YogaYoga is surging in popularity around New Zealand, while organised sport is in decline, according to Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie.

Yoga is now one of New Zealand’s most popular forms of movement or exercise, with recent research statistics showing yoga has grown around the country. A report from Sport New Zealand, Sport and Active Recreation in New Zealand has shown that New Zealanders’ involvement in club and organised sports has declined.

“If yoga was considered a sport, it would be the biggest sport in New Zealand by more than 50 percent,”  says Richard.

“There are more than half a million Kiwis taking part in exercise in gyms and fitness centres alone, and yoga has been a major part of this growth.”

Yoga is valuable as an activity, as well as being complementary to many other exercise activities. It is common for regular gym users to add in yoga as a part of balanced routine.

“Relief from stress is also a key factor. Yoga improves the body, calms the mind and helps balance life. For many people yoga is the yin to the yang of everyday life.

“Stress is almost a given in a developed country and, as a result, the mindful component of yoga is so beneficial. While yoga can vary in physical intensity, it always provides people with methods of being mindful, which is something many benefit from and seek in today’s busy lifestyles.”

“It has become so big as a form of and activity that we are staging the inaugural yoga conference in Auckland in November. Yoga has doubled in the last five years and just keeps growing largely due to its versatility,” says Richard.

A Lincoln University international PhD student Tilak Raj is teaching yoga to Lincoln University rugby players as part of his doctoral research, to see if yoga is helpful in reducing injuries and improving performance.

“Yoga has just exploded in recent years and there are now lots of support organisations for yoga including the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals.

“Exercise NZ is committed to supporting all forms of exercise and structured movement and activity in New Zealand and sees yoga as an important and essential mode  to help Kiwis stay active.”