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Between 2004 and 2008, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne and the University of Queensland conducted the first national survey of yoga and meditation in Australia. The 'Yoga in Australia' project included an 18 month period of consultation with the yoga teaching community followed by a 6 month data collection period and then another 2 years of data analysis and reporting. The survey was conducted entirely online and collected nearly 4000 detailed questionnaires, making it the world’s largest yoga survey of it’s kind.
The Yoga in Australia survey was seen as a unifying event for yoga in Australia. It raised the profile of yoga-related research while enhancing dialogue and co-operation between teachers and practitioners of all styles and traditions of yoga in Australia and overseas.
Researchers at universities and yoga organisations around the world, including key authorities in India, now intend to collaborate to conduct the first international survey of yoga and meditation. Please contact us if you would like to be involved, whether through academic collaboration, financial or in-kind support, or as an individual practitioner. Yoga and meditation teachers, and their associations or groups are especially needed to register their interest and to encourage their members and students to participate.
A total of 5972 people joined the online yoga survey community, of whom 4218 people registered for the survey. 3832 people completed the half-hour survey including 1265 yoga teachers and 2567 yoga practitioners, resulting in over 70,000 lines of data (over 100 data points per participant). The results for teachers were reported separately.
The questions included demographic and socio-economic characteristics of practitioners; the traditions, styles and techniques practised; reasons for practice including health and fitness, spiritual path and personal development; related lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism, non-smoking and other physical activity; the effect of practice on health and medical conditions; frequency and circumstances of yoga-related injuries; and subjective experience (Flow state).
The project involved high level consultation with yoga teacher groups, speaking at meetings and conferences, press releases, articles in mainstream media, distribution of 2000 letters to yoga teachers and 40,000 invitation postcards to yoga practitioners, building a comprehensive website, producing a monthly email newsletter, and a popular ‘tell-a-friend’ campaign. The design of the survey instrument itself was also ground-breaking; it was a multiple page, interactive questionnaire allowing questions to be served dynamically based on answers to previous qualifying questions. Participants were able to complete the survey over multiple visits and to review and change previous answers to questions.
The results of the survey were announced at the 1st International Ayurveda and Yoga Conference in Sydney in April 2006 and generated significant media attention focusing on the benefits of yoga and meditation, especially the mental health benefits. The full 280-page report was made available to everybody who participated in the survey early in 2008, and has since been downloaded over 1000 times. You can request a free copy of the full report (PDF format) by contacting us. In the meantime, you can read a short article with highlights from the results here and the peer-reviewed paper is here.