Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Bikram Yoga

By Benjamin Lorr

A awesome research into the area of Bikram Yoga, by means of turns stunning, hilarious and enlightening. Hell-Bent explores the attention-grabbing, frequently surreal global of Bikram Yoga, a method taught to thousands via a truly dwelling guru, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Yoga is special from extra 'conventional' varieties via the intense warmth it really is practised in, an overt, nearly masochistic specialise in discomfort, and the rabid materialism of its founder. it's also uncommon by means of amazing effects - recreation stars comparable to David Beckham and Andy Murray swear by means of it, whereas body-conscious supermodels rave approximately its merits, or even Prince Harry is rumoured to be a fan. Benjamin Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, obese and curious, and speedy stumbled on the yoga reinventing his lifestyles. He was once content material to narrow down and tone up till a run-in with a aggressive yoga champion confident him to take his perform to the following point: to coach for the nationwide championship. So starts off a trip into the unusual, awesome global of aggressive yoga. Populated by means of athletic prodigies, wide-eyed celebrities, clinical miracles, and predatory hucksters, Hell-Bent follows Lorr as he grapples together with his new obsession: discovering the overall healthiness claims and heritage, humanising its maniacal guru, and finally stepping on degree on the nationwide Asana Championship to compete for glory. The fruits of 2 years of study, that includes hundreds of thousands of interviews with yogis, scientists, medical professionals and students, Hell-Bent is a wild exploration. a glance on the technological know-how in the back of a debatable perform, a narrative of greed and corruption, and a mind-bending story of non-public transformation, it's a ebook that won't simply problem your belief of yoga, yet switch how you view the delicate, inspirational capability of the human physique.

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Complicating this, Bikram’s starting to be popularity in Beverly Hills coincided with a extra common yoga upwelling. All demeanour of shaggy, tubby, druggy seekers have been operating round city calling themselves yoga academics. This used to be difficulty. If Bikram was once going to accommodate the recent inflow of scholars, he wanted extra lecturers. yet having a look round, it wasn’t effortless to discover teachers he might entrust with the ability of his yoga. fortunately an answer seemed. After a very agonizing classification, Shirley MacLaine took the guru apart and defined that he may still relatively be charging for his periods. cost? Bikram eyed her suspiciously. Up till this element, Bikram had the Indian conference and saved his sessions unfastened, accepting donations from his extra beneficiant consumers. yet as Shirley mentioned, he was once in the United States now. And americans didn’t admire issues that got away loose. This yoga was once detailed, and he had to safeguard it. the necessity for qc and Shirley’s American approach mixed in Bikram’s brain, forming an ideal marriage: self-discipline and capitalism, money and keep watch over. After hiring a supervisor, an accountant, and a attorney, Bikram begun the method of increasing. For his academics, he selected the easiest of the large teenagers: the main versatile ones, containing the easiest spines. yet he by no means enable himself fail to remember they have been kids. as well as difficult that they educate merely his yoga, in just the series he had built, Bikram recorded himself best a category. He then used the recording to jot down up a script—he known as it his dialogue—which all lecturers must memorize and recite in the course of classification. training at a Bikram studio, he made up our minds, will be like training with Bikram himself, simply with the path uttered via a person else’s lips. by means of 40, Bikram managed a turning out to be community of studios and allow a motorbike trip over his chest at the night information. through forty-five, he had kept Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA profession, rejuvenated John McEnroe’s tennis online game, collaborated with NASA to carry yoga to astronauts, and massaged a pope. through fifty, he had found diamonds and fedoras. via sixty, Bikram used to be sitting firmly on best of a yoga empire, working in thirty-seven international locations around the globe, exhibiting as much as train his periods in just a Rolex and a Speedo. within the intervening years, he married an Indian yoga champion part his age (she gained the nationwide festival 5 instances to Bikram’s three), received a ten-thousand-square-foot condominium within the Hollywood Hills, stashed as regards to 40 Rolls-Royces in its storage, and fathered a couple of gorgeous little ones. yet what by no means replaced over all these years, what couldn’t switch, was once his devotion to his venture, to his karma yoga. And so, millionaire repeatedly over, Bikram remains to be correct there this present day, instructing type himself, on a dais in his headquarters in Beverly Hills: hips wrapped tight in leopard print, chest freshly waxed, not easy perfection via his headset microphone to a room of thousands, smiling as his scholars compete to suppose discomfort in entrance of him.

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