At 98, the World’s Oldest Yogi Shares Her Wisdom
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
Q: What is your favorite yoga pose?
Shoulderstand, because it heals the wonderful flow of the bloodstream and prevents our arteries from clogging.
Q: What does Power Of She mean to you?
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?
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!
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?
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?
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.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
Headstand – I love being upside down. It literally gives me a new perspective. It clears my mind and I’m ready for anything.