Yoga instructors always make me feel a little nervous and spiritually unevolved. They're so lithe and serene. It's like they see right through my veneer of self-possession and get my number in a second, a brief audit of my physical and aural condition confirming my status as a hopeless case. It can be disconcerting, saying hello to a yoga instructor.
But this one looks refreshingly nervous, human even. “Have you taught children before, then?” I ask her, pointing my seven-year-old daughter in the direction of the studio door, signing in at the desk all done.
“Oh yes, I just wasn't expecting quite this many.”
I wish her luck with the 15 or so six-to-nine year-olds she has under her suitably flexible wing for the next hour, and suggest ascribing a “naughty position” to any transgressors.
“Ha ha! Yes – downward dog in the corner!”
“Ha ha,” I agree.
Aren't children supposed to be “in the moment” anyway? Isn't that why deluded, distracted and damaged old farts like myself should be getting in touch with our inner versions?
It's no surprise this school holidays kids' class is proving so popular. It is the school holidays, after all. The prospect of keeping your child occupied for an hour is appealing enough, but if there's the slightest possibility they'll come out the other side in a state of inner harmony and tranquility? Hell, that's some parental nirvana, right there.
Not that I don't have reservations around the whole hippification of childhood thing. Our local primary runs mindfulness meditation practice for the youngest. Aren't children supposed to be “in the moment” anyway? Isn't that why deluded, distracted and damaged old farts like myself should be getting in touch with our inner versions?
Still, if I try to keep anything new age at arm's length (and I do), I make an exception for yoga. This stuff's been around for millennia, there's nothing new about it. I've dabbled enough myself to know it's good for what ails you, and anyway it's hard to argue with someone who can stand on their head.
For me, though, the deal clincher for this mini-yogis session was the chance to keep my son and daughter apart. She's the eldest, there's 20 months between them, and the holidays tip the balance on their love-hate relationship towards the wrathful, violent antipathy end of the scale. Blood has not been shed yet, but there have been daily pre-breakfast playtime battles that make the Trump-Clinton debate look like a round of kumbaya.
The boy doesn't make the age-range cut, so gets to hang out with me for an hour. We have a blast. Sushi, some hopping and then a trip down to local attraction Puffing Billy station to check out the engines (hey, looking is free). By the time we head back to pick up his sister, we are bonded and beatific.
Blood has not been shed yet, but there have been daily pre-breakfast playtime battles that make the Trump-Clinton debate look like a round of kumbaya.
The instructor is the first to emerge through the studio door, with the wide-eyed, luminous demeanour of one who has survived. In her wake troop the children, not in silence but subdued, buzzing like a swarm of something centred.
All wear grins across their garish mugs. Because, what do we have here? Yes, it's face-paint. Not a part of any sutra I'm aware of, but, hey – whatever works.
Suddenly my daughter is tugging my arm, looking up at me through something pink and amorphous.
“I love yoga, daddy,” she tells me.
“That's great. How do you feel?”
She actually shuts her eyes.
“Relaxed, “ she replies. Promising.
“Om,” I venture.
“What did you say?”
At this, my two children collapse cackling into one another.
“Bum! Ha ha ha! Bum!”
Not quite samadhi, then, but for today this will do.