Sunday, December 8, 2013

Modo, A New Version Of Bikram Hot Yoga, Is Growing Popular

Two studio owners in Canada didn’t realize it at the time, but in the inflexible, almost militaristic world of Bikram yoga, where 90-minute classes are taught in 105-degree heat from a single memorized dialogue, their building studios without carpet turned out to be an act tantamount to secession.

“Other studios were very unhappy about it because they didn’t want the carpet either — it’s pretty stinky,” said Ted Grand, 45, a Toronto-based environmental activist who with his partner Jessica Robertson, 36, replaced the required floor with sustainably harvested cork more in keeping with their beliefs. (Mr. Grand had first taught himself Bikram in the 1990s while living without electricity in the mountains of British Columbia, squinting at a photocopied fax of the 26 postures.)
      
Gregg Williams, a Bikram yoga spokesman, said that the founder Bikram Choudhury was a traditionalist and that the carpet, used in his first studio in 1971, was a branding issue.
“It’s like the guy at your corner McDonald’s who doesn’t want to use the M that way,” said Mr. Williams, a former studio owner. “What would McDonald’s say? They’d say absolutely not.” (Mr. Williams said wood floors plus sweat could lead to a lawsuit should someone slip. Besides, he added, wood is too expensive to require.)
      
So in 2004 Mr. Grand and Ms. Robertson left Bikram to create their brand of hot yoga, a reaction to all that frustrated them about their former discipline. There would be 40 postures and classes of varying length and format taught with no script, with the temperature set at just below 100 degrees rather than Bikram’s “torture chamber” (Mr. Choudhury’s description). Students are encouraged to drink water; Bikram suggests holding off as much as possible. And studios are to be of green construction from top to bottom. The selected name is Moksha, which is Sanskrit for freedom or liberation.
      
Moksha is not the first Bikram breakaway, but it is perhaps the most successful. Today there are 64 studios, and another 15 are to open next year.
      
In the United States, where the name Moksha already has been used by multiple Indian restaurants, a Las Vegas jam band and unrelated yoga studios, the studio owners in October voted to christen themselves Modo, a made-up word that stands for “the way or the path.” Bikram, whose founder publicly has referred to teachers of all other types of yoga as “clowns,” has some 500 studios worldwide. Mr. Williams said demand is showing no signs of cooling. (He dismissed years of published reports claiming at least 1,000 studios as “exaggerated.”)  (MORE)
 
Source: NY Times

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