Corporate wellness insights

Learnings from a 98-Year-Old Yoga Instructor

Posted by Matthew Benton on 01.30.2017

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Although we’re best known as a top-notch wellness and biometric screenings provider, WCS is also a workplace where standing on your head is a legitimate way to take a break. Many of our employees enjoy yoga, and that’s why the story of Tao Porchon-Lynch jumped out at me.

90 Years of Yoga

Guinness Book of World Records declared her the world’s oldest living yoga instructor back in 2012. Today, 98-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch is the new face of yoga clothing manufacturer Athelta’s “Power of She” campaign.

Porchon-Lynch first took to yoga nine decades ago, in her native India. She was initially told she couldn’t participate because it was a boys’ activity. Now she travels the world attending yoga retreats. When she’s home, she teaches yoga classes five days a week and goes ballroom dancing.

Porchon-Lynch has a storied history, which sounds like a movie (and maybe someday it will be!). She joined Gandhi on his famous Salt March, modeled in France, and was a contract actress for MGM in the 1950s. Then, she found her current career—first teaching yoga to actresses Debbie Reynolds and Kathryn Grayson.

Breathing the Key

When people think of yoga, they typically think of downward dog and other muscle-bending moves. However, to Porchon-Lynch, the foundation of the practice lies in the simple art of deep breathing. And there’s more to it than just inhaling and exhaling. “If you do postures without the breathing,” she told The Huffington Post, “you will never change anything. When people are known to breathe properly, they can survive and do anything. Nothing is impossible when you are in tune with your breath.”

“Yoga is done with the breath,” she continued. “It means ‘union with your inner self.’ When you breathe, you tune into the inner self, and you’ll find it opens up your whole life. And that’s what yoga is all about.”

Yoga Leads to Optimism

Porchon-Lynch also leans on yoga to reframe her thoughts and reduce stress. She credits her steady practice for putting her in a happier mindset. “Never put negative thoughts in your mind because it goes right into your body,” she said. “When you wake up in the morning, say, ‘This is going to be the best day of my life.’ People say I changed their life. I didn’t change their life. I just taught them to use their breath.”

Want to hear this amazing woman in her own words? Check out her 2012 Ted Talk!

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