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Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga
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St. Martin's Publishing Group 2012
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Description

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.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/30/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781250017529
ASIN:
B008VA716C
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Benjamin Lorr. (2012). Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Benjamin Lorr. 2012. Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Benjamin Lorr, Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Benjamin Lorr. Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: BENJAMIN LORR graduated from Columbia University with a degree in environmental biology and creative writing. He lives in New York City and is the author of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga.
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fullDescription

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.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 24, 2012
        In this peripatetic work of literary journalism, Lorr recounts his indoctrination into a particularly grueling variety of yoga. After broken ribs turned Lorr into a couch potato, he stumbled onto Bikram yoga in hope of losing his man-boobs. Bikram quickly became an obsession, and as Lorr fell under its spell, he became fascinated by its effects on other practitioners and by the legend of its mercurial, monstrous founder, the charismatic Bikram Choudhury. Lorr’s quest led him to the grueling Bikram teacher-training seminar—which makes Parris Island seem like Disneyland—and to compete in the National Yoga Asana Championship. Lorr writes about his odyssey in vibrant, entertaining prose. Although he is obviously enamored by the discipline that has transformed his life, he retains a critical distance that allows him to present his larger-than-life guru in ruthless clarity. Early on, the numerous sidelines into other stories and biographies rob the book of continuity while Lorr also withholds personal details, which tends to enervate the narrative. However, the book gradually gains coherence, giving a final portrait of Choudhury and his empire that is as thorough as it is devastating. The author provides a fascinating window on the suffering that educated, mostly white people will undergo in the name of self-improvement.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2012
        A comprehensive examination of hot, competitive yoga, its cultlike following and the author's immersion into the practice. Named for its founder, Bikram Choudhury, Bikram Yoga is a strict series of 26 postures performed in a heated room set to at least 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Lorr, a New York City high school teacher, started practicing at age 29, after dislocating a rib during a drunken fall. He was overweight, out of shape and depressed after a breakup. Within three months, he'd lost 45 pounds and felt he'd "discovered magic." At the urging of an instructor, he entered a local yoga tournament in which contestants are judged for their poses. His hobby grew into a full-blown obsession, and Lorr details his stints at back-bending retreats where he practiced yoga for 14 hours a day and "hallucinations, waves of tears, anger, and pulsing headaches are just a few of the many releases that occur as you work." During his expensive Bikram Yoga teacher training, guzzling massive quantities of water and sweating constantly, Lorr experienced 14-pound swings in weight loss from single classes. The author writes extensively about Choudhury's unusual life, total adherence to proper alignment and form and belief that pain can be good. Now a multimillionaire, Choudhury has garnered more than a few skeptics, in part for his seemingly self-serving behavior. Lorr interweaves his story with fascinating history and photographs; some of the most compelling parts of the book concern the stories of other practitioners, from famous athletes to former drug addicts, whose lives have been utterly transformed by hot yoga. Meticulously researched, suspenseful and engrossing.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 15, 2012

        In a work that is part memoir and part expose, 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.--Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ. Lib., Scranton, PA

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2012
        In a narrative guaranteed to give goose bumps to chiropractors and their patients, Lorr announces one anatomic objective in the opening paragraph of this high-energy book, I convinced myself that I could take my spinal cord and bend it so severely that I could touch my forehead to my ass. To achieve his goal, he employs an extreme form of yoga that accounts for only 8 percent of the yoga practiced in the world, Bikram yoga. Bikram Choudhury is the leader of this intense and hot (the temperature of these studios is deliberately ratcheted up) form of yoga. Lorr describes Choudhury as a charismatic but controversial character while portraying himself practicing yoga for more than 14 hours a week and enrolling in a nine-week Bikram Yoga Teacher Training course that costs $11,000. His description of that surreal experience might make even Franz Kafka envious. Lorr's appraisal of yoga culture and Bikram yoga, in particular, feels fair. He documents remarkable self-transformationsweight loss, enhanced energy, improved sleep. He marvels at the commitment of devotees. Back bending and bliss, stretching and sweating, bonding and betrayal have rarely seemed so complementary. Hell-Bent is sure to turn readers' impressions of yoga upside down.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription

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...

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Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga
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