Why do people practice yoga?

I’m always interested to know why students come to yoga lessons, and the main feedback is to seek to improve overall health and well being. Most students, even those completely new to yoga, have a general awareness that yoga will be beneficial, with many looking to improve flexibility and also seek out time for relaxation.

I would like to encourage more men to attend yoga (currently around 90% of students are female and only 10% male). Men often tell me that they are looking for more physical and active exercises and are less concerned about relaxing or flexibility. I think this is a shame as yoga can provide significant mobility benefits that complement exercises such as running, cycling and golf. In addition, I would like to see more people over the age of 60, both male and female, undertaking a gentle yoga practice to maintain and improve mobility, balance and muscle strength.

Around two thirds of students are in the age range 40-59, with the remaining third split between young and older age groups, with 13.2% and 18.4% of students in the 25-39 and 60-74 age groups respectively.

Just over a third of students report no significant injuries or health concerns at the outset of practicing yoga. The most common issue experienced by students (13%) is back pain, in particular lower back pain due to previous back injuries or wear and tear. This is followed by arthritis, shoulder and knee pains.

Over a quarter of students decided to practice yoga for overall general health and wellbeing. Almost a further quarter are looking to improve flexibility, followed by relaxation as a key reason for practicing yoga. Other students practice because they love yoga, would like to improve various aches and pains and in order to stretch and tone the body.

And finally, of those students participating in the current eight week beginners’ course, just under two thirds were completely new to yoga, and the remainder had undertaken a prior practice of yoga or had some yoga experience.

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