Oh how un-yogic it is to say you don’t like something, right? Who cares. I’ve been reluctant to trash talk Bikram Yoga in the past mostly because I had no experience with it, but also because this kind of  benevolent “everything is acceptable” spirit feels as mandatory in yoga as taking your shoes off to practice.

But I’m going to just come out and say it: My name is Kate, and I am not a fan of Bikram Yoga. It’s OK to not like things.  In my ongoing quest to expand my health and fitness horizons, I’ve been trying out different forms of exercise (hello Zumba!) and different forms of yoga. To that end I did a one week Bikram Yoga trial recently.

Now, I’ve had many people say to me “Oh I tried yoga once and I didn’t like it.” and it makes me sad because one yoga class isn’t enough to know if you’ll enjoy yoga or not. It could have been the wrong studio or gym, the wrong teacher, the wrong class, the wrong style of yoga, the wrong day. Give Yoga a Chance!  So I realize that writing that I did Bikram for a week and don’t like it might rub a lot of people the wrong way (and may be rightfully so).

But I feel like I’m coming from an informed place on this. Yes I went in with a bit of a bias, but I was also hoping to be proved wrong. But my suspicions were right. So here in convenient  list form, the top 7 reasons why I do not like Bikram Yoga:

7. The mirrored and carpeted rooms. This is number 7 on my list because it doesn’t really bother me that much, but because of the heat and the carpet it is kind of smelly in the room. And the whole “look at yourself in the mirror” the whole time seems kind of icky and vain (but yes I can see how it can help with alignment).

6.Yoga as competition. Bikram is all about the “Yoga Olympics” and yoga competition. This is so against the spirit of yoga and it just feels so creepy and wrong. What next? Who can meditate the best?

5. The heat. I understand that heat makes your muscles softer, allowing you to stretch deeper. But that also leaves so much more room for you to push yourself beyond your limit and hurt yourself. And yes, you sweat A LOT (I don’t usually sweat very much and I was drenched). Bikram says it’s to “get out toxins” sure, maybe, somewhat. But, 105 degrees for 90 minutes? I’m a very healthy person and my heart was beating fast and I was light headed and dizzy–that’s not healthy–yoga or any other exercise should never make you feel sick. Plus Birkram calls his studios ” Torture Chambers”  I shouldn’t have to tell you what wrong with that.

4. Bikram Choudhury is the worst “guru” you could pick. Where to even start with this one?  That he’s suing Yoga to the People because he says that he has a copyright on his 26 postures– he didn’t invent any of those postures, he put them in that sequence–something that every yoga teacher does for every class (and they come up with more than just one sequence). Sure, he put them in a torture chambers, etc. But someone else doing something thing similar and charging less is competition (I thought he liked competition..).  As a person he’s beyond creepy, self-centered, ego driven, misogynistic, and the list goes on. There’s a wealth of examples, but take the Who Said It Bikram Choudhury or Charlie Sheen? Quiz  for a snapshot at this dude.

3. The 26 poses. Bikram yoga is a script. No matter what studio you go to in what part of the country with what teacher, your class will be exactly the same, word for word, pose for pose, in the exact same order. This doesn’t seem like teaching to me. On top of that, yoga has so much to offer–so much beyond 26 poses. The claim is that the “26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.” But I don’t buy it–there seemed to be a lot of back and forward bending, and very few hip or shoulder openers for example.

2.The teaching style. The teachers themselves that I had at the Bikram studio were nice and helpful people. But the instituted teaching style of reciting the script, standing on a platform above your students (and I guess in bigger classes using a  Britney Spears style microphone), and not demonstrating any of the postures, removes the teachers from the class so much that you might as well just have an audio recording. Seriously, DVDs are more engaging. Again I don’t think it’s the teacher’s fault so much–they did try to keep an eye out to correct students, but they are so limited by “what Bikram is” (teachers and studios get in big trouble if they go off script).

1. It’s dangerous. I mentioned the heat and the light headed sick feeling, on top of that in Bikram yoga, there is no room for different levels of flexibility or experience. “The pose doesn’t begin until your knee is straight!!” is shouted at you–never mind you have been doing yoga for seven years but have tight hamstrings–you are not doing the pose. “Lock the Knee! Lock the Knee!” is shouted at you several times–you should never “lock” anything, this is one of the fundamental things most yoga teachers learn. “Go beyond your flexibility!” What?! Really!? They might as well just say, “tear your muscles!” “ruin your joints!” “you are not doing the pose if you aren’t  injuring yourself!”

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