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

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Jun 24, 2013
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bikram yoga courtesy tiarescott Flickr CC

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



About 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.


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

  1. Enjoyed this article very much, Michelle. You had me laughing at ". They don’t give a shit if you are happy" and finished me off with "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."

    Bob W. http://bobweisenberg.wordpress.com/

  2. Cherie says:

    Loved it. Super funny!

  3. Beth says:

    Oh how I love your sense of humor! I have been practicing Bikram yoga at a local studio for about two years and I love it. Like Bob (the previous commenter) I about fell off my chair laughing about the Honey Badger reference…so true, but somehow the teaching method works!!! I also love Yin yoga and I practice that at home. I am glad there are a lot of different yoga styles and choices available to us and we can all find the practice that works for our body, mind and spirit. Thank you!!!

  4. Joe Sparks says:

    Zero benefit in locking the knees. http://preventyogainjury.blogspot.com/2013/03/loc
    Does anyone find that photo offensive to women?

  5. Laura says:

    Defensive much? No-one has even taken you to task over the more offensive portions of your article yet.

  6. gphase says:

    … and by "bad boy behaviour" you mean rapes he's accused of?

  7. perhaps it's not that your city doesn't get humor – it may be that what you write simply isn't that humorous.

    granted, sarcasm, which I suspect is your intention, is an incredibly difficult technique to use in the written word. once it has been very carefully established that the commentator has valid points and have proved them as such, then a limited amount of sarcasm adequately expressed may further the content.

    I just don't see this as funny, nor are the disclaimers helpful. You clearly have not had a friend or loved on who has been sexually harassed for you to make such light of it… just a very odd and weird topic to accentuate in your attempt to be funny.

    just one opinion, take it for what it's worth… but if folks keep telling you it's not funny, maybe it's not funny?

  8. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Yes. As you saw in the "disclaimer," Bikram is accused of very bad behavior. Criminal in fact, and inexcusable, as I said.

  9. Michelle Marchildon says:

    In the words of Justin Bieber, I'd like to thank all my haters. My readers know that the comments section of my articles are the funniest part.

  10. fragginfraggin says:

    Spot on with the heat dynamic. After a Hot yoga class, I'm always accompanied with the blissful realization of "YAY! I'm NOT Dead!"

  11. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Me too.

  12. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Thank you!

  13. Sherry says:

    LMAO! You're the best!!

  14. Vickster V says:

    …the writing skills here are fine; it's some of the content that I grapple with. To clarify, some of the Bikram-wannabe's are actually Bikramites who've left the kool-aid ring because after years of teaching with "attitude" and a script riddled with weak English as well as witnessing several repetitive injuries from improper alignment combined with the "push-it, push-it" factor, seasoned instructors had no choice but to move on and out from under the TM for moral reasons. How many classes can be taught with a branded dialogue that can be injurious?
    …agree, it's disciplined and should be, it's hot or it's not hot yoga and it's not spiritual because the practice itself takes you to your own level of consciousness that will reveal what you are ready to see.
    …it does affect your weight but, for most that's a slow gain. It should not make a person vomit after class. Vomiting during or after class can be a sign of heat exhaustion and cause undue stress on the internal organs and is a sign of your body overworking itself. Vomiting is not a form of weight control – ever.

    So, practice Bikram. I do. Used to teach it and now teach the unbranded version, but always listen to your body and its natural limits and use your breath as a barometer to know how far to go or to back off. You don't ever have to "kill it" to experience it and your experience will be deeper if approached with a balanced head and heart!

  15. Robyn says:

    "Any of my readers are uber-yogic, or live in Boulder, so having a sense of humor is a growth opportunity."

    Ha ha ha! That made me laugh so hard. I know a lot of easily offended people.

  16. Robyn says:

    No, it's funny. Hope you can learn to lighten up a bit. I try to find humor wherever I can, and it makes life a lot more enjoyable than being offended by so many things.

  17. Amy says:

    Loved it, Michelle! Keep up the great writing.

  18. jean marie says:

    "An expertly delivered theme is inspiring, but so is asana served hot off the grill." Amen. I love that. I wish I wrote it.

  19. Terry Post says:

    Did anybody notice Bikram is doing the crucifixion pose in that photo!

  20. Michelle Marchildon says:

    OMG. You are right. I knew it looked familiar. Maybe he really is God? JUST KIDDING.

