Yoga – an access to having it all?

Want to be healthy, happy, fit, full of energy, excel at what you are doing and reach your goals? Try yoga. It works. According to Guinness World Records, the oldest yoga teacher in the world, Tao Porchon-Lynch, is 93 year old. Watch the short portrait of her and you will understand why I am so keen on yoga:

Yoga is fantastic. It has a positive impact of almost everything to do with body, mind and sprit. Since I started practising it by default in Islamabad about fifteen years ago I have never looked back. Start every morning with “pranayama” to be followed by 10-15 minutes of “asanas“.

From Islamabad to Mayfair

Once I had tried yoga with a Pakistani instructor in Islamabad I was hooked. Fortunately for me Frances Houlahan was teaching at Danceworks close to my office in Mayfair, London. So I trained with her on a regular basis. Swiftly noticed that after breathing deeply for an hour while doing the asanas stress was out the window. Felt like a million dollars and went back to the office full of energy.

The oldest yoga teacher in the world is 93 and proof that it works.

The oldest yoga teacher in the world is 93 and proof of how beneficial it is.

Indian yoga instructors 

In the Middle East I used to have mainly Indian instructors, both male and female. They taught me even more about pranayama and I learnt to do the breath of fire pranayama that I have do every morning.

While living in Riyadh I managed to get a sport injury that caused an inflamed a muscle that the best doctors in the Kingdom could not cure. The inflammation simply would not go away.

Ayurveda succeeded where medical science failed

Ayurvedic medicine is linked to yoga and use plants and massages to treat such sport injuries. Found a practitioner in Dubai and after a week of daily massages, smelling foully, taking a herbal supplement and having applications of plants and herbs on the inflamed muscle, I was cured. And it should be added that during half a year I paid a fortune for specialist treatments in Riyadh that didn’t work. The ayurvedic treatment however, that did cost a fraction of what the doctors charged, swiftly made the inflammation a thing of the past.

Difference between yoga and normal exercise

From looking at the video and the link above about the positive impact of yoga, I’m sure you have a good idea of what can be achieved. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, have you tried breathing deeply for an hour while you exercise? If you do you will notice a difference. Not only do you feel good like after normal exercise but also feel as if you have taken some kind of happiness drug.

It’s not for nothing that Tao Porchon-Lynch says the ancient eastern practice of yoga keeps her fit and healthy. At 93 a major reason she is still going strong is yoga. So if you feel run down, stressed and need a kick to improve all areas of your life, try yoga.

For some reason the majority of business people don’t find time for yoga. Have a feeling many businessmen regard it as suitable for women. Lamentable since they would be more successful if they found the time for yoga.

Do you believe yoga will improve your life? Maybe you practice yoga? If so, what benefits have you noticed? If not, how would you like to improve your life? Would you like to have more energy? Better health? Perform better at work? Get rid of aces and pain? Be happy? Start reaching your goals? Like Tao be still going strong at 93? Maybe it’s time for you to try yoga? Or do you have any other suggestions that can benefit you the way yoga do?

Video: AlJazeeraEnglish – You Tube

85 responses

  1. This so makes me want to get back to yoga. I do try to do at least ten minutes at home and that by itself works wonders.

  2. Hi Catarina: You've made a very strong case for yoga. But I must tell you that as someone who works alone at my computer, I enjoy the social interaction that exercising at Curves or attending a Zumba class gives me. It's wonderful that there are many options for us to choose from and the key is to find the right one for us as you have done with yoga.

  3. I've actually tried a bit of yoga a few years ago. It was the only form of exercise my surgeon allowed me to do after going through a surgery on my spine. Even though I don't do it that often, it helped a lot in terms of helping me gain back my flexibility and deal with lower back pains (near where I had my surgery). I'm actually looking forward to heading off to my first yoga retreat next month. Hopefully work doesn't get in the way so I can go.
    My recent post 4 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

  4. I did yoga many years ago but haven't since. A friend and business colleague is a yoga fanatic and also teaches it, although it's not her principle occupation. I know that yoga would be beneficial but this may sound silly but I don't know if I would have the patience for it. One thing I love to do and stick with is walking. I find that walking helps to clear my mind and makes me feel better physically.
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    • Jeannette, walking is great and I walk a lot. Always have. However, it's the breathing in yoga that makes it so special and rejuvenates our bodies and minds. It's like taking a drug and makes you feel on top of the world, no matter how stressed you were before. So it's worth while taking the time to try it. You will not regret it.

  5. Thank you Pat. Pilates is great as well and there is one Pilates exercise I do daily to keep the inner abdomen strong. As you know that's crucial. But the breating in yoga is what does the trick when it comes to rejuvenating our bodies and minds.

