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Variety of people practicing yoga, meditation has increased in the last six years

THURSDAY, November 8, 2018 – It seems that everyone knows you are trying yoga or meditation, it may be okay. A new government survey shows that the number of Americans who practiced "attention" techniques has increased in recent years.

In 2017, more than 14 percent of adults in the United States said they had practiced yoga in the last year, an increase of 9.5 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of meditation practitioners has more than tripled – from 4 to 14 per cent.

Even children are paying attention. In 2017, the study found that more than eight percent of children ages 4 to 17 had practiced yoga last year, up to 3 percent five years earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

And while few children took time to meditate in 2012 (less than 1 percent), more than 5 percent were doing it in 2017.

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The survey did not ask people why they took these old practices. Therefore, it is unclear what is driving the rise in popularity, said researcher Lindsey Black of the National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC.

She said that it is not clear how many Americans could resort to yoga or meditation to manage health conditions, or simply for "general wellbeing." The survey did not ask questions either to people practicing regularly or just entering the techniques.

"We just know that these practices are becoming increasingly popular," said Black.

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In accordance with marketing demands, tummy respiration, tree poses and other time-honored techniques can help children to de-stress, navigate social songs and even get away from the flu.

Adults say they will develop better vision, better posture, better sleep, and more, use their yoga tools.

The focus of the media could increase the popularity of yoga and attention, said Ted Meissner of the Massachusetts Medical School's Attention Center.

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The university is the birthplace of conscious stress reduction (MBSR), a guided program that combines particular meditation techniques and gentle yoga. The "gold standard" attention technique is considered in scientific research.

In recent years, Meissner has said that there has been a "strong increase" in studies that study the effects of various approaches to care, such as how to treat health conditions as diverse as chronic pain, heart disease, memory problems, anxiety, depression and addiction.

This came with a surge in media coverage, said Meissner.

But much of this investigation had important limitations, he added. On the one hand, most studies lacked "control groups" where people obtained another intervention for their comparison.

The media also paid close attention to studies that show that when people meditate, their brain activity changes. But the importance of these discoveries to everyday life is unknown, said Meissner.

What is the attention? The Attention Center offers this definition: the intention to pay attention to each and every one of the moments of our life, without criteria.

But when it comes to research, there is neither an accepted universal definition of the term, said Meissner. It's much less simple than studying a drug, he said.

For now, Meissner has suggested that if people are interested in meditation or yoga, they come up with reasonable expectations. If you are looking to get rid of the anxiety, he said, the practices may not be for you.

"Attention is not a panacea," said Meissner.

He also advised "do his homework" before investing in classes or courses. There are several forms of yoga and meditation – so you understand the type to which you are enrolled. And, he said, trust the teacher's credentials, including whether he or she has trained with a reputable program.

Even something as certain as meditation has the potential to cause harm, said Meissner, if, for example, he was promoted as a substitute for standard anxiety or depression therapies.

More information
The United States National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has more meditation and health.

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