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Yoga for Healthy Living in the U.S.

In 2017, the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that the use of yoga by U.S. adults has increased significantly. From 9.5 percent adults in 2012 to 14.3 percent in 2017, while the percentage of U.S. children who used yoga more than doubled during this time (from 3.1 percent in 2012 to 8.4 percent in 2017).

Additionally, the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) provides some more insights about the use of yoga in the United States:

  • Among adults who practiced yoga, 94 percent reported doing so for wellness-related reasons and 18 percent said they used yoga to treat a specific health condition (some for both reasons hence greather than 100 %).

  • 86 percent of practicing adults said that it reduced stress.

  • 59 percent said that it improved their sleep.

  • 67 percent said that they felt better emotionally.

  • 39 percent said that yoga made it easier to cope with health problems.

  • 82 percent said that it improved their overall health and made them feel better.

  • 63 percent said that it motivated them to exercise more regularly.

  • 43 percent said that it motivated them to eat healthier.

  • The most common health conditions for which people practiced yoga were back pain, stress, and arthritis.

Although most American adults who practice yoga say that it improves or has improved health and wellness, only a small amount of research has been done on the tangible effects of yoga on various aspects of wellness. Not all of the studies have been of the best quality, and findings have not been completely consistent. That being said, some preliminary research results suggest that yoga helps people manage stress, improve balance, improve positive perceptions of mental health, and adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Of 17 studies (involving 1,070 total participants) done on yoga as stress management, 12 showed improvements in physical or psychological measures related to stress.

Of 15 studies (involving 688 total participants) looking at the effect of yoga on balance in healthy people, 11 showed improvements in at least one outcome related to balance.