How to Live Longer
There are many stories of long-lived gurus in the yogic lore, but one example is that of Paramahamsa Madhavdasaji. He was the guru of Yogendra, the famous yogi who founded the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, the oldest organized center of Yoga teachings in existence in the world today.
Paramahamsa Madhavdasaji lived to be 122 years old. There’s a photo of him at this age at the Institute with its caption proudly declaring the fact. In it, he looks slim and virile as he sits cross-legged on a tiger skin rug. On his face is a look of quiet consideration denoting patience and wisdom.
Was he really 122 years old in that photo? We’ll never know for certain. Birth records in India weren’t kept so rigorously back then. But it’s definitely possible with healthy habits and grace. The oldest unambiguously documented human lifespan is 122 years and 164 days. That was a French woman whose birth records undeniably exist.
Like Paramahamsa Madhavdasaji, Yogendra also lived a long and prosperous life in the service of others. He died at the age of 92 in 1989 – in a world long since filled with toxic influences from automobile exhaust and acid rain to PCBs and BPA. Now his son, Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra, continues to run the Institute at the young age of 83, still in good health and actively working to promote the well-being of others.
The World Health Organization says the average life expectancy across the globe is only 68 years. These yogis have done pretty well, then. Maybe it’s because they’ve followed the Yoga diet, a pattern of eating that resonates well with that of the world’s longest living populations.
When contemporary scientists have looked around the globe to see who is living a long time and why, they’ve come up with five groups of people who routinely live longer than most. In his book, Blue Zones, Dan Buettner expands upon the work of Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, who dubbed the five regions in our modern world where health and longevity go hand in hand as “blue zones.” The inhabitants of these areas – Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, Sardinia in Italy, the Nicoya Peninsular in Costa Rica, and Loma Linda in California – all have a few things in common.
One of them is dietary habits. Another is that they tend to live active vibrant lives well into their late 80s or 90s (and even longer) without reliance on medications and with few disabilities. They don’t typically take nutritional supplements or daily vitamin pills, and they don’t have special genes. It’s not about that. It’s about what they eat and how they live. And what they do is, on the whole, in line with what the gurus of Yoga said so many centuries ago.
Pay attention to your mental balance and keep stress at bay. Be kind to others. Move around a little. Eat brown rice, whole wheat, and barley. Enjoy lentils and beans. Milk, yogurt, and butter are okay in moderation. Stay away from meat and cheese, and most importantly, eat all the fresh fruit and vegetables that you can.