  6. I can't speak for yoga as I've never tried it, but am at the gym every morning when it opens. I find this a great start to my working day as it lifts my energy levels and my mood, even on those dark European mornings…

    • Good idea Guy. For some reason it seems it's mainly Indian businessmen who practice yoga. In the West you seldom find a man in a yoga class. However in Dubai there are plenty of Indian men who are into it. Maybe it would be a good idea to try. The breathing is what makes the difference between normal exercise and yoga.

  7. I have often thought about yoga but have never tried it. There appears to be different kinds of yoga and since I don't know enough about it to even speak intelligently about it, I never get anywhere. I would most definitely need a teacher if I were going to attempt something like this. My body would need A LOT of training just to get nimble enough to even begin yoga. Maybe I will look in to it further after reading your post. :)

    • Do give it a try, Cheryl. But if I were you I would stay away from Bikram Yoga which is done in a room heated up like a steam room. Personally didn't like that at all. Can't understand why since yoga was developed in the Himalayas thousands of years ago. It's cool in the mountains, so why it should be done in a heated room makes no sense to me. Hatha yoga is the most common version in classes and it's great

      Am sure you will benefit from the breathing exercises. We all do. By the way I did yoga in Dubai with a twisted ancle.

      • I also did a Bikram Yoga class, but I had already learned proper poses from yoga teachers who have had almost a lifetime of doing yoga, otherwise I believe I would have been injured as the Bikram Yoga instructor moved us quickly through poses without ever asking people what their level of practice and knowledge was. I didn't realize the room was heated, however, until I was leaving because it was 90 degrees at 9 a.m. that day and the class was at 9:30. I thought it was simply un-air-conditioned. So, do start out with a teacher who is taking new students, who has been teaching for a long time and can start you with breathing, and find one with whom you feel compatible. This is for Geek Girl, adding onto what Catarina said.

        • Interesting Diane. When I tried doing Bikram yoga in Dubai it done quickly as in Ohio. On the other hand when I did hatha yoga clases in Dubai with Indian instructors we moved really quickly and I loved that.

          Did you like the heat in Bikram yoga Diane. I didn't for many reasons one being that it shouldn't be necessary to have a shower and wash your hair every time you do yoga.

  8. Catarina, I am a big fan of yoga. I first tried a class as a teen, and if you know a few poses, you know them for life. The poses and breathing come in very handy in times of stress.

    I do find some teachers are much better than others. My favorite teacher, unfortunately for me, moved away. There is someone here who says she teaches yoga, but I see she specializes in aerobic type dancing, and I am convinced she does not know what she is talking about when it comes to yoga. Some poorly-trained instructors can actually be dangerous if they push someone incorrectly.
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    • Glad you agree with me Leora. The best instructors I have come across are Indian. Frances in London is fantastic and had her own television program but the Indians really master pranayama so I only learnt that about 5 years ago.

  9. It's funny, I have had a moment this week where I have not had the best attitude about just about everything. That is partly due to not having a very good diet in the last week and not exercising as I should… sigh! There are really no short cuts. I have never done Yoga but have been seriously thinking about the benefits as you mentioned about. I know what you mean about the breathing. When I take the time (yes, I should do it more often), it's amazing how I feel. I walk every day and do light weight as well. If I added yoga to my routine I could see where it could do wonders for me and how I feel about life. :-)
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  10. I did Yoga years ago, but fell out of the habit. I've been thinking about giving it a go again since it would probably help with my mildly annoying arthritis. Enough can't be said for the mind/body connection. Thanks for a post that's making me think about trying it again.

  11. Hi, Diane here – from Ohio area near Yellow Springs Ohio, and my yoga instructors have been practicing yoga almost all their lives, and are a couple, tho he will say that he always has come back to yoga, he is all-into it now. They study with their teachers in northern California and in Greek (where they recently moved after a lifetime) and teach part-time in Yellow Springs and the other part-time in the Virgin Islands on their boat. She is an RN and he is a PhD in aeronautical sensors. There are several men in their yoga classes (one appears to be a police man!). When I had a rotator cuff injury prior to moving for a year to NC, my medical doctor x-rayed it and told me I had beginning stages of degenerative arthritis (I was 47 at the time) as well as an injury to it. He gave me prednazone (spelling?) which I turned out to be allergic to, and not much more. I sought someone in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Durham (Duke University) and Chapel Hill (Univ. of NC) are also there) for 9 months before I found a Physical Therapist (PT) who knew yoga. The connection came through my yoga teachers in Ohio who had a dear friend and yoga teacher in Chapel Hill who also studied with their yoga teacher from California (who moved that year to Greece). I went to her class, which was above the PT, it turned out, and within a month working with the PT, who understood yoga, the pain was gone and I had full use of my arm. I knew to look for a PT with a background in yoga because one of the founders of Yoga Journal in the U.S. had come to Yellow Springs (an annual workshop) and done a teachers and a students workshop. She (Judith Lasater) is a physical therapist who teaches yoga. Yoga has been wonderful for me as I have been aging (my yoga instructors are at least 10-15 years older than I am, and their yoga teachers are older than they by perhaps another 10 years, it is hard to say) as it has its own way of lubricating the joints and keeping me limber and injury-free (my injury came from working in the gym). My teachers are Patricia Schneider and Andrew Junker, and theirs are Angela and Victor. But I did search for six months before I found them. When the yoga teacher touches your heart and your soul, you will know that you are home.

