Today I went to my Bikram yoga studio for class, but the teacher could not speak. She had lost her voice and planned to do a silent class. I had never done a silent class before, so I was pleased. But then two new students arrived. A silent class would not work for them. Thinking on her feet, the teacher decided to play a recording of the Bikram dialogue on her phone and use that to guide the class.
As the teacher left the room to prepare the recording, a lively discussion ensued among the regular practitioners. Had anyone heard the recorded Bikram dialogue before? A few people had. Would the class still be 90 minutes? Yes. Should we just come back tomorrow? No. We all decided to stay and look upon this hiccup as an added distraction to overcome in our practice that day. I can only imagine what the new students were thinking!
I had never heard Bikram’s recording of the dialogue before, although I do have it downloaded on my phone. I started to be excited about this new opportunity. Perhaps hearing the dialogue straight from the horse’s mouth would provide new insights. Maybe I would pick up something subtle that I hadn’t heard before.
This was not the case.
The recording contained only the most cursory version of the dialogue. A lot of things I was used to hearing in class were missing and Bikram’s side comments to the students (I assume he was leading a real class) were more belittling than insightful. It was sometimes hard to know when to enter the poses and when to exit them. And when he said to face the windows, that didn’t make a lot of sense relative to my studio.
As class went on, I started wondering why Bikram chose this particular recording to distribute. It seemed like a very average class, and frankly, less than average for the classes at my studio. Why wouldn’t he choose to memorialize a more iconic version of the series or at least one that was applicable to practicing in any type of room?
I was losing focus.
Maybe it was the personal energy of the teacher that was lacking. Or maybe I couldn’t hear the dialogue that well given his accent and my hearing loss issues, but I don’t think so. I think the teachers have outclassed the master, at least at my studio.
The recording would be good in a pinch if you were traveling, but I would not choose it over a live class in a studio. Hey, maybe that was his idea after all…
Fellow yogis, have you ever used Bikram’s recorded dialogue for your practice?