Background: Although yoga appears to be popular in the United States, there are no published studies on yoga's prevalence or patterns of use.
Methods: In 1998 we surveyed by telephone a nationally representative sample of 2055 English-speaking U.S. adults (60% weighted response rate) regarding yoga use.
Results: Of the respondents, 7.5% used yoga at least once in their lifetime and 3.8% used yoga in the previous 12 months. Respondents who used yoga at least once were more likely than non-users to be female (68% vs. 51%), college educated (68% vs. 45%), and urban dwellers (93% vs. 74%). Factors independently associated with yoga use at least once included female gender (OR 2.5 [95% CI 1.7-3.8]), baby boomer age group (ages 34-53) compared to pre-baby boomers (> or = 54 (2.3 [1.4-4.0]), education beyond high school (2.2 [1.4-3.5]), residing in large and small metropolitan areas compared to non-metropolitan areas (3.8 [1.8-7.8] and 2.7 [1.3-5.8], respectively), and use of other CAM therapies (5.3 [2.7-10.5]). Of respondents using yoga in the previous 12 months, 64% reported using yoga for wellness, 48% for health conditions, and 21% specifically for back or neck pain. Ninety percent felt yoga was very or somewhat helpful and 76% did not report spending money related to their yoga.
Conclusions: In 1998 an estimated 15.0 million American adults had used yoga at least once in their lifetime and 7.4 million during the previous year. Yoga was used for both wellness and specific health conditions often with perceived helpfulness and without expenditure.