What Did Respondents Say About the Benefits of Yoga Practice?
This post is all about the benefits of yoga practice as collected from our recent yoga survey: Assessing the Impacts of Yoga Asana Practice on Physical Health and Injury.
Yes, we purposely chose to put out the positive data before the negative data. As yoga practitioners, we already experience positive benefits. What’s important to me is that this doesn’t get lost and that it’s accounted for in the larger picture of what happens when we practice. After all, if we only hear the negative, we’ll think we’re about to injure ourselves at any moment!
We asked four questions about positive impacts, of which, one had two sub-questions. So there was a total of six questions related to the positive. For comparison sake, we had five primary questions about negative impacts, with three of those having 18 sub-questions. In that case, if you reported an injury, you had 18 additional questions to answer for each injury reported (up to three total injuries). More on that in the next post.
The Big Yoga Experiment
Never have so many people been doing some form of yoga practice on the planet. I often refer to it in workshops as the “big yoga experiment”. But why do people do yoga? It seems likely that people are experiencing some benefit from it, as an awful lot of them are in fact doing yoga these days. In the peer-reviewed health care literature, a considerable number of studies have been done in recent years looking at applying yoga asana as a treatment modality for various ailments, including cancer recovery, diabetes, cardio health, and many others.
But maybe people are just doing yoga because it’s trendy or because their friends or partners do yoga?
We asked practitioners a series of questions to get some information about what benefits they felt that they were getting from their yoga practice.
How Long, How Much, and Where?
Before we get specific about what benefits yoga practitioners reported, let’s put them in context by describing what “yoga practice” looks like for our respondents.
More than ⅔ of respondents identified themselves as between the ages of 31 and 55 at the time of the survey (**n = 2625, 70%). To break that down further:
- Almost half (42.6%) of our respondents started practicing yoga between the ages of 31-50
- Another 20.2% beginning between ages 26-30
- And 16.1% beginning between ages 21-25.
Respondents to our survey tended to be long-term practitioners of yoga asana (n = 2624);
- 45.1% stated that they had been practicing for more than 10 years.
- 36.2% stated they had been practicing for 4-10 years.
Our respondents (n=2608) primarily practice in the morning (65.1%) and they (n=2615) practice for between 60 minutes (35%) and 90 minutes (45.5%) during a single session.
They were just as likely to be practicing:
- at home (64.4%)
- as they were at a studio (68.6%).
(Note: respondents had the option to select multiple responses for this question: “Where do you do yoga practice?”)
Self-Reported Benefits of Yoga Practice:
The nature of our study was self-reporting. In other words, people voluntarily opted to complete the survey describing the experience they’ve had in their own yoga practice. It’s certainly possible that those people experiencing positive benefits were also more likely to complete a survey describing their experience, because they’re excited about yoga. This could lead to more positive responses than might be represented in a survey of the general public’s experience of yoga. But suffice it to say that students are doing yoga because they feel that they experience benefits!
80.4% of our respondents (n=2610) felt that yoga contributed to healing of an injury or pain in their body!
In fact, 34.8% of respondents (n=2047) reported that yoga had contributed to healing an injury or pain in their body more than five different times over their lifetime of yoga practice.
You can see more specifically where in the body respondents (n=2076) reported experiencing healing.
Is Your Teacher Helping?
I’ve certainly experienced that a good teacher can make all of the difference. In yoga, the student-teacher relationship is given a lot of importance and should be held to a very high standard. Thankfully many respondents reported that a teacher contributed to healing that they experienced from yoga.
74% reported that specific information from a teacher contributed to their healing (n=2086). 53.9% of respondents (n=2076) reported that hands-on adjustments by their teacher had contributed to healing in their body.
In addition, 53.9% of respondents felt that an adjustment helped them heal and 46.1% did not.
More generally, respondents reported a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits from participating in a yoga practice. (Note: respondents had the option to select multiple responses for this question.)
**A Note on Statistics: For each descriptive statistic included in our summary posts, a number “n” is included in parentheses (n=). This indicates the number of people who responded to each individual question reported in our summary statistics. Percentages for an individual question were calculated based on the number of people who answered that question. This varied from question to question as not everyone answered every question.