We’ll keep you updated on what’s going on in your Suncoast Yoga Teachers Association. Come back often and follow the EVENTS link above for future events!
I wanted to share with you the stories of two yoga women, both in their 90’s, whose experience I am very grateful to learn from and hopefully emanate.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tao when she came to teach in St. Petersburg last December. This 97 year old yogini has been practicing yoga throughout her life, and her energy is amazing. She spent most of her talk sitting in full lotus position, and then demonstrated poses that would be difficult for those a third of her age!
Tao grew up in Pondicherry, India and was raised by her uncle, who was a follower of Swami Vivekananda, a pioneer in bringing yoga to the west. In 1926, when Tao was eight years old, she saw boys doing yoga on the beach and wanted to join them. When her aunt told her that this was unladylike, the defiant Tao joined them anyway! She marched with Gandhi twice, including the 1930 Salt March to the sea. She is one of the first women who studied with acclaimed yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.
Famous fitness expert Jack LaLanne gave Tao her first yoga teaching job. She later founded two yoga teacher associations in 1979 and 1982, and since then she has certified over 1600 yoga teachers and has led yoga retreats all over the world. In 2012, Tao was named Oldest Yoga Teacher by the Guinness Book of World Records, and the online videos of her prowess are viewed by thousands.
Tao attributes her longevity and energy to her belief that there is no such thing as age-her secret is to not think about age and of getting old. From her book, “Reflections: The Yogic Journey of Life”, Tao writes:
“No matter how old you are, let nature be your encyclopedia. Watch as trees get older, they become stronger and more beautiful as the energy rises. One hundred year old trees still recycle themselves and come out with new flowers. Recycle yourself. The same thing will happen to us as we breathe in the breath of life; as with the four seasons, in winter everything looks dead, but the life force in the midst of reactivating nature and spring returns. Your mind doesn’t tire with mental thoughts of what you can’t do, but take a break and breathe and the renewal season will respond to it and start a new cycle. Tune into the power of the eternal and feel the beauty of life. Nothing is impossible. Revitalize yourself with every breath you take.”
Jeanne Morgan (My Mom)
At this writing, I am planning this amazing woman’s 90th birthday party- and she’s having a very hard time letting her kids do all the work! She still drives herself everywhere and lives with a little dog who keeps her active. She has redecorated her apartment herself several times in the past few years. And yes, she has practiced yoga postures and meditation throughout her life.
Her life has not been an easy one. In 1958, my father left her for another woman after she had three children- I was two years old, my sister was one and my brother was just born. Being a woman of that time, she did not know how to drive, and had little money, as Dad was the owner of the insurance agency she helped him build. Very rapidly, she learned how to drive, went to night school, worked part time as an insurance secretary and got her agents license. My grandmother helped to raise us while she was working.
When the Civil Rights law passed in 1964, large insurance companies were forced to hire women as agents, and Allstate Insurance hired her as one of the first female insurance agents in the country. This was during the “Mad Men” era where women were openly harassed in the workplace. Mom felt she needed to get married in order for the harassment to stop, even though her choices were far from ideal and not long term.
She worked for Allstate for thirty years and built a very successful insurance business. Her agency still exists, with a manager now running the day to day operations.
Her study of yoga, beginning in the early 60’s when this was far from mainstream, sustained her through the bad times. In 1980, she became a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self Realization Fellowship, after reading his book, “Autobiography of a Yogi”. I also became a student of Yogananda and we both host a monthly meditation group for his followers.
Mom is now single and happy. Like Tao, she rejects her age daily! She enjoys her children and grandchildren and loves to discuss the political discourse of the day- especially now that the topic of sexual harassment is in the forefront! I feel blessed and grateful that she is still a big part of my life.
The body never lies. This is something I often tell my students and I live by it myself. I learned a long time ago that if I don’t give myself the rest my body and mind need, illness will force it on me. And isn’t it much more fun to rest and have free time when you are feeling well? Those of you familiar with Ayurveda know that pittas can burn the candle at both ends and that has been my m.o. lately. My body was whispering that more rest was needed but I pushed on. The result: A stomach purge to top all stomach purges. Forced rest. This was a wake-up call for me to let some things go and adjust priorities. What about you? When was the last you listened to the whisperings of your body? Take a moment and do it now…. What does the body’s wisdom tell you? Will you listen?
