≡ Menu

New 2012 Study Tells Us How Many Millions More Do Yoga and How Many Billions of Dollars It’s Worth

in Business of Yoga, YD News

The 2008 study has finally been eclipsed by new data from a study via Yoga Journal. So how many millions of Americans are down with the yog? A whopping 20.4 million! That’s 8. 7 percent of American adults, a 29 percent increase from 2008’s 15.8 million and a hell of a lot of coconut water. We know because the cash flow heated up like Santa in Bikram class: spending on yoga classes and products, including “equipment, clothing, vacations and media” is estimated at $10.3 billion a year, almost double the previous estimate from the 2008 study at $5.7 billion. We can hear the distant cheers of joy from retreat centers in Tulum and Costa Rica now.

It should be noted the data was gathered by Sports Marketing Surveys USA on behalf of Yoga Journal, not at lines in grocery stores and the DMV where we might have suggested. Honestly, we don’t know how the surveys were conducted, exactly, but the results seem to have yielded a lot of the obvious. More women do yoga than men (despite our love for them, male pro athletes’ and superstar endorsements and hearty crude jokes) and most practitioners are under 45. Only the Guinness World Records’ Oldest Yoga Teacher may be surprised by that one.

The study also found that 44.8 percent of practitioners consider themselves beginners which means the other 45.2 percent need a refreshing reminder that they are, too.

Here’s the 2012 info:

•82.2 percent are women; 17.8 percent are men.

•The majority of today’s yoga practitioners (62.8 percent) fall within the age range of 18-44.

•38.4 percent have practiced yoga for one year or less; 28.9 percent have practiced for one to three years; 32.7 percent have practiced for three years or longer.

•44.8 percent consider themselves beginners (22.9 percent are new to yoga; 21.9 percent are beginning to practice yoga after taking some time off); 39.6 percent consider themselves intermediate; 15.6 percent consider themselves expert/advanced.

•The top five reasons for starting yoga were: flexibility (78.3 percent), general conditioning (62.2 percent), stress relief (59.6 percent), improve overall health (58.5 percent) and physical fitness (55.1 percent)

Another interesting tidbit is that ‘of current non-practitioners, 44.4 percent of Americans call themselves “aspirational yogis”—people who are interested in trying yoga.’ And for these folks, Lululemon and all of the yoga pants fairies of the land rejoice, for it’s the “aspirational yogis” who will lead us into the future snug butt first.

For varying perspective here’s a completely un-scientific cross-section of commenters from a naturally snarky Gawker post:


Yoga helped me recover from a couple of issues and I do appreciate the relaxation and focus it promotes. I have no desire to progress beyond the “beginner” level, though, because I can see myself getting injured (and because I dislike certain parts of the yoga “culture.”) Also, when it comes to my behind, yoga can’t even come close to barre classes; those and regular strength training are why my yoga pants fit so well.


What’s wrong with being an aspiring Yogi? All the extra strength and and flexibility make it much easier to snatch pick-uh-nick baskets.


Hey everyone, I really want to get into yoga but the studios around her average at 15$/class. As a broke college student, even taking only 1 class weekly would tally up to 60$ a month. Is it worth it? And moreover, how many classes should I take every week/month? Thanks!


“You’re secure in your masculinity and you’re not about to listen to some ignorant taunts from someone who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about?”

I fall in to that category. I don’t a fuck about what other people think, Hot Yoga is one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done.


I used to yoga because I tore out my back in high school and I never gave a shit about it being feminine.
There’s no better place to meet incredibly fit, hot women FYI. If I was single I’d be taking yoga just to hook-up.

ragepanda in reply to Manscape:

I’ve been doing yoga for almost five years…. have dated a couple girls from class, but not that many. Yes, there are hot, fit women there, but it’s not really a great way to meet people for dating. People are there to do yoga, not meet people or talk to people. It’s not like a party where you just go up to someone and introduce yourself.

Gather your own data from that.

Does this all sound about right to you?



24 comments… add one
  • Vision_Quest2

    Same like last time? 90% of that 20 or so million are infrequent yoga studio attendees (less than 1x per week)?

    • Elizabeth

      Remember that yoga studios are not the only places to practice yoga, or even go to a yoga class. There are yoga classes in many gyms, health clubs, and corporate fitness centers (of varying quality, yes, just like in yoga studios); some companies have yoga classes in their offices. There are public yoga classes held inside some retail stores, and others outdoors in parts or on the beach.

      That’s not to mention a ‘home’ practice, which is mobile and can go anywhere…

      Like it or not, attending class at a yoga studio is totally optional.

      • Vision_Quest2

        But last study the conducted they gave the breakdown, and in essence about 92% of that 15.3 million figure at the time, were infrequent studio attendees.

        So that’s the 8% of the 8%–but that had been last time …

        • Vision_Quest2

          So, if percentages stay the same then– approximately 1/64th of the yoga practicing population are frequent studio attendees.

          This home practitioner loves that statistic!

  • honomann

    This data is a bit skewed as most people who say they are “intermediate” are acutally beginners with ‘tude, and those who say they are “beginner” are wise enough to recoginize that to be an “intermediate” student actually takes years of work.

    • Vision_Quest2

      I’ve been an advanced beginner for over 5 years, but then I’m old.

      Plenty of ‘tude, though. I came to yoga through an advanced meditation practice.

      Beginner’s mind is even harder to find at any level ….

  • Stewart J. Lawrence

    Further evidence – if any is needed – that American yoga is “fluffy not stuffy” – or rather “stuffy” means uh, “stuff.”

    In fact, stuff is no longer limited to merchandise, like clothing or even retreats, but also includes “media.”

    Gee, does that mean Yoga Dork is officially a yoga sales category?

    My two favorite stats:
    Yoga was 72% female in 2008. Now, it’s 82%.
    Over this same period, the sale of “stuff” nearly doubled.

    What’s in your wallet? Nice work, ladies.

    (It seems that no one joined yoga for anything as high-minded as “enlightenment” or “spiritual development.” Maybe the percentages reported were simply too low compared to the other reasons, or the researchers simply knew better than to ask).

    • garuda

      I love the fact that the top five reasons for practicing yoga have nothing to do with yoga. Kinda like saying ” I buy Playboy Magazine for the intellectual articles.

      • Elizabeth

        Garuda: I did once buy a Playboy Magazine for the interview with Camille Paglia (who had just come out with a new book, and at that time was a professor at UA in Philadelphia). That was in the days where the interent was pretty limited, so there wasn’t any other way to get to read that interview.

Leave a Comment