Do You Do Yoga out of Fear of Death?

Do you do yoga because you want to live as long as you can? Maybe. (Photo crdit:

MAYBE IT’S A question out of curiosity or blatantness. But that morning when I heard of this, it took quite a while for me to digest it as . The person who hurled that statement was a 86-year-old man who had a walking stick with him and just took a short walk in Sunday morning. I have no idea what to say or react to it. It was so sudden and nerve-wrecking to me.

“You all are doing yoga now because you’re afraid of death, aren’t you?” he asked us rethorically.

At the time when I wanted to answer, I too wanted to ask him whether he came to the park that morning with the same fear that if he’d stayed at home all day long, he would’ve deceased much sooner. Yet, I refrained myself from asking him the similar question. I don’t talk back to elderly.

Only then I came to realize that it might be true. And it’s not only me, but also him, and everyone who exercises, meditates, moves and breathes mindfully. I believe human beings are bond to that fear. We share the same fear.

Is it wrong? Absolutely not. It’s our instinct, naturally procured from our ancestors. It’s never wrong to be willing to survive as long as you can, right? Because if one loses that zeal to move forward along this life then s/he can be likened to a living corpse.

It’s true that I take up yoga with some faint hope in my deepest corner of my mind (which I at times deny) that I can intervene and prolong my life and health span. I don’t want to get older with so much pain – physically, mentally, psychologically – throughout my body, mind, and soul. It’s not my way to live a life. I want a better way to spend my lifetime. And hence, yoga! It’s been proven effective for aeons so why not?

In short, I do yoga to prolong NOT my lifespan, but my healthspan. (*/)

Longevity is Not That 'Sexy'

‎As I saw this movie played on TV, I was desperately thinking what novel I could pick as an object of study. The end of my post graduate study was drawing nearer, which frustrated me in some way because nearly everytime I attended classes in the third semester, everyone else seemed to have chosen one piece of literary work they truly like and would spend much of their last semester for studying it. I didn’t particularly interested in any single novel. A loser was what I felt like.

But then I realized the movie was so rich in themes to analyze, study and write‎ a thesis based on. It turned out the movie was titled “The Green Mile”. Or sort of. A movie adaptation of a novel, a best-seller one I was sure. It told a story of a gigantic black man who happened to have a supernatural power. And there was a kind guy. I assumed he was a police officer, played mesmerizingly by Tom Hanks. To cut the story short, the officer lived on, even when his peers succumbed to the death angel’s calling. There was only this cute mouse who was as ‘immortal’ as he had become. Together they stayed in a small hut in the woods while everyone their age was at the brink of death or already gone for good. Apparently, that was a consequence of the ‘power’ the black man had passed (un)deliberately onto him, and the mouse.

This forlorn depiction of the good guy (good-natured, optimistic people are said to live longer, some say) and the rodent may ‎take us to a moment of contemplation. Because these days we all want to live longer, whatever it takes. Inasmuch as, living longer is closely associated with higher level of happiness, satisfaction in life. There have been efforts – either scientifically or pseudoscientifically – to discover ways to turn back the clock. Alas, that’s in vain!

An article I stumbled upon on the web recounted the similar sense, that longevity is not that fun actually. It is horrible to experience, not to mention depressing. So this article writer‎ shared her own story of living as a middle-aged woman. Suddenly she thought of living too long. “How if I stay alive still until my 100th birthday when everyone I knew, loved and used to talk with every day is dead and buried or cremated already? What is this longevity for eventually if all you can feel is loneliness and incessant pain in old age?”

‎Upon reading the latest edition of Time Magazine yesterday, I can get the sense once again. That scent of purposelessness in the quest of fountain of youth and immortality. It reads:”How old can we live to be? That remains to be seen but if a promising drug does to humans what it does to mice – a big if – the answer is 142. Mice have a median survival time of 27 months but with treatment, the longest-living mouse hit 48 months, a life 1.77 times longer. The median human lifespan is 80 years – so if the oldest person lived 1.77 times longer, he or she would reach 142.”

‎Apart from all these debates on how important to stay healthy and young in and out, all I want to remind myself of is the advice of a lecturer back then. What matters most is not how we die – or in this very topic, how old when we die. We do not even have to worry a tiny bit about that. It is beyond our complete and utter control. We will never know how, where and when we perish from this world. Yet, what we must be more concerned with is how we live this life. Whether it be long or brief, your life is not supposed to get wasted.