Frank White liked to think himself as an actor. He had been only mildly successful at this, having bagged just a few small roles in films and television. To make ends meet he had to take up selling furniture and take on gigs as an interior designer. He was a talented musician and on that fateful day he had come to take guitar lessons. Somehow the guitar lesson was cancelled and in its place a yoga class was scheduled. On a whim he decided to try the yoga class for the first time at age 65. He could barely touch his knees, let alone his toes, but during the class he had an epiphany. He realized he had come home and his life forever changed.
When Frank took up the yoga class he knew he was in serious health trouble. He used to be a serious drinker and had just recently managed to kick the habit through AA. He was still a four-pack-a-day smoker. He was 50 pound overweight, had severe breathing problems, had a leaky heart valve, had high blood pressure, and he also suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. During the yoga class he had an emotional release and came to an understanding that yoga was something that he was meant to do.
He became a regular and slowly his yoga practice improved. In a few years he found his health and fitness improving too. He had shed his excess weight and got rid of most of his medication. Then at age 68 Frank did the unthinkable. He took up yoga teacher certification. He was tremendously successful as a yoga teacher. At the prestigious Los Angeles Athletic Club he established a yoga program that was extremely popular. The yoga studio there today is named in his honor.
In the early 90s Frank began teaching at “The Center for Yoga”, one of the most prestigious yoga studios in LA. He had a huge following and his classes were always packed. Students were stunned to see a man in his 70s do yoga poses that 20 year olds would be proud of. But more than his athletic ability, students came to his class because he connected with them and challenged them. Amusingly he regularly referred to everyone under 60 as “my kids”. But beyond his growing popularity and following, Frank felt a constant commitment to serve. He taught free classes for seniors, AIDS patients, former gang members, and anyone in need of yoga’s transformative powers. Frank used to say, “AA saved my life, Yoga taught me how to live it.”
Frank died at the age of 85 after a battling for a few years with throat cancer. Through his life he showed that it is never too late to get a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Frank is known to have said, “Serving is what my life is about. Teaching helps people. And by helping somebody else, you feel good too.”
Credit: This story has been distilled from various sources.
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