The Day I Was Barred from Bikram Yoga. ~ Nick Evans

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on Dec 5, 2012
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Source: via Deborah on Pinterest

Yoga is good for you.

Yoga induces an inner peace and calm. Yoga is a form of meditation. Yoga can de-stress and deliver many healing properties. It is a spiritual practice. An inner journey of balance and peace. It can restore the equilibrium in today’s consumerist busy world. Gurus have been teaching it for 1000’s of years. It is one of life’s organic cleanser’s for the mind, body and soul.

With this in mind I thought I’d write about the day I was barred from Bikram Yoga. This is a guide how not to do Yoga.

A little bit of background first as to how I came by yoga: I used to be known as ‘Angry Nick.’ Never shy of venting my spleen and pointing out the truth. Patience and tolerance have never been my strong point. It’s a family gene—my father was fond of bombarding various DIY projects with industrial expletives. ‘Assholes’ being his favoured term.

He was also very keen on arguing to himself with imaginary enemies, which always ended in the term ‘fucking w****s’. It’s in my genes, see. That inverted arrogance and confrontation is something that courses through my veins. I have no time for perceived injustices, no matter how small. In fact the smaller and more pathetic the better sometimes. I was obviously absent on the day they taught, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” at school.

I’m calmer these days. Why? Well sobriety certainly helps. I used to get hacked off with something that bothered me, drink heavily and explode into a frustrated monster at the drop of a hat. I was a loose cannon.

These days I still get frustrated, impatient and intolerant about some things but now I have a different set of tools to deal with it. It’s called recovery and it teaches me that I am the problem not everyone else. Plus of course, I’m older though not necessarily wiser. Yet.

The more sober I get the less angry I am, the more faith I have the less angry I get. When I first stopped drinking I was furious. My ‘go to’ method of dealing with frustrations had gone so I was left with me. I was fuming.

In early sobriety I was kicked off buses for having a pop at the driver and barred from Marks & Spencer. I purposefully dropped a yogurt and pint of milk on the foot of a security guard when he refused me service due to my not having a top on after running in the sun for an hour, even though I had been queuing for 15 minutes and was next in line to be served. I looked him straight in the eye and said ‘whoops.’

I was a nightmare.

Someone suggested I should try Bikram yoga (it was a well known model) as it would help with my anger. If the truth be known my motives for going were not wholey spiritual or indeed to work on my anger. It was more to work on her (which sadly never happened).

I did actually get into it and enjoyed it and became a regular from 2006, though my flashes of anger were still a problem and reasonably frequent.

This was plainly obvious in 2007, when I surpassed all my previous pits of ridiculous fury when I was barred from a Bikram yoga class and in a studio in London. Yes, you really did read that correctly: I was barred from yoga in the middle of the class for arguing. Show me a man who is barred from yoga for arguing and I’ll show you a man who has anger issues.

It was my rock bottom.

Buddhist Hulk

I’m not a natural yogi—it requires patience and inner peace. Hence, why I struggle. But Bikram is heated. You sweat. I love the heat and its 70 percent females in skimpy swimwear. I took to it immediately.

Bikram yoga is looked down on by other forms of yoga as too physical, self absorbed and materialistic. It is 90 minutes of 26 postures in a heated room of nearly 100 degrees. I think of it like a mini holiday and it flushes out the system. It makes me feel cleaner and purer as I put so much crap in my body (diet cola, cigarettes, processed, buttered meat).

I’m not really sold on the spiritual side of it, as it’s very expensive and Bikram is an ego maniac multi-billionaire. Good luck to him but money and ego don’t have any relationship to spirituality in my book. I take it all with a pinch of salt and just get on with it as a relaxing health flusher.

Lots of people go on like little Bikram disciples but I put them in the same category as born again Christian,s except these are born again Bikrams. People who do things under the radar for no money are the true Gurus in my opinion—a fleet of cars and an international brand does not make you a spiritual God.

I practiced at the Fulham studio in London, which is great. Super chilled, really relaxed and you weren’t given a hard time by the teachers to get every posture 100% right. Professional but relaxed. Just how I like it.

So when a studio opened near where worked and lived. I thought: ‘Nice one, what a result.’

The only downside was the owner. A militant, intense Hitler-style teacher. Non-smiling, cold, unfriendly and hell bent on rules. He ran the studio like a yoga equivalent of Colditz:

No water in class. No shoes. No talking. No smiling. No laughing. No fun. Do all postures properly otherwise you get sent to solitary confinement for 21 days.

