ao Porchon-Lynch, now 99 years old, has been getting up at 5am to teach yoga for more than 75 years! Now, the world’s oldest female yoga instructor, who was raised in India and lives in New York, shares sound advice for a long, healthy and successful life.
With yoga gaining popularity among the post-50 set, Porchon-Lynch has become an exemplar of yoga’s significant physical and mental health benefits — and its miraculous ability to slow (and in some cases even reverse) the aging process. But it’s not just about staying in shape: Porchon-Lynch swears by yoga as a way to get past fear and break through personal barriers.
Her mantra is to wake up the morning and say, “ This is going to be the best day of my life.” That way, she says, she can face anything.
Her mantra for life is, “There is nothing that you cannot do.”
‘Anything is possible, nothing is impossible,’ Mrs Porchon-Lynch explained.
When Mrs Porchon-Lynch was just eight-years-old she was told yoga wasn’t ‘lady-like’ when she expressed interest in it – but the determined yogi joined a bunch of young boys doing it and eventually convinced revered yoga master Iyengar to allow her to join his class. This was back in the day when yoga was actually ‘for men’ only. Look how times have changed!
Today, women from all backgrounds flock to yoga classes of all kinds in countries across the world. Indeed, women dominate the yoga world, intuitively understanding the incredible benefits it offers. Sadly, many men still avoid yoga because it’s typically seen as ‘too girly’ (ironically) but hot yoga at least seems to be the exception as it’s more athletic and seen as more ‘masculine’!
“Yoga is the joining of our mind, body and spirit,” says Porchon-Lynch. “It is like nature, everything is always recycled and brought full circle. I find that I can heal myself if I do what nature does. It’s taken away stress and has helped me through crises. ”
‘I’ve been teaching now for 75 years,’ she adds. ‘Know that the joy of living is right inside of you!’
Tao’s best tips
Here are Tao’s best tips for living a long, healthy and wisdom-filled life:
“When the mind remains calm, the balance of the Life Force is awakened within us. True yoga helps you control and still the mind so you can harness that power. Proper breathing also is the gateway to tranquility, longevity and vitality.”
“Age does not necessarily equal wisdom. It depends on how you experience the world and your inner journey. If you remain curious, wisdom will come. Know that there is no such thing as ‘age.’ Tune into the power of the eternal and feel the beauty of life. Revitalise yourself with every breath you take.”
“[My] best moment so far was marching with Mahatma Gandhi in the 1930 Salt March in India. I was part of something incredible at a young age. Gandhiji taught me to be more fearless and to face life head on. If you believe in something, you have a purpose. Talk is cheap. Don’t procrastinate. Go out and do. Make a difference in the world.”
“I love shoulder stand. It is the Queen of asanas and has so many physical benefits. All day long the blood is going down to our feet. It is good to reverse it and allow the energy to flow. I also like to do shoulder stand when my thoughts get noisy. It clears my mind.”
“I meditate as I watch all of nature. Nature is advertising the seasons of life. It reassures me no matter how bad the storm is, spring will follow. Nature is my encyclopedia of life.”
“It’s not [the] yoga pose. It’s the breath behind the yoga pose. It takes me on the journey through the pose. Yoga is the breath of life.”
“I love vegetables and fruit. I’m a vegetarian, but I do like to eat lobster and shrimp occasionally. I also like a glass of wine with my food. I don’t like to drink alone. Wine is good for the blood. I don’t eat for the sake of eating. No one should eat huge quantities of food. Be in touch with nature and the fruits of life. That will keep us healthy.”
“Don’t let your mind wander off with fear and fill with negative thoughts. They will materialize. Think positive and don’t let negative thoughts enter your mind.”
“Don’t go by age. It means nothing.”
Tao says she is always surprised when people stop her on the street or say how she has inspired them.
Humbleness is a key quality she embodies, saying, “What have I done, really? My students show me the pictures and comments online. I’m honoured that people would be interested in me. When I came out with my autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, even more people were interested in my story. I am certainly honoured.”