Our 5 year old has a hard time calming-the-fuck-down.
He gets chronically wound up, his eyes glaze over and we know we have lost him to the land of the over excited children.

I have been reading great things about the benefits of yoga for kids. It can help them regain control over their bodies and re-centre themselves. That sounded good to me, so armed with this hopeful and extremely optimistic information, I registered myself and the 5 year old for a parent and child yoga session. It promised to be physical, fun and active. Those things we can do.

My husband strongly advised against it. He actually looked worried when I told him of my plan. He questioned my sanity, but he does that a lot, so I ignored him and forged ahead.

Now there is such a thing as blind ignorance, or maybe wanton disregard for the cold hard facts of life. The truth of the matter is that I have tried yoga many, MANY times before. At this stage in my life I’m more of a yogeezer than yogalicious mama. It’s NEVER relaxing with the kids. I normally end up cranky and a bit sweary. Definitely not the zen experience I want it to be.

I decided professional tuition would be the key.
I was not dissuaded by my previous experiences.
This time would be different.
Insane? Yes.
Deluded? Most definitely.
Desperate? Possibly.

I wore my best leggings – the pair with NO hole in the crotch. I sprayed us both with lavender oil and we headed off to be at one with our bond.

The beautiful yoga studio was warm, sunlit and scented with the earnest chants of previous astral hopefuls. There were mats radiating out from a central point. On each mat sat a serene parent and child….The first thing I noticed was how unruffled the other mums looked and how quiet the kids were. They sat in a cloud of stillness.

Serene is not a facial expression my features naturally fold into. The kids have trained me for high speed, reactive situations. Tense and jittery I can do. Our cloud is active and electrical in nature.

The class started. The teacher dinged a little bell to let us know that it was show time.

She talked.
A lot.
In hushed tones and with earnest bliss on her face.
There was some interaction.
Something about birds… honestly my Dutch wasn’t up to the challenge.
The 5 year old had started to roll himself up in the yoga mat and make a cocoon.
We needed the class to kick off a bit more.

We did some stretching. That went well.
Some exuberant sun salutations followed. We were side by side, mirroring each others’ poses.

I self-righteously congratulated myself on how yoga was indeed key.
I was right to trust my instincts.
I was a whole bundle of happy smuggy-smug-smugness and joy.

Get it while you can mama.
We had peaked.
We should have quit while we were ahead and left then. I would have had ‘yoga fever’ forever.
But no. We stayed.
Things started to go downhill.

I had to massage him. He declined. He isn’t into touching. Unless it’s him crashing into me. And then he is all about it. We watched the other kids get massaged.

Then he had to massage me. It was less than relaxing. Especially the creepy, heavy-breathing sounds he was making in my ear. All around me the blissed out mothers were in paradise, as their smalls lovingly stroked their backs. The 5 year old poked and patted me a bit, then vigorously rubbed my head, until I had massive sex hair on one side.

I sat up and thanked him as genuinely as I could muster with alarming, asymmetrical poofy hair and then we just watched everyone else. I tried to look nonchalantly like we were zen in our commitment to sitting. Me with the insane hair do, him dredging his nostrils and bum shuffling around me.

There was a brief meditation where we had to sit and close our eyes and hum. A little boy next to us was folded up in his mother’s arms, humming and chanting as if he was born in an ashram.

I don’t know how it happened but one minute we were sitting cross legged doing some humming. The next, the 5 year old had made yoga boy cry.

I think that he had flicked his legs out of his sitting position. Then tried to do one of his complicated-whirling-cartwheels, before he lost balance at a crucial moment and kicked the little fella.

Maybe it was an accident.
Maybe the zen like state irked him.
Who knows?

There were hushed apologies.
I started nerve sweating.

I’d reached the point where I knew we needed to leave, but my anxiety had kicked in and I was stuck, frozen in horror to watch the spiraling show-reel of humiliation unfold itself.

The teacher gave us bean bag balls. We had to do the plow pose, where we were to fling our legs over our heads. The kids were supposed to balance the balls on our toes. It was to build a trust bond.

He went first. He was surprisingly bendy.

I lay down. And kicked my legs over my head. My toes were guided to the floor by my little guy. He met resistance as my wrecked, aged body refused to fully touch ground on the other side. It was massively uncomfortable.

I suggested that was as far as I went. He is not one to give up without effort. He pushed down with enthusiasm.  My butt made alarming fart noises. He hooted with joy. Realising it needed more force, he hopped up on my legs and then sat on my feet, to anchor me to the ground.

He is solidly built.

I folded like a human deckchair.

Sweet holy mother of Jaysus.
The pain in my body radiated from my neck, along my spine. My hamstrings felt like they were screaming a high C.
I was unable to breathe.
I was crunched so hard into my stomach that I could feel my head beginning to pulse purple.

I felt like a combination of throwing up and passing out.
I called for help.
I shouted stop.
My voice was muffled by his knees.
I started croaking.

The teacher floated over and gently tried to encourage him off me. He panicked and clung on. Eventually I rolled to the side, slid him to the yoga mat and rescued my legs.

I was done.
He was lost.
It was too much.

The shock of the pain had unfrozen my anxious state and I grabbed his hand and left the class. Outside we hugged. And agreed to never go back.
We connected in a stilled point of shared experience.
I met his spacey, green eyed stare with love.
And called for Dada to come rescue us.

While we waited for, he showed me a new brand of yoga moves he had invented. He was thrilled with the undivided attention and glowed under my murmured accolades.
I steadily breathed into the muscle spasms and stilled my trembling limbs.

I cried for the yoga-us we wouldn’t be. And for yet another failed attempt to help my boy.

And then
on the edge of the pavement
watching him handstand and flip, glancing up at me for admiration,
I realised that yoga had indeed strengthened our bond AND got us in touch with our bodies…but not as I had expected it to.  


I was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met my Cornish husband in Catalonia. We lived in the Netherlands with our two differently wired kids before all moving to Yorkshire. I spend my days parenting, writing and being amazed at all that Sheffield has to offer.

3 Comment on “The yoga class

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