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The Tao of Yoga

Posted in Aging, Health, and Life & Love

Tao Porchon-Lynch.
Tao Porchon-Lynch.

Both camparigirl and I practice yoga, and go through the fluctuations of time spent on the mat that most busy yogis experience. Both of us leave class each time, thinking to ourselves – “I loved that, I really should do more of it. Anmhour a day would be perfect”. Then life intervenes, and we’re back to a couple days a week. Essentially we should be able to practice yoga until the day we die .. that’s the theory anyway.  But stiffening joints and atrophying muscles might not always make that possible.

So we were thrilled, inspired and heartened to read on Shape.com that the Guinness Book of World Records has recently named New York resident Tao Porchon-Lynch the world’s oldest yoga instructor.

Tao is 93 years old – and still teaches classes all over New York.  Her motto “There is nothing in life you cannot do” underlines a life well spent. Or rather lives: Tao was a cabaret dancer during World War II, a model in France, an actress, came to America as an agent for Marcel Rochas: representing nine French models from different design houses. She even spent time as a screenwriter in Hollywood (all very un-yogic).

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Meeting the Dalai Lama

These days – when she isn’t on her mat – she ballroom dances and writes. Her attitude to yoga is interesting. So often classes turn into competitions – with yogis trying to out do each other – huffiing and puffing into advanced postures they can barely hold. I’ve done my share of astanga, taxing my body to the max – but now I’m more if a hatha yogi – I like lots of different postures. Preceisly directed but gently held.

For Tao, though, yoga is all about immersing herself in the energy of the breath. Focussing on the simple in and out – without trying to best anyone.  Which, in turn becomes less physical and more spiritual. I think we often forget that the postures are more about getting you to a place of meditation, than turning you into a top bod. That’s just a lucky side effect. But, in truth, there’s no point to all this if you aren’t breathing easily.

As to the future, Tao tells Shape: “I’m going to continue practicing and teaching yoga for the spiritual strength and dance my way to the next planet.”

What a gal!  I thought I would share Tao’s tips for healthy living.

On the best piece of advice she ever received:

“Don’t put too much on your plate! Don’t overeat. Don’t fill your mind with fear. Tomorrow never comes, don’t procrastinate.”

On making a change when you don’t know how:

“Meditate on what you really want to do and put it into practice. Don’t be submerged with tons of thoughts you never do. When you wake up in the morning, start the day and know it’s going to be a good one. Don’t get involved with anything negative. Don’t take too many pills. Laugh at life.”

On wanting to try something new but feeling you’re “too old”

“One-hundred-year-old trees still recycle themselves and come out with new flowers. Recycle yourself. Know that nature gives you the clues to living.”

I particularly love this last one. Everything we need is right where we are. Something I am going to keep in mind as we head for a new year and new resolutions

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Tao with her Award from the Guiness Book of Records

Thanks to our friend Silvia for introducing us to Tao. And thanks to Shape for interviewing her. Read the whole article here.

To find out more about Tao’s classes or to attend one of her retreats, check out her website here.

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