Diversity in Yoga: Our community speaks out

Diversity in Yoga: Our community speaks out

Diversity in Yoga:
Our community speaks out

by: Bre Scullark
Yoga Plus Magazine - diversity featured image Quentin Vinnie

There are words that are loosely used in the wellness community such as awakening, enlightenment, and guru. We hear these terms so often that it seems the true depth of their meaning gets lost in the perception, circumstances, and beliefs of the masses. We commercialize the same words that once attracted us to this spiritual way of life. Among those are the term and language connected to healing and being a “Healer.”

I have practiced at several wellness centers and sat with many self-proclaimed healers who promise healing if only we do things in a sacred way, which has always flushed out to be “their way.” As 2020 glared the shortcomings of our country, fears, and beliefs, some of us raised our eyebrows to the response, or lack thereof, from spiritual and sacred wellness groups. Where are our healers?

The racial tension in the U.S. rapidly spread globally following the consecutive murders of African American women and men during the COVID-19 lockdown. As many began protesting in the street for weeks and months, yoga and mindfulness practitioners of color wondered, “Where are our healers?”

Many yoga and meditation spaces and practitioners had fallen silent. They preferred not to align themselves or their brand with organizations such as Black Lives Matter, which they deemed as making a political stance. There were studios who posted to social media about diversity reluctantly to avoid scrutiny. Sending positive affirmations, memes, reposted hashtags with a surface promise to support inclusivity in the holistic community. Some even proposed financial support. But, where were our healers?

Where were our self proclaimed healers and gurus? Where were our beloved studios that always offered catchy quotes in savasana, simple but tangible resolutions to all of our daily challenges? Where were our People of Peace?

I had the pleasure of virtually meeting with three of my close friends in the wellness community to discuss words like HEALING, especially during times such as these.

Joshua Dorfman is a meditation teacher, life coach, and spiritual advisor. Lauren Solomon is an international yoga instructor, birth doula, and energy worker. Quentin Vennie: International speaker, author of “Strong in Broken Places,” and advocate for humanity. Here is our talk on healing, healers and our ideals of how wellness should begin to motion forward.

What does “healing” mean to you?
Quentin: Healing is moving beyond our trauma and not allowing it to dictate the value of who we are. It’s learning from our experiences for the betterment of humanity.

Lauren: Healing is a journey of physical and metaphysical alchemy. Healing/Healer are terms used too liberally and inappropriately for capitalistic reasons/opportunity. These terms are overused and undervalued.

Joshua: Healing is a process to liberation. Liberation of being susceptible to stress, anxiety, trauma, and fear. Of course, healing is a general term. There’s the mental, physical, and spiritual level. Healing is the process of freeing ourselves from those bondages. Our eyes are open. We begin to ask questions. We begin to seek truth and we wonder, “How can things change?” ”How do I live better?” What I’ve learned is, whatever trials, tribulations, and traumas that we go through, we are supposed to share our solutions with others. We are supposed to share our tools and techniques with the world.

How would you describe the importance of wellness in communities of color?
Lauren: Holistic wellness is vital to African Americans and POC ability to survive and thrive as a people. Illness of all kinds will continue to kill and destroy. One of my favorite quotes by Toni Cade Bambara is, “Wholeness is no trifling matter.”

Sometimes generational trauma plays out in our classroom. Some instructors are more authoritarian which can be perceived as a superior/inferior dynamic and also create trauma bonds. How can non-POC instructors and students support POC on their journey to self-healing?

Joshua: We must begin by irradiating ourselves from the sickness of separatism and competitive mentality.

Lauren: Non-POC must courageously become acquainted with their own darkness. They must focus on the inner work so that they will teach and be willing to learn from a space of authenticity and balance.

PTSD and trauma informed trainings are commonly talked about in the wellness community. We don’t often talk about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) or Shadow Slavery. Many POC, specifically African Americans, have been triggered by the systematic injustice and police neutrality that has gone overlooked for centuries. Have you, or do you plan to implement classes that support healing in this area?

Lauren: All people can experience PTSD but only Black People can and have experienced PTSS. Let’s unapologetically acknowledge that first, and then we can begin the work. My work, experiences, guidance, offerings, and language all implement the process of healing specifically in this area. For example, it is important to me that I am unapologetic about centering myself and my work for people who look like me without seeing it as a hindrance, limitation or exclusion.

