Never too old
How 90-year-old Tony Smith took up yoga during the pandemic
It’s never too late to start yoga: look no further than Tony Smith, an inspirational 90-year-old living in the UK.
The past year of pandemics and lockdowns was the start point for his yoga journey, and it’s one that has already had a transformational impact on him.
As millions of yoga enthusiasts switched their practice online during the pandemic, Smith was no exception — he’s now been taking a zoom yoga class twice a week for over a year.
However, the fact that he celebrated his 90th birthday last December — and only started a regular practice in this past year — is something quite remarkable.
"Yoga is good for you,” he says. “People my age talk about getting stair-lifts and easy chairs…you don't need any of that if you practice yoga.”
It is all the more remarkable because Smith is far from flexible. This has meant encountering challenges that younger practitioners might not face.
He says he has a lot of stiffness in his joints (he was diagnosed with osteomyelitis in 2018) and suffered from deterioration in some vertebrae as a result. Not just that, but the arthritis in his hands is also painful and he has some difficulty getting up and down off the floor.
He now practices a system based on joint health, developed by Kathy White, a yoga teacher of 20 years, which works to keep the joints lubricated and healthy, even rejuvenating and renewing mobility — like WD40 for the joints. It has helped him tremendously.
"I feel a lot better now than I did a few years ago when I was ill," he says.
Joint Renewal System
Smith is following Kathy White’s Joint Renewal System, which she created when she began to experience joint pain herself in her knees, hips and low back, despite years of yoga, when she reached the age of 50.
Feeling despondent she almost quit yoga. Instead, she decided to research and retrain. She consulted with physiotherapists and chiropractors and learnt from yoga teachers in Brazil, Italy, and Scotland. Eventually, she came up with her own unique process which she labelled The Joint Renewal System and started teaching her students this approach.
She says when students like Tony Smith take her classes, they often see remarkable results in a very short space of time. Stiffness eases, strength returns and much more mobility in the joints is gained. Many older students also enjoy the fact fact that the pace of the yoga is slow.
"You need to calm the nervous system in order to get the results in the joints,” says White. "So many modern yoga practices rush the body, when what we need is to slow down so that natural healing processes can restore joint health."
It has certainly helped Tony Smith go from strength to strength and stay enthusiastic about life in his 90s, which is a credit to the spirit and determination of the man himself.
It’s also a great example of the many wonders of yoga.
For more information about Kathy White and the The Joint Renewal System, visit: kathywhiteyoga.com