You can’t help but be inspired by 91 year old yoga teacher Bernice Bates.
Before her feet even touch the floor each morning, she is practicing yoga.
While still in bed, she does her vinyasa, a series of seven or eight postures that gets her blood flowing. She puts her arms above her head for a stretch and a yawn, pulls her knees to her chest, “walks” the ceiling with her feet and stretches her shoulders and hands.
“By the time you’re through — it takes about eight minutes — you’re ready to walk, instead of slopping around,” Bates said. “You can walk to the kitchen, to the bathroom, whatever your procedure is and not sort of drag yourself and say, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do that.’ You’re ready to go.”
Yoga has been a way of life for Bates for more than half her life: She began practicing and teaching hatha yoga in about 1960. In a fitting tribute to her decades of helping others learn her passion, she recently won the distinction of the Guinness World Record holder of oldest yoga instructor. Guinness says she is the oldest yoga instructor to complete the complex verification process.
It’s an honor, the humble yogi feels, that isn’t hers alone.
“I don’t have this reward by myself,” she said. “I share it with all the students I’ve taught through the years.”
Bates credits yoga with keeping her flexible, fit and healthy.
“I think yoga is the best exercise there is,” says Bates, who has always been active and still swims laps.
“I’ve never had anything I had to go to the doctor for, except checkups,” says Bates, who tips the scale at 105 pounds and is about 5 foot, 2 inches tall. “That should say something.”
Yoga involves the whole body — muscles, ligaments, organs, she says, and gives you energy without exhausting your body.
“You’re not just standing on a treadmill and going, going, going and you get off and can hardly walk,” she says. “Yoga itself means yoke, that’s to join. We join our mind, our body and our spirit in everything we do.
Ready to get on the mat now?