When 93-year-old yoga instructor Allen Rudolph talks about his secrets to a long and fulfilling life, his gratitude to the women in his life is palpable. “My mother saved my life and my wife made my life,” says the Second World War Royal Canadian Air Force veteran.
Determined to do his part for the war effort, in 1939 Rudolph, then 15-years-old, lied about his age to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces. “The war had just started and I wanted to get into the army. I was young, patriotic, and I thought I should go and do my bit,” says Rudolph. “But my mother had other plans for me. She told the powers that be that I was underage and not allowed to join the army.”
Three years later, he enlisted with the Air Force and began working as a welder airframe mechanic, allowing him to spend most of his time in Canada. “If I had gone overseas at the age of 15 I’m sure I never would have survived,” says Rudolph.
Following the war, Rudolph married and began to lay down roots in Toronto, focusing on new beginnings and a return to his personal interests, including his lifelong commitment to physical fitness.
“I’ve always been active, but I give my wife full credit for introducing me to yoga,” he says. “Originally, I didn’t think much of yoga, but she talked me into going to a class with her while on vacation 26 years ago. After that, I was hooked.”
Rudolph says that he was surprised by improvements to his flexibility, something that up until that point in his life he had always found difficult. During the months that followed, he practiced yoga every day and enrolled in a yoga instructor course. Rudolph now does yoga and meditates 365 days a year, which he credits for keeping his body strong and mind clear.
“He’s found a gold star activity,” says Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a psychologist with the Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health Program at Baycrest. “Yoga combines multiple activities that we know are good for the brain, including exercise, constantly learning new things, focus and attention.”
Dr. Vandermorris adds that starting healthy habits early can delay the onset of brain health and physical challenges later in life. “The bottom line is anything that’s good for your heart is also good for the brain. The earlier you can establish healthy habits, the better the long-term benefits will be,” says Dr. Vandermorris.
As part of Baycrest’s next chapter, Rudolph will continue to guide weekly yoga classes at the Terraces of Baycrest and encourage others to find the right activities for their life, embracing our vision of a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfillment.
How you can help write our next chapter
We look forward to what lies ahead on our continuing journey and the ways in which our dedicated volunteers, like Allen Rudolph, along with our community of patients, residents, families and donors, will continue to define our success.
Our Next Chapter highlights the connections between our residents, patients, families and staff. These stories underscore the ways in which we are working together to fulfil a promise to realize our vision, and the important impact of committed supporters.