Yoga and aging: A perfect pair

Written by on February 22nd 2016.

Yoga isn’t just for the young and flexible.

Just ask 89-year-old John Hill, who practices Yoga once a week at YAM in one of the more vigorous classes.

“It’s the best hour of the week for me … and I mean that. I come out of class and my mind is clear and my body is relaxed,” says John, who, as president, runs a commodity trading company in Hendersonville. “I love the stretching aspect of yoga. Sure, I have to modify the poses and I can’t do everything, but, Lord, when you leave there, you’re floating.”

Yoga can help alleviate some of the symptoms of aging, like insomnia, fatigue, stress and joint pain. And as we get older, our balance isn’t the same. Through asanas that strengthen muscles, the risk of falling can be reduced.

“I’ve seen lots of benefits for seniors. They, like anyone who practices yoga, should be sure to let their teacher know about any injuries or preexisting conditions before class,” says YAM instructor Sonya Klepper-Johns. “It’s important to make sure the class is appropriate for you. While in class, move deliberately and slowly into new yoga poses, working on the balance and alignment of the pose.”

John is careful that he doesn’t push too hard, and is totally comfortable with where he’s at on his Yoga mat. In other words, he puts his ego aside.

He’s always been an exercise buff, stemming way back when.

“I was brought up dirt poor in Mississippi. As a kid, I used to get up at 4 in the morning to milk cows, then run four miles delivering milk door-to-door before going to school. I loved it!,” says John, who makes it a point to exercise daily using his inversion table, a trampoline and a sonic vibration machine set up in his office . And this is all while making trades.

He says he has had no serious illnesses over the years, except for a partial knee replacement. A world traveler, John says he injured his knee climbing the Great Wall of China while vacationing with his son. He is on no medications, but takes many different kinds of vitamins. He is on a sugar-free diet, has a beer once in a while and delights in his favorite kind of breakfast: sourdough toast with peanut butter, honey and a banana.

Besides good genes, exercise and healthy food, John insists a positive attitude the moment you get up in the morning is one of the keys to a long life.

“Either you deteriorate every day or you build yourself up,” John says. “You can wake up in the morning with a host of problems, and either say to yourself ‘this is going to be a bad day or it’s going to be a beautiful day,’ you make that choice.”

Lately, it’s been a great day for John on the golf course. He’s $32.55 richer because of Yoga. “It’s improved my golf game by three strokes because Yoga has helped my hips become more flexible. I won $32.55 from my buddies because my golf game improved.”

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