The Power Of She

At 98, the World’s Oldest Yogi Shares Her Wisdom

December 26, 2016

The Power of She is a movement inviting women and girls to lift each other up, and together, realize our limitless potential. In this Q&A, the world’s oldest yogi and her spiritual soulmate show us how mindful living can help anyone achieve the Power of Positivity.

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At 98 years old, Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest yoga teacher, and an inspiration for people all over the world. When Dr. Terri Kennedy, a yoga & meditation teacher, met Tao in a yoga class, she knew she’d found a spiritual soulmate. Now, the two travel the world together to inspire and impact the lives of women across the globe.

Watch their story about the Power of Positivity, then read on for more about how these two yogis believe everyone has the power to materialize positivity in their life.

Q: Tao, You started practicing yoga at a time when it was considered “unladylike.” Tell us a little bit about how yoga and its acceptance into mainstream culture has changed.

TAO:
When I started yoga in 1926, “girls didn’t do yoga.” I said, “If boys can do it, I can do it!” Years later, I convinced BKS Iyengar to start teaching women. Now, there are many more women who practice than men – though I love to see men in my classes. The use of costumes and apparel has grown which brings more colors to the postures. Yoga, in some places though, has become somewhat like gymnastics. True yoga, once felt within ourselves, radiates the essence of living. It’s much more than the physical practice. Students can develop outward and inward beauty and shine from their bodies and souls.

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Q: Some people might say you’re way more than “just a yoga teacher,” you’re more of a teacher of life. What would you say to that?

TAO:
I share what I know to be true. I don’t want to simply share thoughts from other people. Within me I found and recognized the oneness (wholesomeness, unification) through nature. That is the real power that governs the inner self. It’s important to tune into that energy that is in you and surrounds you. Listen and you will find the answers. Watch Nature and you will be inspired.

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Q: In your interview, Terri mentioned that you two are stronger together. Since joining up with Terri, how has she helped you shape your programs to reach a wider audience?

TAO:
Terri radiates out to the world. She reminds me of myself in my younger days. She always has a smile on her face and is looking to connect in a genuine way. People like being around her and she knows how to bring people together. That is the work she has done around the world – inspiring women in places like China, Chile and Africa. She has a wonderful soul and a knowing that nothing is impossible. As I do, she believes that Truth is One and we can materialize positivity in our lives.

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Q: What is your favorite yoga pose?

TAO:
Shoulderstand, because it heals the wonderful flow of the bloodstream and prevents our arteries from clogging.

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Q: What does Power Of She mean to you?

TAO:
Mahatma Gandhi said men had visions but it was women who put them into actions and made them real. I had many strong women in my life, like my aunt in France who helped people escape the Nazis, and my mentor Indra Devi who inspired me to start teaching yoga. Women have the power to nurture our world and inspire others to be fearless. Like dawn wipes out the darkness of ignorance, women radiate the beauty of life.

Q: Terri, Tao asked you to help write her autobiography Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master. What was that process like and what did you learn from it?

TERRI:
Helping Tao write her autobiography was like putting together a big puzzle of stories and experiences. As we were writing, my mother and I were on a walk through history and a journey through Tao’s life. Once we wove it together as a narrative, Tao was in tears.  She said it brought so many things vividly back. Personally, it was an honor to sit at the (manicured) feet of a master and spend so much time absorbing her energy, thoughts and light. She is literally in my head – and that’s a great thing!

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Q: You transformed your life after nearly dying from Crohn’s Disease almost 20 years ago, but you didn’t stop there. You then made it your mission to help others live a better life. Why is that type of sharing so important to you?

TERRI:
I believe we’re each here to contribute something special. Sometimes your struggle leads to your purpose. My “thorn in the flesh” – an unbalanced stressed out life — has become the gift I share. I love to see people heal and step into their own light. My own journey is relatable to anyone who has ever worked to overcome anything.

Q: How did you know Tao was a spiritual soulmate of sorts when you met her?

TERRI:
There was an instant energetic connection between me and Tao – like a magnet drawing us together. I felt it when our eyes met in that first yoga workshop. Then, Tao said, “I want to know you.” That sealed it.

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What is your favorite yoga pose?

TERRI:
Headstand – I love being upside down. It literally gives me a new perspective. It clears my mind and I’m ready for anything.

Read more stories celebrating the Power of Potential, the Power of Community, and the Power of Confidence.

23 Comments

  • Reply Roberta Brewer January 3, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    A truly inspiring story and a powerful example of the Power of She. Tao, you are incredible… Way to go ladies!

  • Reply Sally Prendergast January 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Love this message and Terri and Tai’s story! Truly inspirational and kudos to Athleta for making Tao your beautiful catalog cover!
    Sally P. – Wilmington, DE

    • Reply emma.rubio@hotmail.com January 9, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Hello how can I recieve a catalog

  • Reply Kim Ourada January 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Beautiful example of feeling empowered and present in your life!

