Gwyneth Paltrow’s Claim She Popularized Yoga Is a Stretch

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To be fair, the story notes that Paltrow’s conversion to a healthier lifestyle began after her father faced surgery for throat cancer in 1998. And the comments read like flippant, off-hand remarks made in conversation, rather than for an interview for print. Nonetheless, they don’t exactly mesh with reality.

For example, yoga has been popular in the U.S. for decades. According to Yoga Journal, Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to the U.S. in the late 1800s. It slowly but steadily gained in popularity over the following decades. By the 1960s, there were books about yoga that sold millions of volumes, dozens of yoga studios, and even a TV show featuring yoga workouts.

A Harris survey that Yoga Journal commissioned in 2003 found that between 15 million and 18 million people, or between 7% and 9% of the population, were practicing yoga. What’s more, the survey found:

more than 12% of the U.S. population, or 25.5 million people, is very or extremely interested in the practice of yoga; one in six respondents, or 35.3 million people, express the intention to try yoga within the next 12 months; and more than half of the general population, or 109.7 million people, has at least a casual interest in the practice of yoga.

What’s more, a Google search of Goop’s early web site—described by the Daily Beast as “a spare gray and white design and a vague promise of future inspiration”—shows only a handful of references to yoga before 2010, and most of those mentioning the practice only in passing.

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