Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Yoga Master, Ballroom Dancing Competitor Extraordinaire

"That's my side with the hip replacement [demonstrating floor stretches without perfect alignment on the right]."
"My partner [in a ballroom dance 'America's Got Talent' presentation in 2015] was 70 years younger than me, and he was throwing me around his neck!"
"I thought it was a new game [at age 8 in India]. I went to my aunt and said, 'Can they let me be part of it?' And she said: 'That isn't a game, it is yoga and it's not for girls. It's not ladylike'. So I started doing it."
"I am invited all over the world!"
Tao Porchon-Lynch, New York

This is a talented, determined woman who has lived a long, rich life. She is 98 years of age, dresses in contemporary fashion, wears high heels, and drives herself about in her Smart Car. She also teaches a regular 90-minute yoga class in a suburb of New York. The class she teaches is a combination of Iyengar, meditation and vinyasa, on occasion supplementing her instructions by treating her regular students to the sight of their instructor performing the moves herself, fairly close to perfection. Not quite perfect, since she has undergone no fewer than three hip replacement surgeries.

This woman is beyond remarkable. She is a dauntless perpetual-motion septuagenarian whose energy is matchless, even by those less than half her age, accustomed to the rigorous exercises she undertakes herself. "I'm 50 years younger than her, and her schedule exhausts me", Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy said admiringly. She knows of what she speaks, having got close up and personal when she co-authored Ms. Porchon-Lynch's "Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master" memoir.

Born in 1918 with her mother failing to survive childbirth, she was raised by an uncle in Pondicherry, India. At age 12 she discovered herself in the presence of "a little man sitting on the floor" of her home, surrounded by other visitors clearly in awe of this man's presence. After which she and her guardians travelled and marched with Mahatma Gandhi during his historical rendezvous with history. During the Second World War, she spent time in London and the South of France. Her family was involved in the French Resistance and did their humanitarian part by sheltering refugees.

Eventually she arrived in the United States, and worked on contract in Hollywood, for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, teaching actresses yoga and occasionally appearing in films herself as an actress. In New York she met her future husband, insurance salesman Bill Lynch, and married him in 1953, settling in Hartsdale, New York. He was an oenophile and together they founded the American Wine Society. Following her husband's death in 1982 after a motorcycle accident, Ms. Porchon-Lynch returned to practising yoga, and in 2012 became "The Oldest Living Yoga Teacher."
"She sees things in people they don't see in themselves. Her students love her. She has a large band of students who would do anything for her."
Susan Douglass, 61, New York

"It's incredible. Even His Holiness was totally impressed by her", said Deepak Chopra, who met this extraordinary woman in 2011 during a panel discussion with the Dalai Lama. Ms. Porchon0-Lynch receives invitations to attend yoga festivals as a featured star, from sites as diverse as Bosnia and Dubai. "I think that people were so hungry for someone to look up to who wasn't a young, skinny blond yogi in a bra top. There is just so much of that. Then came someone who was the opposite of that. Then came Tao", said Yoga instructor Kelly Kamm, herself accustomed to travelling the workshop circuit.

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