I don’t see anything wrong with that! I think many establishments do and feel the same way. They may not openly say it but their business strategy screams it. Hiring predominantly one race, price point for classes, marketing campaigns, etc. I think sometimes we (African Americans) feel uncomfortable with saying this particular program or guidance for healing is specifically for us. We may feel bad or as though there will be a consequence for not sharing.

Joshua: I think we have POC, become conditioned to GIVE…

Ahhh! I love that! Are you proud of how the wellness community represented African Americans, POC and BIPOC during the several acts of violence from police brutality and racial injustice last year?

Lauren: No. They did not support us. What many studios and centers did at best, they showed us exactly who they are and who they are not. They engaged in superficial disingenuous optical allyship and hashtag activism. If they didn’t care, then I would prefer that they truly do not care. What many studios showed us was our money mattered but not our lives. Breonna Taylor’s face was trending. George Floyd’s video of him being murdered went viral. Our trauma became a way to monetize our suffering. To me, it felt like modern day lynching and several wellness studios participated in it. It was capitalistic and opportunist. But we didn’t need a civil rights movement to show us what African Americans, POC and BIPOC meant to these centers. We knew that based on their leadership and their marketing strategy. We always knew who and what mattered to them.

Quentin: Lauren’s sentiment is my sentiment. For real. There is nothing more that I can add to that that she hasn’t already addressed.

Quentin, your wife is white. How does that affect your household dynamic if at all? What are some of the conversations that you, your wife and your children have around race and wellness? Having two totally different ethnicities living under one roof during a civil rights movement, how has this been for you?

Quentin: The reality is that all of this is personal. And to be honest, my wife is one of the rarities in this space. She holds me when I need to be held, she can console me when my soul is weary, not as a Black man but as a human. Society will tell me I am a Black man and then society will dehumanize me for being a Black man. They limit my experience of humanity. Thinking back to the reason Blacks were selected for slavery was because of our propensity to “endure.” So if I am expected to be strong, who is going to see me when I am weak? My wife does. The conversations that we have are geared towards the Black experience and the white impression. And even with her, helping her to identify where she is actively fighting against racism and or passively moving towards it.

Joshua: When Gorge Floyd passed, it really sparked a fire under me to get the message across about racial and social injustice in the wellness community. I remember companies reaching out to me because I am a person of color just so that they could say they had a POC on their platform. It felt inauthentic so I turned them all down. It felt like a branding opportunity to say that they were a part but it did not feel like they authentically wanted to help.

How do you believe non-POC in the wellness community can authentically help?

Lauren: I don’t need to be affirmed in my life’s value from non-POC. What I would like is for non-POC to turn the work inward. Focus on you. No more “I’m not a racist” or wearing BLACK LIVES MATTERS shirts. Let’s focus on deepening the work by looking inward. “Where am I?” or “Where have I contributed to what’s at hand?”

Quentin: It starts with self, I agree. You can’t authentically do much to change the past. What you can do is begin to change self. I think it starts with acknowledging how many non-POC have upheld white supremacy subconsciously just by rules of society and continued to sustain a system of oppression. Deal with that discomfort that comes up. Sit in it and continue to heal from it.

Joshua: If non-POC want to authentically help, it has to come with humility and the acknowledgment of oppression.

What is your vision for the future of the wellness community?
Joshua: Seeking out those who have a genuine calling to serve and find truth. I want to flood the wellness community with realism. “Humans always want to do something about death when we should want to do something about life…”

Quentin: I want to see the continuation of these types of dialogue, of this level of humility and vulnerability, and stripping away the fear so we can begin to trust. Too many people have died without knowing that this can exist. This conversation was healing for me.

Lauren: We must decolonize ourselves in all ways. We must create that which we want to see, do, and be. Additionally we must be considerate of how we wield our collective energy and consciousness, and permanently do way with disempowerment.


Quentin Vennie

Celebrated wellness expert, philanthropist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling memoir, Strong In The Broken Places. His work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Entrepreneur, Chicago Tribune, NBC News, Fox News, MindBodyGreen, and others. Quentin has been recognized as one of Black Enterprise magazine’s 100 Modern Men of Distinction and by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for his contribution in raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, as well as appearing as the wellness keynote speaker for Colin Kaepernick’s “Know My Rights” Camp. Quentin has guided meditations and given talks at the Wagner Youth Facility at Belize Central Prison, shared his journey of healing childhood trauma for the University of Maryland Medical Systems & University of Maryland Symposium “Not All Wounds Are Visible”, and was recognized by Lululemon at their annual Here To Be Conference.

