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Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yogaby Benjamin Lorr
Synopses & Reviews
Author Benjamin Lorr wandered into a yoga studio and fell down a rabbit hole
Hell-Bent explores the fascinating, often surreal world of Bikram Yoga, a style taught to millions by a very living guru, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram Yoga is distinguished by the extreme heat it is practiced in (105 - 120 degrees), an overt focus on pain, and the materialism of its founder. It is also distinguished by impressive results—elite athletes swear by it, body-conscious supermodels swoon for it.
Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, overweight and curious, and quickly found the yoga reinventing his life. He had slimmed down and toned up, when a run-in with a competitive yoga champion convinced him to take his practice to the next level: to train for the national championship.
So begins a journey populated by athletic prodigies, wide-eyed celebrities, medical miracles, and predatory hucksters. It's a nation-spanning trip—from the jam-packed studios of New York to the championship stage in Los Angeles, where Lorr competes for glory. Along the way, Hell-Bent explores the health claims behind yoga, the neurology of pain, the latest in therapeutic rehab, and more.
The culmination of two years of research, featuring hundreds of interviews with yogis, scientists, doctors, and scholars, Hell-bent will change not only the way you think about yoga, but how you view the fragile, inspirational limits of the human body.
In the spirit of Born to Run and Word Freak, an eye-opening look at the world of extreme yoga and a tale of personal transformation
Yoga is practiced by 20 million Americans and has grown into a $6 billion industry. Tales abound of the benefits that come from stretching your limbs—and your sense of self—to the limit. Author Benjamin Lorr began as a casual yogi, but he quickly witnessed a transformation of body, mood, and energy. 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 were just the start.
So begins a journey into the strange, amazing world of competitive yoga. Populated by athletic prodigies, wide-eyed celebrities, 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, featuring hundreds of interviews with yogis, scientists, doctors, and scholars, Hell-bent will change the way you look at yoga.
About the Author
BENJAMIN LORR graduated from Columbia University with a degree in creative writing. He is certified to teach Bikram Yoga and lives in New York.
Table of Contents
A Short Note on Folk Singing and the Space Between SolutionsPrologue: Bombproof?I. It Never Gets Any Easier (If You Are Doing It Right)II. The Living CurriculumIII. Not Dead Yet!IV. Like Kool-Aid for WaterV. Sickness of the InfinitudeVI. All Lies Are AspirationalVII. Finding BalanceNotes
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