Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 2012
Categories: Nonfiction, Yoga, Sports
Author Benjamin Lorr wandered into a yoga studio—and fell down a rabbit hole
Hell-Bent explores a fascinating, often surreal world at the extremes of American yoga. Benjamin Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, overweight and curious, and quickly found the yoga reinventing his life. He was studying Bikram Yoga (or “hot yoga”) when a run-in with a master and competitive yoga champion led him into an obsessive subculture—a group of yogis for whom eight hours of practice a day in 110- degree heat was just the beginning.
So begins a journey. Populated by athletic prodigies, wide-eyed celebrities, legitimate medical miracles, and predatory hucksters, it’s a nation-spanning trip—from the jam-packed studios of New York to the athletic performance labs of the University of Oregon to the stage at the National Yoga Asana Championship, where Lorr competes for glory.
The culmination of two years of research, and featuring hundreds of interviews with yogis, scientists, doctors, and scholars, Hell-Bent is a wild exploration. A look at the science behind a controversial practice, a story of greed, narcissism, and corruption, and a mind-bending tale of personal transformation, it is a book that will not only challenge your conception of yoga, but will change the way you view the fragile, inspirational limits of the human body itself.
I knew nearly nothing about yoga before reading this book. While I was reading I swayed between thinking “Oh my word I NEED to try this!” to “Not in a million years!”
This was a fascinating look at the world of yoga, and of Bikram Yoga in particular. Benjamin Lorr takes us on a memoir-esque exploration into the intense realm of competitive yoga.
I was at turns enthralled and repelled. Bikram Choudhury, the driving force behind his own brand of yoga, is a very interesting man. Genius? Guru? Spoiled man-child? He came to America with his incredible skills and changed the face of the practice of yoga.
The things that these people can do to and with their bodies is amazing. I found my mouth hanging open while reading about the poses, the heat, the extreme measures. It becomes a way of life for some practitioners and you can understand why.
Hell-Bent is an interesting book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about an all-consuming sport.