Having spent years practicing yoga and meditation, Quentin has found a recent passion in gardening and interior design as forms of anxiety management. He continues to work with youth in under-resourced communities, helping them understand their traumas and turn them into triumphs. He spearheads initiatives that support positive mental health and challenges food insecurity by teaching and promoting sustainable vegetable gardening, as well as making yoga and mindfulness accessible among communities and populations that don’t ordinarily have access to them.

Lauren Solomon

A former Wall Street professional and graduate of Columbia Business School, Lauren boldly transitioned from a decade-long career in Finance and Project Management to a lifetime journey as a certified international yoga instructor, reiki practitioner and birth doula.

From Lauren’s most recent feature in the 1st volume of “My Yoga. My City” photography table book showcasing Lauren as among NYC’s premier yoga instructors, to her inclusion in NY Yoga + Life Magazine recognizing her as a trailblazer in the “Teachers We Love” section and in WELL Summit’s “7 Black Women Making Waves in Alternative Medicine” – to Lauren’s leading international yoga retreats, and her dedication as a birth companion centering Black women and families on the childbirth continuum, she radically affirms her community in a myriad of meaningful and deeply impactful ways.

Joshua Dorfman

For over 15 years, Joshua has been self-taught, accepting wisdom and influence from teachers along the way while adhering to his inner guidance and direct connection to Source. Joshua stepped into his role of leadership in 2014 offering healing, meditation and life coaching services as a walking embodiment of Light.

He is a community builder and space holder for unity and communication, creating a safe space for people of all walks of life to evolve through self-realization and the integration of Spirit into the human experience. He has been offering his services one on one and in group
environments and has even brought meditation to corporate settings such as A&E
TV Networks, Broadway productions such as Hamilton, in addition to the fashion
industry while simultaneously working with your everyday man and woman. Joshua is a certified Reiki Master and holds multiple certifications in Vortex Healing.

Yoga Plus Magazine diversity image Joshua
Yoga Plus Magazine diversity image Lauren Solomon
Plant Medicine 101

Plant Medicine 101

Plant Medicine 101

By Vanessa Chakour


Yoga Plus Magazine - plant medicine illustration - photo credit -Chelsea Heneise
As long as humans have inhabited this earth, there has been a life-supporting, palpable connection between us and the natural world. Before grocery stores, pharmaceuticals, physicians, or farming, humans foraged, experimented and communicated with the plants around them. Over time, a huge amount of knowledge was accumulated about the power of plants to heal and nourish — from the amazing plethora of life right under our feet and all around us. In more modern times, food sources have become more centralized, people have become citified, wisewoman healers have been persecuted and indigenous tribal communities have been torn apart through colonization. As a result, much of this knowledge has been lost. More and more, people are now realizing how vital it is to reclaim our connection to nature and learn from those who tenaciously held onto this relationship and knowledge. Our relationship to nature is innate. We can recall and remember.

Conscious, direct encounters with nature are not only healing, but can develop our sense of the sacred and deeply affect our lifestyle choices. The path of herbalism has helped me heal on all levels of mind, body and spirit and it’s an honor to facilitate this remembering for others. Just as plants grow in spirals, we heal that way too. When we go inward to uncover the root cause of a mental, physical or emotional challenge and release it, we create space within and expand without. Eventually, we grow stronger and are ready to dive inward again… deeper this time, as we expand further. This journey of depth and expansion goes on and on. Along the way, we create a greater capacity for joy and are healthier for confronting our challenges. In the practice of herbalism, we’re asking for help from nature and there is no better place to begin than in the wild.

So, what is wild? Wild is our true nature freed from the bounds of social conditioning and perceived limitations. Wild is our authentic, natural self. Weeds are the epitome of wild nature. They’re strong, resilient and can’t be controlled. They live with us in rural and urban areas alike, bursting through cracks in concrete and bringing beauty, color and character to otherwise boring lawn. Weeds and wild plants like mugwort, burdock, dandelion, hawthorn and nettles are some of the most powerful guides to our true and wild selves. These guides connect us to the life force energy of earth that is some of the deepest healing we can find.

