The Positive Side of Medicine

Still Stretching: 91 Years Old and Teaching Yoga

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Still Stretching: 91 Years Old and Teaching Yoga

Still Stretching: 91 Years Old and Teaching Yoga

Yoga has many health benefits, and its good for all body types and fitness levels, so there are numerous yoga classes everywhere, but would you believe there is a 91 year-old woman who teaches yoga classes? Every morning Bernice Bates, 91, practices yoga with her students. Before even stepping out of bed she does Vinyasa, a series of seven high-flexibility postures that keep blood flow normal. Yoga involves moving all the parts of your body which keeps your body energized without making it exhausted.

For Bernice yoga has been an integral part of her life for more than half of it. In 1960 she started practicing and teaching yoga. In an attempt to recognize her contribution towards helping people be healthy, Guinness World Records has awarded her the oldest yoga teacher in the world. Bernice says that its not her alone who has won this title and shares it with all the students she taught during her life.

Still Stretching- 91 Years Old and Teaching Yoga

Bernice says yoga is beneficial for everyone, from people who do desk jobs to pregnant women. Bates now takes classes once every week and takes the students through 8-12 Vinyasa. Her students are 1-2 decades younger than her. Bates credits yoga for her health and longevity. She says she never had to visit a doctor for anything but routine checkups. Her muscles are more flexible than some people one-third her age. She strongly believes that older people have good range of motion and are as flexible as young people and light exercises like yoga and tai chi are good for the elderly because they improve balance which helps avoid falls. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health in 2005 found that practicing yoga daily improves hip extension and increases the length of stride in senior citizens.

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Bates says yoga has given her the freedom to do things she enjoys doing like gardening and arranging activities at church by keeping her medically fit. She is 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds. Bates was nominated for the record by her daughter and has completed all the formalities. Most of her students are over 60, some are in their 70’s and 80’s and a few in their 90.s. Her students call her Berbie and receive handouts made by her so they can practice yoga at home.


Bates says that regularity and consistency is key to a healthy body. She emphasizes that if you cannot complete a yoga pose, it’s fine and to focus more on trying. It gives us a positive outlook and keeps you motivated. Bernice is a perfect example of how age plays no role in keeping you healthy and determining your attitude. A true inspiring personality.

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