Tao Porchon Lynch - Young at 97

This master yoga teacher is a living example of her mantra “There is Nothing You Cannot Do”

Tao Porchon Lynch, who is turning 97 in August, has become an international phenomena. She embodies the youthfulness, vitality and joy we all want to have at any age. She is a yoga master, a wine connoisseur (her family owned a vineyard in Rhone Valley), an activist (she marched with both Mahatma Gandhi and Dr., Martin Luther King, Jr.), a competitive ballroom dancer (last month danced to Pitbull’s ‘Fireball’ on NBC’s America’s Got Talent with her 26-year-old dance partner), and a former model and actress who has hobnobbed with Hollywood movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward. 

Her life has been and continues to be filled with fun, adventure and intrigue. What may be most remarkable about Tao is her ability to affect the lives of the people she encounters in ways that have nothing to do with yoga. Her calm inner energy allows her to focus fully on whoever is in her presence. 

I met Tao about 10 years ago through yoga, but she has taught me so much more. She has helped me to find my confidence and to recognize my uniqueness. She also has taught me how to be a better yoga student, teacher and person. She has showed me how to see the beauty in small things and how important it is to connect with nature. She has also helped me to learn how to make the best of things – she has had her share of challenges like all of us. The difference is Tao chooses to focus on what she wants, not what is. 

Less than 24 hours after I witnessed my aunt’s passing I sought out Tao and her yoga for comfort. She hugged me close and said, “You are a strong woman. It will all be all right.” She was so soothing. I let out a big sigh. I often have recalled those words and how she saw strength in me I didn’t know I had.

My cousin Elizabeth Bluett, 20, met Tao when she was just 17. She had no experience with yoga, but her mom had and brought Elizabeth to a workshop with Tao in upstate New York. “I didn’t have an interest in yoga and I didn’t know what to expect from Tao, who was 93 at the time. When I met her she took my hands into hers, looked me directly in the eyes and said. ‘You are so beautiful.’ No one had ever said anything like that to me before.” Elizabeth, who continues to study yoga with Tao every summer, says that first experience was “completely life changing for me. She changed my perspective on everything- how I view life and how I view living. I don’t think I would have grown to be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Tao.”

Tao has certified more than 1600 yoga teachers and has led more than 35 yoga retreats in Bali, India, Morocco, Peru and France. She has been an invited guest in places such as Sri Lanka, Budapest and Moscow. Her YouTube videos have received more than one million hits. 

Her credentials are impressive. Tao received her first paid yoga teaching job from fitness guru Jack LaLanne, and was one of the first women to study with yoga masters B.K.S Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. She has been named the world’s oldest yoga teacher by Guinness World Records in 2012. 

Tao keeps a schedule that would tire a 30-year-old.  When she is not traveling to yoga workshops or to dance competitions, her day usually starts at 5:30 a.m. and often ends around 9:30 p.m. She teaches at least six classes a week in Westchester County, New York where she drives around in a bright blue Smart car.

Tao grew up in Pondicherry, India with her uncle. When she was eight years old she saw boys doing yoga on a beach and wanted to do it. “It’s not ladylike,” her aunt told her. Ten years later she took her first class. That feistiness and determination serves her well throughout life. When she got her first of three hip replacements several years ago the surgeon told her, “You’ll never be able to do Lotus position (cross-legged) again.” She told him, “I am not interested in what I can’t do. I only want to know what I can do.” She later sent him a photo of her in Lotus. Last year when she was asked to dance in Russia Tao went to the Russian embassy to obtain a visa. When they saw her age they initially told her, “You’re too old to travel.” Tao’s determination persevered and she made that trip to Russia.

You can buy Tao’s book, watch her videos, listen to her interviews, meditate with her CD, or see her on TV and YouTube, but if you really want to experience the wonder of Tao, catch her uplifting energy and witness first-hand what it truly means to live long and well you must meet her in person. She is visiting the Washington metropolitan area this month - July 24, 25 or 26 on U Street, in Vienna, VA and Baltimore MD. 

July 24 – Buddha B Yoga – 1115 U St., NW, buddhabyoga.com

July 25 – East Meets West Yoga, Vienna, VA. Eastmeetswestcenter.com

July 26 – Baltimore Yoga Village. Baltimoreyogavillage.com

If you are an experienced yogi, the lessons will be awe-inspiring. If you’ve never taken yoga, there is no better person with which to start your journey. 

Her memoir: Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, will be published this month. Her story illustrates what is possible – we can each live life to our highest potential and dance to our own rhythm. “It focuses on storytelling using Tao’s own poignant voice based on more than 70 hours of video interviews conducted by me and my mother Janie Sykes-Kennedy,” said Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, who is a Harvard trained strategist, writer and yogi. Tao’s blog:  HYPERLINK "http://www.thetaoexperience.com" www.thetaoexperience.com., shares some of the fascinating stories about the incredible adventures she has experienced.

For more information on Tao log onto: www.taoporchonlynch.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Pattie Cinelli is a fitness consultant and writer who teaches and writes about exercise, health and a holistic approach to wellness. She is available for consultations, lectures and personal training sessions. Please contact Pattie at:fitness@pattiecinelli.com with your questions and story ideas.


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