80-Year-Old Paul McCartney’s Yoga Practice May Be The Most Inspiring Thing I’ve Seen
This article originally appeared on Yoga Journal
He’s a Grammy winner, knight, and, of course, a Beatle. But did you know Sir Paul McCartney is also a yogi?
In 2020, McCartney revealed in an interview with the “Smartless” podcast that he maintains a regular practice with “a couple of mates,” among them Lorne Michaels and Alec Baldwin. “We have this little thing,” said McCartney. “It’s called ‘The Yoga Boys,’ and we do yoga together, and we’re terrible.”
His last point seems unlikely. Back in a 2013 interview with Politico, Baldwin praised his yoga partner’s practice, saying McCartney was the only real practitioner of the bunch. “He's serious,” he said. “He's got the body of a 17-year-old boy."
McCartney’s also serious about not limiting his practice to the physical. In an interview for his blog in 2015, he said he regularly turns to transcendental meditation, which he learned in India from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “I think it's always very good to get a sort of still moment in your day,” he said in the post. “Whenever I have a chance in a busy schedule, I'll do it…I always like to take a moment and just meditate. It's a good thing.”
He also embodies yogic philosophy through his well-known charitable donations, benefit concert appearances, and community outreach. Recently, his book, Grandude’s Green Submarine, served as the inspiration for an episode of “Cosmic Kids Yoga.”
In that “Smartless” interview, McCartney responded to a question about how he stayed so fit. “I don’t think I am, of course,” he quipped in response. McCartney went on to explain his health regime, which includes a longstanding practice of vegetarianism and daily workouts.
What exactly is McCartney’s workout routine? During the podcast, he explained it typically starts with him and his mat. After beginning with some floor work, including with a foam roller, he does some cardio. He concludes with his favorite part of the routine, a Headstand, which never fails to draw a reaction from the the heavy weightlifters when he goes to the gym instead of practicing at home. “At the end, I do a Headstand, and they come over to me, [and say] ‘Hey, that’s pretty impressive, man,'” he said.
Although for McCartney, it’s about more than flipping himself upside-down in an inversion. He also does eye yoga on a regular basis and is a strong proponent of the practice. On a 2021 episode of the podcast “Table Manners with Jessie and Lennie Ware,” he credited the exercises with preserving his sight. He learned the practice while he was in India. “[The guide] explained that your eyes are muscles,” he said, explaining that it’s important to strengthen them, just like any other muscle in your body.
His passion for the visual practice extends beyond the causal podcast mention. McCartney created a video for interested practitioners, guiding you through his typical routine. In the video, McCartney says he complete three sets of each of the following groupings. "We don't use [our eyes] well enough,” he says. We sit at computers or watch [television] all day, or read books. So, you're just using one set of muscles." (Or maybe for looking out into packed crowds of people, for the rockstars among us.)
He starts by looking up, center, and down, holding each gaze for a few seconds. Then, he works on his side-to-side movement, shifting his eyes (but not his head) from left to right, before moving to the diagonal lines. He finishes his exercises by looking at his nose, rolling his eyes in both directions, staring at a distance object, and, finally, shifts his gaze to his hand.
Want to try McCartney’s eye yoga exercises for yourself? Check out his video below. (The Beatle’s practice is similar to the eye yoga practice we love--or more truthfully, love to hate--at Yoga Journal.)
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