According to Roy Morgan research, yoga has doubled in popularity since 2008 with two million Australians now joining in this ancient Indian practice famed for its health-giving properties.
One in 10 people aged 14 or older now do yoga, up from one in 20 in 2008.
Back then, aerobics was the more popular fitness activity; today, more than twice as many people do yoga as aerobics.
As the fastest-growing sport or activity in the country over the past eight years, yoga has not only whizzed past aerobics in popularity, but also table tennis, ten pin bowling, darts and dancing… and soccer, cricket, tennis, and golf.
It’s no surprise that yoga remains more popular with women than men with its emphasis on improving suppleness and flexibility as well as core strength. The proportion of women doing yoga has almost doubled over the period, from 8% to 15%. The practice is most popular among younger women aged 14 to 34, with over one in five now taking to the mats either regularly or occasionally.
In terms of proportional growth, though, yoga has been growing faster among women aged 35-49 and 50-plus, with participation in each age group more than doubling to 17% and 9% respectively.
Overall, yoga remains far less popular among Aussie men with only 5% participating. But the biggest growth across any age and gender segment has been among men aged 25 to 34 - one in 10 now do yoga, a more than threefold increase compared with 2008.
Although yoga is on its way to becoming a mainstream activity, the country’s two million participants remain a distinctive bunch, says Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine.
“Compared to the average within each age and gender segment, yoga participants are consistently more likely to be vegetarian, to buy organic, additive-free and genetically unmodified foods, to prefer healthy snacks, and to favour natural medicines and health products,“ she said.
“Pilates is also now more popular than aerobics, with around 1.25 million Australians participating — almost half of whom also do yoga.
“Although developed thousands of years apart, the two exercise systems share some clear similarities: a holistic approach to mental and physical health, with emphasis on breathing, postural alignment, core strength and relaxation.
“A large majority of participants in both these activities are women, which is unsurprising given that women are more likely to suffer from the sorts of conditions they purport to help alleviate, such as mental health concerns including stress, anxiety and depression, and physical ailments including arthritis, back pain, and muscular aches.”