They say age is just a number, and watching 98-year-old V Nanammal effortlessly execute a wide range of difficult yoga poses that practitioners decades her junior still struggle with, I’m inclined to believe that they’re absolutely right. Recognized as the oldest yoga instructor in India, and the second oldest in the world, Nanammal has inspired a whole generation of Indian youths to take the ancient art.
V Nanammal started doing yoga when she was 8, picking up the basics from her father, who was a martial artist. She then continued learning the secrets of the practice under the guidance of her grandfather, in her home town of Coimbatore, India’s Tamid Nadu state. After getting married, Nanammal continued learning yoga from her father-in-law, and soon started teaching others. The elderly yoga instructor says that she never stopped practicing yoga for the last nine decades of her life, and credits it for her good health and incredible flexibility. She claims to have never been to the hospital or even taken any kind of medicine. “I never stopped practicing yoga at any point in my life. That’s the secret of my health,” she says.