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Let's start by looking at the general yoga trends around the world.
Worldwide we can see that interest in yoga was quite steady until the end of 2009. Interest then started to climb up during the year of 2010, and suddenly had a significant jump in 2011.
If you wonder why there is a peak at the end of each year – it's the New Year's Resolutions effect, as everybody signs up for gym, yoga and diet programs, and by the end of January, the original inspiration is long forgotten. As you know, history tends to repeat itself, and, as you can see, yoga is not an exception to that rule.
You can also see from the graph that in 2008 news sources started to cover yoga more than in the previous 4 years, and that popularity has been steadily increasing since.
If you are curious about the sudden spike in the yoga-related news volume on June 5th, 2011, you can click on the flagged event at the upper part of the graph, and you will learn that the news was about Police break up Indian yoga guru's hunger strike which happened in New Delhi. There are also controls to show a more refined graph for any given month or a year, so you can narrow down and get a more detailed report on any period of time.
Moving around the world, have you ever wondered about yoga trends in different countries?
Since the data is normalized to the total number of searches done in each locale on each day, what we see here is the relative popularity of yoga in different countries as compared to popularity of anything else that netizens of that country may have been searching for.
Surprisingly Canadians consider yoga more popular than any other country in the world (that uses Google), with India, the mother of yoga (shockingly!) coming second and the United States barely winning over Singapore . You can ask Google to show you the trends for any country that has a sufficient data pool from which to show useful information.
When we zoom in on the current winner – Canada – we can see the details of how each province fares:
As expected, British Columbia leads the yoga popularity game, with Alberta residents being almost as interested in Yoga. Surprisingly, Quebec seems to have much less interest in yoga.
Then zooming in a little more we can choose the winner amongst the provinces and see even more regional information:
We are in for another surprise here; the yoga popularity king of British Columbia is the city of Parksville (located on Vancouver Island)! If we check the same data for 2011, we have Whistler, BC as a winner. Though looking at the very top-level chart is says that Vancouver, BC is the winner of all cities in the world. Well, it probably doesn't matter as all 3 are relatively close to one another.
Before we continue and you get dragged down by all the numbers and trends, let's look at why you care about all that jazz.
If you're a yoga lover and you want to be in a nice and cozy yoga bubble surrounded by Lululemon and yoga mats, you shouldn't go to India, but to Canada, preferably British Columbia and ideally Vancouver, Parksville or Whistler!
If you're a yoga teacher who is looking to make a lot of money, the most popular place is not necessarily the most profitable place because you will have very stiff competition with many other yoga teachers. A bit like a gold rush, sometimes it’s better to go to a place where yoga is less popular and where you actually stand a better chance of finding more yoga students. Perhaps they will be less spoiled too J
We ran the same test in “Google Insight for Search” and the results were somewhat different – It did show Vancouver as the winner in BC, and country wise USA was #2, following by India #3, and Singapore #4. But no major differences here.
Back to geography, if we look at the USA and yoga stats per state, we see the following 10 most popular states for yoga:
Here the first 10 states in the list seem to have an almost equal propensity to seek out yoga. You can drill down into each of the states to see the breakdown by the city. The ten cities across the US where yoga is the most popular are:
Cambridge takes the first place, with NYC and San Francisco closely following it.
If you're curious about stats for India: Overall from 2004 to 2011, Pondicherry takes the first place, followed by Tamil Nadu and then Delhi. In 2011, Tamil Nadu is the leader closely followed by Karnataka and Delhi. Since 2009, the top search for yoga in India is “ramdev” or “baba ramdev”, who took India by storm in the last few years. See Baba Ramdev.
Yoga means 'unity', yet there can be a lot of rivalry between various yoga schools and organizations. One of the major foundations of yoga is the concept of ahimsa, which means non-violence, yet yoga schools and teachers sue each other. All yoga schools preach aparigraha, which means detachment, yet some yoga branches try to own and control their yoga teachers as much as they can. But let's practice the art of contentment (santosha) and simply look at the state of the nation and let the data do the talking.
