With an article on it just about every week, The New York Times has virtually become a fanzine for yoga, with a few exceptions, of course. But if this week’s NYT Magazine profile on a yoga-practicing farmer family of six out in rural Alberta, Canada was any indication, the gray lady has found a new niche to rival wedding announcements: The Yoga Family.
Meet the Killicks (as pictured above): Sami, 15; Tobi, 13; Gil, 17; Von, 21; Glenna (mother); Tyler (father). The Killick clan discovered yoga when papa Tyler hurt his back on the job (he’s a plumber) and his client gifted him a 10-day pass to Bikram in West Edmonton. They’ve been hooked ever since, and have even participated in international asana competitions. Really, they are just the average cozy six-knit homeschooling, practicing yoga in the basement, competing in Bikram asana championships, playing music and honing their whistling skills together kind of family. How heartwarming!
It’s also pretty much the most bizarro story about a backwoodsy yoga family straight out of a Wes Anderson film meets The Partridge Family meets Little House on the Prairie we’ve ever read. Or at least that’s how it’s written.
Glenna and Tyler Killick and their four children — Von, 21; Gil, 17; Sami, 15; Tobi, 13 — live off a dirt road in a farmhouse they built themselves. A 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 sits out front, near the cow trough where they all bathed straight through Canadian winters, before they installed indoor plumbing in 2005.
It’s great folks are yoga-ing way out in the middle of the tundra. But something about how this reads is way too much like the premise for a highly entertaining/horrifying reality TV show. Breaking Amish meets Honey Boo Boo meets the Palins? Are you listening TLC?
One rainy day recently, the Killicks drove from the prairie to the studio. Inside, Sami, the family cook (the older boys are trained as plumbers), placed a tin filled with vegan pumpkin muffins in the kitchen to be shared after class. Then she stripped down to a sports bra and hot pants and joined her family in the furnacelike yoga room for the 90-minute class.
Back at home, the kids fanned out in the living room and played music — Sami and Von on guitars, Gil on ukulele, Tobi on a Peruvian box drum. Like an updated Partridge Family, they sang delightful indie-rock covers of “Five Years Time,” by Noah and the Whale, and “Hey Ho,” by the Lumineers. Along with being good at singing and yoga, the Killicks are also excellent whistlers. Von, who last year declared he was moving out of the house but then decided to stay, explained, “We have a lot of time to practice in the winter.”
Of course they’re good whistlers. They’re also probably excellent at fashioning their own yoga props from elk hide and darning socks from muskrat whiskers.
Shortly after the sun set, the Killicks went down to the basement and, on black interlocking mats near a wall of mirrors, worked more advanced yoga poses. Von pressed into a handstand and then folded his legs in lotus. Sami extended one foot behind her and up over her head, until her ankle rested under her chin. Tobi worked on Bowlegged Peacock, balancing his body in a horizontal plank atop his elbows with his knees bent all the way back. The siblings like the intimacy of family yoga. “The facade is gone,” Von says. “Everybody is stripped down to the basics. There’s no real hiding.”
Something tells us being shacked up in the sticks of Canada with your 4 siblings and 2 parents with nothing else to do but your home school homework, whistling and practicing peacock in your basement gets a family pretty close. Until the camera crews show up.
To add to the weirdness, this comment:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this descriptive, well written article about the unique, perfectly toned Killick family and their doings. Bless their hearts, one and all.
Mhm. “Marny.” See you at Bikram Yoga West Edmonton, or the basement. Bless all y’alls hearts!
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