Think of the word “yoga”. What images does it bring up in your head? A young woman doing advanced asanas on a beach in California? Or an older middle-aged man from Georgia doing a forward bend? Or a school aged kid moving through a sun salutation in a gym class?
I’m going to bet that the first image that popped into your head was the beach yoga mind image, but we’re here to let you know that all those other scenarios are perfectly normal (and actually more common) yoga scenes.
There are some pervasive myths surrounding yoga. You may have heard or said any of the following to yourself at one time or another:
- Only chicks do yoga
- If I can’t do a handstand, I’m not that good at yoga
- I only do yoga to improve my flexibility so I’m not reallllly “doing” yoga
- Yoga is only something for those granola crunchers on the West Coast
- I wouldn’t be able to do all those poses they do in classes. Everyone would be better at it than me.
- I’m not into any of that yoga anti consumerism hippie-shit
- Slogging over to a yoga studio is time consuming and expensive
- Yoga people aren’t athletes
- I don’t even know where I would start if I wanted to start doing yoga
- Yoga is a fad
As you can see – most of these are negative. In this article, we’re going to go over how pretty much all of these notions are Totes McGotes wrong and what trends in yoga are actually occurring – hint – it’s awesome and becoming more diverse.
Only Chicks Do Yoga
False. Around 28% of individuals practicing yoga are men. In fact, there are more male and older practitioners than ever before (approximately 10 million male practitioners and almost 14 million practitioners over the age of 50 – up from about 4 million men and 4 million 55+ year olds in 2012). And about half of all yoga teachers are male. How’s that for gender diversity.
If I Can’t Do a Handstand, I’m Not That Good at Yoga
False. You’re perfect at yoga just the way you are. In reality, only 2% of yoga practitioners would consider themselves advanced. 56% would identify with beginner, while 42% would identify as intermediate. So don’t worry if you won’t be publishing any inversion pose pictures on instagram any time soon. Just get on your mat and get to practicing and maybe some day you will be able to post those types of pictures on instagram or whatever social channel is cool at the moment.
I Only Do Yoga to Improve My Flexibility So I’m Not Reallllly “Doing” Yoga
False. Just because you’re not in it for the “zen” piece doesn’t mean you don’t qualify as a participant. The most common reason people start yoga at 61% of all practitioners is that they want to improve their flexibility. Meanwhile, 56% start for stress relief reasons, and 49% want to increase their overall health and general fitness. I don’t see becoming a buddhist monk as a reason to start yoga anywhere on that list. Do you?
Yoga is Only Something For Those Granola Crunchers on the West Coast
False. While there are a large amount of practitioners on the west coast at ~6.8 million individuals – surprise, surprise! – the west coast is beat out by both the mid-atlantic region (NJ, NY, PA) with 8.0 million practitioners AND the south atlantic region (DE, MD, VA, WV, NC, SC, GA, FL) with 7.7 million practitioners. And we wouldn’t call them granola crunchers at all – just good people. According to the study, nearly 50% of all practitioners report donating time to their communities compared to just 26% of non-yoga practitioners.
I Wouldn’t Be Able To Do All Those Poses They Do in Classes. Everyone Would Be Better At It Than Me.
False. With 56% of all yogis identifying as beginners, and pretty much every studio within driving distance of your house offers some class catered towards beginners just like you. And since your eyes are closed throughout much of the class, that means that no one will be watching you, and if they do have their eyes open, they’re probably yoga-ing so hard they don’t even care what else is going on around them.
I’m Not Into Any of That Yoga Anti-Consumerism Hippie-Shit
False. While many yogis don’t need much to be happy, they still love to spend money on yoga shit. Of all practitioners, 41% have spent money on yoga equipment, 60% have spent money on yoga clothes, 59% have spent money on yoga classes, and 35% have spent on yoga accessories. If you’re super enthusiastic about the sport, you probably spend 10% more than other people on it. A total of $16 Billion (with a “b”) was spent on yoga just last year.
Slogging Over To A Yoga Studio Is Time Consuming and Expensive
False. Only 4% of classes cost more than 25$ and you’re more than likely to be within a 15 minute drive of a yoga-specific studio in your town. And also, not every yogi has practiced in a yoga studio. Of all yoga practitioners, 65% have practiced at home, 48% have practiced at a gym, while 45% have practiced at a yoga studio. That means that a majority of yoga peeps have never set foot in a studio, and with the availability of online courses, we kind of can’t blame them.
Yoga People Aren’t Athletes – They Only Do Yoga
False. Actually they are very athletic. Over three quarters of practitioners also engage in exercise including running, group sports, weight lifting and cycling. Yogis are far more active in other sports than non-practitioners of yoga. See….you can still be competitive and enjoy yoga at the same time.
I Don’t Even Know Where I Would Start If I Wanted To Start Doing Yoga
Yoga Is A Fad
False. The number of American practitioners has grown by over 50% over the last 4 years. There are about 37 million practitioners of yoga in the US right now. That’s a whole lot of stretchin’ and flexin’ taking place.
We hope you now know a few more facts about yoga in the US. We also hope that if you had any doubts about yoga being as awesome as it is, we refuted those doubts with cold hard logic and statistics. Boo yah!
So to wrap up, just because you don’t practice at a studio, are not a chick, and are not between 20-29, does not mean you aren’t a yogi. You are. So unroll that mat and get to work….you yogi you!