Big UK Yoga Survey (BUYS)

Yoga class

January 2017 update

The Big UK Yoga Survey is now closed. Thank you to all who participated. A summary of key findings will be provided here later this year. We also intend to publish the full results in an academic journal.

Would you like to take part in yoga research?
Have you practised yoga or attended yoga classes in the past year? If so, we need your help. Researchers from the University of Westminster are carrying out a survey of yoga in the UK. We know that more and more people are taking up yoga in the UK and the United Nations General Assembly recognised the potential of yoga by declaring an annual International Yoga Day in 2014. While there have been surveys in other countries including Australia and the USA, there has not been an in-depth survey in the UK.

Now we are aiming to find out why people practice yoga, how they practice and how they feel it affects their health and well-being. The results of the Big UK Yoga Survey will be very important as they will suggest where yoga might be most beneficial and what research is needed in the future. 

We are hoping for as many people in the UK as possible to complete the survey so that the information we collect is as complete as possible.

Researchers leading the project

Group yoga

What is yoga?
Yoga originated in India and was a whole approach to lifestyle including physical, mental, and spiritual practices. It has become increasing popular in the West and practice has also spread to other parts of Asia. The word 'yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning 'to yoke', reflecting the fact that yoga aims to ‘yoke’ or link body and mind, enhancing complete well-being. In the West, yoga covers a wide range of styles and practices. Often, the main focus is on physical postures or ‘stretches’ (the asanas), breathing and relaxation-based techniques, often incorporating some form of meditation. Various forms of yoga exist, from those that fit most closely with its original form comprising a whole approach to lifestyle, through to broad styles such as Hatha and Iyengar yoga and more innovative practices, including Bikram (‘hot yoga’) and laughter yoga.

How popular is yoga?
About 31 million U.S. adults have ever used yoga, and about 21 million practiced yoga in the past 12 months according to a recent survey (Cramer et al. 2016). These figures correspond to 13.2% and 8.9% of the population respectively. In Australia, use is estimated to be between 3% and 12%, with the best estimate being around 7% for organized practice when physical activity, therapy, lifestyle and spiritual path are all considered (Penman et al. 2012). In the UK, analysis of previously collected data suggested a much lower prevalence of yoga practice, with only 603 people of over 81,000 respondents doing yoga (Ding and Stamatakis 2014). This low rate may be because the data was from responses to a general question on sport and exercise undertaken in the previous 4 weeks. Regardless of this, a significant increase in prevalence over time was noted. 
 
What is International Yoga Day?
International Yoga Day is an annual celebration held on 21 June which was officially recognised on the 11 December 2014. Various events are held around the world to mark the occasion.

References

  • Cramer H, Ward L, Steel A, Lauche R, Dobos G, Zhang Y.(2016) Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors of Yoga Use: Results of a U.S. Nationally Representative Survey. Am J Prev Med. 50(2):230-5. 
  • Ding D, Stamatakis E. (2014) Yoga practice in England 1997-2008: prevalence, temporal trends, and correlates of participation. BMC Res Notes. 7:172. 
  • Penman S, Cohen M, Stevens P, Jackson S.(2012) Yoga in Australia: Results of a national survey. Int J Yoga. 5(2):92-101.