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It wasn’t all that long ago that yoga was something only hippies did. Now there are almost as many yoga studios and yoga retreats in Thailand as Starbucks.

You’ve got your Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga, your Hot Yoga and your Bikram Yoga. There’s restorative yoga for the lame and celebrity yoga for the likes of Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. Up in Thailand’s Northeast, they’ve got Granny Yoga.

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It’s not likely to be formally recognised by the World Yoga Congress, but it’s certainly got their attention.

Eighty-one-year-old Buason Chandraprachoo, a potter who lives in Varin Chamrab district, Ubon Rachathani, didn’t set out to create a new form of yoga or anything. She just needed to stretch.

Almost four decades ago Buason’s right arm was giving her problems. Numbness worsened into almost complete rigidity. Massage helped, but gentle exercise and deep breathing helped more, so she gradually developed a whole workout – and her arm was soon fine again.

Having never visited a yoga class, let alone an ashram, “Granny Buason”, as she’s affectionately known, signed up for a yoga-for-health programme offered in Kam Nam Sab some years ago by a public-health official. And here’s the real miracle in all this: The government official was stunned to see the elderly lady doing advanced asanas, as yoga poses are called.

“High flexibility is needed for these kinds of poses, and it’s very unusual to find that level of flexibility in people of her age,” he said. “I realised right away that I’d found a health-conscious community leader who could help us encourage others to gain benefits from exercise.”

So Granny is now a yoga teacher too, leading sessions at the local temple. Word got around on the social media – accompanied by photos of this old woman folded up like a pretzel – and she’s become something of a celebrity in her own right, an inspiration for yoga practitioners around the country.


The Nation: Miracle cure: Isaan granny is a self-taught yoga wonder

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