Yoga has become wildly popular across the globe in the past few years, and a number of studies have been carried out that testify of its positive effects on physical, mental and emotional well-being. But do yogis really live longer than an average Jane or Joe? Apparently, they do: vedic scriptures place human lifespan at approximately 100 years, and there are a few yogis who got pretty close to the mark.
Praised as the father of modern yoga, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya pursued a life centered on Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. Krishnamacharya’s focus and cognitive functions remained razor-sharp until his death at 100, and the only health issue that plagued him in the last few years of life was a hip fracture which he refused to treat by conventional surgery.
Krishnamacharya’s first female student, Indra Devi became acquainted with yoga in her 30s, and she took up yoga teaching at Krishnamacharya’s urging, after yoga helped her fully recover from a grave cardiac ailment. Indra Devi brought her yoga knowledge to the Western world, and she is nowadays considered the mother of Western yoga styles. She died at the age of 102.
Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Another one of Krishnamacharya’s students and the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Institute, Krishna Pattabhi Jois was one of the pioneering yogis who took his knowledge of ancient Hindu techniques to the West. Although his early life was marked by hardships, Pattabhi Jois rose to fame as the father of contemporary Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and became a yoga guru revered by many Western yoga practitioners and instructors. He died at 93.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, Krishnamacharya’s brother-in-law, is considered the founder of Iyengar yoga. Ever since childhood, B.K.S. Iyengar struggled with various health issues including malaria, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and malnutrition, but his condition significantly improved through yoga practice. At Krishnamacharya’s encouragement, Iyengar began teaching yoga and became one of the foremost yoga gurus who taught celebrities such as Aldous Huxley, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, Annette Bening, Donna Karan, Kareena Kapoor, and Yehudi Menuhin. He lived to see the age of 96.
Yoga: A secret ingredient of longevity?
Currently the world’s oldest yogi, 97-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch from Westchester, says that longevity is closely linked to a personal attitude to life. For this reason, yoga is an excellent ally to a would-be Methuselah: on top of boosting physical health, the Hindu discipline enhances mental flexibility and emotional balance which are inextricable from peace, personal freedom, and happiness.
More than a workout: Yoga as a lifestyle
There is more to yoga than just asanas and stretches: if followed properly, yoga is supposed to become a lifestyle, not just a set of exercises. Yogis pay attention to their diet, stress levels, other creatures, and the environment: for them, trainings are just one fragment of the spiritual practice. This is one more reason behind yogi longevity: living in tune with nature is the secret ingredient to satisfaction and overall well-being, which are invaluable (and often almost unattainable) in the fast-paced 21st-century world.
One-way ticket to your 90s
So, what can you do to extend your life by another decade or two? The longevity formula based on yogi principles is 30% healthy diet, 30% regular exercise, 20% stress management, and 20% spiritual work. Switch to organic foods, watch portion sizes, do not skip workouts, keep your mind open, be grateful, and consider your life on Earth as time in a borrowed heaven. Ladies looking to preserve a youthful complexion can reach for organic creams and body lotions, but do not forget your yoga class! After all, a yoga-inspired life is a life of freedom and happiness, and that is the only life worth living a century or more.