Profile of Tao Porchon-Lynch
Tao Porchon-Lynch (born Täo Andrée Porchon, August 13, 1918 — February 21, 2020) was an American yoga master and award-winning author of French and Indian descent. She discovered yoga in 1926 when she was eight years old in India and studied with, among others, Sri Aurobindo and Indra Devi, B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Swami Prabhavananda, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Even at age 101, she still taught a weekly class in New York, and led programs across the globe.
She was the author of two books, including her autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master, which won a 2016 IPPY Award and three 2016 International Book Awards. In the front matter endorsement, Deepak Chopra said: "One of the most acclaimed yoga teachers of our century, Tao Porchon-Lynch... is a mentor to me who embodies the spirit of yoga and is an example of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. Like yoga, she teaches us to let go and to have exquisite awareness in every moment."
She was the recipient of India's highly prestigious award Padma Shri in 2019 for her excellent work in the field of Yoga.
Biography of Tao Porchon-Lynch
Tao Porchon-Lynch was born on August 13, 1918, on a ship in the middle of the English Channel, two months premature. Her father was from France, while her mother was a native Indian (Manipuri) Her mother died when Tao was seven months old and she was raised by her aunt and uncle. Her uncle, who designed railroads, often brought her along for trips around Asia, travelling as far as Singapore. The family owned vineyards in the wine region of the Rhône River Valley, located in Southern France.
At age eight, Tao witnessed a group of youthful yoga practitioners exercising on a beach. This encounter got Porchon interested in yoga, who stated in an interview with Guinness World Records, "I wanted to do the amazing things that they were doing with their bodies." Going against the advice of her aunt, who remarked that yoga was meant predominantly for males, she started practising yoga, although she did not get involved in it professionally until much later in her life.
Model, dancer and actress
In her early career, Porchon worked in the fashion industry. She found success as a model and won several titles, including "Best Legs in Europe". For a period of time she was signed under the Lever Brothers. She travelled around the globe modeling in such cities as Paris.
During the Second World War, Porchon moved to London and became a cabaret performer under the mentorship of Noël Coward. Notable journalist Quentin Reynolds took note of Porchon, writing that she made a "dark London brighter". Porchon-Lynch grew up speaking French and Meiteilon. Thus, she had to overcame the language barrier learning English.
After the war died down, she relocated to the United States, where she got a job as an actress under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, appearing in various Hollywood motion pictures, including Show Boat (1951), also featuring Kathryn Grayson, and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), in which she co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor. During her career as an actress, she frequently gave free yoga sessions to her fellow actors and actresses. She was also featured in the documentary If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast, a television film which premiered in 2017.
Tao Porchon-Lynch was married to Bill Lynch around 1962, and in 1967 she abandoned her acting job, deciding to become a full-time yogi.
In the same year, Porchon-Lynch assisted in the establishment of the American Wine Society (AWS) with her spouse. When it split into different branches across the United States, she was selected in 1970 to be the Vice-President of the AWS in Southern New York. She also frequently appeared as part of the judging panel in various wine competitions. She later became the publisher and editor-in-chief of the wine appreciation magazine, The Beverage Communicator, distributed by the AWS. With her fellow yoga practitioners, Porchon-Lynch organized annual wine appreciation trips to France.
In 1976, she became one of the founders of the Yoga Teachers Alliance, now known as the Yoga Teachers Association.
In 1982 her husband died and she set up the Westchester Institute of Yoga in New York, which has students from all over the world.
In 1995, with Indra Devi, she flew to Israel to attend the Yoga for Peace International Peace Conference. Porchon-Lynch has also been one of B. K. S. Iyengar's disciples in yoga and reportedly the first "foreign" student of his.
Porchon-Lynch has embraced her age and carried her yoga with her. She has mentioned, "I'm going to teach yoga until I can't breathe anymore." She received the Guinness World Records title of world's oldest yoga teacher from Berniece Bates in May 2012. Porchon-Lynch was 93 when she broke the world record. In 2013, in collaboration with Tara Stiles, she released a DVD on yoga, titled Yoga with Tao Porchon-Lynch. In addition, she published a book about meditation, titled Reflections: The Yogic Journey of Life.
In 2016, Tao Porchon-Lynch received the Women's Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Award at the United Nations in recognition of her achievements in the sports world.
Ballroom dancer and meditator
Outside of yoga, Porchon-Lynch continued to involve herself in competitive dancing, particularly in ballroom tango. She had several hundred first-place titles in competitive dancing. Her youngest dance partners were Hayk Balasanyan, Vard Margaryan and Anton Bilozorov.
In her spare time, Porchon-Lynch enjoyed meditating. In August 2014, she still drove her Smart car.
According to her representative, Tao Porchon-Lynch taught her last yoga class on 16 Febrary 2020, and passed away peacefully on the morning of 21 Febrary, 2020.