Yoga in Australia

Penman, S 2008, Yoga in Australia, Masters by Research, Health Sciences, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Yoga in Australia
Author(s) Penman, S
Year 2008
Abstract Introduction
Little was previously known about the practice of yoga in Australia, whether as a spiritual path, a lifestyle, a form of exercise or as a therapy for a range of medical conditions.

Methods
A national self-administered web-based survey of yoga in Australia was conducted between June 2005 and January 2006. Recruitment was through yoga teacher networks, mainstream press and word of mouth.

Results
A total of 3832 respondents completed the survey including 1265 yoga teachers and 2567 yoga practitioners.

A typical yoga practitioner was found to be a 41 year old female (85% female) practising regularly (at least 1-2 times a week) for about 5 years, a city dweller (82%), tertiary educated (81%), with a household income of $70k+ (57%), Christian (36%) or spiritual (non-religious) beliefs (28%) and a non-smoker (83%).

Most of the time spent by respondents practising yoga (61%) was devoted to postures and dynamic posture sequences, while about 30% of the time was devoted to breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation.

While 68% of the population identified themselves as Christian in the 2002 Census, only 36% of yoga survey participants overall identified themselves as Christian, decreasing from 43% to 28% over one to seven years of practice respectively.

“Reduce stress or anxiety” was given by 58% of respondents as a reason for beginning yoga practice, increasing to 79% as a reason for continuing, nearly as frequently as the physical reasons for practice. About one in five respondents said they had a specific health or medical reason for practising yoga.

More people reported using yoga to address mental health issues (about 36%) than musculoskeletal problems (27%). Women's health (menopause and pregnancy) accounted for 10% of conditions ahead of gastrointestinal (7%), respiratory (7%) and cardiovascular (4%), with consistent improvement across all these categories. Perceptions of quality of life were also improved by yoga practice.

The incidence of yoga-related injuries appears to be low, at 3.4% occurring in the previous 12 months under the supervision of a yoga teacher, or 2.4% excluding recurrences of previous injuries.

Conclusions
Yoga in Australia appears to be a healthy mix of physical (postures) and non-physical practices (relaxation, breathing techniques, and meditation). Yoga also appears to be a relatively safe practice compared to other physical disciplines.

Regular yoga practice may have a protective effect on health and longevity due to associated lifestyle choices including healthy eating, regular physical activity, vegetarianism, reduced smoking, reduced alcohol consumption, greater spirituality/religiosity, reduced stress and other mental health benefits.

Yoga practice may benefit many medical conditions and may reduce the burden on the healthcare system. It is likely that better integration in this area will have cost benefits for the community.

Further research is required to better understand the effect of yoga practice on the above and to quantify the benefits of regular practice to the Australian community and healthcare system.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Yoga
survey
meditation
asana
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Created: Thu, 25 Nov 2010, 16:10:01 EST by Guy Aron
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