Kupuna Life: Staying limber with yoga

Kupuna Life

A study showed 21 percent of yoga practitioners are 60 years or older. 

Benefits range from strengthening bones to improving balance and sharpening minds. 

KHON2’s Kathy Muneno found two veterans of Kupuna Life who had one thing in common. 

Every morning at 5 a.m., 93-year-old Pepper Hartness starts her day with an hour of yoga. 

The one-time yoga teacher, ski instructor, physical education teacher said that yoga relaxes her and keeps her flexible.

“Oh I’ve been doing it for over 40 years at least and I more or less developed my own routine, where I would work the yoga into what I wanted to do,” said Hartness. “This is relaxing before the next hard one.”

Then there’s 82-year-old Helen Nakano. 

She comes to Trilogy in Kaimuki almost every day and spends three times a week in a room that’s heated to about 100 degrees.

“I take bikram yoga, which is called hot yoga because they heat the room, and it’s for 90 minutes,” Nakano said. “It’s pretty intense and I’ve been doing it for 22 years.”

KHON2 asked Nakano how she breathes in the heat. 

“When you get too exhausted you lie down, then you get up again and I drink a liter of water,” she said. 

Nakano’s yoga instructor is 72-year-old Barbara Gacki. She was a nurse for 36 years. 

“This is a different kind of heat—It’s deeper. It gets into the skin, into the circulation for the structure of the skin,” she said. 

Nakano explains that after 15 minutes, some people will roll up their mat and leave.

“They leave because they can’t stand it,” she said. “But those who persist, they definitely feel the benefits.”

Helen says it keeps her limber and that it gives her more stamina. 

“Your muscles relax, you really perspire. I mean you just drain out all the toxins and by the time you get out, you’re just wiped out. But the benefits you feel after are amazing, you feel refreshed. You feel like you can go for another 24 hours.”

“I like quality of life, if I can’t have quality of life, forget it,” said Hartness. 

After her morning routine, Hartness walks a mile then takes a myriad of exercise classes at 15 Craigside, goes through strength training, and even plays ping pong. 

“Never sit when you can stand,” Hartness advises. 

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