I want to let everyone know what I’ve been up to lately. I expanded Yoga Flow Essential Oils into a “Lifestyle Center” where I offer individualized instruction in the art of living yoga.
What does this mean? As many of you know, Yoga goes far deeper than just poses-which is just the “tip of the iceberg”. It involves a complete holistic lifestyle that improves your health and well-being on many levels. My calling is to open my home and teach what I know, which is “ageless goddess” restorative yoga, meditation, ayurveda, aromatherapy and a flowing, independent lifestyle.
The concept of individualized instruction in yoga, using the many tools available is something different-at least for our area. You can go to a studio and attend a class or workshop, and leave feeling amazing. From there, if you want to learn more about what this science can do for you, there are few options available besides self study or being part of a teachers training program. I will offer private instruction, as well as a meditation group, social events, essential oil classes, book discussions and movie nights. I hope my lifestyle center can fill an interesting new niche in our community.
At age 60, I am still growing and learning- and seeing the word “goddess” everywhere inspired me in this venture! Soon I will write about Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 97 year old “ageless goddess” yogini, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently and taking a class with.
I will also be writing more about the process of opening this new center, as well as what is offered here. In the meantime, please check out our menu of services, and the new Yoga Flow Essential Oils online store. By the way, our oils can now be sampled and purchased here at the center!
I hope to see you soon!
Susan Wasserman, RYT 500, CAP
A Message from Susan Wasserman, SYTA Director
We successfully brought back Dr. Ray Long’s Anatomic Yoga, September 23-25th, 2016 at the Garden Club of St. Petersburg!
Dr. Long’s Books
Ray Long’s books were not for sale at the workshop. To order them and receive a 15% SYTA workshop discount, please click here:
The 15% discount code is: SUNCOAST15 – Customers must enter this code near the bottom of their checkout page AFTER they have selected their shipping method.
Please Note: This code DOES NOT work if the customer chooses to checkout with PayPal. They MUST choose to checkout with their Credit/Debit card from within the store.
Susan Wasserman, Director
Suncoast Yoga Teachers Association
March 4th – 6th, 2016, Friday 3PM – Sunday 12 Noon
Suncoast Yoga Teachers Association joined with Nature Coast Yoga Teachers’ Association for a rejuvenating three day retreat at Chinsegut Hill Retreat Center, Brooksville, Florida. Our accommodations were in the beautiful countryside, in air conditioned and heated cabins each equipped with 4 bedrooms (2 beds & private bathrooms), living room, kitchen (with microwave, refrigerator, and coffee makers), and best of all, those beautiful front porches with the rocking chairs!
We shared a weekend of yoga, networking, and fun with your fellow yoga teachers! We loved the rolling hills (yes, in Florida) and the mammoth oak trees. The weather was perfect for a Saturday night bonfire, complete with drumming circle and belly dancing lessons. A special favorite was the all organic menu of delicious food prepared with love by the Medicine Wheel Cafe.
This is an annual event. Please plan to join us next year. It’s a wonderful perk for members!
According to the sage Patanjali writing around 2,000 years ago, Hatha is the third limb of the “tree” of yoga. Patanjali referred to the eight limbs of yoga that give you time-tested tools for achieving the ultimate goal of yoga—union with the Divine. Along the way, he said, they can help you achieve radiant health, increased mental powers, and purity of mind and body.
That third limb, Hatha, is the yoga of Asanas, the postures that promote physical health and stamina. He named the fourth limb Pranayama, the means for controlling breath and vital energy. The final goal of yoga can be achieved without these two limbs, but they can be invaluable in speeding you along the way.
The eight limbs of yoga give you time-tested tools for achieving the ultimate goal of yoga: union with the Divine. Along the way, they can help you achieve radiant health, increased mental powers, and purity of mind and body.
Read Dharma Mittra’s excellent article here for a his 45 year research and understanding of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.