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Too hot to handle?

Selling yoga to a fat and fitness-obsessed America on a non-transfat "it-cleanses-the-body-and-calms-the-mind" platform is one thing, but selling yoga to the land of yoga is what sending coal to Newcastle is all about.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 00:14 IST

The waistline-and health-obsessed upper end of Indian society have reason to rejoice. ‘Hatha’ yoga aka Bikram Yoga is opening a grand new Indian chapter in Mumbai. Offering a module of 26 asanas in rooms that are pre-heated to 40°C, flamboyant yoga guru Bikram Choudhury brings his unique act to Indian shores, in a ‘hot’ New Age package. The 60-year-old Kolkata-born body artist runs several centres in the US and other countries, all of which are run on a franchise model.

Choudhury’s brand of yoga has many takers — and a fair share of dissenters. But he has managed to win the United States Copyright Office registration to his “original work of authorship” in the sequence of asana and pranayama, together with an unvarying script of dialogue. The interesting part of the ‘Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class’ brand is undoubtedly the unvarying script and the heat conditions. After all, the asanas are as old as India itself. Selling yoga to a fat and fitness-obsessed America on a non-transfat “it-cleanses-the-body-and-calms-the-mind” platform is one thing, but selling yoga to the land of yoga is what sending coal to Newcastle is all about.

But he is, undoubtedly, a serious yoga guru and not quite the American dandy the media paints him to be. But to exercise the inner voice, are we being too stuffy in saying that ‘hatha’ yoga is the most gruelling of yoga schools?. To sell it as “amusing and glamorous” is, well, a lot of hot air. But wait, that is the condition he patented, isn’t it?