by Barbora Simek
The February 2011 issue of Details Magazine featured a full article on Bikram Yoga under a gasp-inducing title. The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury, was undoubtably sold to an editor as a racy behind the scenes expose into the culture and sexlives of teacher trainees. Understandably, many of the yogis in the Bikram community have stood up to declare their disappointment and outrage at the content. At OMB we want to know what you think of Bikram’s latest press scandal.
Here is what I think…
The article describes the routine of teacher training from the perspective of an outsider, while exploring the sex lives of male trainees. And to be honest, for any guy going to training in hopes of finding a mate, the odds are stacked in their favor. I know few men who go to training and DON’T take advantage of these odds. Relationships, flings, marriages and more start at training and it is no secret. While the drastic majority of teacher trainees take to heart Bikrams “no kissy kissy…” instructions, the majority of male trainees indulge in the opportunity before them.
Some people on the Details page call for the writer to be barred from his profession as a professor while others lecture that he has missed the point of yoga. I would argue, that many of these people have missed the point of journalism.
More after the jump…
The point of writing like this is to tell a story from a new angle that will grip readers. First person stories can be told, but facts should be told by the experts and this article stays true to that form.
All of the quotes in the article were given to him by Bikram, his trainees and practitioners. Sure, someone said they see erections in class, which is absurd, but it was not the writer who said it. And as a journalist myself, if I was given that quote I most certainly would run it, it’s just too colourful to ignore, it tells a big story in few words.
If anything I think the writer has done a rather impressive job at trying to present as objective a veiw of the yoga as possible. Lets face it, most beginners do not make it past their first regular class, never mind joining in a session at advanced training. Further, Bikram is given the benefit of the doubt through the article countless times and says often that he is at heart an entertainer. Which is gracious considering that the same quotes in the hand of another writer could easily be contextualized derogatory, discriminitive and often misogynistic ( especially quotes like, “This posture called dirty old bitch! Because not even one more inch can you stretch!”)
Anyone who has been through teacher training or attends one of Bikram’s lectures or seminars knows that he is always to be taken with a grain of salt and a big sense of humor but many people also get offended, hurt and upset by things that are said. Ultimately I think this writer painted a sexy but positive image of training. Sure, yoga is not about sex, but the two certainly go nicely hand in hand.
It is often said that there is no such thing as bad publicity and while many may be outraged about the Bikram and sex comparison, I think content like this will have the readers of Details are lining up for their introductory passes. And that is never a bad thing.
Tell us what you think below…