I’ve recently gotten back into doing yoga. And the thing that nobody ever tells you about yoga is that it becomes kind of addictive. So when I walked into my library and saw Hell-Bent I had to pick it up. It is a compelling and revealing memoir about one man’s descent into Bikram yoga, a bit of a take down of Bikram himself by a practitioner and a look at the darker side of what yoga has to offer. Oh, and it’s un-put-downable.
So to let you know where I’m coming from – I like yoga. I believe that it is really good for both your body and your mind. I’d like to see myself doing it 2-3 times a week, so I am by no means a fanatic. I think Bikram’s yoga is crock of hoowie and that he is an ego-maniac. All this without ever having tried Bikrams.
In Hell-Bent Lorr really looks at his descent into hot yoga. He critiques it, evaluates, condemns it and ultimately can’t stay away from it. He’s practicing yoga on a completely different plane than the rest of us – multiple classes a day, intensive boot camps – it overtakes his life. But it is so interesting to see why.
I also learned so many amazing and interesting facts while reading Hell-Bent. If memory serves, Lorr’s weight would fluctuate by some 14 lbs during the course of a day. Clearly this is largely due to dehydration. Bikram initially started to look into hot yoga to mimic doing yoga in India. Temperatures started at about 80 degrees. But then he pushed it to see how high he could take it without people passing out. 110 degrees is to hot, so he settled at 108.
Who would like this book? If you’ve ever wondered about Bikram yoga this is a great book. As I’ve mentioned, it is a bit of a take-down of hot yoga, but it is done by an insider, someone who can’t get enough. It’s also a great book if you’re interested in what makes yoga fanatics tick, what competitive yoga looks like or the history of contemporary yoga in North America. Even if you’re not interested in yoga, Lorr is a compelling enough writer and story teller that you may find something to enjoy in Hell-Bent.