Following the success of the ‘Yoga in Australia’ survey, researchers at universities and yoga organisations around the world are collaborating to conduct the first international survey of yoga and meditation commencing in 2011. You are invited to be part of this landmark event.
Please contact us now 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 teacher associations and groups are especially needed
to register their interest and to encourage their students and members
to participate. To be kept informed of developments, please register your email address. You can also use this handy tell
a friend form to send e-card invitations to your friends and contacts.
Between June 2005 and January 2006, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne and the University of Queensland conducted the first national survey of yoga and meditation in Australia. The entire project spanned four years, including an 18 month period of consultation with the yoga community in Australia followed by a 6 month survey period and 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 early results from 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. The final 280-page report was made available to participants early in 2008 and at the time of writing, had been downloaded about 800 times. You can download a free copy of the report by registering your interest here.
The Yoga in Australia survey aimed to investigate the way in which yoga was practised in Australia, including:
- demographic and socio-economic characteristics of practitioners
- 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
- health and medical conditions and the perceived benefits of practice on those conditions
- levels of teacher training, affiliations and insurances, and experiences of teaching
- frequency and circumstances of yoga-related injuries
- pranayama and meditation techniques practised
- subjective experience (Flow state) in yoga
The methodology was extensive, involving substantial industry consultation, attending meetings and conferences, press releases, articles in mainstream media, national distribution of 2000 letters and 40,000 invitation postcards, a comprehensive website, email newsletter, and a ‘tell-a-friend’ campaign. This achieved an on-line yoga community of nearly 6000 people, of whom, nearly 4000 completed the survey.
The design of the survey instrument itself was also a world-first; a multiple module, interactive, web-based questionnaire, allowing pages to be served dynamically based on answers to qualifying questions. Users were able to login and logout freely, to review and change previous answers to questions, and to complete the survey over multiple visits to the website, encouraging completion of the half-hour survey and ongoing participation in the online community.
The Yoga in Australia survey project 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 both in Australia and overseas.
The World Yoga & Meditation Survey
Based on the experience gained from the Yoga in Australia project, researchers from universities around the world including Indian yoga universities and senior figures from many yoga traditions, supported by numerous yoga organisations around the world are now collaborating to expand the concept internationally to include India, USA, Canada, the UK, Europe and many other countries. In time, it is expected that the website and survey will be made available in a number of languages.
The proposed objectives of the World Yoga & Meditation Survey are initially:
- To map and describe the way in which yoga and meditation are practised around the world with focus on demographic and socio-economic characteristics of practitioners, reasons for practice, techniques and characteristics of practice, health and medical conditions, yoga-related injuries, subjective experience, psychological and physiological characteristics of practitioners, longitudinal physiological and psychological measures of health and well-being, and other research questions of the research partners as appropriate
- To create an international on-line yoga and meditation community promoting dialogue and collaboration across all styles and traditions, especially in yoga and meditation related research.
As for the Yoga in Australia project, it is expected that the international survey will enhance awareness of the benefits of yoga and meditation for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
However, the Australian results suggested that there may be effects of practice over time on smoking rates, alcohol consumption, vegetarianism and other physical activity, spiritual orientation, and other lifestyle-related choices which may have significant implications for healthcare expenditure and public health policy. The world survey aims to further investigate these areas by collecting longitudinal data from participants over a number of years, and by investigating the effect of practice on biochemical, physiological and psychological measures of health and wellbeing.
Much was learned from the Australian survey experience, which will result in the world survey being more scientifically robust and the future reporting to be extensive and authoritative. One of the limitations of the Australian survey was that meditation was only investigated in the context of yoga practice, however the world survey will also aim to investigate ‘non-yoga’ practice of meditation, through an additional web presence at www.meditationsurvey.com.
The survey questionnaire is expected to contain a number of ‘core’ modules and a number of additional or optional modules of questions in specific areas of interest developed by the research partners. A key design feature of the world survey will be the ability to collect ‘before and after’ data from participants on an ongoing basis, and the ability to introduce further modules of questions as they are developed by the research partners.
The core modules will investigate the following areas:
- Demographic and socio-economic characteristics
- Practice characteristics
- Related lifestyle choices and physical activity
- Health and medical conditions
Certain qualifying questions in the core modules may determine whether a participant is offered additional modules and the opportunity to participate in ongoing longitudinal research (eg: over 6 months, 1 year, 3 years).
Measures of health and well-being may include:
Additional/optional modules may investigate areas such as:
- Biological markers of oxidative stress and inflammation such as HDL/LDL cholesterol,
CRP, homocysteine, blood pressure
- Quality of Life, eg: AQoL scale
- Health, eg: SF-12 and SF-36 scales
- Anxiety, eg: State Trait Anxiety (STAI) and Taylor Manifest Anxiety scales
- Depression, eg: Beck Depression Inventory
- Cognitive function
- Sleep assessment
- Nutritional assessment
- Fitness assessment, heart rate variability, VO2Max
- Yoga-related injuries
- Teaching (for yoga/meditation teachers and yoga therapists)
- Yoga therapy
- Subjective experience (the Csikszentmihalyi & Jackson “Flow” state)
- Human movement
- Ethics and morals
- Social justice
- Environmental sustainability
Inviting your involvement
Your involvement in the World Yoga & Meditation Survey is invited as a Participant, Partner or Patron.
A participant is anyone who has ever practised yoga or meditation or those commencing practice. Those who wish to participate in the survey should register their interest on the website.
Partners are people or organisations who want to support and share in the international effort. A wide range of partners will be needed, including:
Becoming a research partner means having direct involvement in certain aspects of the design of the survey, for example, designing a module of questions to be included in the survey specific to your area of interest and/or co-ordinating the survey effort in a particular geographic area. Research partners will most often be university researchers or yoga/meditation organisations and will share applicable data and co-author academic papers and articles relating to the data.
- Sponsors and Supporters
These are people, businesses and organisations wishing to support the survey project financially or in-kind, particularly providing funds, generating awareness, directing traffic to the website and by encouraging their membership or client base to participate, providing editorial and media articles, and generally assisting the project to reach people interested in yoga and meditation around the world.
Some examples of appropriate partners may include:
- Researchers at universities, research centres and institutes of higher learning
- Government departments and organisations fostering international cultural and research exchange
- Groups and associations representing yoga and meditation traditions, styles and teaching
- Yoga and meditation centres, ashrams, teaching institutions and retreat centres
- Yoga, meditation and holistic, complementary or integrative health magazines and journals
- Insurers of yoga and meditation teachers and providers of related goods and services, specifically suppliers of yoga-related props, clothes and accessories
- Travel agencies, airlines, accommodation and conference venues
- Health resorts and spas
Patrons are people and organisations wishing to lend their name and reputation to add influence and reach to the survey effort. Suitable patrons would be government departments or authorities with responsibility for yoga and meditation, senior and respected figures in yoga, meditation, yoga therapy, spirituality, medicine, complementary and integrative healthcare, ayurveda, physical, mental and life sciences, to name a few.
Please let us know how you would like to be involved here or email info [at] yogasurvey [dot] com.
Register or update your details
a friend about the survey
the privacy statement
of the Yoga in Australia survey available here
Please click here to register or update your account details and login. Once you are logged in, you will be able to download the full report.
| The Yoga in Australia survey is closed
of the times (pdf). An overview of the survey results.