“I dance in the afternoons”

an interview with Tao Porchon-Lynch

Finally! (Issue I/2020)


The yoga teacher and ballroom dancer Tao Porchon-Lynch. Photographer: Robert Sturman

Ms Porchon-Lynch, with your 101 years, you have a reputation as the oldest yoga-teacher in the world. How did that come about?

I was introduced to yoga when I was seven years old. I wandered to the beach near my childhood home in French India and saw some boys playing in the sand. I followed their movements and I felt like I was learning a new, exciting game. That evening, I showed it to my aunt and she explained that it was called yoga and that it was only for boys.

Apparently she couldn’t stop you…

I always had my own head. I told her that girls can do what boys can do and, by the time I was eight years old, I was on the beach with the boys, practicing yoga every day during playtime.

You have been doing yoga for more than 90 years. Is it still a daily routine?

I always practice my yoga in the morning and I dance in the afternoons. I started ballroom dancing when I turned 88 and even received my second Guinness Book of World Records award – as Oldest Female Competitive Ballroom Dancer in 2017.

Do you believe that yoga and dance have contributed to your vitality in your old age?

Yoga is the life force of the universe. When I wake up in the morning, I look at the sun and the whole sky lights up. I look for the light inside of me and my whole body lights up. I don't have to face the world, I become the world. I know everyday is a new day and when I breathe properly, I'm recycling myself.

Are you still teaching yoga classes?

I teach a weekly class locally to my longtime students. And I will never stop practicing yoga. My students are my family, I have known some of them for over 40 years. 

Are there certain positions that you can’t do anymore?

I never think about ageing. I’m not interested in my age or what I can or can't do. It's not just about putting our bodies into specific postures. It's about expressing what comes from inside of you. Yoga is the dance of life.

Has anything changed for you since you crossed the 100-year mark?

I don't feel any different now that I've turned 101. I'm not even scared of death. I spend my time knowing nothing is impossible. There is nothing you cannot do, if you put your mind to it. Use your breath and learn to enjoy the world and think positively while moving through the rhythm of life.

When you look back on your life, is there anything you would advise your younger self?

Don't breathe in the negative. The problem is that we sit too much inside ourselves and worry. You will never gain anything just sitting there, wondering what you should do. I always tell my students to stretch through to your fingernails. This is how one should approach everything in life, always stretching oneself beyond their limits. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Know that today is going to be the best day of your life.

an interview by Gundula Haage

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