Ethnographic Study: Bikram Yoga

This ethnographic study of the history, rent state and proposed health benefits as understood to be alternative health care of Buckram yoga will consider bibliographic research and will include a first-hand account as well as Informal interviews. Buckram Chuddar was born in Calcutta, India in 1946. He started to learn yoga poses and theory as young as three years old. At the age of five Chuddar began to work with Guru Vishnu Gosh who happened to teach children next door to Shuddery home. It was Gosh who encouraged him to compete In the National India Yoga Championship.

Chuddar went on to win the championship three institutive years starting at age eleven, making him the youngest champion. At the age of twenty, however, Shuddery knee was crushed by an eighty pound weight dropped by his weight lifting spotter, Western medicine told him that he would be crippled for the duration of his life. Chuddar was reluctant to accept this reality and decided to better the condition of his knee with yoga under the supervision of Gosh. It is claimed that he was able to walk and was fully recovered from this life- altering Injury in Just six to eight months (Slicked, 2003).

This miraculous recovery as Coauthor’s Inspiration to dedicate his life to the practice and spread of yoga. Gosh taught Chuddar a more traditional Hath yoga “picking specific saunas [or postures] for specific ailments,” (Slicked, 2003). From these teachings, Chuddar chose twenty-six poses meant to be completed twice over, punctuated by a savanna, or corpse pose which acts like a rest period, along with two breathing exercises to be completed in the p of ninety minutes. Each pose is designed to work certain areas of the body such as the spine, knees, digestion system and immune system.

This sequence is also designed to be performed in a humid room heated to 105 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit; this Is meant to mimic Indians climate, facilitate a deeper range of motion for the yogi and help prevent injury (Slicked, 2003). Chuddar made a name for himself in Japan prior to bringing his brand of yoga to the United States but the first American Buckram yoga studio was established in California In 1973 after trading yoga treatment for a green card into the country with President Richard Nixon (Gala, 2009).

While ;yoga In America was Initially popularized amongst the elites and has been associated with movie stars and intellectuals since 1 OFF blood pressure and lengthened one’s life p that practice became fashionable amongst the general public,” (Gala, 2009). Since then, yoga in general has moved from being more or less a past time to being part of a fitness, health and wellness program amongst many types of people.

Those practicing western medicine often see yoga as a benefit in the sense that it is a cardiovascular activity, it is considered relaxing by most and will burn calories that might not have been burned otherwise in patients ho might be overweight and reliant on medications. Whether or not yoga can live up to its vast health claims in Western medicine standards has yet to be determined. Even still, Buckram yoga’s popularity through celebrity status or otherwise has made it a billion dollar industry with Chuddar himself collecting 2. 6 million dollars in 2003 from teacher training alone (Gala, 2009).

Shuddery extensive unabashed wealth and endorsement of competitiveness in what is typically considered to be a spiritual pursuit has brought about a certain amount of controversy but has not dampened he interest in the yoga itself. People everywhere continue to believe in its abilities to heal, ward off ailments and keep the body trim and healthy. When I walk into my Buckram yoga studio in Phoenix I am immediately greeted by a cheerful woman dressed in yoga clothes passing out class schedules to those who just finished a class from behind a desk.

I sign my name and remove my shoes at the door. The main room includes a large refrigerator should you want to purchase a water bottle, racks of mats and towels that can be borrowed and large, luxurious ouches where people sit to await the next class. The locker room around the corner is equipped with an open shelving unit to place your personal belongings, a shower, a restroom and separate sink unit with a large mirror, towels, decorative soaps, etc. All around, this facility is very well maintained and seems to go out of its way to provide comforts and niceties to its patrons.

The locker room provides a place for friends to talk to one another but most stifle conversation in the main room. In the locker room I ask my fellow Buckram followers why they chose to incorporate Buckram yoga into their lives. A woman who appeared to be in mid-thirties explained: “l read that this yoga is the best out there because the heat helps you push out all your toxins, you know, because you sweat so much. I also read that you burn Just a ton of calories which is good because I don’t have all the time in the world to spend at the gym. Another, who appeared to be in her twenties and in good physical shape, told her story: “I was always really active and played mostly soccer but I tore my CAL a couple years ago and I can’t do all the things I used o. A friend of mine, kind of a granola girl, brought me here and I have been coming ever since! I always feel like I had a really good workout but I don’t feel like I’m stressing any part of my body too much. ” In asking a woman who let me know that she was sixty-five why she considered Buckram yoga to be a benefit to her she said: “My doctor suggested I try to be more physically active but I’m not the girl I used to be… ‘m not able to do much really and I’m unwilling to subject myself to water aerobics. He [the doctor] is concerned about my blood pressure and my stiffening mints. When he told me about Buckram yoga I about died right there imagining doing something like this in that kind of heat! But I gave it a go, of course I have to bring in a stool to help me balance and I don’t do every pose, but I think it’s helping. I feel a different take on Buckram yoga from the physical payoffs: “I’m a new mom and my maternity leave ended a few weeks ago. Vive been practicing yoga for years but I like Buckram the best right now.

There’s no top 40 music playing in the background, everyone who is here wants to be here for Just this- not to be seen wearing a cute roust outfit and it’s Just all about you for an hour and a half. You stare at yourself in the mirror and you hear the instructor but really you Just hear your own breathing. I feel more centered when I leave here. ” When I enter the classroom I am immediately overwhelmed by the humidity. Being from Phoenix, Arizona I am no stranger to heat but in this classroom the air is thick and Just bordering on difficult to breathe for me.

The lights are low and there are already students lying on their back in savanna position. No one speaks in the room as it assumed to be a peaceful place f meditation. Class begins when the instructor turns the lights on and introduces herself. The instructor makes a point of asking if there is anyone in the room new to Buckram yoga, congratulates them for coming and reminds them to stay in the room, lie on their mats if need be and to have fun. We go through all twenty-six poses, including the breathing exercises, with her dispensing instruction as we ease into each new movement.

She also reminds us all to focus on our gaze in the mirror and that our bodies our stronger than our minds are at times so getting through class will quire determination on our parts. For safety reasons students are allowed to drink water as they please but it is discouraged to drink outside of the designated times and while the class in the midst of a pose. However, once the class is finished you can observe the majority of people gulping water hurriedly before getting into the final savanna which concludes the sequence and allows time for personal meditation.

While I lay in silence I find myself agreeing with the major points my interviewees offered: Buckram yoga is a tough but gentle workout for people of all levels and remotes a sense of personal well-being and calm that very few workouts I have tried do. This, however, was Buckram Shuddery aim all along. He believes that if you practice this yoga to the best of your abilities you will “live a better, healthier and more peaceful life,” (Chuddar, 2010).

For Chuddar, physical health and mental peace must coincide for one cannot exist without the other. Martin Marty discusses the importance of recognizing that spirituality and physical health are indeed intertwined in his essay Religion and Healing: The Four Expectations. This essay souses more so on faith in the religious sense but for many yoga offers a very spiritual connection to a force that has the power to heal, bring calm and bring like- minded people together to form a sense of community.

Marty reminds us that “in a typical half year of American publishing… Hundreds of… New Age titles on health and well-being appeared… Imaging, breathing, meditation, herbalist, and hypnosis are but a few of the many technique for being in tune with the infinite,” (Marty, 2005). It can be safely assumed that yoga could be added to that list in which ways people reach out spiritually. Harold Koenig writes in Afterward: A Physician’s Reflections that we need be focused on healing the “whole human person,” (Koenig, 2005).

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