Nonagenarian Yoga

Ninety-year-old yoga instructor still going strong.

To ensure a good night’s sleep, yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch does a couple dozen shoulder stands at bedtime. Demonstrating the technique, she uses her core muscles to smoothly lift off the mat one vertebra at a time, and just as smoothly lie back down again. As she flows through the pose several times, Porchon-Lynch’s slender body is as supple as a silk thread. Perhaps her ease should be no surprise, considering she’s been practicing the technique since before the Great Depression.

The 90-year-old Porchon-Lynch was born in Pondicherry, India, the daughter of a French father and an Indian mother, who died shortly after giving birth. Tao was raised by the family of a paternal uncle, who encouraged her to try practically everything. Except yoga. “He told me yoga was for boys, and that made me all the more interested in it.” She began practicing at age eight and has been teaching since the 1960s. In spite of a hip replacement and a pin in her thigh, Porchon-Lynch currently conducts classes four days a week, at the Fred Astaire Studio in Hartsdale and the JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale. She also trains yoga teachers and holds workshops throughout the county, in Manhattan, and at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, in the Berkshires.

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A lifelong dance enthusiast, Porchon-Lynch began entering—and winning—ballroom dancing competitions four years ago, regularly partnering with men in their 20s. This winter, the longtime Hartsdale resident learned the paso doble in preparation for an Atlantic City contest in which she danced in a total of 28 different competitions, wearing four-inch heels.

Retirement isn’t on Porchon-Lynch’s agenda. Starting May 31, she’ll conduct a weeklong tour of the wine châteaux of Bordeaux, France; and in September, she’s leading a two-week trip to India. After that? “I want to dance the tango in Argentina. There are a few places in the world I haven’t been to yet.”

 

Porchon-Lynch shows off her senior stamina in her native India.

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