Why practice yoga? Practitioners' motivations for adopting and maintaining yoga practice

J Health Psychol. 2016 Jun;21(6):887-96. doi: 10.1177/1359105314541314. Epub 2014 Jul 16.


We examined motives for adopting and maintaining yoga practice in a national survey of yoga practitioners (360 yoga students, 156 yoga teachers). Both students and teachers adopted yoga practice primarily for exercise and stress relief, but reported many other reasons, including flexibility, getting into shape, and depression/anxiety relief. Over 62 percent of students and 85 percent of teachers reported having changed their primary reason for practicing or discovering other reasons; for both, the top changed primary reason was spirituality. Findings suggest that most initiate yoga practice for exercise and stress relief, but for many, spirituality becomes their primary reason for maintaining practice.

Keywords: motivation; spirituality; yoga.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Spirituality*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Yoga / psychology*
  • Young Adult