It goes without saying, the popularity of yoga in the past decade has blossomed. Around 80 million Americans were estimated to have tried yoga last year, and by 2016, there were nearly 37 million yoga practitioners in America. This is up from 20 million Americans just three years earlier.

Why Yoga

There are many different reasons Americans are turning to yoga. In a new study, 61% said flexibility was the big selling point, 56% say they practice yoga for stress relief, 49% use yoga for general fitness, and for 44% for general physical fitness. Around 90% of those polled say yoga is a form of meditation and mindfulness.

Yoga has become a big business in America, clearing nearly $17 Billion in 2016, including classes, yoga clothing, and equipment.

Yoga & Physical Therapy

We sat down with physical therapist, and Hatha Yoga instructor, Stephanie Carter Kelley, PhD to talk about how she has fully integrated yoga & physical therapy into her practice. Stephanie practices Hatha yoga, which is a gentle form of yoga that is spine, joint, and bone safe. She has been a certified physical therapist for over 25 years, and started combining the therapeutic practice of yoga with her PT practice in 2010.

One benefit of using yoga in her practice is that she can really stress breathing as a treatment technique. Stephanie has recognized that patients with chronic, consistent pain change their breathing styles, which can increase tension and stress, exacerbating their condition. By teaching proper breathing habits, her patients go from using their sympathetic nervous system, to their para-sympathetic nervous system. This allows the patient to decrease stress and heart rate, allowing them to come to a very relaxed state.

Stephanie recognizes that various states of chronic stress can extend healing times with those that have been injured or that suffer from chronic pain. “What yoga can do is create the right environment to heal.” She recognizes that many people don’t know the full expertise and knowledge physical therapists have. By being a physical therapist in the wellness setting, she’s able to expand and recognize when her students/patients are struggling and make informed adjustments to their treatment right when it’s needed.

To learn more about Stephanie’s unique practice, watch our interview with her below, and visit her website at

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