There are countless medicinal plants in New York City bursting through pavement, reclaiming abandoned lots and populating city parks. Many of my medicinal plant walks take place in Prospect Park in Brooklyn where we find all the plants mentioned above along with Linden, Cleavers, Shepards Purse, Plantain, Yellow Dock, Wild Rose, Raspberry Leaves, Red Clover, Mullein and many more. Meet a few of my favorites living right under your feet:

Mugwort helps us remember and re-wild. The botanical name for this fierce ally is Artemisia Vulgaris, named for the goddess Artemis; the huntress, protector of women, and young and fierce defender of nature. As such, Mugwort holds the boundary between the wild and domesticated self, loosening the stagnant energy of old traumas, stories, and emotions that are blocking access to our body’s innate strength. The silvery back of mugwort’s leaves let us know that this plant is medicine of the moon and womb. Mugwort is famous for helping us heal via the dream realm; moving what is hidden under the realm of conscious awareness into our dreams to confront and heal. This wild healer grows everywhere—through the sidewalks, next to parking meters, in vast fields and the edge of the forest. She is ever present and ready for us to use her medicine. 

Mulleinis a biennial plant that helps us stand tall and breathe deeply. The hair on the leaves of the mullein plant can withstand harsh winds, and the second year stalk stands tall in any situation. This plant is an expectorant, helping our lungs in expel mucous by loosening it from the walls of the lungs to be coughed up. You’ll find this plant growing in cities, on mountaintops and in fields, letting us know this is a medicine of adaptability. Mullein helps relieve our joints of tension and inflammation so we can move about the world more freely as we breathe. Though I rarely need to use mullein for asthma now, the tincture or tea is one of the first I’d turn to if I did. This plant is commonly used for hay fever, emphysema, colds, flu, hoarseness, bronchitis,

Hawthorn, a tree in the rose family, is a medicine of the heart. This fiery tree—also known as the May Tree—blooms around the Celtic holiday of Beltane and is steeped in mythology. Many believe these trees are inhabited by Faery Folk. The leaves, flowers, berries, and thorns are all used in medicine to strengthen the heart, normalize blood pressure, offer courage, promote passion and healthy circulation. You’ll find Hawthorn in many aphrodisiacal formulas. In addition to passion and protection with her long, intense thorns, working with Hawthorn helps us see other perspectives and fall more in love with ourselves.

Goldenrodis a beautiful yellow flower lights the way, late summer into autumn as the days become shorter and the nights become longer. This plant, whose botanical name is solidago (“to make whole”), is a medicine of transition, balance and integration. Goldenrod illuminates our path as we embrace change and brings warmth, and sunshine into cold, damp spaces in the body clearing mucus, fungus, unprocessed grief and congestion.

Burdock Root reaches below the surface of the soil, and deep within our bodies to connect us to source energy. Burdock root grounds us, helps the waters of the body flow, supports the livers and nourishes the adrenals. If we want an especially potent root, we’d harvest on the new moon in early spring or autumn when the sky is dark and the energy of the earth sits below the surface.

Elder trees are rich in folklore and have strong regenerative powers, growing easily from cuttings. A potent symbol for the cycle of life, this tree is deeply connected to the realms of faery and the underworld. It is said that sleeping under an Elder at midsummer may transport you to their realm. Many are familiar with Elderberry syrup, an incredible cold and flu remedy that boosts the immune system. Elder flowers help to cleanse the kidneys, blood, and skin by opening up the pores; they are healing allies for sinus issues and hay fever. Both the flowers and berries can be ingested as tea, tincture, and syrups.

Practices to engage:Embodied walks in nature; noticing the patterns of tree bark one day, and the small plants that grow close to the earth, the next. Each day, attune your awareness to something different. Depending on the season, you might look at patterns in flowers, shapes of leaves or the expression of branches. Eventually, allow yourself to be guided to one plant that calls to you, and notice something new about that plant every day. This practice awakens your instinct and ability to relate to the natural world. We can uncover many answers on our own, which is incredibly empowering.

If you’re interested in wildcrafting (harvesting plants from the wild), make sure you’re identifying the plant correctly, are harvesting somewhere safe for you and the population of the plant, and ask permission from the plant before harvesting. This engages your intuition as you approach the plant with reverence. The right way to begin a relationship.

The faster we can understand that we are nature and not separate from the web of life, the better off we’ll be as individuals, and the better off will be our shared home that is this planet. Remembrance and reconnection is a vital aspect of health and the ability to thrive.

