Behind the Yoga Craze: 10+ Reasons Why Yoga is Popular in the US (and the West)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

A public yoga event in Times Square
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Just about everyone you know does Yoga. You log onto social media, and you undoubtedly see at least one yoga-like post each day. Even you are starting to think about taking up Yoga (that is why you are here, isn’t it?). Have you ever wondered why it is so popular? Do you ever wonder why it grew in popularity so quickly?

It might seem obvious to Yoga addicts why it is so addictive, but newbies to the world of Yoga might not realize what makes the practice so well-loved. You are probably wondering why so many people have a spare Yoga mat and a whole wardrobe of Yoga pants, and you don’t. You probably want to find out for yourself, and I strongly encourage you to do that.

If the Yoga bug has not bitten yet and you want to learn more about what has made it so popular not just in the US but in the rest of the Western world, read on. Below, we share 12 reasons why Yoga has spread at such a rapid rate in the world.

These are 10+ reasons why Yoga is popular in the US and in the rest of the West.

1. Yoga is deeply rooted in ancient history.

Man with yoga pose in buddhist temple
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People follow something that they believe in and trust, and with Yoga, that seems to be precisely what has happened. Do people trust Yoga? I’d say that they definitely do. It has been around for thousands of years. In fact, Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years and was developed by the ancient Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. 

The fact that the practice has been consistently used from one generation to the next with great success has allowed Westerners to place faith and trust in it. For something to survive for so long and be practiced by so many, it must be something of value. 

2. People are intrigued by the culture of Yoga.

It’s an undeniable fact that Yoga has an intriguing culture and that speaks to many people seeking out a certain way of life. The first mention of Yoga is in ancient scripts dating back thousands of years. It only made its way to America in the 1800s by Swami Vivekananda, and that’s where it all really began. 

It was Swami who managed to create such intrigue in the Western world. Swami traveled from India to America in 1893. He gave a somewhat moving speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, which sparked an interest in the culture and beliefs of people from the East. It is said that it was this intrigue that sparked an interest in Swami’s passion: Yoga.

3. Physical health benefits.

Yoga is not specifically an exercise, but it is a great way to get exercise. The poses and stretches provide a full-body workout and therefore offer great health benefits. 

While practicing Yoga, students can expect for their fitness and muscle tone to improve over time. Some even use regular Yoga to assist with weight loss or weight control. It is recommended to practice Yoga daily, but you can try to attend at least 2 classes per week.

woman is practicing yoga at mountain lake
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4. Mental & emotional health benefits.

If you have heard that Yoga is good for mental and emotional health benefits, you might wonder why. It’s true, though! Yoga is often recommended for people suffering from mental health issues such as depression. 

The practice of Yoga increases body awareness and sharpens attention, calms and centers one’s thought process, and helps provide something healthy to focus on. Because Yoga is practiced quietly and slowly, it teaches those with a ‘busy’ mind to relax, clear their head and find new, positive focus. If you are having an emotional day, practice a bit of Yoga, and you will definitely feel the benefits.

5. Yoga is a mindful way of life, not just an exercise.

Yoga is not just about attending a class and then going about the rest of your life without giving it a second thought until your next class again. Yoga teaches a different mindset and a different approach to life in general. It is a great way to start living and thinking mindfully.

Once you start practicing Yoga, it is hard not to incorporate the “way of Yoga” into your everyday living. If you are looking for an exercise that can positively impact on your entire life, Yoga is it.

6. Yoga is low impact and ideal for all ages.

mothers and daughters doing exercise practicing yoga outdoors
Dasha Petrenko / Shutterstock.com

Unlike other forms of physical exercise, Yoga goes easy on the muscles and joints. Students might feel some typical exercise aches and pains after a session, but it is nothing like what is expected after a high-energy and high impact sport. Because of this, many people have chosen Yoga as their workout of choice. And because it is low-impact, anyone of any age can participate without any risk of injury.

7. Yoga can improve concentration and focus.

Did you know that Yoga can improve concentration and focus? If you struggle to concentrate or have a child with concentration and focus concerns, Yoga may provide the perfect solution. 

Practicing Yoga is all about breathing, holding, and focusing. Each pose must be correctly held for a certain period of time. Each position must be carefully thought through. With regular practice, students learn to concentrate and focus, regardless of potential distractions. 

8. Yoga provides a way to be quiet and meditate.

Nowadays, life is a rat race – that’s an undeniable fact. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it in. Yoga provides people with the opportunity to step out of their busy days and retreat into a place of calm for a while. This can be extremely beneficial on a day-to-day basis. 

While practicing Yoga, the mind is quiet, and the mood is meditative. There is no need to talk, think beyond the practice, or “get things done”. For many, this is the very reason why Yoga is so important in their lives. 

9. Yoga provides a healthy distraction from addictions and bad lifestyles.

People suffering with obsessions and addictions can benefit significantly from the practice of Yoga. 

Relaxed man sitting in yoga pose
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

Many rehab and recovery facilities actually provide Yoga classes for patients overcoming addiction. By practicing Yoga, patients have something new to focus on and “obsess” about. Distraction and keeping busy forms are an important part of the recovery process. In the drug and alcohol addiction communities, Yoga is extremely popular.

10. Yoga provides much-needed stress relief.

Stress is a killer. In fact, having high levels of stress can make someone really ill. Unfortunately, stress is hard to treat. 

Many people take part in sports and fitness, but for some people, rowdy and high energy sports only adds to the stress levels. Yoga provides a calmer and quieter alternative for those who want to release stress and frustrations on a regular basis. This is one of the top reasons why Yoga has become so popular in the Western world. 

11. Yoga can be done anywhere.

Unlike many other sports and practices, Yoga requires no complicated or heavy equipment, and it also requires very little space. All one needs is a Yoga mat, comfortable clothing, and some water. 

Of course, you also need a quiet space, but you will not need to attend a specific place or head to the gym to benefit from Yoga. If you can find a quiet room, your office, a park – anywhere – you can practice Yoga and reap the rewards.

12. Yoga is a social way to meet like-minded people.

social atmosphere in yoga club
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One of the many reasons why Yoga is so popular is because it enabled the growth of a community of people who think the same and have the same value system. 

People who want to stay healthy and fit and lead a healthy, calm, and mindful lifestyle all find value in Yoga. This means that Yoga class members very often become close friends for many years to come. If you want to meet like-minded people, a Yoga class may be the place to do it.

Everything considered

Yoga has become so popular in the US and the rest of the Western world because it offers physical, mental, social, and emotional benefits. It is hard to turn away from a practice that obviously enhances lives and has been doing so for over 5,000 years. Join a Yoga class today and find out for yourself. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.