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Cheap Chirpse: Bikram Yoga

By Louise Perry, Ba Social anthropology

Looking for a first date option that is a little bit different? This edition’s Cheap Chirpse idea…

Bit of a weird date idea this one, but hear me out. I’m sure, as SOAS students, you’ll know of Bikram and his yoga – you may think it’s way cool, culturally appropriative, a shameless commodification of an ancient religious practice or all of the above, and you’d be right on every count. Bikram Choudhury himself is a bit of a tit – that’s not libellous, it’s documented fact – but the man does make a good yoga class, and it also doubles up nicely as the perfect sexy date venue.

Here’s why – skimpy outfits, physical intimacy, sweatiness, endorphins. This is the stuff that sexy is made of. Whether your date loves it or hates it, you come up trumps. If they hate it they’ll be so pleased to have got out alive that your offer of a post-workout coconut water will have them sobbing on your shoulder with relief and adoration. If they love it … well, let’s just say that one female friend describes the euphoric feeling of ‘camel pose’ as “a cross between a head rush and an orgasm.” God knows there aren’t many who can offer a woman that on a first date.

Now you have to choose your Bikram studio. Come, gather round – this is some hard-won advice, garnered from my years at the coalface of hot yoga studios in London, so listen up – not all Bikram yoga studios are created equal. Not because the poses are different (that’s kinda the point) or the teachers (usually identikit little Bikrams, just without the alleged sexual harassment) – no, what really makes or breaks a studio is the stinkiness. Cramming dozens of sweaty people into a confined space five times a day is a recipe for pungency, and not all studios have an adequate cleaning routine. It’s a grim truth, but I’m warning you now because there’s nothing like a cheesy feet smell to kill a romantic buzz. Of those studios close to SOAS, I’d put Sohot Bikram Yoga at maximum cheesy and Yoga Haven Islington at minimum cheesy (in fact pleasant!) – I can’t overemphasise how useful that advice is. You’re welcome.

A final tip: a successfully executed toe stand is a very impressive thing. I’d advise any newbies to sneak in a few preview classes before inviting any potential lovers along. Obviously don’t tell them this – your expert ‘first class’ will be a marvel. And your face might be a bit less tomato-y at the end, which can only be a good thing.

Cost: about £15

Location: upper middle class areas (exclusively…)   

Pros: the chance to impress with your lithe, flexible physique

Cons: exposing your less than impressive physique

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