Can Dying People Do Yoga?

In this age of Instagram pictures of young, lithe people in skimpy outfits doing contortionist postures on the beach at sunrise, the very notion of a person at the end of their life doing yoga seems crazy.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.  Dying people doing yoga is just about the most sane thing imaginable.  The key question is – what do you call yoga?

The truth is, those Instagram pictures are showing us only the tiniest slice of what is possible within yoga.  While it may be fun to achieve an extreme shape with our body, the actual goal of yoga has everything to do with our mind.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, which is widely regarded as one of the most important texts on yoga, the goal of yoga is stated right up front in Sutra I.2:  Citta vrtti nirodah.  The goal of yoga is the cultivation of a sustained directed mind.  In other words, we train our mind to be where we want it, when we want it for as long as we need it.  Doesn’t make for a snappy Instagram picture but it is important work – and never more so than when we are nearing the end of our life.

I will be writing more about the many ways that we can train our bodies and minds so that we are truly and fully alive for all of our life in future posts, so stay tuned.


If you or someone you know is entering end of life care and could benefit from this work, please visit my contact page to schedule an appointment and/or learn more.

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