It was harsh and not really for me.

I dipped in and out and we immediately struck up a mutual relationship based on hatred of each other. Even his wife was a female version of him (except she had a whiny American nasal accent—the sort of voice that made you want to scream. If they could make rape alarms out of that voice it would reduce sex crimes by 50 percent).

On this particular week, I’d had the man-flu; a really nasty bout, that in my mind should have been treated with intensive care and 24 hour team of nurses bringing me tomato soup and boiled egg and soldiers, rubbing my brow and saying “Ooohhh, you poor little thing! Who’s a brave little soldier.” I was in a bad way—it was almost terminal.

I reached Saturday feeling weak, so a nice gentle afternoon sweat in Bikram would aid my recovery. I went with a girl I was trying to woo into becoming my girlfriend (remarkably she did and became a Bikram teacher) and there were three other people in class who I’d recommended to the studio. I was doing the owner a good turn and my bit for local new business. Being a good citizen.

NIck Evans Photo

The class was three in the afternoon. I set up on the second row in my ridiculous tight Speedos and settled behind a big guy so I could hide from the teacher and not get picked on. I wanted a chilled 90 minutes. Maybe even a little snooze, if I was lucky.

The teacher was a Gestapo owner. The class went okay for 30 minutes, until we got to position number eight ‘hands in prayer,’ which involved bending forward putting your hands in prayer and extended in front of you touching the floor. In Fulham ,they weren’t fussy about putting your hands in prayer, however in this studio, failure to do so was treated as a flogging offense and more serious than treason.

I was feeling weak, so I didn’t put my hands in prayer and what followed is the oddest five minutes of my yoga career:

 Owner: “Put your hands in prayer Nick.”

Me: (Glancing round room to see 50 percent of the people didn’t have their hands in prayer and ignored him.)

Owner: “…and change, other side.”

Me : (Didn’t put my hands in prayer.)

Owner: “Nick can you please put your hands in prayer?”

Me: (Ignored him.)

Owner: “Nick, put your hands in prayer please.”

Me: (Ignored him.)

Owner: “Nick, that is not the correct posture. Put your hands in prayer. We do all postures properly in this studio.”

Me : (I had my face down in a position at this point. Ignored him.)

Owner: “…and change second set.”

Me: (I’m not going to put my hands in prayer now just to wind the little Hitler up.)

Owner: “Nick, I have told you put your hands in prayer and do the posture properly, or not at all.”

Me: (In position) “J****y (I will not print his name) Leave me alone—I’m just here for a relaxing class.”

Owner: “It is my class and studio and I demand everyone does the correct postures here, so put your hands in prayer.”

Me: (Fuming now) “Listen, I’ve had flu all week and I’ve only come here to chill out. Leave me be.”

Owner : “…and change other side.”

Me: (Yes, you’ve guessed it: hands a part, definitely not in prayer.)

Owner: “Nick, if you’re not going to do it properly don’t do it at all.”

Me: “Can’t you pick on someone else?”

Owner: “This is my studio. I am the teacher. If you will not listen to me, there is no point in you being here.”

Me: “I haven’t paid £16 to be talked to like a kid. I’ve brought three people here and I just want a quiet class. Just chill and leave me alone.”

Owner: “Well, I’d rather not teach you, if you’re not going to listen or try to do it.”

Me: “Are you asking me to leave?”

Owner : “Yes, it’s best you are not here. I will not teach you. I am the teacher. It’s my studio.”

Me: “I paid £16 for this shit, who the fuck are you to talk to me like that. You’ve picked on me all day and half these people are doing it the same as me. You’re totally out of order. What is this? A militant yoga retreat?”

Owner : “I think you should leave and not come back. This is for true yogis.”

Me : “Tell you what you can stick your yoga up your fucking asshole.”

That is when I stormed out of class, leaving everyone in the tree position, looking embarrassingly at the floor. Not the ideal yoga class, I must admit.

Yoga is supposed to make you peaceful, calm and relaxed. I was shaking with indignation and anger. Not the effect I was hoping from yoga. I angrily showered and changed, all the time continuing the argument in my head. I had to win, to get the final word. (Why do I always need the final word? Quit when you’re behind, Nicholas.)

On the way out I poked my head in the studio, however before I could fire off a volley, a girl at the back of the studio who looked close to tears turned around and shrieked, “Just leave.” I left, not quite believing what had happened.

