An elegant theater is the last place you’d expect to see barefoot men and women laying on the floor in sweat pants and t-shirts.
But given the situation, it didn’t seem that weird at the time.
About a hundred of us were gathered there at the Mahaffey Theater, a performing arts center in St. Petersburg Florida, to take part in something pretty unusual.
A 97-year-old woman, Tao Porchon-Lynch was about the take the stage and lead us through a yoga class.
When I first heard that the Guinness Record holder for the world’s oldest yoga teacher was going to lead a yoga class, I knew I had to go. And, I was pretty sure I knew what to expect from the class.
Simple sitting poses, breathing exercises, and a whole lot of shavasana (the yoga “corpse” pose where you lay still flat on your back).
But I was wrong.
Tao Porchon-Lynch led a physical class that challenged me to push past my comfort zone and pull myself fully into the practice. When a woman three times your age is on stage pulling off a tough pose, it’s impossible to say that you can’t do it too.
But that day, I got way more than a workout by taking a class with Tao Porchon-Lynch.
She led us through almost an hour of yoga poses and vinyasas — which was pretty incredible. (Seriously, look at her go.)
But what really struck me about taking her class was listening to what practicing yoga had brought to her life.
When she was 8 years old, Tao Porchon-Lynch discovered yoga when the boys near her home in India were practicing. She wanted to join them, but was told yoga was only for boys. Obviously not one to let something stop her, Tao Porchon-Lynch jumped in any way and began a practice that she would continue to do daily over the next eight decades.
Tao Porchon-Lynch believes that her daily yoga practice has given her the physical and mental strength to tap into her highest potential.
In her lifetime, she was an actress and model who wrote screenplays, made documentaries, marched with Ghandi, and became an award-winning, world-class ballroom dancer. (Here she is on America’s Got Talent in 2015.)
Her list of accolades and accomplishments run deep, and at 97, she is still out there making things happen.
She travels the world teaching people about the benefits of yoga and has published multiple books about how we can control our mind and body through yoga and meditation.
It’s fair to say that Tao Porchon-Lynch has led a pretty incredible life (she even used to hang out with Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway) and that her yoga practice played a big role in allowing her to lead this vibrant life filled with so much energy, clarity, strength, and physical and mental wellness.
Which reminded me of yoga’s connection to freedom.
How Yoga Frees Mind, Body, and Soul
The mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga are incredible.
Yoga has been proven to:
- Protect the Spine
- Prevent Cartilage Breakdown
- Increase Blood Flow
- Boost Immunity
- Drop Blood Pressure
- Lower Cortisol Levels
- Increase Serotonin
- Lower Blood Sugar
- Prevent Digestive Problems
- Build Better Bone Health
- Improve Concentration
- Increase Self-Awareness
- Improve Mind-Body Connection
- Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
- Increase Mental Clarity
Yoga is a practice that can help free you from physical and mental barriers that hold you back from doing more of what you love.
You can’t look at Tao Porchon-Lynch and not believe it.
So, why aren’t you doing more yoga?
Or worse, why haven’t you tried yoga?
How to Yoga Anywhere, Anytime
If you anything like me, starting yoga seems a little intimidating and weird.
When you are a beginner, it can be nerve-wracking to join a class and only bend an inch while others in the class have their toes up to their nose.
But you don’t have to go to a class if you don’t want to.
If you are afraid of joining a class or don’t have the time to make it to a class — you can bring yoga right into your home, for free.
The challenge includes 30 free classes that are 15-20 minutes each, the perfect amount of yoga to sneak into each day.
So if you want to try yoga for the first time or start doing more yoga, this video series offers free access to classes you can do in your home on your time.
This gives two-fold freedom.
You get the freedom in your schedule to take a class when it works for you.
And, you get free access to an activity that provides the physical and mental strength to get more out of your days, take on challenges, push yourself to your highest potential, and live a more free life — just like Tao.
Check out the first video in the series below and leave a comment to let me know how your first day of class goes.