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Why Did Yoga Become Popular?
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July 16, 2011 - 10:32 pm
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Why Did Yoga Become Popular?

The practice and study of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Despite 5,000 years or more, yoga is still practice and has actually spread throughout the world. The western world, particularly the United States, began promoting yoga as a means to better physical health. While yoga is more than just a physical practice, hatha yoga is perhaps the most well-known form of yoga in the west.

When Yoga Came to the States:

In the United States, yoga became an area of interest during the 20th century. In the 1930s, public health became a more popular concern and individuals became interested in studying yoga as a means of improving their health.

The popularity of yoga grew exponentially when important Indian yogis traveled to the United States to share their knowledge. As the yogis taught new disciples in the states, more individuals became interested in the practice of yoga. In 1947, Indra Devi opened a school to teach yoga in Hollywood and it allowed movie stars and celebrities to try out hatha yoga.

Perhaps the most impactful aspect that made yoga popular in the United States during the 1960s was the hippie movement. Hippies began embracing Eastern cultures and philosophies. Even celebrities like Mia Farrow and members of the Beatles began practicing yoga during the 1960s, which contributed to its growing popularity.

Maintaining Popularity and Growing:

Yoga not only became popular in the 1960s due to growing interest in health, the traveling yogis and popular celebrities, it remained popular even after the initial fad. Maintaining popularity in the west was the result of individuals seeing the benefits of yoga.

Since its initial popularity boost in the early to mid 20th century, yoga has continued to gradually grow in popularity. Numerous types of yoga allow beginners and advanced students to enjoy practicing the asanas, pranayama and meditation techniques. The benefits of lower stress levels, improved mental health, improved flexibility, better sleep and weight loss are the reasons yoga remains popular and continues to grow.

Why is Yoga so Popular Among Women?

Yoga is very popular among women for a variety of reasons. Yoga offers many benefits to regular practitioners, men and women alike. The practice of hatha yoga nourishes an individual on all levels, physically, mentally and spiritually. For women, yoga also helps to balance the female endocrine system and address many of the common causes of stress in their lives.

Many women love yoga because of the physical benefits a regular practice offers. Yoga helps to keep a woman strong, flexible and toned. A vigorous yoga practice also helps to burn calories and keep a woman trim. The practice of yoga is particularly appealing to many women because it is approachable, unlike some sports like weight-lifting or circuit training that require a lot of physical strength. Because women have a substantial amount of endurance, due to their physiological make-up, many women are able to keep pace with a moderately-paced vinyasa flow class for an hour or longer without substantial difficulty. Of course, the level of endurance will vary from woman to woman.

Yoga is also very popular among women because of the emotional component of the practice. There is great emphasis in yoga on being aware of our physical sensations and emotional feelings as we move through the practice. A good teacher will remind his or her students to keep breathing and to pause periodically and check-in with themselves to see how they are feeling; whether the feeling is a sensation of deep tension in the hips, a shallow breathing pattern, stress or great sadness. Being non-judgmentally aware of the different feelings that arise physically and emotionally during class is one of the most important skills that yoga offers. Most women are very emotional and savor the time to stop and just be aware of their feelings as they move through a yoga practice.

Additionally, yoga is popular among women because of the spiritual nourishment inherent in the practice. A good yoga class will incorporate elements of other yogic practices such as chanting, meditation and positive visualizations. Chanting the names of the divine is always uplifting, and meditation helps us to slow down and sink into the divine heart of our own being. Positive visualizations also help to elevate our moods and nourish the sense of hope and wonder at the beauty surrounding us. The sense of community generated amongst the regular participants of a yoga class also supports women both emotionally and in their spiritual understanding.


Yoga teacher training courses are very popular even for people who never intend on teaching more than a handful of students. Reasons for the rapid growth and popularity of yoga in the western world vary. It starts in history, when the yogis spread to the west and began teaching others about yoga. It continued to grow rapidly as more individuals embraced the eastern culture of India and saw the benefits of yoga.

Each individual decides to practice yoga for different reasons, but in the modern world the benefits like flexibility, weight loss, increased focus, increased energy and overall good feelings are among the top reasons new students join the study of yoga.

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