I sat down at a cafe had a cup of tea and immediately rang my sponsor from the recovery fellowship I attend. My first words to him were: “I’ve just been barred from a yoga class.” It was an awkward conversation; he didn’t quite know what to say to me. There are no words of advice from this kind of statement. It is not every day something like this comes up.

And what of the girl I was trying to woo? She’s never going to want to go out with me now? I’ve just had an argument in a yoga class in front of 30 people and told the owner to stick his yoga up his ass. Surely I’ve blown it?

Luckily, I didn’t. It was all cool afterwards and in time she learned to laugh about it, though it took her about two years.

Obviously, I never went back to the studio as I was serving a life ban, however I occasionally saw the owner around town. I was always tempted to assume the ‘awkward’ position but never did. I regret that now.

I returned back to the womb of my ‘home studio,’ Fulham, which I loved and word got round. People seemed to find it amusing. Apparently, the owner has got a bit of a reputation and I think other owners were secretly glad it happened.

However, it’s all coconut water under the bridge now (best line on this website) but it showed me at the time I had serious anger issues.

I have worked hard on my anger and I know I’m getting better, as I haven’t been barred from yoga in the last five years. I’m improving all the time. In hindsight, I should have just put my hands in prayer and saved all the hassle.

I should have let it go, but my ego and defiance took over. When that happens, I’m on a collision course against the world.

I’m sure lots of people get annoyed and angry during yoga or exercise. How many of you have felt intimidated by people who look amazing at it and know what they are doing? You feel like a dumpy little dunce next to them and the old inferiority complex takes over.

What if you can’t do something properly? You get annoyed and frustrated. What if the instructor or teacher annoys you? They either talk too much or not at all. They may pick on you, you may hate their voice or you might be having a really bad day. A yoga class sometimes brings it out, acting as a microcosm of your emotions. Or you may just be a bit touchy like me!

They say yoga induces emotions and feelings.

Well, anger is a feeling. If you’re feeling it, how can you let it out safely? It gnaws away at you turning you into a miserable tetchy soul. Sometimes you meet people and they just rub you up the wrong way, releasing all your defects.

It’s a shame that happened in a yoga studio full of 35 people. Mine was a very public expression of anger, of childish petulance. I’m not proud it happened but back then, I was emotionally immature. Today, after much work, I think I have now achieved the emotionally maturity of a teenager—I’m definitely improving.

The owner maybe a grumpy and cold human being. He may have pocketed £16 and talked down to me like I was a child. He may have been having a bad day. One thing is for sure, I certainly made it a whole heap worse.

I haven’t yet made amends, as part of me still feels justified and ever so slightly heroic. Such is the nature of my sad little head and ego—male pride, see.

What is the moral of the tale? Put your hands in prayer. Follow instruction no matter what and don’t practice yoga the Nick Evans way.


Was I right or wrong readers? I need your moral judgment on this one. It’s the only way I learn.


I am a 40 year old recovering alcoholic. Eleven years sober and living in London. I am single, don’t have any kids, mortgage but i do have a bag full of life experience. I am a double ironman triathlete, 6 time marathon runner, Part time personal trainer. I have changed radically from an overweight lager swilling drinker to a slim camommile swilling man. I still have a negative head though and my challenge is to not listen to it. Apparently having just turned 40 I am now grown up. I run a monthly comedy club and am passionate about making bad situations funny, open in talking about them and helping people grow and change. I am committed to helping people affected by alcoholism, addiction, obesity, mental health problems—oh and apparently I look like David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay. Hope you enjoy my articles and you can follow my daily blog clicking here.


Editor: Edith Lazenby

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47 Responses to “The Day I Was Barred from Bikram Yoga. ~ Nick Evans”

  1. Edward Staskus says:

    It is amazing that a yoga teacher would be so confrontational and try to impose his will to the extent you describe. I know I would not have liked it.

  2. mizboognish says:

    Thanks, this made my day. I got deconstructed the other day in a class. Some days we just wear a target.

  3. Guest says:

    You certainly express your anger very completely. I hope this piece helped you to vent your anger and get over it. I think it would be interesting to hear the story from the perspective of the other people involved. Sometimes anger does not allow us to feel empathy for other people; to put ourselves in their shoes in other words. I think it would be interesting to hear the perspective of the teacher and the other students, just for balance.

