My Journey To Becoming The Oldest Yogi – Story of a Yogi

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Yoga has given me health and happiness in abundance! What more can I ask for? God has been very kind. I had started practicing Yoga when I was 3 years old. My grandparents used to practice daily. They worked on the farm and the practice kept them agile and healthy. I watched them with much interest and I feel blessed that they were my first Gurus. I also practiced with my parents. Now, as most of you may already know, I am 98 years old, popularly known as the Indian Yoga Grandma. I have no complaints of ill-health or mental stress. I have a big family and spend time with everyone. My daughters, daughters-in-law, sons, grandchildren, they all take good care of me. Now a days I get to hear that my 2 year old great-granddaughter is perhaps the youngest yogi 🙂 It makes me very happy when I practice with her. As a family, we truly believe that Yoga is the only way of life.

“You can’t enjoy wealth if you are not in good health.”

Carrying On Family’s Yoga Parampara

From what I remember, the knowledge of Siddha and Yoga has been passed down to us through four generations. I am very content that everyone in my family cherishes this blessed parampara. Even the youngest has assumed the mantle of this divine tradition. No one was forced to choose this path. It runs in our blood. Our ancestors always said that wealth is of no use if we cannot maintain a healthy body and mind. My sons and daughters practice and preach the same and so do their children.

Today, we have various competitions in Yoga for all levels. This has helped increase awareness of Yoga and its benefits and it also attracts many youngsters. I too have participated in some and won. So have my children. My son and granddaughter, both have students who have won gold medals in Yoga competitions. Their goal is to encourage as many youngsters as they can to make Yoga their way of life. They educate children on the importance of maintaining a healthy body so they can think positively and live a happy life. I come across many children who are victims of poor-eyesight, headaches, and men and women complaint about weight gain, stress, body-ache. The root cause to all this I believe is the fact that we have forgotten the art of contentment and the blessing of happiness. The practice of Yoga helps us reconnect with our atman and shows us that happiness lies within.

“There is a spirit which is pure and which is beyond old age and death; and beyond hunger and thirst and sorrow.  This is Atman, one’s Spirit.  All desires of this Spirit are Truth.  It is this Spirit that we must find and know.” Chandogya Upanishad.

 

 

Your Body Is A Temple

In all these years, I have never been to the hospital even once. Regular practice and knowledge that was passed down by parents has helped me deepen the connection with my body and mind. Everyone in my family has had a normal birth/delivery and both mother and child are hale and hearty. I can look at a person or pregnant woman and tell them what is wrong with their posture/body and suggest a practice or routine that will suit them best.

This knowledge can be achieved with discipline, self-effort, practice and self-study. From understanding every asana to understanding what food to eat, when to eat, what to speak and when to speak, when to rest and when to act, Yoga can help you live in a state of complete awareness, even when asleep!

I used to practice more than 50 asanas regularly, including the sequence of surya namaskar. Gradually, I have cut down my practice of asanas. I still wake up with the sun and embrace all the goodness it has to offer by offering my prayer of gratitude.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” » Buddha

My Daily Practice

Students come to learn yoga early morning at my son’s yoga centre. I still teach and also practice along with them. I suggest that one should practice Vajrasana, Sasangasana, Ardha Sirsasana, Halasana and Sarvangasana daily.

I practice Bhastrika pranayama regularly. Apart from the above mentioned five asanas, asanas that are a part of my daily routine even now are Paschimottanasana, Bhujangasana, Machasana and Tadasana. Inversions, especially Ardha Sirsasana has helped me maintain good eyesight and avoid headaches completely. When practicing with my children, I hold asanas for as long as other students and relax when they instruct us to release the posture. I practice meditation and chant OM for couple of minutes daily.

 

 

My Daily Diet

I take honey with water. I eat home-made porridge in the morning. This is a mix of small millet, foxtail millet, kodo millet, barnyard millet, ragi, pearl millet and wheat. I also take any one boiled vegetable in the morning. For afternoon meal I usually mix rice and greens. And for dinner it is usually fruits.

My Advice

There is a Tamil saying “Sittan pokku, Sivan pokku” meaning that a Siddha walks or follows the way of Siva. This is our Yogic tradition. A true Yogi worships the absolute reality that is within each of us. This act in itself is an experience that cannot be understood or felt by reading or listening. One has to practice to experience the transformation and unity with the divine. In our tradition, I address everyone as Swami, meaning Lord. We see the divine in every being and thus it becomes our responsibility to nurture the essence of who we truly are.

“The one whose mind is serene and clear like an ocean without waves is a Siddha.” – Tirumular

Today, we need yoga more than ever. We are constantly exposed to toxic atmosphere, food and information … we have to detox and purify our body and mind daily. Thus my advice is very simple … everyone should practice yoga daily and be healthy.

 

Nanammal Amma,

India’s Oldest Yogi from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.


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