Here is the full list of yoga styles we found online. We're sure we have missed some - but they are surely not the most popular ones. The contenders are:
- Ananda Yoga
- AntiGravity Yoga
- Anusara Yoga
- Ashtanga Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Bharata Yoga
- Bikram Yoga
- Dahn Yoga
- Forrest Yoga
- Gentle Yoga
- Hatha Yoga
- Hot Yoga
- ISHTA Yoga
- Integral Yoga
- Integrative Yoga Therapy
- Iyengar Yoga
- Jivamukti Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Kali Ray TriYoga
- Karma Yoga
- Kripalu Yoga
- Kriya Yoga
- Kundalini Yoga
- Laughter Yoga
- Moksha Yoga
- Nude Yoga | Naked Yoga
- Partner Yoga
- Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy | PRYT
- Power Yoga
- Prenatal Yoga | Postnatal Yoga
- Raja Yoga
- Restorative Yoga
- Sahaja Yoga
- Siddha Yoga
- Sivananda Yoga
- Strala Yoga
- Svaroopa Yoga
- Tantra Yoga
- Tibetan Yoga
- White Lotus Yoga
- Yin Yoga
Most Popular Yoga Styles from 2001 to 2011
The trends between 2004 and 2011 will help us to see which yoga branches have been gaining popularity, losing it, or purely maintaining:
To get the consistent index numbers we used "Iyengar Yoga" as the base, so all other numbers are relative to it:
- 19.40 Bikram Yoga
- 06.40 Hot Yoga
- 06.00 Ashtanga Yoga
- 03.80 Power Yoga
- 02.80 Hatha Yoga
- 02.20 Nude Yoga
- 02.00 Kundalini Yoga
- 01.00 Iyengar Yoga
The Popularity of Nude or Naked Yoga
We were surprised to see "Nude/Naked Yoga" in the top eight, knowing that there are so few studios offering Nude Yoga. Our scientific conclusion was that it's either because there is a huge desire for it (hint, hint!) or because the desire is more to watch someone doing Naked Yoga. Interestingly (see below) the interest is greater in India than anywhere else in the world). The first professionally-made Naked Yoga training video came from Yoga Undressed, The Goddess Series.
Sat, Oct 23, 2010
LOS ANGELES: A video featuring Playboy model Sara Jean Underwood performing various yoga postures while naked, has caused outrage in the Indian community.
As we can see from the graph - everybody in India needed to see the video first, so that they could join the dissatisfaction, hence the insane surge in searches for “Nude Yoga” on that day. The traffic dropped by half the next day, and in 4 days all was forgotten, as the search pattern went back to the normal.
Six years earlier on Sep 23 2004 there was a 30-fold spike in “nude yoga” search traffic in United States when the news story “Naked yoga OK in San Francisco” was broadcast:
City prosecutors Wednesday said it was not illegal to perform naked yoga in the city -- even at the crowded tourist destination of Fisherman's Wharf.
You can see the peak here.
Emerging Yoga Styles Trends from 2004-2011
Now let's look at the emerging yoga styles from the last 7 years. Some of them are not really emerging, having had a steady popularity for years, but I've included them here because they compete in popularity with some of the yoga styles that have been gaining popularity over the recent years – such as Sahaja Yoga, Moksha Yoga, Dahn Yoga and Anusara Yoga (Group 1 and Group 2):
And the winner here is the pre/post natal yoga, which of course doesn't affect all of us, so the next in line is Moksha Yoga:
- 1.85 Prenatal Yoga
- 1.60 Moksha Yoga
- 1.00 Kriya Yoga
- 0.80 Anusara Yoga
- 0.75 Sahaja Yoga
- 0.45 Dahn Yoga
- 0.35 Tantra Yoga
- 0.15 Laughter Yoga
If you wonder where the other 27 yoga styles that entered this study rate, they didn't even appear on Google's radar because the search volume for those had been too little – i.e. those are very far from being popular.
Interesting Traffic Peaks in Emerging Yoga Styles Traffic
Here are some interesting peaks and valleys in one emerging yoga style from a sudden surge in traffic:
Dahn Yoga is a Korean "yoga" system and business founded in 1985 by Ilchi Lee. It started gaining popularity in 2007. On January 5, 2010 the traffic jumped 10 times in the USA.
On January 5, 2010, CNN broadcast a critical report about the organization with interviews of former Dahn Yoga members alleging severe physical, mental and financial abuse by Dahn Yoga personnel and staff, including one former member stating she was coerced into donating funds to the organization by taking out student loans totalling over $40,000 USD.”
One week later, all was forgotten.
Laughter Yoga is the most popular in New Zealand, the Philippines and Canada:
You can see a 5-fold surge in laughter yoga searches on April 11th 2007, when it appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. A second peak on August 8th 2007 – again due to Oprah. There was another spike July 18th 2011, thanks to Laughterfest 2011 in Bay Area, California. So if you want your yoga style to have world's attention for a day, go on Oprah show!
Most Popular Yoga Styles in 2011
So if we put all those charts together (which requires some extra math work) here is the relative search index showing the relative search position of each yoga style in 2011:
As you can see in 2011 Bikram Yoga is the most popular yoga style and far ahead of any other contender, Hot Yoga is following it at about half of Bikram Yoga's popularity and the third most popular Power Yoga is 3.3 times less popular than Bikram Yoga. Often people will search for Hot Yoga when they actually are looking for Bikram Yoga, even though there are a few other Hot Yoga “brands”, which gives Bikram Yoga even more weight. But if we combine Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga together, as both are Hot Yoga – we end up with a whooping 19.3 index value, which is more than half of all the search between those top 15 yoga styles.
If we compare these numbers to the absolute number of any 'yoga' searches (index 180), Hot+Bikram Yoga represent about 10-11% of world's “search for yoga” market.
Let's remove a few entries that are below 1 to simplify the graph