people all over the globe are joining the collective movement, and today’s era of globalization has led to unparalleled intercultural exchange. This evolutionary trend creates some ideal conditions for yogis with the goals to gain wisdom, uplift their inner selves, and explore the world. But who are they?
Keep scrolling to learn more about our results from “The 2018 Yoga Study” and get to know over a 1,000 of your fellow yoga enthusiasts…
The 2018 Yoga Study
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There is no cookie-cutter yogi. Practitioners vary in their abilities, motivations, and methods. However, what brings them together is the common quest to enhance the mind, spirit, and body. Because they are unique individuals, each with his or her own story, studying them can prove challenging. The fact that yoga is such a global phenomenon makes it a compelling topic for research. Although a few studies do exist, yoga remains curiously understudied As we know, the popularity is mostly of the simple physical aspects of Hatha yoga and has very little of all the other aspects of yoga. The physical side of Hatha yoga is indeed an important preparatory stage for the higher stages of yoga and meditation, such as concentration (Dharana), Mediation (Dhyana) and Samadhi (Spiritual ecstasy). Practicing only the physical aspects of yoga is like going to a training camp to prepare for going to Medical school but never going to medical school or becoming a doctor.
Nevertheless, the health benefits and psychological benefits of yoga are there even for those who are not interested yet in going further on the spiritual path. And the magical part about the yoga postures is that they will slowly, slowly awaken a spiritual thirst which is one of the biggest treasures a human being can ever aspire to.
This year, the team at the Mahasiddha Yoga School in Chiang Mai wanted to elevate our knowledge of the modern landscape of yoga by conducting our own quantitative survey: “The 2018 Yoga Study.” We were able to examine over 1,000 yoga enthusiasts and delve into what made them tick.
The findings were interesting but one of the most surprising was that our large sample of willing respondents was 55% female and a close 45% were male. According to “The 2016 Yoga in America Study” by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, more than 10.2 million American men were practicing yoga by 2016. And they have been steadily increasing.
Our results show that a significant 40% majority has been practicing yoga for 2-5 years, which places the fitness trend’s peak between 2012-2016. Most yogis are also quite dedicated: 38% of our respondents practiced yoga 3-5 days a week. Those who enjoy yoga retreats are still a special breed that makes up 37%. This number is expected to grow since a 2016 report by Patwardhan indicates that global travel is driven less by hedonistic desire and more so by the pursuit of health.
There were results that confirmed what we already knew by intuition… A majority of participants can be considered millennials aged 25-34, with middle-aged practitioners following closely. A typical session lasts between 30-60 minutes, and the most popular motivations for pursuing yoga are “to get fit” and “to de-stress.” 62% of those who answered the survey perceived their fitness levels as average. This confirms that yoga is for everyone, and is mainly an aspirational activity.
We also asked people to pick their favorite pose among 16 popular choices. The Warrior Pose, it is all about spiritual courage, gaining inner strength, and opening one’s heart—in the battle against ignorance, cruelty, and all of life’s challenges. This just might be an accurate reflection of the deeper purpose of yoga practitioners everywhere.
In conclusion, taking in consideration that true spiritual aspiration is a rare commodity these days, there is no surprise that people practice yoga mostly for fitness. Nevertheless, even in the physical practice of yoga, there is a hidden gem, a seed of spiritual awakening that will one day, in the right moment, sprout slowly and bring people to ask truly the fundamental questions of life and dive deep into their inner world to find those existential answers.