I’m not saying that I won’t ever practice at a Bikram studio again. I likely will. Probably in my travels. But for now…
I don’t practice Bikram yoga.
It was probably mid-Summer when I was getting fed up with the Bikram studio circuit out here in San Diego. Studios that were too militant with their usage of the dialogue that you are taught verbatim at training, and studios that re irresponsibly hot.
I’m talking 118 in the room BEFORE class even begins.
Then, as I was taking a class, I heard the teacher giving incorrect guidance to students.
“When you do Kalpabahti breathing, you make no noise at all. It’s in and out. No noise.”
Um. Incorrect, yo.
And this was on top of them chiding students for sitting out postures - despite the ridiculous heat.
Eventually, I avoided going to this studio. And started finding an excuse to go to a hot yoga studio that is closer to the beach and teaches a flow version of the 26 & 2 series.
I love the 26 & 2 series. It’s what may refer to instead of calling it the Bikram series. He didn’t create it. His teacher did. Bikram just brought it to America and popularized it.
And I am grateful he did. But with everything that has happened since my training in the Bikram world, I have no patience for militant enthusiasts of the man. I didn’t like him at training. I didn’t like him afterwards. But I appreciated the series.
But the series is pure Ghosh, his teacher.
And so modified versions of the 26 & 2 series speak more to me. I am more motivated in class. And also…
More flexible than I’ve been in over a decade.
More focused in my poses.
More relaxed in class.
I always tell people that while I don’t regret going to teacher training at all, it ruined my practice. And every time I step into a class where someone is sticking to the dialogue and not truly teaching the class, I get super judgmental in my head.
“If you’re gonna say the dialogue, say it correctly. No where in the dialogue does it say bring your hands together before we Dandayamana Bibhaktapada Paschimottanasana. So quit fucking instructing students to do it!”
I get outright belligerent in my practice… Sitting down whenever I want. Modifying poses purposely - not because I need to. Drinking water in between poses even though it’s not an opportune time.
Because… Fuck it.
So I realized my attitude needed to change if I was going to continue to practice. And I was really down on myself for feeling this way and going to the other yoga studio. But then I realized…
I’ve practiced this yoga for almost 15 years. It’s time to evolve. Maybe not away from the 26 & 2 series… But certainly from the strict outline of the Bikram studios. Even if they don’t call themselves “Bikram.” I’ve grown beyond the Bikram dialogue-driven series.
So while in Tucson a few weeks ago, I did some research on where to find a hot yoga practice that resonated with what I needed. I found that there were many hot yoga studios - none called “Bikram.” Which is great. The one closest to my house had “Ghosh” in its name.
“Fuck,” I thought. “It’s probably going to be super strict with intense teachers.”
I don’t know why I thought that. It was stupid.
I showed up and took one evening class - while I was sick with the flu - and had one of my best classes in months.
I burned 800 calories.
I didn’t sit down once.
The teacher didn’t teach dialogue, and instead taught the actual class.
He didn’t chastise anyone.
He opened doors.
He made sure people understood proper alignment and didn’t go deeper than needed.
It was heaven.
Sure, it was only one class. But it was a positive sign.
I’ll continue to not practice Bikram yoga these days. I will practice Ghosh yoga though. And encourage others to as well.