June 25, 2013

5 Things to Love about Bikram That Have Nothing to do with Sex. ~ Michelle Marchildon

I started practicing trademarked Bikram yoga and I thought it was going to be about sex, but I was wrong.

It was about love.

I was sure this was a chance for a little action since the founder, Mr. “Speedo” Bikram Choudhury, is in quite a bit of hot water for bad boy behavior.* But no. It seems that no matter how hard I try in yoga, I do not get a single invitation to the hot tub.

By the way, I’m not serious about being sexually harassed. I need to clarify that because I’m married, and many of my readers are uber-yogic, or live in Boulder, so having a sense of humor is a growth opportunity.

Far from a yoga-quickie, (a little wham, bam, thank you teacher for the stretch but do not expect to see me again) it turned out, I fell in love with the 26-pose practice.

Here are five things I love about Bikram yoga that have nothing to do with sex:

1. The Attitude: Make it Hurt So Good.

The main difference between the Bikram-wannabes* and the real deal is in the attitude. In the imitation classes I’ve taken, teachers want you to be happy. But the certified Bikram teachers are Honey Badgers. They don’t give a shit if you are happy. They don’t give a fuck about your feelings. They want you to get the pose even if it takes some minor yoga humiliation (What is wrong with you? Suck in your stomach.) And guess what? I got into the freaking pose!

2. Discipline Isn’t Optional.

The teachers dictate when you can drink water (preferably never), when you can wipe your sweat (ditto) and how to practice alignment: LOCK YOUR KNEES! My legs were wobbly because I wasn’t trying hard enough. Who knew? I realized that years of Vinyasa created in me an undisciplined yoga practice.

3. It’s Hot in Here.

I love, and hate the heat. The heat emphasizes the extreme nature of the practice. You endure 90 minutes of suffering to enjoy the rest of your life.

4. The Lack of Spirituality.

My teachers did not cue anything ugga bugga, or woo woo, or tell me about my auras, or my pranic vibration or the blue light coming out of my head. They told me to lock my knees, and by God I did it. This is a weird thing to love, especially from the author of a book about how to theme your yoga class. An expertly delivered theme is inspiring, but so is asana served hot off the grill.

5. The Scale.

Bikram claims that if you do this practice regularly you will lose weight. It has to be true. For one thing, I threw up after my first class and lost 3 pounds (breakfast?).

The last thing I love about the set sequence is the “tomorrow” factor. If you don’t get the pose the first time, there is the second try. If you don’t get it then, your effort will make it better for the next time. There is nothing like a second chance. Yoga, is just like love, and also like life. We can practice it over and over again until we get it right.

* Disclaimers: A “Bikram” yoga class might be one that is taught by a Certified Bikram teacher, in a 105 degree room, adhering to the 26-pose sequence for 90 minutes with a little ™ next to it. Since there are multiple lawsuits around what is “real Bikram,” and the little “TM,” my lawyer tells me I am not smart enough to comment on whether or not a class is “real.” So this article makes no such claims. Also, Mr. Bikram Choudhury is in a serious amount of trouble including accusations of rape of an underage girl. In no way does my intention to be sexually harassed (in a consensual manner, of course) offer any excuse or support for such behavior. Ever. If that’s not clear, you can speak to my lawyer. Or move to Boulder. They don’t get humor either.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


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Jonathan Silverman Jan 12, 2014 2:17am

There are very good reasons why people who know Yoga, know that, “Bikram yoga is not real yoga. Or not good yoga. Or not good for you. Or something.” It’s because it isn’t…. http://www.bodhiyoga.net.au/bikram-is-bad-for-you

The Curvy Yogini Nov 8, 2013 7:54am

Even though I find Bikram Choudry (I don't even care if I spelled the horrible mans name correctly) despicable, I found this article funny. Especially the last bit about being from Boulder… Tee hee.

a Nov 8, 2013 6:17am

I went to a studio which has decided to withdraw from The big bikram tm, but was angered when the “hot 90” class was exactly the same (dialogue and all) as any bikram class I have ever been to. There is absolutely no moral superiority if you are willing to make money off of the exact same class of the man you deem as morally repugnant.

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Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.