Goldie’s guide to Bikram yoga
HOT BIKRAM YOGA WITH
The drum and bass legend has just turned 50, but feels fitter than ever. He credits yoga for not only getting him in the best shape of his life, but also saving it. We join him to see what all the fuss is about
Waiting outside the studio at Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge, we almost have to pinch ourselves – but this isn’t a fever dream. We really are about to spend 90 minutes doing yoga with a man famous for everything from breakdancing to ballroom dancing, spinning records at raves to conducting orchestras at the Royal Albert Hall. Goldie is clearly a man of many talents but we wouldn’t have guessed doing a mean downward dog would be one of them. Which leads us to our first question… To be honest, we wouldn’t have pegged you as a yoga lover. How did you first get into it? I used to think it was tree-hugging bollocks. I didn’t really get it or have any interest in doing it. I went to the gym a lot and associated fitness with being big. A lot of my pals did yoga and they were so chilled that I just wanted to slap them in the face to see if they would react. I found their business ethic and the way they were going about themselves frustratingly calm at a time when I was hectic.
What changed? Michael Kopelman [of streetwear brands Stussy and Supreme] was the one who got me into it. The guy is pure Zen. He fixed me with a gentle stare and just said, “mate, try Bikram”.
We guess you did… Yeah, and I ended up on the floor. I thought I was strong, so I couldn’t get my head around it. I felt defeated. And now, five years later, you’ve got your own yoga clothing line. Yeah, Yogangster. The whole “gangster” thing is tongue in cheek. I’ve had people say to me, “What, you think you’re a gangster?” and I’m like, “No, you idiot, it’s a pun, it’s supposed to be funny”. Yeah, gangsters don’t leap to mind when thinking of yoga… Exactly, and neither do I. If you’d said to me years ago, “You see that geezer Goldie who raves like a mad ’un, he’s going to be a yoga evangelist”, I would have laughed. So, why not call it Yogangster? hotpants. What would your 20-yearold self have made of that? He would have found it hilarious. But things have changed. My daughter’s 17 and she thinks yoga is cool. So much so that she’s going to be a part of my programme to get more young people from different backgrounds into it. Even ten years ago, you couldn’t imagine inner-city kids doing yoga – they’d have just thought it was hippy rubbish. But you think it would be well received now? We used to carry massive brick phones and think that was cool – now, looking back, we all looked like a bunch of idiots. People change. Look at the way attitudes to food have evolved over the last ten years. We don’t want fast-food bollocks. You can go to a farmer’s market or popup food stall and get delicious, alternative meals that weren’t even an option a few years ago. We’re becoming more aware that we need some kind of protection from the shit modern life throws at us. Would you say the protection yoga provides is just mental, or would you go as far as to call it spiritual? I think I’ve found the spirituality of it. I didn’t believe it was there, but I’ve found it in the meditation. I’ve tried other types of yoga, and don’t get me wrong, all yoga is good, but the reason Bikram works for me is because I live in the fast lane. In the gym you do your sets, but you’re also looking over to see what everyone else is doing. Bikram has more camaraderie. You’re in front of a mirror, so to say you’re removing the ego is bollocks. You are focused on yourself, but in a selfie-obsessed world this is where you get to see your real self… fucking suffering. You see yourself struggling, which people often don’t like. A Bikram regular, Dan, walks past at this moment and gives Goldie a handshake, saying, “You don’t struggle mate!” Anyway, it’s important to get to that moment of realisation that you’re struggling, and that’s fine. For me, that’s where the meditative side comes in. It doesn’t always happen, it’s up and down, because no two sessions are the same. Don’t you get the same feeling from doing a tough set at the gym? Nah, that was more like clockwork. I’d do the same sessions – back, chest, arms and legs – but didn’t get much out of it apart from bigger muscles. On the flipside I can come here and do the same postures every day but get something different out of it each time. Nothing else can do that. At your peak you must have been hitting it hard. Are you worried about the long-term effects of the drugs and late nights, and do you see yoga as a way to cleanse your system? It’s a total cleanse. My mind is clear. I could never have felt like this back then.
You’re literally sweating that crap out. Yeah – this is the master cleanse, without a doubt. But it’s how it’s changed my thinking that’s most profound – the clarity it’s given me. The best analogy for it is… Goldie pauses, eyes darting as he searches for the best way to express his point. OK… it’s been like pulling my entire brain out of my head, flattening it out and looking at the plan. Then folding it back together neatly. Like packing a parachute.
And how does this benefit you?
“Doing yoga is like being offered the blue pill or the red pill. You’ll never see the world in the same way after deciding to start this journey”
And now not only are you espousing the benefits of yoga to MF, you’re wearing shorts that are essentially I get more work done for a start. Since I got back from Thailand I’ve been doing four gigs a week.
It’s sweltering, but though the class is tough MF makes it through with the help and encouragement of Goldie and Brown. One and a half sweaty hours later, we delve into the other side of his varied career…
You’ve done a lot of reality TV – Strictly Come Dancing, Come Dine With Me, Maestro. What was the most fun?
Strictly Come Dancing – gold shirt, can’t
We thought you might regret that one. I don’t regret any of them. Why would I? I get to live in Thailand in a beautiful house and it’s partly because of stuff like that. How do you think you’ve managed to gain such mainstream acceptance yet still retain underground respect? Because everyone knows I’m taking the piss and getting paid for it.
Unless it’s The Games… [Goldie was supposed to be in the first series of the Channel 4 celebrity sports show but broke his leg in the last water-ski practice before filming] All right, that was rubbish, but it’s actually one of the reasons I do yoga now.
So you’re living in Thailand now? That’s right, but I’ve been back here since May and my schedule has been stacked. I’ve played festivals all over Europe, sometimes doing three one day and two the next, but my headspace has felt clear throughout. I also paint a lot and recently did a show in Mayfair that I produced 26 pieces for in 18 months. I look at my drug-taking in the early days – I did fuckall back then. With hot yoga I’ve taken an addictive tendency and made it positive.
This is your new addiction? Yeah, and it’s the best one anyone could have. I’ve seen a big change from doing yoga but it’s happening slowly and makes me excited to see how much further I can take it. I used to be an Aero bar – big, but no substance. My strength is real now, and though I was ripped in my 30s and hench in my 40s, now I’m approaching 50 I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. The doors open and teacher Cintra Brown welcomes the class. Our conversation breaks as yoga mats are rolled out. “Remember: yoga is not about learning to stand on your head,” says Brown. “It’s about learning to stand on your own two feet.” The doctors said I might not be able to walk without a stick and wouldn’t be able to run, but thanks to Bikram I can. When that accident happened I hadn’t done any yoga. I was at the bottom physically and mentally and went on a bender for a year. That’s when I saw Michael [Kopelman] and decided to have a crack at this. It’s not too much of a stretch to say taking up hot yoga saved my life.
I only did The Games to pay for my divorce and it was the last turn of the last day of practice. I went over the ramp OK, then I hit the water badly and my weight plunged the ski into the wake, which twisted it so hard that it managed to break the biggest bone in the body like it was nothing. I came up out of the water to see my foot bobbing up over my head. Grim. Changing subject… how would you sell hot yoga to MF readers? If you really want to challenge yourself, come and try it. Give it 45 minutes and try telling me it’s for girls. It’ll also help you look and feel amazing. I’m 50 in two weeks and don’t feel it. Hot yoga has given me a new lease of life and it can do that for you if you’re willing to embrace it – even if you don’t think you need one.
MF’s Max makes a valiant attempt to master a pose while Goldie
At 50, Goldie is more
flexible than ever