Julie Miller climbs on top of an elephant and strikes a pose. It’s yoga, but not as you know it…

It’s not easy doing the lotus pose on an elephant’s head, particularly when its skull is as massive and lumpy as Ewong’s. As I fold my left leg over the right, I wobble precariously from my two-metre high perch, momentarily fearing an embarrassing fall. But somehow I find a comfortable groove behind Ewong’s ears, and I do my best impression of a legitimate yogi, legs crossed, thumb and forefinger pressed together and a serene look on my face. Yes, I’m doing yoga on the back of an elephant!

The Golden Triangle Anantara’s new Jungle Yoga Experience might sound crazy – combining the resort’s two signature experiences, yoga and its elephant mahout courses – but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Elephants are the most zen of creatures, sweet, funny and rarely in a hurry. Closely associated with eastern religion, they are revered in many countries almost (and in the case of Ganesh, literally) as gods; and their wisdom and depth of emotion is well documented.

They are also,  Anantara’s elephant guru John Roberts tells me, masters of their own breath. At rest, an elephant can breathe as little as four to six times per minute, zoning out like the most disciplined of yogis. Clearly we have a lot to learn from these gentle giants.

But really – yoga on elephants? What on earth were they thinking?

“When we first started discussing the idea of combining the elephant experience with yoga, people thought we were crazy,” my instructor Mint tells me. “But we wanted to create a unique signature experience, something you can’t do anywhere else that really speaks about this place. At first we were just planning to ride the elephants to the yoga sala. But then we decided to include some simple poses on the elephant, just to make it really special.”

The two-hour session starts in the cool of the Anantara’s spa, where a 15 minute breath class familiarises beginners with basic breathing techniques used in Hatha Yoga. Then it’s onto the elephant’s back for a short walk to the Baby Elephant Camp, where a thatched stilt hut has been converted into a charming yoga pavilion, complete with silk drapes, overhead fan, cold towels and burning oils. En route, we are told to continue our breathing exercises, concentrating not so much on staying on our towering mounts, but instead on relaxing, meditation, getting into the zone. Easier said than done; though it must be said, the waddle of an elephant is incredibly soothing, a rhythmic and gentle motion which opens hips, thighs and lower back. Plus it’s fun.

Before dismounting, we attempt a few simple, crossed-leg poses from our elevated perch. Nervous types having their first ride on an elephant may baulk at the challenge; but it’s a great confidence booster, and excellent balance practice. Then its onto the yoga in earnest, with an hour’s gentle instruction ideal for beginners.

It’s certainly one of the more unusual locations for a yoga class. The camp is abuzz with the cluck of chickens, the trumpeting of baby elephants and the munching of bamboo; and every now and then, a waft of elephant poo overpowers the scent of burning lavender oil. But it’s so charming, so quirky, so cute – and not nearly as distracting as you’d expect.

Practice over, we remount our pachyderm steeds for a longer trek back to the hotel – this time, however, I concentrate less on my breath and more on the fun. And as I slide off Ewong’s lumpy head and over her trunk to dismount, she gives a little bow and lowers her massive head to the ground – her own version of a yoga pose. Priceless.