  4. Rachael says:

    Hilarious…thanks for sharing. In my first Bikrim class I was taking a mini-savasana and the girl next to me started to cry. The teacher said she wasn't allowed to leave the room. I stared at the ceiling and thought I was in the Yoga Twilight Zone. I dabble in Bikrim once in a while just because the personalities you find are very entertaining. I took a few classes in Germany and interestingly enough, the teachers were very calm and mellow. They even opened the windows at the end.

  5. Sasha says:

    That’s so great and so real. There are far too many fuckwits in all walks of life and I think you did him a great service. I too am a little angry at times and struggle with not holding my tongue… C’est la vie. You’re only saying what the person next to wants to anyway. Yes, unhinged but definitely a little heroic. Not enough speaking out/up. I needed a laugh today so thanks for sharing.

  6. Talita says:

    I think you look really hot, Nick. Too bad that you are hot headed. I am from a dysfunctional neurotic family of yellers and I totally get the “going to yoga to relax” attitude. It’s what I do too, to try to wash the genes out of my system. The teacher should have been the more mature one (since you weren’t) and should have let you be. Unless there was a specific warning pre-class about his expectations from the students. Yoga should make you a better human being and an experienced yogi – a teacher, should know better than to get into an argument with a student in the middle of a class. Good luck in finding inner peace.

  7. di fly says:

    well i suppose i have anger issues too. but i find when i am in my world of practicing yoga and medittion it is best for other to remail in theirs. i have found teachers to be offensive and caddy. when you appear to do the work why is they feel the need to belittle. we cannot judge all people to be the same. do i would have supported you.

  8. Snowcrane says:

    Nick, I think you did the right thing walking out. I think it is important to note that there is more here then just the yoga class it sounds like you might need to embrace a different type of yogic practice. I also think it would be valuable to look into learning more about the sister science of yoga, called ayurveda. In understanding ayurveda you might learn more about your constitution called in Sanskrit "dosha" learning how to use yoga and ayurveda to balance your life and your anger (pitta) or fiery, passionate nature might alleviate your discomfort.
    We are all humans and we all have things to work on. Keep up the self-healing work, I think being able to talk about it is part of the healing process.
    Good luck on your journey.

  9. jenbarnaby says:

    Sounds to me like you're still an arrogant prick (best line in this comments section).

  10. Lauren says:

    A good teacher, no matter the discipline, will be flexible according to student needs and teach to the student, not to the teacher's ideal. That guy was a power-tripping egomaniac, it sounds like. Of course, there are always two sides to every story.

  11. Sonya says:

    Hey, it's not like you were in handstand! Making such a big deal out of hand position seems aggressive to me. Especially when you explained you'd been ill. I think you started off with great restraint. Sure, you came unglued at the end. I think…and I don't know….that it may have been his goal. Lighten up on yourself. It's all good!

  12. Ken says:

    You were wrong, so what, we're all wrong some of the time. It's just another guru.

  13. H. Harris says:

    The instructor was a bully- You're doing a good job with your self reflection, sobriety and actions. I felt some vicarious satisfaction that you dished it out right back at him. If no one ever confronts a bully, they just get worse. Kudos!

    (and BTW to JENBARNABY- no need for nasty name calling. Didn't your mama ever tell you if you can't say something
    nice about somebody, to not say anything at all? sheesh-)

  14. Rebecca says:

    Bikram yoga is kinda fucked. I'd rebel against them too if they tried to tell me what to do. Then again, I 'spose part of yoga is learning to it with what makes you uncomfortable. But you can learn that in a regular yoga class. I'm kinda glad you put that powertripping jackass in his place. Oops – did I just say that about a yoga teacher? Clearly my own "don't nobody tell me what to do" issues are coloring my response.

    To put it simply – good on you for taking a stand for yourself.

  15. chelsea says:

    I love the heat and intensity of Bikram yoga, however the militant teaching style coupled with a superficial Namaste at the end of class is repulsive to me.

    I was not banned from Bikram but my final class class involved a similar run-in with a teacher. At the time, I practiced Bikram yoga 3-4 times a week and had been visiting the same studio for a year or so. One day, I had to use the restroom during the transition from standing to floor series. As I walked towards the door the teacher, who was on a microphone, asked why I was leaving and demanded that I stay. When I said that I would be back quickly, he then made a embarrassing statement about me to the entire class.

    That instance was the breaking point for me. The studio already had a negative atmosphere that was fostered by the owners overbearing managing style. I was willing to overlook the studio atmosphere until it began to influence the teachers. Now I practice vinyasa flow in a heated room and the practice is much more enjoyable. I do occasionally miss those intense Bikram classes though…

  16. Elemental says:

    I don’t practice yoga. I train in martial arts (a traditional style of temple kung fu). But I think there’s enough similarity here for me to offer my perspective.

