LOCK YOUR KNEES! Five Things To Love About Bikram That Have Nothing To Do With Sex.


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 so much as an indecent pat on the butt.

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. I haven’t yet taken a wannabe class as hot as a real class. 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 straighten my legs, 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 of water (and 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 tomorrow. 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 a “real” Bikram class or whether or not it is legal to have the ™, my lawyer tells me I am not smart enough to comment in this area. 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 you don’t believe me, you can speak to my lawyer.

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra and Origin Magazines. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com or www. Yogasteya.com.