Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bikram – Fraud or Fanatic?

For the past two days, or make that 16 hours, I have attended two classes in the so-called “Bikram Torture chamber” of Bikram Yoga. This is yoga performed in a hot room. Why did I choose to do this  ?
Well I love a good sauna, and I like yoga…. perfect combination? Right? WRONG!

Classically trained on and off for the past 24 years in Iyengar yoga as a recreational pursuit for fun flexibility and fitness, I decided to give Bikram a go… Despite several warnings from my work colleagues about the challenging nature of the class. I was ready for that…

What I wasn’t ready for was the American style , six-pack- loaded teacher complete with” Madonna-style” mic on a pedestal in front of the class, barking orders at me and clicking her fingers like I was some kind of performing seal!  This,for me, contravenes all that is good and attractive about yoga. That is: relaxing, finding peace tranquility, at one with mind and body.

But strange as it seems, plenty of people like to be spoken to like some kind of circus animal, endure poses where the object, according to the instructor, is “pain” and sweaty bodies in a smelly room heated to 105 degrees celsius with restricted access to water.  There were at least 17 in the class I attended.

I guess the claims of losing weight, improved healing and endurance suck people in... in fact I put on weight!

If you are contemplating a Bikram class, for goodness sake, drink at least 3 litres of water beforehand and  do not drink your water during class, unless instructed to do so. Or else, you will be reprimanded mercilessly. Secondly, if you dare to do a variation of a pose, ( one that you have practised for 20 years the correct way) contrary to the Bikram technique, due to a muscle cramp, you can expect to be asked to leave the class, as I was……..

This is such an abomination of the concepts of Yoga I feel quite irritated that it even calls itself Yoga! So I began to research this style, and it seems that there are some suspicious issues that question the very integrity of Bikram, and these I discovered, even in a basic wiki search.

For example:
Wiki tells us:
Another controversial component of Bikram yoga pertains to the prevalence of Yoga Asana Championships, regionally and nationally. While practitioners of other forms of yoga maintain that competition contradicts the idea of peace and unity, Bikram contends, “Competition is the foundation for all democratic societies. For without ‘Competition’, there is no democracy.”[12]

Legal issues

In the United States, {Bikram} Choudhury has claimed and been aggressive in enforcing broad copyrights in most aspects of the practice, teaching, and business of the system.[3] While these claims are not definitively resolved (i.e., by any judicial ruling on the merits), Choudhury has extracted legal settlements from a number of yoga teachers and studios.[3] However, in a recently issued, official statement, US Copyright Office concluded, that the copyright for Bikram’s sequence of 26 postures had been issued in error. Ed’s note: {These postures have been done for thousands of years and are not his to copyright}
In Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class (First Edition), Choudhury claims he conducted “medical” studies at the Tokyo University Medical School validating the medical benefits of his 26 postures. During one of the lawsuits defendants demanded copies of the “medical” studies and Choudhury claimed he could not find them. In Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class (Second Edition), Choudhury removed all references to “medical” studies.[13]

Competition is necessary in democracy?  Copyright issues? Fraudulent scientific claims?
Highly suspicious!  Yet the teachers continue to expound how his techniques are “scientifically proven” and the class swallows every mouthful. I think after my second class, I suffered heat stroke, and only recovered 6 hours later. Fairly dangerous to drive a car after a class in this condition.
No wonder they ask you to sign a disclaimer that includes the phrase,” that you have in the last 6 months seen a medical practitioner that states that you are safe and fit to do Bikram Yoga and that you are aware …..that there may be….injury, even  paralysis and death (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I deleted this condition before signing…
It could hav e been so good.....

Something to ponder about in my more relaxing methods of yoga….

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