In what ways is Bikram* sexy?

I was invited to write for my home studio @hotbikramyoga, and this is what they got:

In what way is bikram* sexy?
(*the practice, not the man)

When I first moved to London to be with my boyfriend, some time very late in the last century, I started seeing an acupuncturist about my skin and within a few sessions (or less) I was quite in love with him. I mean in the sense that I would get a little tongue tied, giggle like an 11 year old and at times sweat a little too visibly. It was a totally animal-chemical reaction. After a while it calmed down. Oh, I don’t know, call it eight years? And now I can safely see him without the breathing into a paper bag beforehand. Anyway, when I first started to go to class several years ago (loooooong before I committed to practice) I told him I liked bikram yoga because you really felt the stretch, you felt like you had moved – and I think that is different from feeling like you’ve worked out – and that it was very sexy. And he said “You find that sexy? You find stretching sexy?” And all I could say was yes.

Recently embracing daily practice I have been thinking about this again and have compiled this list of similarities a person might consider between sex and bikram yoga.

– With bikram, like with sex, the more you do it the more you want it; it is its own reward
– The experience is utterly universal and profoundly personal at the same time
– You don’t truly understand it until you try it (and then only maybe), and equally no one can explain it to you
– It’s not a competition, but sometimes it can feel like it.
– It’s really easy to get a little OCD about wiping your hands.
– It’s doing something your body was designed to do, but doing it before you are ready can be bad, and you might not even like it at first
– Some people advocate a strong home practice
– It can be confusing, confrontational, surprising
– It’s kind of the same moves over and over and over again but at the same time it’s totally not
– Be respectful of your neighbours
– I once said to a friend about a teacher “He helped me with my rabbit and told me I had a beautiful triangle.” Costa got suddenly very quiet.
– A teacher recently said to me “Your technique is perfect but you give up far too soon.” I thought, I’ve been singing that song for years, love.
– 90 minutes three times a week can change your life
– Sometimes what you’re aiming for is to see your feet coming up over the top of your head.

Ways in which sex does not compare to bikram: if sex for you involves you being on your back with a half naked fanatic in front of a mirror at the front of the room shouting “don’t lose the grip” at you through a Cher headset, I respectfully suggest you’re on the wrong website. Also it’s totally acceptable to tweet “yoga kicked my ass, nearly killed me” but not … well, you can finish that one off yourself. Matron. (By the way, speaking of, I’m on twitter @bikramyocaz.)

Well, crass the-sap-is-rising gags aside, my point is that it’s a joy to focus on doing something that your body was designed to do. I feel that as Westerners many of us take little joy in our bodies. Sure, we celebrate athletes and fawn over celebrity bikini bodies but a body is just as much for feeling and living in as it is for looking at. I would argue much more so.

Do you remember the sheer, unfettered elation of being 7 or 8 years old, somewhere soft and grassy and reaching your arms out and tilting your head back and just simply spinning and spinning and spinning until you fell over? Your heart racing and your thoughts scattered? Didn’t it make you smile? Deep belly laughing. Do you ever notice how little kids who haven’t learned to be self-conscious and appropriate yet will hear music and just start dancing, no matter where they are or what the music is? Aren’t they often smiling as they do it? Your body is designed to move, to make shapes, to grow, to change, to charge and to rest and to take gratification in all those modes. As grown-ups it’s too easy to forget the joy of doing something challenging in a safe space surrounded by heat and energy. But when we remember, it can be exhilarating. So: go back, fall back, way back. And if you get dizzy pretend it’s because you have been spinning on the grass.

And “do your practice, all is coming.”

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