OMB Conversation: it’s all in the Details

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.

Read the article for yourself here.

Tell us what you think below…



Filed under About Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Links, News, Teacher Training

6 responses to “OMB Conversation: it’s all in the Details

  1. waylon

    it depends on how much one values the truth in journalism. the truth is bikram tt is not an oversexed cult, men don’t get erections in class and Bikram did not build his empire by applying a veneer of erotism to yoga. is the truth something not for people who buy magazines?

    • SP

      Bikram has missed the point of yoga. Yoga is NOT about getting as skinny as you can so you can be as “hot” as you can. Practicing Yoga with mirrors in bikini tops is for egotistics. Yoga asanas (postures) are only one limb in the eight limbs of yoga, it is limb number three actually. The first two deal with self control both inner and outter. Bikram missed the first two limbs and is trying to teach a nation of people the third limb and call it yoga. It’s absurd and disgusting. If anyone really wants to study yoga, The Yoga Sutras are the first book they should turn to. There is no one behind The Yoga Sutras trying to make a fortune (Bikram). They are ancient texts that have been translated that lay out the eight limb path of yoga to Samadhi (enlightenment).

  2. matt

    Thank you for a level-headed view of the article. There’s definitely some journalistic spin… let’s face it — if no one got paid for their journalism, there’d be nothing but blogs. Truth in journalism? It’s all perspective and the yogi community has theirs. That said, my concern is not so much with the journalist, but with Bikram. Maybe this article will increase male membership. However, anything that hints at Bikram yoga as a cult and the leader, who is married, as screwing his students is, ultimately, bad for the brand. I’ve seen Bikram, I know his deal, I get his jokes, I honestly don’t know if he’s screwing his students. Whether he is or not is irrelevant to the damage he risks to the many studios who carry his name when he makes comments like the ones quoted in the article. He should keep what he does with his penis to himself.

  3. Sariot

    OMB, I applaud your analysis of the article ~ I too am a Bikram-loving journalist and I couldn’t have summed up my reaction to the story (or to the reactions it aroused) any better. Just because many of us have never seen erections in class doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – to assume that the writer fabricated all of those quotes is absurd. Yes, he was selective in his quotes – it’s part of the journalistic process.

    When you agree to be the subject of a journalistic expose, you are putting your reputation at risk ~ there are many different truths and many different sides to a story, and the writer often sees a different one than the people immersed in the subject do. By no means is the article a definitive guide to the benefits and culture of Bikram, nor does it ever attempt to appear as one. I would hope Bikram advocates and antagonists alike would be able to see it for what it is: a lighthearted feature article about one writer’s experience in the Bikram teacher-training, geared to the audience of a sex-hungry men’s magazine. If anything, maybe it’ll get more men interested in Bikram 🙂

  4. mdmlee

    i love love the article…i mean he is who he is! one must be allowed to like the unlike in order to have opinions. and like everything else in life u cannot love everything and u can’t hate everybody or everything either.
    everything is over RATED if someone did rate them. the yoga works and he is the contradiction of yoga but the point is if something is as good as we know it is, no article or anyone can bring it down. don’t let it get to you. don’t let anyone steal your peace!!
    love,love & more love!!

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