YOGA PLUS MAGAZINE - Plant Medicine 101
YOGA PLUS MAGAZINE - Plant Medicine 101
YOGA PLUS MAGAZINE - Plant Medicine 101
Chocolate Chipotle Cake with Roasted Cherries and Maple Salted Pecans

Chocolate Chipotle Cake with Roasted Cherries and Maple Salted Pecans

Chocolate Chipotle Cake with
Roasted Cherries & Maple Salted Pecans

By Diana Bezanski


Yoga Plus Magazine - Chocolate Chipoltle Cake with Cherries

Cuisine: Vegan
Serves 7

For those of you who enjoy chocolate cake and spice will love this bold, and sexy combination using chipotle powder topped with roasted seasonal cherries. There’s an element of smoky, spicy surprise balanced by the sweetness, and crunchy nuts. The cake is very moist and wonderful on it’s own or take it up a notch with your favorite nice cream or coconut whipped cream.

Note: you can swap out the chipotle powder for ancho or ¼ teaspoon less if using cayenne depending on the heat of your spice.

Banana is used as binder here, but the taste is masked by all other flavors

  • Banana is used as binder here, but the taste is masked by all other flavors o ignored
  • spelt is a whole grain flour more nutritious and less refined than white flour, contains less gluten and has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.  Can be found in natural food stores, and some supermarkets o ignored
  • some unrefined brown sugars are course – grinding them into powder using spice grinder dissolves better in the cake. o ignored
  • because the cake is eggless the vinegar used in recipe creates a nice rise and crumb while leaving no aftertaste.


Ingredients for Cake

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 ½ tsp fine ground coffee – grind with sugar if course
  • 1/3 cup unrefined brown sugar such as coconut, sucanat or muscovado, grind to make
  • powder using spice grinder
  • 1 1/4 cup very hot filtered water
  • 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 ½  tsp pure vanilla extract


Method for Cake

Pre heat the oven to 350 with rack in the middle.

  1. Lightly oil the bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder
  2. In a large bowl sift the whole wheat pastry flour, spelt, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle powder, ground coffee, and sugar, once passed through stir it again.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the mashed banana, vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil and vanilla extract and mix well, add the hot water and combine well, now add this to the flour mixture and using a whisk mix until just combined, do not over mix, quickly add to the bundt pan and bake for 43 minutes at 350 degrees. Toothpick inserted should come out clean and cake slightly firm to the touch. When done let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire wrack, after 10 minutes carefully flip the cake out of pan and continue to cool on rack before adding the ganache.


Roasted Cherries
Ingredients and Method
Raise oven to 400 degrees

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. 1.5 cups fresh cherries pitted and sliced in half
  3. Roast cherries for 10 minutes, remove from oven and transfer to a bowl, let cool


Maple Salted Pecans
Lower heat to 325

  • 1 cup pecans lightly chopped
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp fine ground sea salt


Method for Pecans

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat – taste for seasoning
  2. Bake for 7-8 minutes at 325


Chocolate Ganache

  • 3.5 oz 70-72% chocolate chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • Pinch chipotle or cayenne powder
  • Small pinch sea salt


Method Chocolate

  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add it to a stainless steel bowl
  • Heat the milk until bubbly hot and pour it over the chocolate and let sit one minute undisturbed.
  • Stir the chocolate until melted then add the maple syrup, chipotle powder sea salt and mix well.
  • Let the chocolate sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken but still pourable.
  • Drizzle the chocolate on the cake on all sides and especially near the opening at top so the cherries and nuts can stick to it.
  • Now add the roasted cherries and pecans to the top of the cake.
Yoga Plus Magazine - Cherries for Chocolate Chipoltle Cake
Yoga Plus Magazine - Chocolate Chipoltle Cake with Cherries
Tao Porchon Lynch

Tao Porchon Lynch

Tao Porchon Lynch

By: Andrea Rice
Photos by: Robert Sturman


Yoga-Plus-Magazine - Tao Porchon Lynch bio pic
On a rainy spring afternoon in Manhattan, Täo Porchon-Lynch, the world’s oldest yoga teacher, walked into the Rubin Museum in a pair of high heels and asked for a glass of wine. She removed her black cape to reveal a Fendi scarf loosely draped around her neck, a stylistic emblem of her French heritage. A well-tailored knee-length skirt showed off an impressive pair of trim legs that only 90 years of yoga and a lifetime of dance could help shape. Perhaps the only visible evidence that the fashionable matriarch who had arrived was a yogi was the large silver amulet depicting Ganesh that hung over her heart and travels with her everywhere. She took a seat in the museum’s café next to her friend, the photographer Robert Sturman. They exchanged hugs and swapped stories as Malbec flowed generously.

