If you had any reservations about the power of yoga, please meet Tao Porchon-Lynch.
Now 98 years old, she was declared the world’s oldest living yoga instructor by the Guinness World Records way back in 2012. She’s also the new face of Athleta’s “Power of She” campaign, which highlights the life-changing benefits of the practice.
Porchon-Lynch, who is currently based in New York, started practicing yoga nine decades ago in India after she saw a group of boys doing yoga, and asked if she could join. She caught onto a very healthy habit early on: Research shows that yoga improves brain function, provides anxiety relief and can assist in maintaining a lower body weight.
That’s exactly what keeps Porchon-Lynch invested in the practice and hitting the mat: The overall sense of mental, physical and emotional wellness that comes from even just yogic breathing can do wonders, she said.
“If you do postures without the breathing you will never change anything,” Porchon-Lynch told The Huffington Post. “When people are known to breathe properly they can survive and do anything. Nothing is impossible when you are in tune with your breath.”
Below are a few more things she told us about the power of yoga:
A yoga practice can give you age-defying energy.
Porchon-Lynch says she has no intentions of slowing down. She wakes up at 5 a.m. each day and is in the studio to practice yoga by 8:30 a.m. She then teaches several classes a day. She also led a retreat of more than 1,000 students in the Bahamas earlier this month, and next she’s set to fly across the country to compete in a dancing showcase.
“When you are in touch with the breath there is no such thing as age,” Porchon-Lynch says. “There is so much to do and so little time.”
There’s more to yoga than challenging poses.
When people think of yoga, they typically think of downward dog and other muscle-bending moves. However, as Porchon-Lynch noted above, the foundation of the practice lies in the simple art of deep breathing. And there’s more to it than just inhaling and exhaling.
“Yoga is done with the breath. It means ‘union with your inner self,’” she said. “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.”
The practice will make you more positive.
Yoga teaches you to reframe your thoughts in order to reduce stress, Porchon-Lynch said. She also 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.”
Listen to more of what Porchon-Lynch has to say about the benefits of yoga in the video below: