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163 Reviews
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fair look at the science and emotion, the good and the bad of Bikram Yoga
This is a very fair examination of Bikram yoga, the people who practice it, the people who teach it, and the man who popularized it.
Neither a hatchet job that shares every piece of dirt to be found, nor an obeisant recital of Bikram's hyperbole laden claims.
Just a smart, insightful, and grounded perspective on the yoga, the people who practice it, the people...
Published on November 3, 2012 by BBB

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hell Bent
Originally published on my blot at therelentlessreader.blogspot.com

I knew nearly nothing about yoga before reading this book. While I was reading I swayed between thinking "Oh my word I NEED to try this!" to "Not in a million years!"

This was a fascinating look at the world of yoga, and of Bikram Yoga in particular. Benjamin Lorr takes us on a...
Published 19 months ago by Jennifer Hartling


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fair look at the science and emotion, the good and the bad of Bikram Yoga, November 3, 2012
By 
BBB (Yarrow Point, WA, US) - See all my reviews
This is a very fair examination of Bikram yoga, the people who practice it, the people who teach it, and the man who popularized it.
Neither a hatchet job that shares every piece of dirt to be found, nor an obeisant recital of Bikram's hyperbole laden claims.
Just a smart, insightful, and grounded perspective on the yoga, the people who practice it, the people who teach it, and the man whose name it bears.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Read, November 14, 2012
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Not being a yoga devotee, I was unsure of what this book would have to offer to the uninitiated, but a few snippets I've heard about Bikram from friends who practice intrigued me enough to pick it up. It reads like some of the best New Yorker articles - an esoteric subject that you'd normally shrug off becomes truly engrossing when Lorr takes the time to deconstruct it in many ways. The author's voice walks the line between insider & outsider in terms of respect for his subject (and actual immersion), while maintaining a skepticism that allows him to write very honestly about the good, bad, and bizarre aspects of the practice & the man Bikram. All in all, a really fascinating read.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Candid and Engrossing, February 19, 2014
My teacher often reminds us that yoga is not a competitive practice, which has me wondering now if he has a history with Bikram yoga... A practice I have never and will never pursue. This book blew my mind! I think anyone who practices or is interested in yoga will enjoy this tome on the topic. The author applies several staple yogic traits to his writing: clarity, flow, honesty, humor, and insight. While sharing his lurid story into competitive yoga, you sympathize with his path because anyone motivated to "better themselves" has battled narcissism in some way. Thankfully, he found a way out of the bad and back to a grounded placed for reflection and sharing. I have always been intrigued by the power of the mind and body - may it be its tolerance for pain, ability to defy reason, and the power to head itself. He explores this all and more! I highly recommend this book! A great read to follow is Human Movement Potential: Its Ideokinetic Facilitation.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent jump down the rabbit hole ..., November 28, 2012
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This is the best available evaluation of Bikram Yoga by a gifted young writer. Somehow during the "jump" down the rabbit hole, Lorr managed to retain his sense of self. The message -- dump the guru, keep the practice -- has undoubtedly liberated many yogis and studio owners to date. One of Lorr's many talents lies in stripping away the inflated rhetoric. This includes contextualizing the practice, evaluating benefits and naming sexual harassment for what it is despite Bikram Choudhury's Michael Jackson-like presentation (I'm cute, I'm a child, give me what I want NOW or I will obliterate you! "His followers BEG him for sex. What's the man to do?"). The latter is particularly creepy given that most of his trainees are women.

Bottom line: There are many things to criticize about Bikram Yoga -- the heat, the expense, the guru, the seeming unstructured flow of knowledge, the extremism -- but there are no unhealthy people in the room. (OK, perhaps 1 1/2 exercise anorexics in the studio where I practice). Working in the mirror takes cojones. Turning inward is difficult, unpredictable and immensely rewarding.

This is more than an entertaining take on extreme yoga from a young author, however. "That's my mother-in-law!" exclaimed a non-yogi friend upon reading the really excellent section on narcissism.

"No! No! It's my ex-husband ..."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars confirms and validates what I knew or suspected about Bikram and the yoga, January 15, 2013
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This review is from: Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga (Kindle Edition)
I started practicing Bikram yoga in 2006. Within a year or two I was practicing 5-6 days a week and considered going to the teacher training. I went to see what it was like in 2009, in Las Vegas, I got to take a couple of classes (one with the man himself) and easily decided that this was not for me. I later trained with Jimmy Barkan, who is quoted a few times in this book. I still go to my local Bikram studio, but it is not the be all and end all. The author puts his finger on something I'd never quite articulated. Bikram doesn't churn out hundreds of good teachers at these trainings. He churns out people who can lead a good yoga sequence. There are good teachers out there, but they came to it by doing more than regurgitating the "dialogue." I enjoyed reading this, knowing what I do about Bikram, the yoga, and lots of yoga "die-hards" and it validates my decision to train elsewhere.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the good, the bad, the ugly, November 15, 2012
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Full disclosure: I am a Bikram yoga teacher and know most of the characters mentioned in this book.
Fortunately the book goes beyond the little cloistered hot box of the Bikram community to talk about the history of hatha yoga (the physical postures), the study of pain, identifying narcissists and more.
The writing is sharp, perceptive, funny, and when you want it, self-deprecating.
Get it! Once I started it I could not put it down.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and brave exposé, quick read, February 18, 2013
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My fiancé bought this book for me (he loves yoga) and I blew through it in about a week -- loved it. It manages to cram a lot of substance and research into a very candid, page-turning narrative that I couldn't put down. The thing I think prospective readers should know right off the bat is that this is really not a yoga book... Yoga happens to be the activity the writer explores, but honestly if he'd become obsessed with amateur hockey or pole vaulting I would have been just as fascinated. Also, while getting the dirt on Bikram (the man) ad Bikram (the business) is interesting -- and at times cringe-inducing -- the best parts of the book in my opinion are where the author explores more provocative questions about psychology and physiology. For example, there is a whole chapter in which Lorr explores his nagging suspicion that at least part of the massive physical/emotional change he experiences from practicing yoga is the result of the strength of his belief, i.e. the placebo effect. And he spends several pages exploring the possibility (which seems to be exceedingly likely, after reading this book) that Bikram has narcissistic personality disorder. But in between these detours you'll find the author's gripping personal journey, told in a candid, funny and self-deprecating voice that I really appreciated (it would be so easy for this book to become preachy, angry, fluffy or trite, but somehow Lorr manages to avoid those pitfalls).

Overall I highly recommend this book. Just one disclaimer -- shortly after reading this book you may find yourself twisted up like a pretzel, dizzy and nauseous in a 105 degree room wondering why in god's name would anyone do this to themselves. And then the next day you might go back. It's true... that's what happened to me.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining., November 2, 2012
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Eric Jennings (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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This is an honest and intelligent book. While it began as an outsider look into the Bikram world, the author went "all in" and was able to present a comprehensive and complex view that only an insider could tell. It would have been nice to have named sources for some of the stronger accusations against Bikram and the chapter on Tony Sanchez was a hagiography but these facts didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if you're interested in yoga, you will probably be interested in this book, January 23, 2013
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This review is from: Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga (Kindle Edition)
I used to do a lot of Bikram but when I left that practice (i.e. stopped doing it), I left it feeling a good deal of animosity towards the method. I can't stand the way the teachers parrot the Bikram dialogue even when it MAKES NO SENSE. I also attended a class that was 120 degrees and the teacher physically barred the door when a new student tried to leave the room. This is not "yoga" to me. Anyway, I tell you this so you will know I'm predisposed NOT to like Bikram and therefore to enjoy any criticism of the method and the man. That said, this book explores both the good and the bad sides of the practice and the man and was very interesting. It explained a lot about why the practice is the way it is (for eg why the teachers mindlessly parrot the dialogue even though it was created by someone whose first language is not english and at times it makes no sense). A very entertaining and informative book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, December 24, 2012
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This review is from: Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga (Kindle Edition)
A quick read for practicing and non practicing yogis and yoginis alike. And a scathing review of Mr. Bikram! Who doesn't like a yoga book with intrigue and a villain?
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