Neanderthal man: Bikram yoga for hardcore blokes


Neanderthal Man is a forty- something, ex-British soldier who collects exotic knives and can strip down and re- assemble a semi-automatic rifle blind-folded. Until recently, he thought ‘chakras’ was a Latina pop star who sung about her hips not lying. But things are changing for the card-carrying caveman, ever since he met the Tree Hugger… 

Yoga. That’s all a bit pink and fluffy isn’t it? When the Tree Hugger first suggested we do a yoga class, I internally snorted, figuring it would be about as tough as eating candy floss. After all, I spent 20 plus years running up hills in army boots at 5am with a backpack full of bricks and assault rifle over my shoulders. Yoga schmoga. A great chance to impress Tree Hugger with my stamina and virile manliness without even breaking a sweat.

“It’s Bikram,” she said, “you’ll love it – it’s brutal.” Yoga? Brutal? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. I Googled it. Sure enough, Bikram involves 26 postures, half of which you do lying down! Maybe I’d take that new Jeffrey Archer novel into class.

As it was my first time, the lady at the studio talked me through the rules. Happy days, I love rules and regimen.

“No talking, no drinking water unless the instructor tells you to, and no leaving the room during class,” she barked. ‘Good’ I thought, ‘stop any wimps from skiving.’ Then off we went to put our mats and towels down in the hot room. ‘A bit toasty,’ I thought, ‘it’ll be like sunbathing’.

Class began with a weird breathing exercise while moving our elbows up and down followed by some arm twisting while sitting in a chair positions but there was no chair. Bah, child’s play.

A balancing bit came next. Hmm. When did standing on one leg get so

hard? Funny how what was easy at age seven isn’t so easy 40 years later. What was wrong with me? I was shaking, straining, breathing hard and sweat was running off me in rivers; forming a pool around my feet. I glanced in the mirror; someone had replaced my head with a big, wet beetroot.

How much longer? Aghk! An hour? Another hour in this blistering torture chamber? Heaven have mercy. Oh thank goodness, we’re lying down. Lucky, or I’d be falling down.

What? The lying down stuff is just as hard. During one pose, I almost cry out with pain. Oh no, I think I’m going to be sick, some pose named after a camel of all things is making me nauseous.

Normally, I think I’ve wasted my time unless I’ve exercised till I throw up but during yoga?! Finally, it was over. I could have filled a bath with the sweat wrung out of my clothes. At least the sweat hid my tears of pain and relief. I hadn’t felt this bad since the 1988 Marines vs Special Forces in the ‘last one dead wins’ 36 hour extreme challenge. What madman came up with this accursed scorching torment? I want to shake his hand! At last I’d found something that completely wrecked me. I was over the moon. This was my kind of workout – nausea-inducing. I love Bikram. I won’t be telling Tree Hugger she was right though, not this side of hell freezing over – admitting that would be true torture.


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