President Michael D Higgins has said he and his wife Sabina would like to see yoga taught to school children across Ireland.
The President, who recently turned 80, made the comments while speaking on the Brendan O Connor’s radio show on RTE One.
When asked by O Connor if the presenter simply needed to accept he would never become truly ‘great’ at yoga Higgins replied: “Well it isn’t about that.”
He said “a person who knows so much more about all of these things is my wife Sabina who has been practicing yoga for most of her life” and he said she knows “it isn’t about evaluating your performance… its about gentleness.”
He said: “it isn’t about competition, you are not competing with anything.”
Promising to get back into “the flow” of yoga now that his own practice had lapsed, he said he would like to see more people - especially children - take up the practice.
“I wish, and Sabina would say the same, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were teaching it in schools and teaching it in institutions and [that they were learning about] the great wonderful gentle respectful way that [yoga] is to the human body?”
His own personal instructor, Michael Ryan, has previously spoken about what a good student the President has become over the years.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent in 2018, Ryan said: "At the age he is - he is incredible. Particularly being a man, because a lot of men tend to get tighter and tighter as they get older, but Michael is opening up more and more all the time and becoming more and more supple."
He said, in their hour-long sessions, the President is able to pose for “the downward dog, he can do the chair pose and the tree pose.”
Meanwhile speaking on O Connor’s show about his experience in lockdown, the President said he and Sabina have enjoyed the chance to spend more quality time together.
He said: “We did have time to do quite a lot of reading and we had time to have a lot of conversations as well between the events.”
He also described how the couple were relying mostly on “images” to stay in contact with his granddaughter. He said: “We managed but we missed the family.”
On whether he is looking forward to travelling again, he said: “There is a distinction between travelling and insatiable consumption of sun.”
The President also touched upon how he once shared chicken soup with the late Leonard Cohen, when the singer was touring Ireland.
“What struck me about Leonard very much was the grace of the man,” he explained.
On how their paths crossed he recalled: “Just as I am leaving [his concert], wandering out, I see him there and I just thanked him for the wonderful evening and he asked ‘would you like some soup?’ and I sat there and I had chicken soup with Leonard Cohen, “ he laughed, “I am a great admirer of the man.”
The president said the pair chatted about his lyrics, that night’s performance and he says “there was a discussion about Buddhism.”