  12. Catarina, lovely post. I think you mentioned once that you do yoga, but this post shows just how much you are passionate about it. Why not a whole blog just on that? Anyway, this one was really good. One of my personal faves. :-)
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  13. Great post Catarina. I love that you are so passionate about yoga. I enjoy it too although I don't practice it daily. Instead, I enjoy alternating yoga with aerobic exercise and strength training. Maybe I have commitment issues!

  14. Wonderful post, I'm starting Yoga again in October I made it a goal to do 3 mornings a week to get back in shape and re-connect. I love it just haven't had time for a while to join a class unless I get up at 6am… and for one they don't have classes here that early and secondly…. that isn't happening! lol
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  15. Hello Catarina, i enjoyed your article about yoga. From what i see you have compared different types of instructors. I heard that yoga can be helpful in diminish the bad energies. Is that true?

  16. Catarina,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with yoga and for providing the link to that great video of the 93-year-old yoga teacher. I am also a yoga teacher (not quite that elderly, however:-). The benefits of yoga are many–for relaxation, for aerobic conditioning , for improved flexibility and balance and for learning to listen to your inner voice with greater clarity. I get immense joy when my students say that I've helped them in some way. It's true that there are many styles of yoga and teachers take different approaches. So if you go to a class and it doesn't feel right to you, don't give up–try another teacher. Bottom line: be good to yourself. This is one of my favorite quotes, although I don't know who said it: If your compassion doesn't include yourself, it is incomplete!

  17. I practiced yoga years ago but now do more weight training in an effort to ward off bone loss. But I want to thank you for this post and fabulous video Catarina. I’m re-thinking my strategy! Why can’t I do both? And you are so right about the deep breathing. That is the one thing that has stuck with me and it works!

  18. Hi Catarina, I don’t have access to yoga, wish I did. I try to practice deep breathing on my own and have a wonderful relaxation tape which will have to do. I am going to find out more about Ayurveda medicine and see what that is all about..

    • Great, Lenie. Also I strongly suggest that you find someone who can teach you yogic breathing. If not, you will not do pranayama exercises the right ways and benefit from them.

        • Lenie, why don't you just contact a yoga center and tell them you would like to learn pranayama and see what they say. Don't say yogic breathing but pranayama which is the word for the breathing exercises. If they don't know what it is you have come to the wrong center. There are a lot of yoga places that don't know what they are doing. The best would be if you could find a place run by Indians. Naturally they are the best.

  19. I am still struggling with finding the time to fit Yoga into my daily schedule. I realize that's my own issue and I do need to make it more of priority. There really is no short cuts to good health and Yoga could help me stay healthy.

    I so understand your thoughts about the breathing. When I take the time to exercise and remember to breath properly, it's amazing how I feel. I'm now back to walking every day, with light weights as well. If I I could find a way to add yoga to my routine, I know it would do wonders for me.
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    • Maybe you should, as AVIS once had a slogan saying, try harder, Susan?:-) The minimum do try to find someone who can teach you pranayama, i.e. breathe the yogic way. The fire breath might be the most important one. At least it wakes me up when I do it first thing in the morning.

  20. Bravo! I'm a big fan of yoga. Catarina you gave me a very timely reminder that I have not practiced in far too long. Time to get out the mat and take some deep breaths. :)

  21. I was unable to watch the video; got a message that it wasn’t made available in my country. I get the idea though! Look at that gal! Amazingly, I just learned about ayurvedic medicine at a networking event today. My daughter is a Yoga instructor and she introduced it to me and taught me a routine to use. It’s amazing stuff.

  22. Hello Catarina
    After my Holidays I always come back with increased weight, the reason is only that , I can not continue my habit of exercise. I have practice normal and yoga. I have done yoga with my friend jenny and dana but unfortunately they have left now , so I normally go for weights and machines, I always have to reduce 6-9 kg weight after holidays. Now I am habitual of doing so all the time. It was amazing to see Tao Porchon-Lynch. Yoga is beneficial in many ways. Yes I believe that if one can spare some moments to talk to God everyday , can feel much relaxed than Yoga.
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    • Andleeb, if you need to lose 6-9 kilos yoga is far from enough. Suggest you find a good fitness trainer in Riyadh that can help you set up a program of exercise and diet for you.