  • Reply Irmina Stroud January 4, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Truly two inspiring women! Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom!!!

  • Reply Angie Nelson January 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I just received my new Athleta catalog with Tao on the cover and I couldn’t wait to dive into it. I then came across the Chi Blog and it couldn’t be more inspirational for me as a woman. I help with encouraging younger girls through the equestrian field but I also practice yoga. I would love to help women and girls find their inspiration through yoga and fitness as well!…… Power To The She

  • Reply Janean Griffith January 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I was super pumped when I saw the cover of your January catalogue!! There are so many fabulous women over 50 who work very hard staying fit and maintaining fantastic figures (and they’re not models– just ordinary women from all walks of life) and they should be celebrated. I’d LOVE to see more mature women rocking the clothes in your catalogue. Think about it!

  • Reply Beth passantino January 5, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Fantastic story!! I’m so in awe and very inspired. Thank you for sharing this on today my 39th birthday!!! I hope to Live a life as full as hers!

  • Reply Kathleen January 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Incredible testimony..I surely need your ladies encouragement right now…I want to have a break through and truly have a break through for peace and happiness in my life..My soul lives for others as I truly love people but sometimes the ones you love the most can truly take advantage of you.God bless you ladies…I am very inspired by reading about the two of you!

  • Reply Suzie Deal January 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I am so thankful I was able to read such a positive team story. More the experienced yoga instructor to one who’s positive more youthful yoga to embrace the two to make a whole beautiful flower. Ya’ll are truly a very awesome team.

  • Reply Jana Richman January 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Love this story, and thank you for FINALLY putting someone with beauty AND AGE on the cover of your catalog, and for FINALLY having a model with gray hair (even if it was only for a brief moment–2 pages out of 78) in your catalog. If we are really going to celebrate the power of she, let’s stop assuming that athleticism, strength, beauty, and power end at age 30. I buy your clothing, I do yoga, I run, I hike, I backpack–and I’m 60 years old. Please stop ignoring us.

    • Reply MJ Bashien January 9, 2017 at 6:38 am

      Yes!!! You let them know!! I’m 48. I run and do hot yoga . Athleticsim doesn’t end at 30!! For some of us it starts past tht age!!

  • Reply Nan Martin January 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    What a lovely, beautiful, and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing. Tao and Terri are truly the Power Of She!

  • Reply J J January 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    I had to come to your website to say how happy I was to see women over 50 in your catalogue. It encourage me to keep going instead of giving in to being complacent to the fact that as a woman over 50 my fashion needs do not outweigh the younger dollar power in the market place. Thanks.

  • Reply Erin January 6, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Very happy I came across this story! It resonated in many ways. Tao, you are an inspiration!

  • Reply Claudia Foster January 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Bravo. That is by far the most inspiring, uplifting and important story I have read in quite some time. May they continue to reach other through their brilliant smiles and yoga.

  • Reply Kathy fisher January 7, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for this. I posted your cover in my art studio as inspiration. 🙏

  • Reply Connie Branyan January 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    What an amazingly inspirational life Tao and Terry are living! Thank you both for lifting us up and demonstrating what it means to live a life of truth and joy. You are radiant!!!!

  • Reply Cheryl Radich January 8, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I recently became a yoga teacher at the age of 52 and my teacher, who inspired me, is much younger than me. Now I am teaching students from their teens to their nineties. I love yoga because it’s has no age restrictions, the only restrictions are in our minds. Thanks for this story and for putting the amazing Tao on your cover. Terri, you’re a shining light. I’m so happy you two found each other.

  • Reply Joan Sears January 8, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Let me join the chorus. I loved seeing Tao in your catalog and now reading about her and Terri. Wonderful. I also want to thank you for recently starting to show larger women in the catalog as well. Athleta is starting to look more like real life!

  • Reply D. Barrett January 9, 2017 at 8:34 am

    A wonderful story and a truly inspiring individual at 98 years old. May Tao continue to inspire others.

  • Reply Lynn Greco January 9, 2017 at 8:57 am

    This is my favorite and most inspirational cover of Athleta! I love Tao and Terri’s story. I too have been working , with success, to overcome an illness and become the healthiest ever. I have a ways to go. At 50, sometimes it’s disheartening when many steps forward result in injury leading to steps back again. I refuse to give up though, and honestly seeing 98 year old Tao looking as vibrant and happy as she does on the cover, and seeing her going through poses in the video truly make me feel like nothing is impossible. Thank you Tao, Terri and Athleta for giving me hope and inspiration.

  • Reply Denise Kornblatt January 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Just wonderful on so many different levels.. Speechless

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