The Book Shelf - A Review of HELL BENT - Rachael Smith Yoga
A yoga book review of Hell Bent by Benjamin Lorr. Read this review and find out why I think every yogi should pick up a copy.
Yoga book, book review, hell bent,
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The Book Shelf – A Review of HELL BENT

‘OBSESSION, PAIN and the SEARCH for something like TRANSCENDENCE IN BIKRAM YOGA.’  by Benjamin Lorr

Sink back into a comfy armchair and become the quiet observer of the two week long secret back bending clubs; yoga asana championships, pain, injury, heat exhaustion, vomit and incontinence inducing practice, that requires a tiny bikini or leopard print pants and is known as Bikram yoga.

Your jaw will drop open in shock as you shake your head in disbelief and ask the question, “Could this really be considered yoga?”

Hell Bent is the book that allows you to take a page turning sneak peak inside the practice that was popularised in 1970’s America.

The author will take you along on his journey to meet real people who strongly believe that this style of yoga and the man behind it, Bikram Choudhury, helped them to loose weight, find fitness, recover from serious spinal injuries and even drug dependency. Some will even go as far to say that Bikram and his yoga saved their lives and therefore subsequently it became their life.

Whilst attending a full nine-week teacher training you’ll get to grips with the personality traits of the devotees. And start to understand why they remain such in spite of, the bullying, lack of respect and uninvited sexual advances. And this will all be without soiling your favourite pair of lulu’s or wringing out your sweaty knickers post class.

If all of the above isn’t enough to tempt you into picking this book up, here’s one of my favourite or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say one of the many stomach churning, quotes from Bikram himself.

“People come to me and think yoga is relax. They think little flower, little ting sound, some chanting, hanging crystal….No! Not for you! Waste of time! Here I chop off your dick and play Ping-Pong with your balls. You know Ping-Pong? That is Yoga!”

One of the things I love about this book and why I want to recommend it, is that the author does give a balanced view. He’s gathered information, facts and personal accounts from believers, doubters, and professionals in their relevant fields. He speaks to both continued devotees and those that have turned their backs on the practice and the man completely.

He also makes the point that although many people believe that this style of yoga changed them or indeed saved their lives there is no way of proving that they wouldn’t have had the same results from running, cycling or any other physical activity.


Who should read this book?

Whether you like it and practice it or not, this book is a great read for anyone who has an interest in modern yoga culture and how and why it is evolving.

Maybe you’ll see a little bit of yourself in some of the people within this book or maybe you won’t. It’s written in such a way that you’ll hopefully be left with questions about your own practice, your teaching and your affiliation to an ancient practice that is being popularized, ‘westernized’ and at risk of being turned into, what I can only describe as, a competitive poor mans version of gymnastics.

Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ESPECIALLY if you currently practice or have practiced Bikram or hot yoga!


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