Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Have Paid a Man to Kick My Ass

Here is my coming out post. I will be gone soon for two weeks (posts will still go up). Some observant yogis might note why. I am going to get my ass kicked by The Boss himself in Croatia. No turning back, they already have my money. ...dear lord, what have I done?

I am giddy and scared to death at the same time but I don't think this is generated from the physical undertaking. I think it is the idea of coming face to face with Bikram himself.

It's certainly not a hero-worship thing. In fact, I fear that he won't live up to the meager bar I have set for him. I currently explain away the eccentric, controversy-loving man behind the mission with reasoning I can admire. His showmanship, flashy cars and pimp-like fashion sense has done wonders to draw in publicity, as an advertiser myself I don't count this as a bad thing. With all his sex-talk, wild living and complete lack of regard for what we think a yogi should look like, he isn't so 'other.' He can be human. Like us, flawed....way flawed. The practice seems less out-of reach that way. I don't have to 'om-shanti-shanti' my way through life to practice.

I also love the admission that some of this stuff hurts. Hurts like heck, in fact. He acknowledges that we want money, that we hate to work and that self-improvement can suck a lot of the time. If we can admit that, I am willing to step in and curse my way (as nicely as I can muster) to a better me. I mean, after all, isn't being honest with yourself the first step? I'm not being honest with myself if I can't even admit that I have a really rough time getting myself to class.

The only controversy I think holds any traction with me is the copyrighting issue and it doesn't hold much. Yes, we want free and open things. Open-source = good. However, quality control is also good and let's face it, there is virtually none in the yoga world. We've all paid for a class only to discover this studio's version of Hatha yoga is sitting in lotus listening to a woman drone about tree roots for an hour. That's not really the class I have the beef with anyway. It's the one where you can hurt yourself because you aren't being watched and the teacher has no idea what they are doing. It's the wild-west of yoga out there and I just want one section of yoga to say, "If you find yourself in Iowa I still promise you can walk into my studio and know you are getting quality." To take that 1 step further, I am glad he is willing to protect those teachers who take the time to put his name on the studio too. Maybe Ill expand upon this later, I think it's a subject that deserves addressing further.

So here we have the problem. I am now going right to the man. I would hate to discover he is not, in fact, ensnaring our egos to capture the ego-centric Western mind, engaging us on our own territory, playing with our sense of 'right' and 'justice' but is, in fact, just an ass. An ass who has a lot of my money.

The Boss

So here we go, the proverbial 'belly of the beast.'  I take solace in the fact that, no matter how wonderful or heinous the man is, I walked into Bikram yoga expecting nothing and received amazing benefits. He gave me something wonderful. I can take that gift without taking the parts I don't agree with. You can call this cherry-picking in an admonishing way but I choose to see it as common sence. There are very few things I buy into whole-heartedly and none that I buy into without a healthy dose of examination. I am a firm believer in Buddha's teaching, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." I love that.

This is how I see my Bikram practice. I like what I've gotten. I ask a lot of questions and my teachers answer in ways I agree with. Pieces I don't agree with I put on a shelf to examine later and decide on when i have gathered enough facts.

When I get home, I will report on my experience. I will do so honestly as I can. Ass or genius, I hope I can still appreciate the plethora of benefits I've gotten from him. 


  1. Dear Kate,

    I am offically nervous about this. What have we done?!?!


    1. I've been so nervous The Boy told me, "You won't be handcuffed, you can just leave if it's too much." I feel a bit better knowing that I can run screaming. THANK YOU for being my buddy in this. Wish Aura was coming too, all for one, right?

  2. Oh how exciting!!! Have tons of fun and I'm already looking forward to your recap :)

    BTW, I think you have a great attitude toward the controversy that is Bikram/Bikram Yoga. I have only seen him once, at a talk/book signing. Even though I was "prepared" after all the blogs I read, I was still taken aback. A lot. His talks are more of a performance though, so I believe his classes can show a very different side of him.

    Anyway, I'm so excited for you! Safe travels!

  3. Simmm, Great that you admit to being taken aback. I always here how wonderful he is followed by a ton of warnings. It seems to me that if he was unabashedly wonderful we wouldn't need so many warnings before meeting him. Why are people so protective? I don't see anything wrong with saying, "The practice is great, but the man at the helm could use some polish." Fingers crossed that I don't run screaming! :P

    1. I literally lol'ed at "but the man could use some polish"!!

      Yes, I was confused for quite a while after I "met" him. It's all good though. He is just human and he doesn't owe us anything. I feel very very grateful that he brought "Bikram to the people", so to speak, but the rest is none of my business.

