Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bikram recitation class

Had a funny experience this morning.

If you know Bikram Yoga, you know that the teachers do a set "recitation" - 90 minutes of "dialogue" that is basically a speech Bikram Choudhury wrote, to lead the class through 26 postures.  Teachers are trained to recite it word-for-word.

I've now been to a lot of different Bikram studios and I've had dozens of teachers.  Generally the younger, newer teachers stick to the exact dialogue with no variations.  The older, experienced teachers usually add some variety - commenting on the benefits of the postures, calling out particularly excellent efforts or problems they see in the students.  I like these classes the most - these teachers seem most personally engaged, and I always learn a lot.

The Bikram studio here is mostly staffed by young, new teachers - with the exception of the studio owner, who I had a particularly awesome class with last week.   As for the other teachers, there is nothing wrong with them, and classes are usually uninspiring, but Bikram-effective.

Today, though, our usual teacher was sick.  She came in, and said "I'm sorry, I can't lead the class today.  But don't worry, I have a CD!"  And she proceeded to play a recording of the Bikram recitation over the loudspeaker in the classroom.  For 90 minutes, we sweated, stretched, and breathed to a digital version of Bikram's actual voice.  

It was a surprisingly good class!  The sequence went nearly as smoothly as it would with an actual teacher, and Bikram's energy and personality was amusing and interesting.  Although I don't see myself joining the "cult" and doing Teacher Training any time soon, I am drawn to this practice, and Bikram the person is central to all of it.

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