Täo, who turned 99 this past August, is no average yoga teacher, nor does she fit the mold of a soon-to-be centenarian. She became a competitive ballroom dancer at 87, and appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2015 with a partner 70 years her junior. They performed to “Fireball,” a racy number by the rapper Pitbull — a testament to her modern edge. Täo believes there is no such thing as age and that anything is possible; she also prefers wine over water. Her thirst for life might very well be her secret to the fountain of youth.

Täo has been practicing yoga since her childhood in Pondicherry, a French colonial settlement in India at the time. “When I was very young, I saw a lot of little boys playing a new game on the beach and I asked if they would let me join them,” she said in an interview. That game, according to her aunt and uncle who raised her, was yoga, and it was not normal for girls to partake. But the eight-year-old Täo was persistent, and she partook anyway. In 1930, when she was 11, she accompanied her uncle, a student of Swami Vivekananda and a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, to join Gandhi in a protest march.

Born Andrée Porchon, Täo was named by her nursemaid in India because she was always brimming with the energy of nature. During World War II, they left India together in an attempt to locate Täo’s father. They arrived at a family vineyard in the South of France, where her father’s sister, a member of the French Resistance in Marseille, lived, worked and hid expatriates. There, Täo was asked to shed her saris in exchange for Western clothes, out of fear that the Nazis were watching. When they were nearly caught they fled the vineyard; Täo and her ayah were put on a fishing boat to Paris and another boat to London, just prior to the Nazi bombing attacks there.

Täo got her first job as a dancer in a nightclub and then a cabaret, which led her to some of the top clubs in the city. Eventually she went back to France, becoming a model for brands like Chanel and Lanvin, which led her to New York City. Determined to break into show business, she took a bus to Hollywood with a list of contacts she’d met in the London nightclubs — one of which was the founder of M.G.M., where Täo came under contract and earned smaller parts in movies. With encouragement from Indra Devi, who knew Täo as a girl in India, she began teaching yoga to Golden Age actresses like Debbie Reynolds and Kathryn Grayson.

Täo’s French-Indian accent prevented her from landing bigger roles and she became frustrated with acting, shifting her focus to screenplays and documentaries. For years, she continued writing, producing and modeling, but was also committed to her yogic studies, traveling to India to study with B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. In Hollywood, Täo was under the tutelage of her guru, Swami Prabhavananda, with whom she studied meditation until his death in 1976.

Meanwhile, she met and divorced the self-described love of her life, Yvan Moynet, a French fighter pilot who relocated to Uruguay. It was heartbreak that steered Täo away from the glamour of Hollywood to focus on yoga and meditation. A journey that returned her to New York where she married her second husband, the late Bill Lynch, and settled in Westchester County where she teaches yoga to this day.

Täo’s work has put her in front of some of the biggest spiritual thought leaders of her time. In 2011, Täo earned the respect of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when she sat on the Panel for Peace. A year later, she was recognized by Guinness World Records as the “Oldest Living Yoga Teacher.” In 2015, she received an award from the United Nations for her leadership as a female entrepreneur. Her autobiography “Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master” was published that same year.

Though Täo did not bear any children of her own, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, her biographer, said that Täo has hundreds of children around the world: her students. And one of those students gave her a very special gift a few years back — a photo shoot in Central Park with Robert Sturman. “I’ve learned so much from Robert, because he goes out into the world and brings that oneness together,” Täo said with an indelible twinkle in her eyes. “I am truly lucky that he entered my life.”

Since that first shoot, Täo and Robert meet in New York City once a year to make art together. This time at the Rubin Museum, it would be for the cover of a magazine, a first for Täo, despite that she is known far and wide as a Grand Dame of Yoga. Reunited, they took the stage and discussed the many ways in which the essence of yoga lights up the world.

The following is an edited excerpt from that conversation.


RS: I’m always looking for good stories. I knew in the moment that we met that yours was a story worth telling; one that gives us hope and makes us want to be here and live life to the fullest. In a time where there is so much darkness and trouble in the world, people are hungry for great stories like yours.

