Gwyneth Paltrow mocked after claiming to have popularised yoga

Gwyneth Paltrow has taken credit for popularising yoga in America. The Oscar-winning actress, who founded the lifestyle website Goop, said she was taken aback recently when someone in Los Angeles asked her if she had ever practiced it.

She said: "I remember when I started doing yoga and people were like, ‘What is yoga? She’s a witch. She’s a freak’.

"Forgive me if this comes out wrong, but I went to do a yoga class in LA recently and the 22-year-old girl behind the counter was like, ‘Have you ever done yoga before?’

"And, literally, I turned to my friend, and I was like, ‘She has this job because I’ve done yoga before’."

Yoga began in ancient India and boomed in the United States in the 1980s.

It is currently a $16 billion-per-year industry in America.

Paltrow, 46, also told the Wall Street Journal she was no longer concerned by criticism of Goop, which she has denied embraces "pseudoscience". She founded the brand in 2008.

The actress said: "That was the beginning of people thinking I was a crackpot  – Like, ‘What do you mean food can affect your health, you  f****** psycho?’

"I’m so happy to suffer those slings and arrows, because if you look at the culture from then to now, people are so curious."

She added: "It’s so beautiful to see people feeling empowered by natural solutions, or ancient modalities, alongside science and medicine."

Goop opened its first pop-up store in London in September.

The same month it agreed to pay $145,000 in civil fines in the US, and give refunds to some customers, over unproven claims about the effectiveness of one of its products.

Paltrow was heavily criticised for the comments on social media.

One Twitter user wrote: "Yoga has been around for thousands of years and Gwyneth Paltrow thinks she invented it. She is  Hollywood’s Trump in terms of narcissism."

Others pointed out that actresses including Raquel Welch and Barbra Streisand were prominent advocates of yoga in the 1970s.