A recent survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal reported that the number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50% in the last four years from 20.4 million in 2012 to 36.7 million in 2016.
The ups & downs of yoga’s popularity
The longevity of yoga is estimated to be up to 7000 years old and therefore the recent spike in people practicing yoga is especially significant.
The fact that more people than ever are enjoying the benefits of yoga is extremely positive as it is a wonderful tool for everybody and a natural remedy for most people’s stressful and busy 21st century lifestyles.
However, despite yoga’s long-established traditions as a male dominated practice (some scholars argue that the first woman to be allowed to practice yoga was Indra Devi in 1937) – the 2016 report by Yoga Journal & Yoga Alliance reports that 78% of people who practice yoga are women.
Social media and yoga poses:
I remember my Mum telling people that she practiced yoga back in the 1980s and she was met with dubious uncertainty. The image of yoga has shifted significantly in the last few years.
In the digital age people practicing yoga flood social media and people are becoming “instafamous” – there are clothes that look great and the spending on yoga products has increased 74% in the last 5 years.
However, if you take a moment to look at these images, most have something in common; generally they fit a certain “type”. Female, caucasian, very flexible often performing advanced physical poses and often in very little clothing.
Although this has drawn some people – generally flexible, fit, slim females – to yoga classes, it has also had the opposite effect on a large slice of the population and made many people fearful of stepping inside a yoga studio.
In our image obsessed world it is easy to understand why somebody would come to this conclusion.
Images of instagram celebrities striking a “yoga pose” in bikinis is moving us so far away from the ancient practice of what yoga really is that people are anxious that they won’t fit a certain ideal when they practice yoga.
It seems that in this modern world of image, yoga seems to have moved so far down the road of looking aesthetically good that the true nature of yoga is getting lost.
Returning back to the origins of yoga:
Surprising as it might sound – 5000+ years ago yoga was never intended to be shown off on instagram.
One of the main functions of yoga was to seek enlightenment. An opportunity to explore our inside world and find “union” and harmony with ourselves.
And YES, you can be any shape, size, age, demographic and still enjoy yoga.
More seniors than ever are doing yoga
The 2016 report discovered that there are more male and older practitioners than ever before (approximately 10 million male practitioners and almost 14 million practitioners over the age of 55 – up from about 4 million men and 4 million 55+ year olds in 2012).
How to find a class for you:
If you’re still not convinced that yoga’s for you, and/or you’ve tried yoga and didn’t immediately love it; I would highly recommend giving it a(nother) go – with yoga there are numerous teaching styles and the quality of knowledge that your teacher has and also the personality of each teacher is very different and personal to each individual.
It is therefore important to find the right class and teacher for you – seek recommendations, if you are unsure speak with individual studios beforehand to get an idea of the type and level of the class & the teachers experience & credentials too.
Australia has some excellent options available of high quality teachers and diverse classes; many people opt for a one-on-one session to address specific issues before attending a group class.
Be kind to yourself:
If you are new to yoga and especially if you have any injuries etc. it is best to start simply, often with a more gentle or restorative practice. This might be all you need to gently awaken tight areas in your body and learn to use your breath and body and quiet your mind.
Just as you would not learn to play an instrument straightaway, have patience with yourself learning yoga.
Find a quality teacher:
It is important to look for high quality teaching – Yoga Australia recognised is a good start as this recognition ensures that teachers have completed in-depth study to offer the highest standard of teaching recognised in Australia and continue to train and top up their skills.
This ensures that classes can be modified accordingly and you receive a well-rounded practice including asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork) and meditation. Also, if you have any health concerns including pregnancy or injuries ensure that you inform your teacher and discuss any concerns prior to class.
When should I practice yoga:
The time of day is not important – morning, lunch or afternoon. The key is to find a time that works for you and incorporate it as a regular part of your week – scheduling it like you would a meeting to ensure that you are not double booked or find something “more important” to do.
You might attend one class per week – although if you can attend 2-3 classes per week you will start to quickly notice the benefits.
If you would like to book classes for your office or workplace, Corporate Yoga Australia has the highest quality teachers throughout Australia and we can come to your workplace or provide classes in a local park.
If you’re interested email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Debby on 0458-559-445
We provide classes that can be practiced by everybody – providing alternatives to cater for all levels.