    My Sifu is very particular and very demanding in terms of how we do things. He’s not just teaching martial arts, he’s training us to become masters of our art and to teach others in the future. So strong critique of the most minute details (or lack of minute details) is not uncommon.

    That said, if somebody is injured, or not feeling well, all they have to do is communicate that to Sifu, and he cuts them some slack and tells them to take it easy in class. In my opinion, this is what the yoga instructor should have done once you explained that you were not feeling well. He is at fault for not backing off.

    On the other hand, instead of immediately communicating your condition to him, you spent a considerable amount of effort ignoring him. You are at fault for ignoring him and attempting to wind him up.

    In my school, if a student chose to ignore Sifu’s instruction, or otherwise not even bother to try, Sifu would give up on that student. He would still allow the student to attend class, but he would no longer bother to teach that student. I know how this works, because he has already stopped teaching one student who doesn’t listen and is prone to in-class outbursts. Whatever she does during practice, he ignores, no matter how ridiculous her mistakes. Teaching takes two people, and if the student isn’t even trying to learn, why should the teacher bother—especially when he has other students who are trying to learn?

    Oh, but she pays tuition, so he has to teach her, in exactly the way she wants to be taught. Well, that is definitely her attitude. The problem is, the teacher-student relationship is not a consumer commodity that, once purchased, puts the student in a “the customer is always right” position of power over the teacher. The student doesn’t decide what is taught, or when—the Sifu does. And if the Sifu decides to treat class time as time spent at the gym for that particular student, that is the Sifu’s prerogative.

    When you say “I paid £16…” you are indicating the same belief, that paying tuition entitles you to treat the class like a consumer commodity that you now own. I think this perspective is mistaken. But there is a bit of a difference here between yoga and martial arts. You are able to attend class on a drop-in fee-per-class basis. We could never do that. We don’t have drop-in classes on a fee-per-class basis. We are either Sifu’s student, or we don’t attend class.

    And part of being a Sifu’s student means having some respect for Sifu. This doesn’t mean that a Sifu has fascist-like authority, as your yoga instructor seemed to crave, but it does mean that a Sifu is entitled to treated with some respect. An outburst like yours would not be tolerated, not only by Sifu, but by the other students. (keeping in mind that Sifu would never have treated you like that in the first place). A Sifu is not just a “teacher,” or a “coach” or a “trainer.” In Chinese, “Sifu” means “father-teacher.” A Sifu is a relationship, not a commodity. When you walk through that door, you accept that relationship. And if you don’t accept that, don’t walk through that door. (And yes, one student in my class has had outbursts, although not like yours. If it wasn’t for Sifu telling us to let him deal with her, several of us would have already told her to leave and not return).

    All that said, I think there are extenuating circumstances that, if not justifying your angry outburst, at least excuse it: Despite having told the instructor that you weren’t feeling well (although you were trying to wind him up at first), he ignored that and continued to ride you. His behavior was inexcusable, but given your physical condition, your reaction to his behavior was understandable.

  17. Laura says:

    I don't get it. But then maybe I'm of a similar temperment to yourself. I think the teacher was out of line. It would have been one thing to correct you if he thought you were making a mistake, and offer guidance to properly position yourself, but to become so forceful and demand that you follow orders was not a respectful or mature way to handle the situation. If the studio really observes a 'properly or the highway' attitude then the teacher should have thoughtfully corrected you and offered you the chance to modify your position, and when you didn't he should have left the issue alone. He could have then approached you after the class and explained that if you wish to participate in classes at that studio that you must do the poses properly, no exceptions. Okay, fine, maybe you shouldn't have snapped at the end (but really I don't feel that way), but he also should not have tried to force his will on you. That kind of crap is what we are exposed to in enough forums in the outside world where we really don't have much choice a lot of times. We know it's wrong, it's not mature, it's not respectful, it's demeaning, and it's about power, it doesn't have a place in a yoga studio (or anywhere really, but that's a battle that's being fought by many the world over). I feel that in this case the teacher created the intense, power-struggle, disruptive atmosphere that you reacted to, he was equally to blame if not more. I really don't understand how people are coming down on you. Are they doing it because they think you should have taken the high road, or because they actually don't think the teacher was out of line?

