82-year-old Truong Kim Toan regularly teaches yoga classes in Hanoi, which he says is his secret to a long, active and happy life.
"I'm one of the three instructors here. We have three rotating sessions per week," he said, adding the class opened over two months ago.">
Toan gives a free yoga class to patients at a cultural center at Hanoi National Geriatric Hospital.
âI’m one of three instructors here. We have three rotating sessions a week,â he said, adding that the class had opened over two months ago.
Toan performs the compass pose during a lesson at the hospital.
At 82, he is the oldest yoga instructor in Vietnam with 23 years of experience. In addition to teaching yoga, he trains yoga instructors professionally across Hanoi.
Photo by Thuy An
Bui Thi Lien, 80, (front) and other students twist at another Toan class on Ly Nam De Street, which has been open for 15 years.
Lien had severe joint disease but improved after two years of yoga. She attends two sessions a week and exercises at home in her spare time. She can now walk more comfortably than before.
She said attending these classes helps her improve her health and make new friends.
Photo by Thuy An
Toan arrives 15 minutes before class to install rugs, clean up the space and enjoy a little chat.
The class begins with everyone’s meditation, which helps promote focus.
“Yoga is not just about stretching. Practitioners must learn meditation and breathing techniques to fully engage in the practice.”
He added that you should not eat for at least three hours before class in order to promote the digestive system.
The class has 10-15 students and lasts for 75 minutes, covering different poses, stretches, and body relaxation methods.
"I teach using both beginning and advanced movements so people with different stamina levels could follow. If any movements are too difficult, I tell them to do it gently and little by little to avoid injury. Practicing yoga is not a matter of a day or two. So don't try to rush the process."">
The students in her class Ly Dam De are between 30 and 80 years old.
The class has 10 to 15 students and lasts 75 minutes, covering different poses, stretches and methods of body relaxation.
âI teach using both beginner and advanced movements so people with different stamina levels can keep up. If any movements are too difficult, I tell them to do it slowly and little by little to avoid injury. . Practicing yoga is not a matter of a day or two. So don’t try to rush the process. “
"Thanks to yoga, I have a healthy body. I still have a hospital's health examination book from 1984 with many empty pages left," he said, stating he was proud of still being able to freely move around at his age.
He rides a bicycle to his classes every day.">
Toan performs the bow pose that the students must follow.
“Thanks to yoga, I have a healthy body. I still have the 1984 hospital health examination book with many blank pages,” he said, declaring himself proud to be able to. still move freely at his age.
He goes to his lessons by bike every day.
"I used to practice a number of disciplines but later stopped since I fell pregnant. After, I trained at the gym and other health facilities, but those places soon proved unsuitable. I find Toan's yoga exercises fit my current physical condition, which are not too heavy but effective," she said.">
Nguyen Thi Bich Chi (left), 38, is one of the many middle-aged students who take Toan’s yoga class.
âI used to do a number of disciplines, but I quit later since I got pregnant. After that I worked out at the gym and other health facilities, but those places are were quickly found to be unsuitable. I find Toan’s yoga exercises to match my current physical condition, which are not too heavy but effective, “she said.
At the end of the course, he registers the students who have presented themselves. Even though his hands are shaking a little, he can still write neatly.
After class is over, he cleans up, turns off the lights and locks the space before heading home.
“I am still very healthy. I can walk around without a cane and with the help of my children and grandchildren.”
Toan said he always had good eyesight and could watch TV or use his phone without glasses.
He often organizes and looks at old photos and documents relating to his 65-year career in the sport whenever he has free time, which he considers his “treasure, memory and pride”.
"I even won first prize for swimming 400 m in 1960. I picked up yoga in 1997 and have been pursuing it until now. I have a healthy body thanks to always being active. I will keep doing yoga as long as I can."
He shared that he always encourages family members to do exercise, adding his grandson sometimes even attends his yoga class.
"It doesn't have to be yoga. Any disciplines are fine. I am living proof of that."">
Old photos, certificates of achievement, and other sports related documents he received during his time in the Vietnam Army or Sports Administration.
âI even won first prize in the 400m swim in 1960. I started yoga in 1997 and continue to do so until now. I have a healthy body from being always active. will continue to do yoga for as long as I can. “
He explained that he always encouraged his family members to exercise, adding that his grandson sometimes even attended his yoga class.
“It doesn’t have to be yoga. All disciplines are good. I am living proof of that.”