Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vintage Bikram

Guys!  Guys!

(Yes, hannahjustbreathe, that was for you.)

Some clever person (over at Bikram HQ, I'm guessing?) just posted a handful of absolutely classic vintage yoga videos.

I discovered these yesterday morning while I was finishing up some desk work at the yoga studio, and I called over a couple of teachers to watch them with me.  We must have spent half an hour just screaming over these videos.  His hair!!  And the crazy yoga tricks!  Oh man!  Bisu runs over Bikram with a motorcycle while he's lying on a bed of nails!  Bishnu Ghosh is on some kind of Japanese talk show!  And holy hell, what is that dude doing with those frogs?!?  (I loved Cristina's response when I posted that one on facebook: "Don't know if I will laugh or cry or do both at the same time!")

The video that I'm posting below is mainly just interviews with Bikram and his students.  I'm trying to figure out what year this footage is from.  It must all be late '70s or early '80s.  Kareem Abdul-Jabar started with Bikram in 1976 (according to Wikipedia!) and Juliet Prowse must have been with him a few years earlier, since she was the cover model for the red book that also came out '78.  Here's the crazy part.  Bikram's in his early 60's now, so he's gotta be in his early 30's in this videos.

He is exactly the same.

(Except for the hair.)

Ok, I'll be serious.  His hair is completely different now, and he's finally getting a couple wrinkles.  But seriously, when I listen to the way he talks and look at his face and his mannerism and his body, there's essentially no change.  It's absolutely uncanny.

He even says the same things.  I think my favorite part of this video is the bit where Bikram's in his speedo and Juliet Prowse is in this shiny black unitard and he's coaching her through a TV yoga demonstration.  She goes into padahastasana, and right away he says, "Pulling is the object of the stretching!"  Pretty much verbatim dialogue, and this must be almost 20 years before he ever wrote that thing down.  (Incidentally, anyone happen to know what year the dialogue made its first appearance at teacher training?  I believe it's relatively recent - more than 10 years ago, but not too much more.)  And then: "From the side, at the beginning everyone look like an American club sandwich.  But now she looks like a Japanese ham sandwich!" 

As I was telling my friend, you really have to give respect to a guy who believes SO strongly in what he's doing that he'll stand around in his underwear repeating the same thing, over and over, to more and more people, for 40 years or longer!  Don't you think it would get just a little bit old?  But he still teaches with energy.  I've still seen him hop down off the podium and come across the room to come help a first-time student get their arms wrapped the right way in eagle.  Wow, Bikram... who are you?!

For your viewing pleasure.  Share and enjoy!!

The rest of the uploads are here.  It's awfully orange, but be sure to check out the Ghosh TV videos when you've got 10 minutes to kill.  They are pure gold.


Dorothy said...

Bikram's hair has always been hilarious to me. This video is super-rad. I can't wait to watch the rest.

Big G said...

I checked this out already, as you know. What is the deal with the frogs!!? Is that some sort of advanced posture? :)

thedancingj said...

Bikram's hair is never not funny. So great.

I can't even fathom the frogs. And the snake!!! Did you see that there was a snake?! I guess it is crazy yogic control over his bodily functions, but I can't even imagine which body part he's controlling. Esophagus?!?

Cristina said...

I laughed and I cried, I promise! They were just so incredible wonderful.

We had a gathering at the Studio yesterday and they showed some of them there as well.

Bikram is the same, and to me it showes that he belevies so much in what he is doing.

tracik said...

Great! Loved it, cracked me up. Thanks for sharing :)

Duffy Pratt said...

I loved the part where he was making fun of Kareem for being such a bad student at first.

You hit on another point that I think is key. From Bikram's standpoint, he's not saying the same thing over and over again. He calls it a dialogue, and he really means it. The words may be the same, but the conversation is always different, thus not boring.

There are teachers out there who call it a dialogue but actually think of it as reciting a monologue. And for them, I think it gets old. At best, they are acting. But the really good teachers aren't acting at all, they are engaging with the students in a conversation where the words just happen always to be the same.

hannahjustbreathe said...

"Guys?? Guys??!" Ohhh, my little Jack...


cirita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cirita said...

OMG, these videos are jewels. Thanks for posting. I admire his consistency!! Same dialogue year after year after year. Love the 70s look. Yeahhh, only the hair looks different. Same body in those small speedos.

thedancingj said...

Duffy, I love how you said that! So true. I think one of my favorite parts in the orange book is when Bikram talks about how some people have told him it should be called the "monologue", and he says sometime along the lines of, "My English is not THAT bad! I know what dialogue means! I'm talking to you, and your bodies are talking back to me."

I also love, in that same conversation, how Merv Griffin makes fun of him for being short!

Consistency is the right word, for sure!

Danielle said...

Diane says that at her training, they finally told Bikram "you have to write this down"! Whether it happened closely after, during, or much later, I'm not sure. (My guess is it was a while later....)

My husband got out of the shower on Saturday night, as I putting some make up on at the kitchen table, i had my laptop on with the yOuTube video from FB. He said, "WHAT are you possibly watching?!?" So funny! He heard this big Indian voice from the bathroom in our house. Had no idea WHAT was going on!

bikramyogachick said...

Oh I was absolutely dying when you posted this on facebook. The american club sandwich reference straight into the japanese ham sandwich. And yes, the "pulling is the object of stretching", he's so serious, I freakin' love it! The hair, oh, the hair! Great stuff.

Yogadawg said...

"Before she looked liked an American club sandwich, now she looks like a Japanese ham sandwich"

Ha, ha ha, even memorable quotes back then...:)

thedancingj said...

I know! And not just ANY memorable quotes, but more or less the SAME memorable quotes... makes me feel like I've stumbled into a time warp. ;)

He really is almost hilariously sincere, isn't he?

Danielle, that is too funny with your husband... and that timeline makes sense. I was thinking late 90's / very early 2000's. I'll see if I remember to ask Diane about it next month (when I'm HOME! I will probably forget in my excitement. I guess that's what email is for.)

Lisa said...

Wow! Thanks for posting this! I just started reading your blog and came upon this video. I love that the Sheens are involved! Maybe that's how Martin can go back to college to finish his degree in his 60s! Sound body and mind.