  18. Anger is not your defect. It just is what it is. We all have anger and and other emotions we may deem as defects, but they are but clouds momentarily (or longer depending on what you do with it) blocking out the sun. Yes, it is great to reflect and see how our emotions and actions affect ourselves and those around us, but they are not something that we need to 'rid' ourselves of or even change. Changing our relationship to our emotions and our expression of them is key. After reading about how Bikram treats his students, your story doesn't surprise me. As a yoga teacher and former drug and alcohol therapist, listen to what you need! And maybe dable in some other forms of yoga. I have found that Vinyasa, like running, only makes me more on edge and agitated if I already am. Good luck to you! Love the honesty of your writing. Cheers!

  19. Dawn says:

    sorry…that is not is sauna sports.

  20. Morgan says:

    Nick, I have to say I agree with you. I get so riled up by overbearing, forcefully assertive instructors. I've had instructors do their best to discreetly call me out for taking a pose too far (though it isn't too discreet, as I'm usually the only one doing it). One instructor who I particularly despised said "How you are on your mat is a reflection of how you are in life. Humble yourself on your mat and you'll humble yourself in life." While I completely agree with this sentiment, I don't think it applies in situations where a student is simply taking a more advanced variation because the modified version isn't enough anymore. While I have never taken your approach, I have certainly become angry. I will do it their way to appease them, but grumble and give annoyed looks the whole time. Frankly, this ruins a class for me, as I then lose motivation to push myself and am more focused on getting out of the room ASAP. As an instructor myself, I have learned about taking charge of a room and keeping students with you. Yet, as a student I have experienced many instructors who do this with snarky comments said in a very annoyed tone. I prefer an instructor who offers a pose, a variation, and a modification, assuming that if an individual does not take the pose in a certain way it is because they are listening to their own body! It is good to hear that you're working on your anger and sticking with recovery. Perhaps approach an overbearing instructor after class and let them know your concerns. Perhaps ask about their reasoning? I have dealt with these people by simply NEVER returning to their class. I figure I'm voting with my dollar, right?

  21. Nick Evans says:

    Thanks for all your comments guys. Enlightening

  22. Liv says:

    Hahaha…thank you for sharing, this is fantastic!
    The greatest is that you've reflected and learnt from this experience. One of the best things I've learnt from Bikram yoga is 'just let it go.' The studio I go to teaches us that the most important thing is turning up to class, just as you did, and if you can't do the postures, 'just breathe' and 'let it go'….as in life some challenges we face, the best thing to do is just breathe and let it go;) Namaste!

  23. Jenifer says:

    In my point of view, you provided an awesome opportunity of grace for yourself, the teacher, all of the other students, and the whole yoga community.

    I had a similar experience as a teacher. I was being pedantic and dogmatic about a posture. Over several weeks, I was becoming more and more extreme. And at one moment, one student just stopped and started yelling at me.

    It was a real eye-opening experience. I walked away from it thinking — ok, what really went wrong here?

    What really went wrong is that I had become overly pedantic and was effectively torturing my students because of my own hurt.

    At the time, I'd come out of a studio that was very negative. At the end, I was fired, students and teachers were told that they were not to talk to me or I would get kicked out (which, thankfully, one of my former friends told me because she felt that rather than ignoring me, she would answer my email with "I'm not allowed to talk to you", and she CC'd the studio owner in the email, so I stopped contacting everyone), and the studio owner would call and harass me about being unyogic for continuing to work in the region. I went from 3 years of friends, a place to practice, a real community, lots of fun to Saturday morning (I was fired on Friday), where no one was allowed to have any contact with me. It was painful.

    And out of this — unconsciously — I clung to the one thing that I knew I was "right" about, alignment, and I tortured my students with it.

    And it was wrong.

    The next week, I went back to class. The students — graciously — were there. I apologized to them. I explained what was happening — my emotion was transferring into class, and that was wrong. I was teaching from transference, and that was wrong. They were there for yoga, for their own reasons, and not there for *me* and whatever *my* reasons or needs are.

    It didn't matter what they paid or to whom. I was wrong.

    The interesting thing was, the student also apologized (the one who got very angry). I told him that his anger woke me from a bad dream. I was finally able to confront the hurt that I had felt, and I could work on it outside of the classroom.

    I realized that people do yoga for their own reasons. I'd always known that, unconsciously, but now I understood it deeply. I understood my place — to transmit yoga to those who want it, free and clear of all of my crap — and to serve the needs and desires of the students in their process. That the practice is theirs, transmitted through me, not mine to choose to whom to give it and how it must be given to them.