TPL: I agree with you that there is so much anger around us for no reason. The mind always brings out the problems! Don’t spend your time thinking what you cannot do. Don’t let your mind take over — let your heart take over. It’s something that everyone should learn: never procrastinate. One minute after midnight it’s already today, so don’t spend your time wasting it! This is a precious gift we’ve been given. Vivekananda said, ‘don’t say I’ll do it tomorrow. Never say that there’s only one religion. Know that within us is the open door to attaining oneness with the whole world.’ This was something I always believed in. People do a lot of talking, but it’s action that matters. Robert, you not only take action, but your photos represent what I believe in. You open up that door with photography, and it doesn’t matter where you’ve been in the world — it comes to life.

RS: When I forget about everything and I’m just in the moment creating, that’s when that oneness just happens. It speaks through me, and there’s no thought about it — it just is. I think there’s a way to experience life so deeply and so presently that when you photograph it, you just press the button once and walk away — and you don’t have to question whether you missed it or not. It’s effortless — and that’s how it is whenever I’m working with you; it’s never a struggle to create something. When art is created, it’s just the natural expression of a life that’s being lived.

TPL: Well you certainly help bring it to life! You inspire me all the time. Whenever we come together, we experience that oneness. It’s easy to look and see a beautiful scene of trees, but it helps when someone can point out the very essence behind it. The American-Indians used to put their arms around the trunk of a tree and feel the energy of the sap moving up in there. We have that same thing within us — if we are in tune and just listen to our hearts, it opens the door to our whole being; it makes everything come alive. I know that nothing’s impossible — that there’s nothing we can’t do in life. If in this world I can make a little bit of difference, that’s what’s important. Every morning I say, ‘this is going to be the best day of my life.’ That’s when everything opens up to you. Other people are looking for that, but they don’t always know how to find it. This is the jewel of life: to awaken and know that nothing is impossible.

RS: To me, being awake is knowing that we’re only going to be here for a brief moment, and being present to every person I work with because it could be the last moment that we have. Sometimes I’ll work with somebody and it will be their last picture — they’ll die the next week, making me realize that it is all just going to expire. Being awake is just being so grateful for what we have now, and knowing that working through your heart and being in touch with your heart is the most sophisticated tool we have.

TPL: I don’t spend my time thinking of how I’m going to do something, because if I just sit around thinking then nothing is ever going to come. When I tune in and listen, I can feel that connection, that oneness — particularly with children. Children open up that the door to people — they don’t spend their time getting angry that they can’t do something. If I can’t do something, I’ll just decide that there is another way to do it. My uncle taught me to never look down on anybody — that there is always something good inside of them and you should try to draw it out. Don’t waste your time on things that are negative — open your heart to positive things and the whole world will come together.

RS: Whenever I think of you I just know that things are going to be okay. There’s something about you that makes life worth living, and that’s the story that I want to tell in all the work that we do together. We are so blessed to share our story with NY YOGA + LifeTM, and celebrate you on the cover of the magazine.

TPL: Thank you, that’s very special. I just hope I can live up to what you believe in.

RS: And how long are you going to live?

TPL: Oh at least 100… I have to live to 100! I have a lot of things I still want to accomplish, and so I better start working at it now — no words, just action. Every morning when I get up, I look outside and I witness the beauty of the birds flying around. Everything has energy within it, and all we have to do is bring that into play. I’m just spending my time making sure I’m doing everything that I believe in. Anyone can be filled with beautiful ideas, but we must put them into practice. That’s what you’ve materialized with your photographs: you bring in the beauty of the world everywhere.

RS: As Rumi said, ‘I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.’

Yoga-Plus-Magazine - Tao Porchon Lynch bio pic
Yoga-Plus-Magazine - Tao Porchon Lynch bio pic
Holdin’ Down the Hive: 10 Things to Know about urban beekeeping

Holdin’ Down the Hive: 10 Things to Know about urban beekeeping

Holdin’ Down the Hive:
10 Things to Know about urban beekeeping

Photos: Diana Bezanski


Yoga Plus Magazine - PROFILES - urban beekeeping
Angie Bilotti is a local chef and urban beekeeper based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Trained by the Natural Gourmet Institute, Angie is passionate about educating others about food as medicine for the body. She reconnects to ancestral food principles that honor Mother Earth as she takes care of rooftop gardens and creates recipes from nature’s bounty.