  23. I love yoga. I will be doing a Yin yoga class for about an hour that just stretches me right out. Since I have a lot of scar tissue and shortened muscles from a car accident years ago that’s huge for me. But I don’t have a class every day so if not I can do ten or fifteen minutes at home with no problem and be energized for the day.

  24. This is a very timely post for me. I have been thinking about getting professional yoga training for some time now. I have no excuse. There is a studio just up the street from where I live. Maybe this post is jut the gentle nudge I needed to get me moving. I am currently on vacation and the internet here is like dial up so I cannot view the video or comment on it.

  25. Hi Catarina,
    I would say YOGA is like the best way to relax your mind and soul. I do some meditation and prefer YOGA as well to get general fitness! It helps me a lot in maintaining concentration when i study.
    I believe everybody should do YOGA. Thanks for reminding through a post on your blog.

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  26. Unfortunately the video portion is returning a “Not Available in your Country” message but obviously the text is just fine so I will comment on that. I have seen the yoga industry grow from a quirky alternative form of exercise/meditation to a very trendy form of athleticism that incorporates, tours, magazines, and big business. I tried it once for a year and was left feeling stronger and more in control so I have no doubt about the benefits. Anything that gets a person active and looking after themselves is a good thing.

    • Unfortunately AlJazeera seems to have blocked the United State, Tim. But it's not the end of the world since it only means that 3,5% of the world's population can't watch it:-) Yoga has existed for thousands of years and to describe it as quirky is really just your quirky personal interpretation. The problems with yoga not living up to what it stands for has arrived with the recent yoga industry, frequently run by people who don't know what they are doing that just want to earn money. Glad however that you benefitted from yoga.

  27. Great article. I think the benefit of yoga is just moving and stretching combined with the proper breathing techniques. This combination can be great for anyone. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I am fortunate enough to have found a yoga community that practices on the beach in Southern California where I live. Previous to that I was practicing in a gym environment. What a huge difference, practicing with like minded yogis in the outdoors. I would never go back to a studio again. Because of my aversion to the gym yoga, I spent a couple of years looking for a suitable and affordable place to go. Now that I have found my Yoga By the Sea, I am able to practice 3-4 times a week and love the results and the changes in my life!

  29. In the U.S. and also can't access the video. Too bad because a 93-year-old Yoga instructor sounds pretty inspiring. For me riding a bike serves a similar purpose. Probably ride 4 or 5 days a week.

    • Too bad 3,5% of the world's population can't access the video, Ken. Despite that maybe you should try yoga. Many men do, you know. The old yogis up in the Himalayas thousand years ago who invented yoga were men.

  30. I’ve tried Yoga but gravitate more toward pilates. I plateaued with jogging and don’t want to become a long distance runner. Today was my first day of trying the T25 workout. It focuses on different exercises every 30-90 seconds in order to keep a person’s muscles confused. I’ve always been active, but am probably more so because I’ve seen too many people age in my family and not take care of themselves.

  31. I love yoga. It is the best form of recovery for my running. I love the peace of mind it gives me and I really believe the breathing has taught me to be a more efficient breather during my running. Great article!

  32. I started yoga 20 years ago and have tried lots of different styles over the years. What I have found them having in common is 2 things: breathing properly and being present. Even if it was just one short weekly exercise it works wonders. I surely notice the difference when I don’t do regular exercise, not just in my body but spirit as well.

    • Yes, yoga is amazing, Eva. If you haven't done it with Indian instructors, or instructors trained in India you haven't yet discovered all the wonders of yoga. Not kidding:-)

  33. That's amazing that the yoga instructor is still going strong at 93. I have a yoga DVD at home which I bought from India. I really need to give it a go some time to deal with the usual workplace stresses.

    Thanks for this, Catarina!


  34. I have been wanting to start yoga for a long time.. the more I learn about it, the more I want to start! I use essential oils to heal everything I can, I'm teaching my family to eat more raw and natural foods, and I think yoga would fit into my lifestyle.

  35. Wow Catarina! What a persuasive post! When I saw the picture of Tao Porchon-Lynch, I said "holy crap." Out loud. Yoga is amazing for sure. I love your suggestion about deep breathing as "happiness drug." No wonder we're always advised to "take a deep breath" when we're angry. Thanks for the post!

  36. Catarina, I could not watch the video on your post here. It says, "Uploader has not made this available in your country." So I went on YouTube and found another 2 minute one about her. Incredible story. In the one I did watch, she talks about being a dancer when she was younger. My guess is – any movement is better than no movement to improve your health. I alternate my exercise routines which for now about 25 years, keeps me motivated. Thanks for the inspiration.

  37. I started yoga 20 years ago and have tried lots of different styles over the years. What I have found them having in common is 2 things: breathing properly and being present. Even if it was just one short weekly exercise it works wonders. I surely notice the difference when I don’t do regular exercise, not just in my body but spirit as well.

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