  21. Dee says:

    it seems that yoga is moving into catholicism. priests rape young boys, yogis rape young folks but you still follow the practice blindly. Think about what you are supporting and giving money to.

  22. Paula Reeves-Carrasquillo says:

    Great post! I laughed. I love Bikram (with a TM) and find other yoga styles beneficial for different reasons.

  23. Katie says:

    Michelle, you know I adore you and think you are hilarious.

    And — I find it disturbing that you are classifying his actions — jokingly or not — as "bad boy behavior." We live in rape culture where people like Bikram get away with unconscionable things each day. Minimizing his actions — sexism at best, rape at worst — to simply "bad boy behavior" simply perpetuates and empower rape culture in both the yoga community and our greater world.

    I hope you'll reconsider.

  24. Katie says:

    Lighten up about accused rape? Sexual discrimination? Abuse of the teacher-student relationship and power differential?

    No way. None of us should "lighten up" about that.

  25. kay klotzbach says:

    Give me the imitation please and you are right, the teachers don't care if you can do the pose or not, if you hurt yourself getting into the pose or not, they as you noted, "don't care". Give me the twenty-six poses, the heated studio with knowledgeable instructors over age 23 with more than two months of teacher training that can do more than read a script, a couple of blankets and blocks and let me go at it. Yea, I'm over the age of sixty and I need my props. I know he thinks his copyrighted yoga moves that have been around forever cure all but guess what, they can also fuck you up pretty bad too! This is the great thing about yoga there is something for everyone.

  26. Charlotte says:

    Great article. Thanks for the laugh. Bikram fell off the pedestal I put him on years ago but I still love the yoga and the method. I went to his training in 2006 and the more I teach his healing sequence, the more I understand how to give love and to be compassionate. Rock and roll…..

  27. Mary J says:

    Umm, yeah…I went to Bikram's TT in 2006 and decided to teach unofficial "bikram style" instead because I was embarresed to be associated with that crazy society of brainwashed people who know very little about yoga. It just wasn't for me. So it turns out he's probably a rapist? I'm not surprised…and I don't think this article is funny…

  28. Dianne says:

    thanks for the laugh…ignore the peeps that like to throw shade.

  29. Tom says:

    We have a brand new "imitation" studio in our community that teaches both V flow and Bikram. Our "real Bikram" studio has "kicked out" so many teachers and offended so many students that the new community formed almost over night. Instant success and fantastic yoga! Wow, the combination of the two styles is magical. Also, the teachers at the "imitation" studio refuse to send students and especially young female students to teacher training until it is safe which may never happen.

  30. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I hear you Katie. First, he hasn't been convicted so we might keep an open mind about the charges. I was accused of attacking a woman in Denver and calling her names, etc. which was completely fabricated by the alleged victim (although many people would rather believe that story rather than the truth). So I am a believer in innocent until proven guilty. Secondly, as I state in the disclaimer, I make no apology for his behavior. Rape is a violent and horrific crime and is never excusable.

  31. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I also practice at an "imitation" studio, however the teachers are trained to Bikram's standards, and teach exactly as he prescribed. However, they left the brand because of his disturbing behavior.

  32. Sarah says:

    I have a few points, first about the lack of spirituality, coming from a Theme Weaver like yourself who wants to inspire others, could you explain how one inspires without touching one's spirit?
    Second, if I were a victim or the victim's family of Bikram's sexual assault and threats to one's career I wouldn't appreciate this article. Think about the victims here before you make light of the issue. You weren't there and neither was I and this is no joking matter.

  33. Chris says:

    I agree with some people before. I personally know victims of Bikram Choudhurys. You should read some of the allegations Michelle. At least that is what I would expect you to do, if you are so cheap as to use sex in your headline to draw attention to your article (with the intend of the readers thinking about the harassment and rape cases).

    Calling it "bad boy behaviour" is neither funny nor witty. It's just very disrespectful towards the victim and very bad journalistic style.

    I already regret having commented on your article, because it generates even more attention towards it, that it definitely does not deserve.

  34. Dan Endy says:

    Thanks for this. I've been wanting to try bikram since there's one close by. I just might have the courage now.

  35. a says:

    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.

  36. 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.

  37. Jonathan Silverman says:

    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