When Hollywood film cameraman Ben Minot injured his knee, he was told he may never walk again without surgery. Unhappy with that idea, he began to explore yoga as a therapy instead. Fast forward to today and Ben has added world class yoga teaching to his work in film. He specialises in Bikram-based hot yoga and is passionate about its transformative powers.
“By the time I was in my mid-thirties, a short hike would result in severe pain and days of recovery. My doctors were telling me I’d soon be unable to walk properly without surgery”.
Ben was curious about alternative methods, so began doing yoga. “I did a pretty deep dive and I found Hot26 yoga to be most effective and I now lead a full, rich, and very active life. I attribute 80% to yoga and the other 20% to lifestyle”.
Also known as Bikram or 26 and 2, Hot26 is a yoga practice based originally on the teachings of Indian bodybuilder and Hatha yogi B C Ghosh who, in the 1920s, influenced the development of modern yoga as exercise. It was later popularised by Bikram Choudhry. Students move through a sequence of 26 set postures, or ‘asanas’, and two breathing exercises, commonly in a heated studio with temperatures reaching around 40ºC. “Hot26 rebalances the autonomic nervous system which regulates the respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestive systems—the magic trinity of well-being. Speaking of cardio, heart rates can climb above 110 at the peak of class”.
Apart from the very significant health improvements that Ben has experienced, he has witnessed impressive turnarounds in his students: “I’ve been particularly inspired to see stroke victims, people with rheumatoid arthritis, PTSD, all kinds of ailments coming to my class. One gentleman, 80+ years of age, came to the studio in a mobility chair at least twice a week. You’re never too old or too unfit to start.” Ben explains that it is a stye of yoga that is suitable for all levels “Think of it as a kind of moving meditation, it is up to you to regulate how much you are challenged on the mat.”
Now based in Oxfordshire, Ben teaches privately and spends time between his home studio, Prana Yoga in Oxford and Hot Yoga Plus in San Francisco, USA. “Teaching, to me, is providing a safe space and the toolkit for wellness, recovery, and growth. I’d like to continue to develop Oxford’s hot yoga scene, creating fully immersive experiences that promote a deeper understanding of this powerful and transformative practice.”
Our Tales from the Mat come from the wonderful Joy Le Fevre, yoga teacher and founder of yogidup.com.