I see dead people during my weekly yoga class. Before you dive behind the sofa (with memories of The Sixth Sense movie) please allow me to explain. I don’t mean the ghosts of children past who would have sat in neat rows, writing the alphabet onto small chalk boards in the large Victorian school classroom that now hosts yoga, slimming classes and Women’s Institute meetings.
No, the ghosts I see are of my family. My dead father stands at the doorway; he peers through the crack in the door as I’m in downward dog, or sitting in sukasana (the easy sitting pose, so I’m told, although the deep ache in my groin says anything but easy). I’ve yet to ask anyone else in my class if they see or feel the presence of dead people around them; they’d probably consider me odd. In my case, though, I’m taking it as a positive – yet another awakening that my weekly yoga class has brought into my life. There are many others.
Often my old dog is there with my dad and on a few occasions my grandfather is there too. He was a national boxing champion and a legendary street fighter. I can only imagine what he would say about his grandson doing yoga. I think it’s why I still struggle with the meditation – that’s when the dead really come alive. I cannot empty my mind and be ‘in the moment’ with my dad watching over me. Sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, backs of hands resting on knees, thumb and index finger pinched and chanting ‘Om’ is still something I’m struggling with, with or without deceased family and pets looking on.
I wonder too what the children of this school would think of people today stretching themselves like cats in tracksuit bottoms in their classroom, finding their inner selves. I do also think of them sometimes as I sit cross-legged waiting for the class to begin; all that life stretching ahead of them, all the things they would do. For lots of them, as the village war memorial testifies, their future was brief, cut down on foreign fields before life even got started. Clearly, my mind is wandering more than it should. Still, stretching my chakras, positioning myself in poses I’ve not tried since childhood, is really life-affirming stuff. Maybe it’s that affirmation and illumination that brings the dead to my class.