She turned 79 earlier this year and is an example of the way it’s possible to improve physically as we get older.
A few years ago I did a course developed by Californian-based posture teacher Esther Gokhale. Joan Baez has been one of her clients since 2008.
Joan sought help because decades of holding a guitar had left her with chronic neck and back tension.
If you trawl through old footage of her on stage in her 20s, she carries her head forward to reach the microphone and tucks her bottom under — both hallmarks of faulty posture. She also has a flat bottom, i.e. the muscles there are weak.
We need strong buttocks for balance and stability but tucking under puts them in a position where they can’t work properly. It also rounds our lower back, which encourages a rounded upper back too. Unfortunately, it’s often taught in exercise regimes.
Since her late 60s Joan has worked on the way she uses her body and credits that with allowing her to keep touring and singing through her 70s.
Like the rest of us she’s a work in progress, but images of the 79-year-old Joan show a poise and stature that she lacked as a young woman.
Maybe best of all, she demonstrates that we don’t have to deteriorate with age, that with experience and learning we can get better. The photo shows her in the garden last year, with lovely posture.
If you’re interested in a snippet of what Esther teaches, here’s her short (6 minute) TED talk.
Photo Source: Esther Gokhale 2019