When she’s not in her Brooklyn kitchen, she climbs rooftops and takes care of 20,000-60,000 bees! NY Yoga + Life got up close and personal as Angie guided us around the hive and shared her knowledge about Brooklyn Beekeeping.

  • Location, location, location! Urban beekeepers need to be strategic about their hive placements. When choosing a home for her bees, she has to consider the entire environment is there enough food for the bees to forage? Should I plant a garden? Is it too noisy? Will I be able to reach them? Do I need to climb a fire escape? No, this is not a drill.


  • Shout it from the rooftops! Once beekeepers find a home for their bees, they register their hives to the U.S. Department of Health. Angie is part of the NYC Beekeeping Organization and was trained to inspect hives all over New York. She participates in forums to update her beekeeping practices and checks on her bees every week. Make sure to read up before you start a hive!
  • Oh, honeyyy. Did you know that honey is the only food we eat that’s produced by insects? And it never spoils.
  • No two honeys are alike. The flavor of honey depends on the food the bees are able to forage. The flowers and trees nearby affect the color and flavor of the honeycomb. No two honeys taste the same and beekeepers prefer to eat it straight from the comb…because they can.
  • You’re sweet. Honeybees aren’t aggressive, and they aren’t looking to sting you. However, if you’re wearing perfume or any scent, you will attract bees.
  • Who runs the world? GIRLS. All worker bees are female. These ladies provide food for the hive, they clean the hive, they do it all. As for the males? Their only role is to mate, and then they are kicked out in the fall before hibernation. Sorry, not sorry boys.
  • Queen Bee. The Queen has the ability to choose whether the bee will be male or female based on the need of the hive. Talk about gender selection!
  • Air Mail. In NYC, most beekeepers order their bees online and have them delivered to the post office. If you see someone casually walking down the street with a package that’s buzzing, you just met a beekeeper.
  • Clear skies. It’s best to avoid visiting a hive on a rainy or cloudy day. The bees are sensitive to nature and can get moody just let we do.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. After extracting the honey from the comb, beekeepers like Angie enjoy melting and straining the wax cappings into lip balms and medicinal salves. Just remember, taking honey out of its comb is incredibly messy, so leave it to the pros. Look for local raw honey at a farmers market near you!

Infused Honey Recipe

Infused honey is easy to put together and makes the perfect addition to yogurt, cheese, oatmeal, salad dressings, or marinades. It can also be used as a sweetener in lemonade, tea, or cocktails! Some people use herbal honey for medicinal purposes. For example, sage honey can soothe a sore throat.

Below you’ll find a basic formula to create your very own honey infusion!


  • 1 cup local raw honey
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh herbs or flowers

(Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Chamomile, or Rose Petals)

  • 1T spices

(Cardamom, Star Anise, Peppercorns, Ginger, Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, or Vanilla Bean)


  • Double Boiler
  • Baking Thermometer
  • Bowl of Ice
  • Cheesecloth
  • Strainer
  • Mason Jar or Honey Jar


  • Pour honey, herbs and spices into a double boiler; or a glass bowl that fits over a pot of low simmering water.
  • Occasionally stir honey for 30-40 minutes; be sure to check on it often so it doesn’t overheat and destroy the beneficial enzymes/antibacterial properties. The temperature of the honey shouldn’t exceed 115º F.
    • If the bowl gets too warm, keep an ice bath nearby and rest the below on ice. When the temperature goes back down to 115º F or below, return to the double boiler until 30-40 minutes is up.
  • Strain honey through cheesecloth and into a mason jar. Let it cool down completely, then cover.

Bonus Tip:

After you’re finished with your cheesecloth, tie it up and make a delicious tea by letting it sit in a cup of hot water.

Connect With Angie:

Angie Bilotti is available for private tours of her hives and hosts a variety of classes and workshops. For more information, visit AlchemyQueen.com for more Brooklyn Beekeeping tips and recipes!


NY Yoga + Life Magazine, assumes no responsibility for any inaccuracies encountered in this article and will in no way be held liable for damages or losses incurred due to any misinformation associated with this article.  Using the information provided on this site is considered voluntary and the user assumes all responsibilities and or possible consequences arising from such use.

Yoga Plus Magazine - PROFILES - urban beekeeping