Yoga with President Michael D Higgins? This could be your chance

The President’s yoga teacher is leading an online class for charity this weekend

Michael Ryan, who has been teaching President Michael D Higgins for about a decade, is giving an online yoga class to raise money for Childline

Michael Ryan, who has been teaching President Michael D Higgins for about a decade, is giving an online yoga class to raise money for Childline

 

Has the lockdown inspired you to have a go at yoga? Fancy learning the moves from the man who teaches Michael D? Now you can.

Michael Ryan has been teaching President Michael D Higgins yoga for about 10 years, and on Saturday he’ll give an online class, costing only €5, to raise money for Childline.

Here is something I learned from talking to Ryan, a Dubliner, about his most famous client: once you’ve been presented with an image of President Higgins in full downward dog, wearing a grey tracksuit from Penneys, it’s impossible to get it out of your mind.

The President’s weekly yoga session – suspended since the coronavirus lockdown – used to take place at Áras an Uachtaráin. “There was a lot of squatting,” Ryan says, adding the grey-tracksuit information when I press him for more details.

“Squatting is incredibly beneficial for the legs, hips and lower back... It not only strengthens the feet but also improves balance.” With the President he often did “lung work and rib work and side stretching, which creates freedom in the body”.

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired people to try a lot of things they never imagined they would, including yoga. Now there’s a grand stretch in the evenings, it seems more people fancy a stretch. In response, the outdoor-event company Happenings – temporarily known as Gappenings – has organised this series of yoga classes to help the wellbeing of the nation and raise money for charities during the Covid-19 crisis.

Ryan is teaching the second weekly class this Saturday at 11am. He will do it from his garden, wearing just his regular clothes. Most of Ryan’s clients are over 60, and he tends to adapt classical yoga poses to suit them. He doesn’t want people to be intimidated by yoga terminology or complex positions. He believes yoga is for everyone.

“Part of my approach to make this as normal as possible. I am really interested in it being normalised and accessible. It’s really about making it simple and straightforward.”

Ryan is also doing a guided meditation at 8.30am each morning on his YouTube channel. “The stress of this situation has struck us all to some extent. It’s a big shift in how we experience the world. These practices are designed to support wellbeing.”

Does he think Michael D might join the class on Saturday? Could we all, virtually at least, be in with a chance to do yoga with the President of Ireland? “Well, I gave him a call and told him about it, so he has the details.” Fingers – and everything else – crossed.

To join the class at home, you can book a place at gappenings.ie. In return for the €5 fee, which will go directly to Childline, you’ll receive the link to watch the video, either live at 11am on Saturday or at any time you choose after that. Gappenings plans to stream a class by a different yoga teacher each Saturday morning during the coronavirus lockdown

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