On June 8, 2012, I had the delight of joining 93-year-old yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch, who was recently named "Oldest Yoga Teacher" by Guinness World Records, as she taught yoga at the Pentagon.
It was incredible seeing 80 Department of Defense personnel -- service members and civilians -- in various yoga poses, from warriors to king dancers, and then flowing through a series of sun salutations to Tao's signature tango music. At one point, I said to myself, "This is pretty cool. I'm doing yoga at the Pentagon!" The final relaxation was especially poignant. I got a deep sense that these folks particularly needed and deserved those moments of personal peace.
At the end of the yoga session, I moderated a discussion on Tao's colorful life, as I've done many times before. There was great interest in Tao's time with Gandhi and her work in the French Resistance during World War II, as well as her peacemaking around the world, such as Yoga for Peace in Israel in 1995 and her more recent appearance at the 2011 Newark Peace Education Summit with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.
During the Q and A, one woman asked why Tao agreed to teach yoga to a group of people who are focused on war and conflict. In her very humble manner, Tao explained that she was simply honored to be there among those who work tirelessly to protect our security. She explained how yoga plays a role in peacemaking, which is the ultimate goal for those in our military. In her view, peace is really about atonement. She broke down the word atonement into "at-one-ment," or oneness. Tao's perspective is that we all have the same breath inside us and yoga brings us closer to that realization.
For me, the day epitomized the essence of yoga in that it was about unity. All of the people in the group had very important "day jobs." Many had to be given permission to take time to be in the class. Yet, they came together, in great numbers, to share in the presence and practice of peace. If all of our leaders -- anyone making critical decisions affecting other people's lives -- would take time every day to experience even a few moments of stillness, I believe our world would be a better place. As the Dalai Lama has said, "World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence. Peace is the manifestation of human compassion."
Here's a peek into Yoga at the Pentagon with Tao Porchon-Lynch.
Yoga at the Pentagon
View additional pictures from the day on the Power Living blog.
Read "7 Steps to Crafting an Amazing Life," inspired by Tao Porchon-Lynch.
To see Tao in action, check out her Power Living interview and her wisdom from the 2011 Newark Peace Education Summit. If you want to experience Tao in person, check out her teaching schedule.
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