The Remarkable Life of Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchaon-Lynch (photo courtesy of Joyce Pines)

Tao Porchaon-Lynch (photo courtesy of Joyce Pines)

Tao Porchon-Lynch marched with Gandhi, fought in the French Resistance and appeared in a handful of Hollywood movies. At ninety-five, she teaches yoga and competes in ballroom dancing. Now that’s what I call an adventurous life!

Here’s a short article about Tao that appeared on on May 14, 2012.

by Rick Schindler

It’s official: I have the world’s oldest yoga teacher. Guinness World Records has awarded that certification to 93-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch, whose class I attend.

The funny thing is, Tao’s age is just about the least remarkable thing about her. Over the dozen or so years I’ve known her, enough incidents to fill several colorful lives have trickled out:

• She marched with Gandhi — twice — in her native India.

• She fought in the French Resistance and underwent an emergency appendectomy during the Blitz after escaping France to London.

• She was a model for fashion house Lanvin and a contract player for MGM, appearing in such films as “Show Boat” (1951).

• When her friend Leslie Caron injured her foot, threatening to delay production of “An American in Paris,” Tao fixed it with a Coke bottle.

• To get a part in a western, she pretended to know how to ride a horse (after she took off the saddle and rode bareback, Tao told me, “the horse and I got along fine”).

Tao Porchon-Lynch dancing with Hayk Balasanyan, her 24-year-old old teacher

Tao Porchon-Lynch dancing with Hayk Balasanyan, her 24-year-old old teacher

After adventures like that, many people might be content in their 90s to sit in a rocker and reflect on a life well-lived. But not Tao: She travels the world and racks up ribbons in ballroom dancing with a 24-year-old partner (whenever she’s about to compete, she asks her students to say a prayer for her; I pray for the other dancers). She joined the Dalai Lama at the Newark Peace Education Summit last year. And lest you think all yogis are austere ascetics, know that Tao is a wine expert.

But foremost Tao is a yoga master. Her physical strength and stamina are amazing, her grace and form are unequaled, but more important, she is a living embodiment of yoga’s ideals: serenity, gentleness, compassion, the joy of being alive.

Yoga puts a spring in my step, banishes my aches and pains, sharpens my mental focus. All that keeps me coming back. But what keeps me coming back to Tao is the privilege of basking in her psychic radiance.

It’s been a long time since I wandered into my first yoga class on a whim back in college, and a cobra pose doesn’t come as easily as it once did. Similarly, serenity sometimes eludes me, and resentments and regrets return like the nagging pain of old injuries.

But not when I’m in Tao’s class. When I’m with Tao, I feel as young as she does.

Tao Porchon-Lynch in an elevated lotus position at the Taj Mahal (photo courtesy of Joyce Pines)

Tao Porchon-Lynch in an elevated lotus position at the Taj Mahal (photo courtesy of Joyce Pines)

Tao was featured in this collection on entitled 10 People Over 70 Who Are Fitter Than You.

Here is a bio of Tao (who was born August 13, 1918) from her website:

Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch

Extraordinary leaders and teachers change the way we perceive the world. The very best lead us by their example. Tao Porchon-Lynch Master Yoga teacher, 95 years young, synthesizes the most positive aspects of Indian, European and American thought. Tao is uniquely equipped to spread Yogic insights, originating in India, to Westerners seeking enlightenment. She has trained and certified hundreds of yoga instructors, since founding the Westchester Institute of Yoga in 1982. Tao has over 70 years of yoga practice and more than 45 years of teaching yoga to students in India, France and the U.S.

Having studied with Indra Devi and Aurobindo and BKS Iyengar in Pune and Mumbai, Tao learned how to tap into the incredible power all individuals possess but only few can access. She has made over twenty-five trips to India with her students because she believes that such visits offer enlightenment about the true spirit of Yoga. Tao continues to teach workshops at many yoga centers, including the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan and the Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville, Buckingham, Va.

In 1995, Tao attended the Yoga for Peace International Peace Conference in Israel with Indra Devi to try to help bring peace to the Middle East through yogic principles.

Tao believes that following the principles of yoga can heal individuals and by extension, help heal our planet. At ninety-four years-young she is the embodiment of many profound Yoga principles. She exemplifies the positive “can-do spirit” that can accomplish anything.

Tao has received much media attention of late, including an interview on the NBC “Today” morning program, a taped segment in the upcoming documentary on extraordinary older women, “I Know A Woman Like That,” feature articles in the Journal News ,Westchester Magazine and Prevention Magazine; an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show and a CNN interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Recently, Tao was a workshop presenter with Dr. Terri Kennedy at the Newark Peace Conference and sat on the Panel for Peace with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Before teaching yoga, Tao had a long and varied career. Tao was an actress in England, France and the USA (under contract to MGM) in the 1940s and 50s, wrote screenplays and made documentaries in the 60s and 70s.

Her life in India encompasses many historic events. There aren’t many people still alive who witnessed first-hand some of the events Tao has. She made several documentaries in India including, “To Light A Candle,” about 100 year- old philanthropist, Dr. Welthy Fisher and her work in education and literacy in Lucknow. Tao also worked for Unitel and helped in their efforts to try to introduce television to India in the 1950’s. Her reminiscences regarding her life in India will be detailed in her forthcoming book.

Tao teaches discipline and control of the body and mind through Yoga. As she elevates and balances her body in classic poses, she demonstrates how to tap into the primal spark of energy that all of us receive from the universe. Whatever our religious beliefs, the spark makes us one with our fellow human beings and all forms of life on our planet.

Tao is a living advertisement for how to tap into our human potential. She is unique in her ability to overcome the effects of aging to control her body and mind in harmony with Yoga’s principles. Tao’s philosophy is “There is nothing we cannot do if we harness the power within us.” Her yoga principles and practices will be appreciated by current and future generations. Her current passion, in addition to yoga, is ballroom dancing and she is an award winning world-class dancer.

reflections-tao-porchon-lynch-book-coverAt a youthful 95, Tao brings a delightful, childlike love of life and nature to all that she does. Prepare to be enchanted and inspired if you’re blessed to have the opportunity to meet her.

Tao has published her first meditation book, Reflections: The Yogic Journey of Life. This important book includes several guided meditations. As a bonus, an added CD of Tao’s meditations with music by Valerie Romanoff, lends an extra dimension to her words of wisdom.

Tao and Tara Stiles have published their first dvd. Click here to learn more.


Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?

Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
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Want to learn more about Through God’s Eyes? Here is a free 40-page PDF sampler from the book that includes:

• an overview of the book
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Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!


Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents on Amazon.

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In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
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SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.

Here is a three-minute video that introduces you to Phil and his book. Click here to order Sixty Seconds. Click here to ask Phil to add you to his e-mail list for updates on his blog and books.

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