Aural Postcard: Bikram, the Sound of Yoga

Sadly I wasn’t able to record any of this experience which is prompting me to write…but it is understandable I couldn’t really bring a recorder into a bikram’s studio. The environment there struck me for two reasons, first in a good way and then in an off-putting way. The class started with a series of breathing exercises, long inhales and exhales. In a class of 30+ people the effect was amazing. Everyone exhaling at the same time made the sound not only full and rich but take on an almost modulated, off-phase quality because of the tiny delays between individual breaths. I felt like I was listening to a skillfully made electroacoustic composition. The breath felt amplified as natural a process of amplification as can be – a result of exaggerated listening…

Then the instructor put on a close mike and started the main part of the class. Now, my surprise wasn’t so much because of the novelty of using amplification for a generally small room of quiet yoga practitioners. My comment isn’t even about how amplification changed the relationship between her and the class. It’s more about the way she used her voice, which somehow thematically connected for me with the amplification itself. She spoke in sharp, forceful sequences fairly persistently like an aerobics instructor, or better yet – a bootcamp personal trainer to “go longer, go faster, go deeper, go more, stop” into our yoga poses. The jarring of the physical environment – one of sweaty delirium and the sharp vocal feedback was hard to deal with, to say the least.

No doubt I’m not going back there (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *