Millions across the globe have been inspired by 97-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch – World War II French Resistance fighter, model, actress, film producer, wine connoisseur, ballroom dancer, and yoga master. Named “Oldest Yoga Teacher” by Guinness World Records in 2012, Tao exemplifies her mantra: There Is Nothing You Cannot Do.
Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master is an inspirational autobiography that shows us what is possible–that we each can live to our Highest Potential by inhaling life, exhaling strife and dancing to our own rhythm. Through Tao’s reflections, we are given the gift of insights from almost a century of wisdom that can be applied to our modern-day challenges. We learn about her deep connection with nature and “secrets” to vitality while taking a soulful odyssey of love and loss, hope and joy, and ultimately the triumph of resilience.
Tao’s life has been a journey within to answer the age-old questions, “Who am I?,” “Why am I here?,” “What is my Truth?” Born during World War I, she grew up in the disquiet of the world not a cloistered spiritual sanctuary. Called the real “Forrest Gump,” Tao participated in historic events most of us only read about from marching with Mahatma Gandhi in the 1930 Salt March and helping her aunt hide Polish Jews in cement wine vats to performing nightly during the Nazi bombing Blitz when “all of London was on fire.”
She worked with the French Resistance for General Charles de Gaulle during World War II helping Jews hiding in the caves under Paris escape the Germans and cross over to safety. After the war, she modeled for famous couture houses such as Jean Dessès, Coco Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin, Marcel Rochas, Jean Patou and Elsa Schiaparelli. Later, she was under contract with MGM surrounded by the excesses of high society in old-time Hollywood going to parties with the Barrymores. She greatly admired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and even participated in the March on Washington and later went to Dr. King’s funeral.
Tao helped to lay the groundwork for TV in India and was early in international film distribution. She brokered and introduced new wine producers in Napa Valley to the European wine industry elite for quality products and was later a co-founder of the American Wine Society. Tao has personal stories on icons such as Ernest Hemingway, General Charles de Gaulle, Prime Minister Nehru, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Wilding, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marcel Marceau, Burgess Meredith, Debbie Reynolds, Burt Lancaster, Cesar Romero, Vincent Price, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Quentin Reynolds, Sir Noel Peirce Coward, Ezra Stone, Joan Davis, Jim Backus, Lucille Lortel, Errol Flynn, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Katherine Dunham, Ilka Chase, Sol Siegel, Jack Cummings, Robert Mondavi, Dr. Welthy Fisher, Jack LaLanne, and others. Tao still has pay stubs from Coco Chanel, her W2 from the William Morris Agency, residual checks from MGM, pictures with Bob Hope – many of these mementos are featured in the book.
Yet, ALL of this is simply the backdrop for a very human search for the spiritual side of being. As Tao got more into the sex-obsessed material world of modeling and acting, she needed to find balance and come back to her spiritual core. She had to learn to be in the world but not of the world. She witnessed the hate of pre-civil rights era and the prosecution of Cold War Communist fever in America. She saw that the Jewish people had to seek refuge by creating their own clubs in Hollywood and there were even disagreements amongst the Christian denominations. She was saddened by the crackdown in Tibet and on the practice of Buddhism. She wondered how she could go beyond all of this exclusion and discord and get to the Truth.
In Dancing Light, we gain wisdom from Tao’s many teachers – from her uncle Vital Porchon to the teachings of revered spiritual figures Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda who is credited with bringing yoga to the West. We are privy to Tao’s personal experiences with legendary leader Mahatma Gandhi and the iconic Transcendental Meditation founder The Maharishi who taught meditation to The Beatles and spurred a worldwide movement. We learn from Swami Prabhavananda of the Vedanta Society, Mataji Indra Devi, metaphysics teacher Dr. Roman Ostoja, and two of the most acclaimed yoga masters, B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois. We see how Tao assimilates all of these layers of study and influence to form her own philosophy of Oneness. Tao has since trained and certified over 1,600 yoga teachers and has shared her light at various forums from the Newark Peace Education Summit with His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama to teaching yoga at the Pentagon and doing a TEDx talk at Columbia University.
At the age of 87, Tao became a ballroom dancer and has since won over 700 First Place Awards with dance partners that are thirty years her junior. Tao believes that life is a dance of Eternal Energy. Sometimes we weave in and out of consciousness. That’s the dance – back and forth, up and down, sometimes spinning around, always looking to come back to center. That’s our journey–the search for how to be present with the wonders of life and maintain harmony of mind, body and spirit. In many ways, Dancing Light is a modern Autobiography of a Yogi–a manifesto for a new generation of light seekers taking us on a search for peace, the Oneness behind everything and your exceptional profound Self.