Nothing is Impossible

Master Tao Porchon-Lynch shares her secrets and life, health, and yoga
By Amy Vergin

Master Tao Porchon-Lynch is nothing short of inspiring. A yoga master, ballroom dancer, former actress, and founder of the Westchester Institute of Yoga, Tao also holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the oldest living yoga teacher at the age of 95. How does she do it?

Tao’s earlier years were spent on the big screen: she filmed in England, France, and the US. After acting in films in the ‘40s and ‘50s (she was in The Last Time I Saw Paris with Elizabeth Taylor), she switched to working behind the camera during the ‘60s and ‘70s, writing screenplays and creating documentaries. But throughout her film career, she was also doing yoga: She’s practiced yoga for 70 years, and has been teaching it for over 45 years.

Well-known yogis Indra Devi, Sri Aurobindo, and BKS Iyengar taught Tao the power of yoga. “[Indra Devi] was inspirational as she was always following the path of Vedanta and Ramakrishna—the path of trying to find the truth, or inner reality,” said Tao. “I was with her when we went to Israel for Yoga for Peace and met her again in Hollywood.” And her time with BKS Iyengar was monumental: Tao became one of the only three women to study with him during a time when yoga was dominated by men.

If it seems that she wanted to start teaching yoga, that’s not the case … it happened more by chance. Tao says that one day while bringing her stepdaughter to yoga class, the teacher asked Tao if she would like to teach the class and she accepted! She taught for several other yoga centers, but decided to open her own studio when one fellow yoga instructor “began to insist that students wear sneakers while practicing yoga.”

After 20 years of watching yoga grow and evolve, Tao felt it was a necessity that those who taught yoga should continue learning from it as well. That’s when The Westchester Institute of Yoga was born. According to Tao, “It was important to take away the fear, [to emphasize] that yoga is the oneness to all of us. We need to use more compassion to open the door to help people become healthier. I wanted to share many stories of yoga in its present form. It’s the link between body and health.”

Another area of passion is India. Tao grew up there before moving to the US. She has taken students back to India more than 25 times, gaining insight each time she goes. When there, she teaches yoga workshops at several yoga centers. “I want my students to open the doors, to know that nothing is impossible. That’s how my trademark ‘there is nothing you cannot do’ came about.” She also wants everyone to feel the warmth of friendship India has for other nations. “India has endured thousands of years of questioning the truth and value of life which is in the grasp of all of us.”

Since turning 95, you would think she’d start to slow down—not even slightly. Tao keeps busy with her workshops, retreats, classes, interviews, and now her forthcoming book about her time in India. She already has her next trip to India planned out for this coming January too!

Again we must ask: how does she do it? Her secret to a robust life is simple: “Eat slowly with small portions. If possible, eat more fruits and vegetables. Think positive! Don’t let negative thoughts in your mind. Try to have only small doses of the media. Don’t look for negative attitudes and don’t always think only your answer is the right one.”