95-Years-Young Yoga Master (and World Record Holder) Tao Porchon-Lynch
Looking to take your yoga practice to a new level? Get inspired by a 95-years-young yoga master, or pose using a local yoga wall
Even at 95, Tao Porchon-Lynch keeps busy teaching yoga in Westchester County and around the region. She once studied with influential yoga great B.K.S. Iyengar, the inventor of the yoga wall (below left)
Photograph courtesy of Tao Porchon-Lynch
Yoga enthusiasts can look forward to two big events this month. One is something old, the other is something new.
Old, however, is not how Master Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch describes herself. “She always says she’s 95 years young,” says Joelle Van Sickle, director of the Mind/Body Programs at All Sport Health and Fitness in Fishkill, which hosts a special lecture and practice led by Porchon-Lynch on April 12. Naturally, her lecture is entitled “Aging Gracefully: Wisdom Through the Ages.”
Porchon-Lynch, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest yoga teacher, has been practicing yoga for more than 70 years and teaching it — in India, France and the U.S. — for almost half a century. (Previously, she was an actress and documentary filmmaker.) She is the founder of the Westchester Yoga Institute and teaches at major yoga retreats like Kripalu in the Berkshires.
“I have taken one class with her, and all I can say is her spirit is infectious,” Van Sickle, a yoga teacher herself, says. “I felt much more positive and inspired. She embodies the true spirit of yoga, the philosophy as well as the physical practice. She represents why yoga can benefit you on many levels and how it can follow you through your whole life.”
The event is being held from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The cost is $50 if you’re preregistered, $60 at the door. To register, call All Sport at 845-896-5678.
So what’s new? The yoga wall — well, at least it is to much of the mid-Hudson Valley. It looks like a torture chamber in a dungeon, but a yoga wall helps practitioners achieve the challenging postures and positions yoga sometimes demands. They’ve been popular in New York City and Westchester for a while; now they are starting to pop up around our region, too — most recently at All Sport, which has installed an eight-foot yoga wall.
Invented by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, a pioneer in bringing yoga to America, the original device was a system of ropes attached to a partition to help students work on precise alignment in poses. Today’s walls feature safer belts and an inversion swing to support the body through its movements. “It’s like having a partner any time you need one,” says Van Sickle. “Sometimes, assistance is important to help you go deeper into a pose or to create a more sound and integrated alignment in the pose. The wall gives you feedback as to where your body is in space and lets you attempt some more challenging postures.”
Rouben Madikians included a yoga wall in his Amenia Yoga Center when he opened about seven years ago. It has been very successful — not just for yoga, but in rehabbing lower back, shoulder, and other injuries. “I had a contractor putting floors down in the studio who asked ‘What the hell do you use this for?’ ” Madikians remembers. “I put him in a basic posture, the downward dog, and he was surprised how good his back felt after just three minutes in that posture.”
All Sport hosted three free demonstrations in March to show yoga enthusiasts how the wall works; this month, one-hour classes begin for up to eight people at a time. The cost is $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers. For more information, call All Sport at 845-896-5678. To take a group or individual class at Amenia Yoga Center, visit ameniayoga.com.