The Man Who Pulled His Own Leg: A Bikram Yoga Memoir

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A new Bikram Yoga memoir by Silas Jackson


 The Man Who Pulled His Own Leg: A Bikram Yoga Memoir

How one man wrestled with extremism and insanity in Bikram Yoga, discovering balance (and love) in the process.

The sometimes inane and sometimes epic story of an addiction to yoga that began with the author’s very first class. The trials, tribulations and triumphs of a hardcore yoga practice are laid out plainly in the sun, scrutinized, weighed, measured and spiced up with as much humor as humanly possible.

Available on Kindle: The Man Who Pulled His Own Leg: A Bikram Yoga Memoir


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Excerpts from The Man Who Pulled His Own Leg: A Bikram Yoga Memoir:

“I make a show of my peaceful attitude, then do yoga as aggressively as if I were wrestling
a bear, and brag, in deep humility, about never resting. I look askance at people who leave the room during class, and say to myself it’s out of compassion because they’re sadly not making the most of their practice. I bend and stretch and strain as hard as I can and struggle to change my body, out of deep, unconditional self-love. I don’t see any of these contradictions, and make affirmations to always remain so mindful throughout future lifetimes.”


“The steamed-up glass door closes behind me and I walk to my already-macerating mat, ready to contort for another ninety minutes and sweat out another couple gallons, glowing with an inward satisfaction. Not only am I on the right track, I think. I’m in a dead sprint towards my destination.”


“Before you can start thinking outside the box, you need to stop thinking there’s a box.”

cock pose

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“Hatha yoga is an ideal vehicle for anyone of any age or constitution to improve their health and quality of life. The fundamental human condition has remained essentially unchanged since yoga was first practiced, so naturally it has endured the test of years, hopped across enormous physical and cultural distances, and remained completely relevant as a part of daily life for countless modern human beings—some fifty centuries after the first people decided to start bending into weird positions presumably just to see what would happen. The practice comes to us today, for the most part, divested of superficies—completely free of all antique cultural baggage or religious connotations. Refined to the kernel of its most agrarian, all- humanity-inclusive value, I’m tempted to call yoga the eighth wonder of the ancient world. Maybe the greatest wonder of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens of Babylon may be nice to look at, but yoga is still saving lives.”


“They say your sweat explodes when you get hit by lightning. Literally explodes. Itdoesn’t just trickle out of sudoriferous glands and dampen your clothes. It’s driven out of your body forcefully by the blast of electric current, and vaporized; it bursts from your skin as steam. I felt as though that had happened to me when I left class; and with the feeling of endless newfound energy crackling through my tissues, I really did feel as though I had just been struck by lightning. I was hooked. From that first class, I grabbed hold of yoga and and wouldn’t loosen my grip one iota for years.”


“And it turns out that absolute truth is an easy sell. People are almost desperate for it. In a moral view of the universe, even perceived punishments are desirable.”


“Learning yoga can be like learning to walk—tireless, obsessive, undaunted, inevitable. Many, many people who glimpse the value of the practice throw themselves at it as if their lives depended on mastering this thing—which really boils down to mastering themselves —until it becomes as natural as breathing and eating. They strive to master it with a complete confidence that their lives won’t progress without it, that it’s absolutely essential to becoming who they are. They eat and breathe yoga. They consume it and let it consume them, until they don’t know who’s eating who, or where they begin and it ends, because there’s no division left. There’s just union. Just the yogi or yogini, wholly, authentically, unexpectedly there; every single shred of what they are—every nerve, tendon, sense, bone, blood vessel; every square-inch of muscle and skin, wide-awake and ready to be used—to be used-up, burned away like a candle. Then all the melted wax can be recast, formed into something shining, new and better. That’s yoga in practice. Or is that in theory?”


“‘You should compete,’ he told me, after the name issue was squared away. ‘You could roll out of bed in the morning and win it.’ I wasn’t surprised to hear him say that, even if I was a little flattered. But I was already used to people gushing over how flexible I was. People would watch me backbend or do a split and tell me I was a natural born yogi, or ask me for advice because they assumed, being so very bendy, I knew something about yoga they didn’t. They’d ask how long it took me to become so flexible, hoping my answer would reveal that, with a little more practice, they could cradle their skulls in the soles of their feet, too.”


“The trouble with identifying yourself as an aspirant after Truth, is that when you find a viewpoint that feels like ‘truth’ to you, and grab hold of it like a life-raft, it doesn’t show that you’re a committed truth-seeker. It just shows that you’re infatuated with that feeling of being ‘right.’ (The same goes for aspirants after ‘health’ or ‘fitness.’) We’re all very capable of self delusion in the presence of something beautiful.”

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Available on Kindle: The Man Who Pulled His Own Leg: A Bikram Yoga Memoir

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