Health and Science

More Americans are meditating than ever before, as mindfulness goes mainstream

Key Points
  • More Americans are practicing yoga and meditation, according to a new report.
  • Brands such as Headspace and Lululemon are helping to bring yoga and meditation mainstream.
  • Teachers are adding yoga and meditation to classrooms, while companies are offering subscriptions to employees.
Dougal Waters | Digital Vision | Getty Images

If it feels like more people are meditating, you're not wrong.

Within the past five years, the number of U.S. adults and children practicing the mindfulness exercise has increased significantly, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The study did not pinpoint reasons driving the trend, but people are searching for ways to de-stress, and brands such as meditation apps Headspace and Calm are helping to bring meditation mainstream.

The researchers studied how many people said they used meditation, practiced yoga or visited a chiropractor within the past year in the National Health Interview Survey. Yoga was the most common of the three, with 14.3 percent of adults in 2017 saying they had done it, up from 9.5 percent in 2012.

Meditation jumped to a close second, with 14.2 percent of American adults saying they meditated within the past year, a threefold increase from 4.1 percent in 2012, according to a report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. Last year, 10.3 percent of adults said they visited a chiropractor, up from 9.1 percent in 2012.

More adults are practicing yoga and meditation

Source: CDC

The authors did not collect any information on what drove the increases. However, two of the authors, Tainya Clark and Lindsey Black, told CNBC it's possibly related to meditation and yoga cellphone apps, as well as companies and schools offering programs for employees and students.

"Something really special is happening with our culture at a time when we need it most," said Megan Jones Bell, Headspace's chief science officer. "At a time when mental health problems are on the rise, something that improves focus and compassion is certainly something the world needs more of."

Adults between the ages of 18 and 44 were more likely to practice yoga than those who were older, while use of meditation was most common among adults between the ages of 45 and 64, Black and Clark told CNBC.

More children are practicing yoga and meditation

Source: CDC

Among children, practicing yoga increased to 8.4 percent in 2017 from 3.1 percent in 2012. Researchers were surprised to find little variation between kids and teens, Black and Clark said. Use of meditation among adolescents increased to 5.4 percent in 2017 from 0.6 percent in 2012.

Some teachers are incorporating meditation and yoga into their lesson plans. Popular meditation apps Headspace and Calm both offer a kid-friendly curriculum. The two companies are also courting employers to give employees subscriptions as a benefit.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Megan Jones Bell's name.

WATCH: This brainwave-reading headband is designed to help users meditate

This headband reads your brainwaves to help you meditate
This headband reads your brainwaves to help you meditate