      I do have a few speculations about his character that I will not post here (hobby-psychoanalyst here). Maybe after you return ;)

      Anyway, Happy travels! I've been interested in Advanced Seminars for a while, so I'm patiently waiting for your reports :)

    2. I just saw that I spelled hear "here." AND IT WON'T LET ME CORRECT IT! Urg. Figures. The internet wants me to look stupid. Well, I say, "HA!" unto thee, Internet! I outsmarted you, I already make myself look foolish!

      Anyhow, I can't wait until I get back so we can pow-wow about all the possible psychoses our fearless leader has! Just let me know pre-seminar if you think one of those issues might put me in peril (a penchant for putting yogis in headlocks and suffocating them, for instance). ;)

    3. Hahaha I'm sure you can make it through the seminar without strangling anybody/the Boss... maybe that's why he likes to teach from tall podiums :D

  4. Once I read "I fear that he won't live up to the meager bar I have set for him," I couldn't stop laughing. Don't worry - you'll be great and so will he. He is at his best when he is teaching. Have so much fun!

    And one word of advice re: the advanced seminar itself: PACE YOURSELF. It is so. Much. Yoga. Start slow, watch lots, finish strong!

    1. Thank you so much and very glad you 'got' the post. :) I will take your advice, and any more you care to give! I am woefully unprepared for this (I just took my first advanced class this past weekend).

      The flier said that beginners are welcome and I made sure to check with my teachers before registering. So, armed with my breathing, ready or not, here I go!

    2. Yeah it's fine for beginners. Actually, these seminars are probably the #1 best way to learn the advanced series. Just pace yourself, and have a PLAN for hydration. Bring some electrolyte tabs or something. Don't worry about preparing for the postures - just prepare for the sweat!

    3. There is a ton of great advice in that reply, THANKS! Hydration plan is coconut water and home-made Gatorade (salt, honey, lemon juice and water) I am also bringing a sea-vegetable powder a yogi friend of mine likes. Now added to the list, electrolyte tabs (once I discover what those are). *googling*

  5. I am so Proud of you and Jen. Out of all of us at BYA students, I think you two are the best choice to venture this. The two runners up are Bryant and BQ. The thing that I am most assured that YOU WILL use discernment (Jen, too) .......and your recount will be full of angles from the many observations.

    I am Sooo Excited for you two!!! Enjoy!
    .......and build a new spine :)

    PS: Remember to pack Arnica pellets :)

    1. Thank you for the amazing compliments but I am daily astounded by BYA students I don't even know. I can think of a dozen easy who would be more fit for the challenge than I. No matter though, I have confidence that Jen will get me through. :)

      Arnica, check! (Thanks!)

    2. You are too modest :)
      I saw you kicking out your homework after an "Alan Santos" that's astounding. There were students in the locker room trembling with new born Bambi legs. :)

  6. Pace yourself is probably the best advice, by J. Definitely. I went to the European Seminar in Malta last spring and by Wed I was totally exhasuted...:)but after chilling (by the beach and the pool) and good hydration I pulled myslef together and still managed to take all the classes, 11 precisely (don´t know if you´ll have a class on Sat morning, I guess it will depend on Bikram and his flight...etc)

    ps1: hopefully He wont´t get held up at any airport like last year the Germans kept him, so the Monday morning class + adv. were put to the afternoon :)) God knows what the Serbs/Croats will do to the Man....:D Maybe he should have his hair cut and not wear anything

    ps2: oh, and when he says he can teach handstand (scoripon) in 2 minutes to ANYONE it doesn´ t mean you will be able to DO a handstand (scorpion) in 2 minutes...There was a woman (more senior, also quite heavy) she totally misinterpreted it and it all went wrong when she got up on stage to try. Just saying. ..:)

    Anyway: ENJOY!!! :)) Look forward to the recap!

    1. The teacher of the advanced class I just took went to the Malta seminar! She said it was just LOVELY.

      I would LOVE an afternoon class. Fingers crossed he gets delayed (Yeah, he's not really one for subtlety in attire is he?). Im not much on mornings. I think that scares me more than the physical work. In fact, fears in listed order:

      1. Disliking Bikram Himself
      2. Mornings. 7 in a row? If I were waking up to count beans this would be too much.
      3. Breaking myself on Day 1
      4. Getting called out for being lazy.