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Aging gracefully: teaching yoga at 91

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A friend of mine recently stated to me that she hopes she dies by the time she is 75…living any longer than that would just be too depressing for her to even consider. Shocked, I asked her why. In my opinion, 75 is way too young to die. I see people on the tennis courts older than that and I fully expect to be running laps around people 30 years younger than me when I reach that age! Her answer really struck a chord with me. Her perception of aging revolves around deterioration of the physical body and mind. A gradual breaking down of the life she now enjoys. Her attitude made sense to me when I understood how she was viewing aging. Who in their right mind would look forward to a slow descent into loneliness as friends and family drop off one by one and the end result is living in isolation and sickness in a nursing home? I certainly don’t want that.

Growing old doesn’t have to happen this way. Aging can be accomplished in a much smoother, seamless way, free of disease and degeneration, yet full of vitality, life experience and accomplishment. Aging does not need to be looked upon with the dread our society piles upon it. In many cultures, the elderly are respected and revered. It’s only in the US where the elderly are cast aside as useless, a burden upon their friends, family and society, devoid of opportunity. Basically, it is a difference in perception. Perception and maintenance.

We may not be able to control the way our society collectively views the elderly, but we CAN control the way we maintain our bodies and minds. Taking full responsibility for our own health is a starting point. We alone have control over what goes into our bodies, feeding both our physical selves as well as our mental and spiritual selves.

I invite you to watch this video clip of a 91 year old woman who is still teaching yoga. She says she will do so until the day she dies. Not only is this woman incredibly fit and beautiful–and by beautiful, I don’t mean “for her age”, I mean for ANY age—but she is an incredible inspiration to us all. There are no limits in life to our potential and we did not arrive here with an expiration date. Life can go on in a full, vibrant way for as long as we are given the opportunity to be here on this planet. Partly through diet and lifestyle, partly via positive attitude, with maybe a little bit of genetics thrown in for good measure, there is no need to look at the process of aging as the dreaded, inevitable ending to our lives. Let’s all rejoice in this woman’s vitality. She gives me hope that I can continue to knock off everything that is on my life-to-do list without worrying that time will run out.