    What I also see as really powerful in your story is that you saw this as a dynamic opportunity for change and self reflection. Knowing that you are 'hot headed,' you could see here how this is expressed, in an area where you wouldn't have expected such a thing to arise. You were able to "observe' the whole process — seeing how the anger worked. And, you have been able to work out — or being to work out — how it all works and perhaps how to "undo" it all.

    And that is "real yoga" in my opinion. The postures, the classes even, are a doorway to this deep inner work.

  24. MatBoy says:

    My wife and I recently were asked not to come back to the yoga studio we had been practicing in for the previous 18 months. We are ardent students with strong practices and we have done yoga around the world. No class at the studio was too difficult for us but more importantly we were very supportive members of our studio community.

    Although being asked to leave came as a bit of a shock, both to us and to our fellow yogis, we knew that the studio owner had serious emotional troubles of her own. We had started to hear stories of other, more advance, practitioners who had also been asked to leave, usually after the exchanging harsh words with the owner.

    The studio owner wanted something out of her studio, we wanted something else. She was not a very inclusive type but instead wanted to dominate the community, to be seen as somehow elevated or more advanced and this was not happening with us. After all, it's just yoga! Our personality types and attitude towards life and the people we come in contact with differed greatly and leaving has removed an unnecessary source of tension from the studio and from our practices. An interesting experience but not at all significant in our lives.

  25. Ken Finberg says:

    The interesting thing about Your question " was I right or wrong morally " was that You were both : right + wrong. I think what was problematic for You was that Your emotions got the best of You , escalating the situation into a lose-lose situation. I was rooting for You not only to learn something from this situation , but to teach that arrogant yoga teacher-asshole something about humility himself—–Never ask leading questions : Are You asking Me to leave?…You need not have given Him that satisfaction. I would have preferred He had to do the dirty work' It would have been nice to see Him do some sweating ! This scenario could have been more of a learning experience for Your yoga instructor if You could have seen past the heat-of-the-moment. I did not mind You being a petulent child You could have played dumb a little longer so I could have seen your instructor squirm a little. Namaste.

  26. Jenifer says:

    "The studio owner wanted something out of her studio. . ."

    I think that for many studio owners, this is true. It's probably even true of me. Perhaps I delude myself that I truly want what is best for my students. 😉 I'm definitely going to consider this question *much* more deeply now that you have posited it this way.

    And, it also helps me contextualize a lot of my own experience with several studios over the years. I've wondered why I wasn't welcome (as a client or to teach), or even when I was welcome, I was passively-aggressively treated. I think that recognizing that the studio was fulfilling some sort of need for the teacher means something. . . or fits into this puzzle.

    I hope you found a place where your advanced practice and support was . . . well included and supported!

  27. Vision_Quest2 says:


  28. Vision_Quest2 says:

    That is unacceptable, imho. I no longer go to that studio (not a Bikram studio, but a Jivamukti wannabe at that time).

  29. Vision_Quest2 says:

    There are times of self-preservation, when empathy is overrated. Altruism is not possible during such times of self-preservation. Charity begins at home, as it were.

  30. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Problem with some yoga teachers reminds me of the old saying: "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

  31. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I don't care how advanced a student is. There may sometimes be an "oops" /// Own your own preferences and predilections. This isn't ancient days of guru worship. And, as I have always said, "as long as worldly emoluments are changing hands …" the student is a consumer first …

    [Getting very tired of saying it …]

  32. Vision_Quest2 says:

    What I am afraid of is the latter. People really are like sheep. And it took me nearly fifty years to come to this realization

  33. Vision_Quest2 says:

    In adjustment-happy styles of yoga, the way that Sifu/teacher paved his retreat from the "student who did not want to learn", would have been a welcome paradise to me. At least at the time I had gone to a studio, if not forever. But then again, this frequent, primarily home yoga practitioner had not gone to expensive yoga classes frequently–though I did attend over a number of years. Now, for those somewhat frequent times I need a teacher (other than myself) I just do a download or video.

    So, the Sifu could have been cutting off his nose to spite his face.

