Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga

. November 2012. 320p. 978-0-31267-290-4. 25.99.
In a work that is part memoir and part exposé, yoga instructor Lorr takes readers on a journey through the intense world of Bikram yoga. He begins by recounting his own entry into the obsessive subculture of competitive yoga, practicing hours per day in a room heated to more than 100 degrees. As he trains for and competes in national and international competitions, Lorr seeks to understand more about Bikram yoga and its creator, Bikram Choudhury. He talks to people saved by Bikram yoga, people emotionally destroyed by Choudhury, and people who have continued to practice while distancing themselves from the subculture’s charasmatic leader. At a time when some yoga communities are experiencing scandal and turmoil over fallen gurus, this book is a call to arms to save Bikram yoga. Lorr advises readers that when their heroes fail them, they should show compassion.
VERDICT At its heart, this is a love story about Bikram yoga and a tenderhearted yet critical look at the life and work of its very human guru. A riveting read, especially for those with an interest in modern yoga culture, gurus, and leaders.
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