Yoga PracticeMore and more research demonstrates that yoga is not only good exercise, but a way for people to connect their mind and their body. Increasing numbers of American adults and children are taking advantage of yoga’s benefits. According to a new report, the number of people practicing yoga in the United States has nearly doubled since 2002. The report comes from the National Health Institute’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The report investigated complementary health practices, which include exercise like yoga, chiropractic medicine, and other non-traditional health interventions. This complementary health questionnaire is administered every five years as part of the National Health Interview Study (NHIS).

For the report, the researchers compared the latest survey data—from the 2012 questionnaire—to the 2007 and 2002 surveys. The 2012 survey included data from 88,962 American adults. The results also included surveys on the health-related behaviors of children aged 4 to 17.

The survey revealed that nearly twice as many adults practiced yoga in 2012 than in 2002, with approximately 21 million American adults practicing yoga in 2012. This increase in yoga practice was observed across all age, racial, and ethnic groups. Adults aged 18 to 44 had the largest increase in yoga practice, nearly doubling from 2002 to 2012. Adults aged 45 to 64 increased from 5.2 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012. Children aged 4 to 17 also practiced more yoga in 2012 than 2002, with around 400,000 more American children participating in yoga in 2012.

The report also found an increase in meditation practice. Approximately 18 million adults and 927,000 children in the United States practiced meditation in 2012. Children whose parents used a complementary health approach were more likely to adopt such practices themselves.

The higher rates of yoga practice may reflect that Americans are aware of the mounting evidence that yoga and other mind-body practices can reduce stress and promote well-being.

According to Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director of NCCIH, “The survey data suggest that consumers are paying attention to medical evidence and using it to inform their decisions. This reaffirms how important it is for NIH to rigorously study complementary health approaches and make that information easily available to consumers.”

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