Aging Gracefully with Yoga

Senior woman in meditation by ocean
Elder woman doing yoga on beach – aging gracefully, peacefully, and joyfully.

I came across this video of yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch recently. She is not the typical teacher you might find in a yoga studio, however. She is in her late 90s and is more agile than most people half her age. I find her message of aging gracefully inspiring, and can only hope that some day you will find me at age 90 on my yoga mat.

Porchon-Lynch teaches about elderhood: that it is a time of learning, growth, and porchon-lynchvibrancy; inviting elder adults to grow spiritually, strengthen physically, and find the very best within themselves through a yoga practice accessible to anyone.

It is important to note that yoga is more than a physical practice. The word yoga itself is translated as “union.” It is the drawing together (or union) of heart, mind, and body that integrates all parts of ourselves into a unified whole. Just as a team performs best when all members are focused on a common goal, we become our best selves when every part of our being is in alignment with every other part.

The research available about yoga’s health benefits is vast, with more information and research data specifically about yoga and elders showing up almost daily.

Of particular interest is a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, linking yoga to the reduction of older adults’ risk of mild cognitive impairment—considered a precursor for developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Imagine that we can help reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s by practicing yoga!

Besides reducing risk of dementia:

  • people who practice yoga regularly have more energy, vitality, and better moods.
  • yoga also improves muscle strength and flexibility, preventing further breakdown of cartilage and joints and reducing arthritis pain.
  • the wonderful social connection with others is an added benefit when people attend group yoga classes.
  • people who practice yoga regularly have more energy, vitality, and better moods.
  • yoga improves stress resilience, boosts immunity and reduces instances of depression.
  • yoga improves balance and sharpens the mind.
  • medically, yoga can help control blood sugar in people with diabetes, enhances respiratory function, relieves arthritis pain and minimizes hypertension.

It is no wonder Tao Porchon-Lynch has achieved the honor of becoming the world’s oldest yoga teacher. Tao says because of her yoga practice she has never felt old. She shows us that through yoga she is aging gracefully, enjoying how good her yoga makes her feel. As a yoga practitioner in her late-nineties, it is safe to say that feeling good is powerful medicine.



Guest author Carrie Gallahan

Carrie Gallahan is the Director of Operations for Compass Senior Living, Midwest Region.  She is also a dementia practitioner and passionate elder advocate. carrie-sideplankCarrie  is a Registered Yoga Teacher and a Certified Chair Yoga Teacher. Carrie is the co-founder of Joyful Yoga, located in Peru, Indiana.   Joyful Yoga is an innovation partner with Compass Senior Living and has developed a signature chair-yoga program specifically for Compass Senior Living – True North Yoga.  Carrie has seen first hand what yoga can do for people of all ages and physical abilities. She loves to share the joy and wellness that yoga brings to lives.