Yoga’s Growing Popularity and Its Challenges in Accessibility

Why is the popularity of yoga growing? Yoga, an ancient practice with roots in Indian philosophy, has evolved over millennia into a popular form of physical exercise and stress management.

Recent news highlights two significant trends in the yoga world: its rising popularity due to mental health benefits and the challenges in making it accessible to diverse communities.

Key Findings from Global Yoga Study

  1. Growing Interest for Mental Health: A global study by Yoga Alliance, the largest nonprofit representing the international yoga community. It reveals a shift in why people practice yoga. Previously, the main motivator was flexibility. Now, stress release and overall health improvement are primary drivers. Particularly in countries like China, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States​​.
  • Yoga’s Effectiveness and Recommendations: Scientific research backs yoga’s effectiveness in stress management and coping with mental health conditions. Notably, in the U.S., nearly half of the practitioners reported that medical professionals recommended yoga for health improvement​​.
  • Increase in U.S. Practitioners and Spending: The number of Americans practicing yoga increased to 38.4 million in 2022, up from 36.7 million in 2016. The spending on yoga-related activities also rose to over $21 billion​​.

Yoga Practitioners Growing / Canva

Accessibility Challenges

  1. Demographic Inequities: The study highlighted demographic disparities within the U.S. yoga community. Asian, Black, and Hispanic communities are underrepresented as practitioners, teachers, and studio owners. This disparity links to limited access to mental health and wellness resources in these communities​​.
  • Perception Issues: Stereotypes about yoga, often seen as a practice for “fit, white women,” deter wider acceptance. Focus group findings suggest that the portrayal and sharing of yoga need to be more inclusive and diverse. To reflect its actual practitioners and potential benefits across different communities​​.
  • Need for Intentional Communication: Yoga Alliance emphasizes the need for the yoga community to communicate and normalize the diversity of its students, teachers, and practitioners. This effort aims to make yoga more inclusive, regardless of race, ethnicity, income level, age, body type, ability, or gender​​.
Growth of Yoga Practitioners
The chart visualizes the growth in the number of yoga practitioners in the U.S. from 2016 to 2022 and the corresponding increase in spending on yoga-related activities. This data underscores yoga’s rising popularity and its economic impact in the U.S.


While yoga’s popularity continues to grow, especially as a tool for managing stress and improving mental health, significant efforts are required to make it accessible and appealing to all communities.

Addressing the existing demographic inequities and changing the perception of yoga can help in making this ancient practice a universally accessible health intervention.

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Yoga Popularity Growing / Canva
Yoga Popularity Growing