  34. Vision_Quest2 says:

    I really like this woman's take:

  35. […] The Day I Was Barred from Bikram Yoga. ~ Nick Evans ( Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  36. Brad says:

    Silence. You get back what you put out there. You sound like an intelligent person that is trying to receive what you didn't get as a kid namely attention. A friend of mine who was an alcoholic and ex dancer that used to constantly get into fist fights after drinking used to tell me, "violence is the last resort of the incompetent!" I find it's much more powerful to use silence in the face of confrontation unless you have to physically defend yourself. We are never in the right when we hurt anyone through thought, deed or action. Everything we do is left out in the universe so it's wise to choose the path of love, drink your tea and chill dude!

  37. Anna says:

    let me guess- the Richmond studio?

  38. Vision_Quest2 says:

    He's from the U.K., not Virginia (U.S.) …

    That major yoga studio disease has already "crossed the pond" …

  39. HeatherM says:

    My opinion… doesn't sound like the teacher is really ready to teach. As a teacher one of the greatest challenges is to accept people how they show up and teach accordingly. I consider this a gift and a sixth-sense.

    I also feel and as you have stated that you were not ready to learn.

    That said, as a teacher forcing never works. One cannot force anyone and as soon as you feel yourself saying, 'I'm a teacher, this is my school'….., I believe true strength and power is already lost.

    We don't live in the guru age….so in a different context….re: India this may have been suitable from the teacher. Because you can come back tomorrow and get all sorted out. In the West, students come perhaps 1-2 times per week and that is not enough to build a strong transformational relationship. And like you said you were not looking for that either.

    You were right and wrong. Same with the teacher. I've looked back at many situations with a student…and realized I could have done better and 9 times out of 10…I was the one who needed to adjust. But not when it comes to my knowledge of yoga or hours of practice. I am talking about adjusting to the way different people learn, personalities, goals, needs and where the student is at. But it is a 2-way street. Most people fail to remember this. Teaching is an exchange and the brew that gets made out of it comes from 2 different parties. A teacher, however, cannot continually adjust if the student will not also do their homework.

    Teaching yoga is extremely difficult and your experience highlights this very well. That is why when it comes right down to it…most teacher's don't have the maturity to act accordingly and end up playing off of the student's reactions.

    However, not doing so requires a lot of experience and patience.


  40. […] The Day I Was Barred from Bikram Yoga. ~ Nick Evans […]

  41. ckdozi says: you get the shvitz and a gentle effective kind to you and yourself yoga practice.

    You said it quite well. He had tude you had tude and you danced. And, you are aware allowing it to shift how it occurs. Person bugs us most best teacher.

    The cusp of Next level life. Is beyond all this emotional stuff. When we go beyond that then who do we get to be and create for humanity.

  42. […] Bikram yogis can be some of the most fiercely fiery folks out there. However, Bikram’s intentions appear to be focused on appearances; Bikram sings that if the goal is to have Madonna’s arms and a six pack, look no farther than his heated studios and sequences. Forget the chanting. Forget the Oms. Forget the thoughtfulness and mindfulness and all that spiritual bullcrap—wanna look great in some Lululemons? Bikram says he can get us there. […]

  43. Actually i came here while searching on google for that term and its just awesome article. i like it and share it to my fans. So I like to tell you that your 4th point is most powerful then any other. appreciate it

  44. Pud171 says:

    I have just come accross this article..and I don't blame you for what you did. I know the studio and owner you are talking about..and I understand.
    As a Bikram teacher myself you should never force anybody to do anything..only to try, to help you heal and improve your own limits.
    Sorry this happened to you..hope you are happy in your home studio and I wish you well. Loved 'coconut water under the bridge'!

  45. Jen says:

    Not that I needed another reason for NOT trying Bikram yoga, but thanks anyway for providing me with one! In my humble opinion, that Instructor should not be teaching anything. Yes, he may know the poses, but he knows absolutely nothing about "teaching". A good teacher ensusres that the student does their best under whatever circumstances are available and NEVER, EVER does it via public humiliation. Although I am not quallified to teach yoga, I've been teaching students for 31 years. I do not blame you for being upset and angry as those are human conditions and we all experience them from time to time, especially given provocation. I am struggling to understand how this teacher conisders what he is doing as "yoga", as what I read here, doesn't seem to adhere to any of the yogic principles that I've been taught. I am glad that you went back to your old studio and, in effect, voted with your feet! Best of luck on your continuing yoga journey and Namaste!

  46. Natahlia says:

    Totally agree, I went to Bikram and the teacher was so rude like this to me as well for seemingly no reason! Yoga is not about the teacher and having the perfect class, it's an individual practice. I'm on your side.

  47. Natahlia says: