Goldie’s healthy addiction for Bikram yoga
In the 40-degree heat, some 25 bodies lie on the floor breathing deeply. We’ve just finished a Bikram yoga class.
Our towels are damp beneath us. After 90 minutes of feeling faint and queasy I’m desperate to leave. But across the room from me lies Goldie, the 45-year-old drum ‘n’ bass artist turned TV star, and I’m waiting for him to stir.
On the way into the class he gave me, the novice, some advice: “If you’re struggling, just concentrate on your breathing. There’s a riot going on in my head but nobody else knows it.”
Only now do I know what he means. Every few minutes I’ve had to silence the screaming voice telling me that if I can’t stand the heat I should get out of the Bikram studio.
Goldie gets up and I follow his move. We’re both slicked wet with perspiration. He walks over, opens his arms wide and hugs me. Sweat on sweat.
Emotional though this moment may be, Goldie hasn’t been through the same struggle I have this morning. After 11 months of practising Bikram yoga three or four times a week he has breezed through the class. He’s lost 22lbs since he started and tells me: “I now look the same as I was when I was 30, but internally I’m harder and much stronger than I was then.”
When we get outside he’s almost jumping with energy (I’m near collapse), and excited about the day ahead.
“I won’t stop babbling now. I’m off. That’s it. Wooo hoo,” he chirrups. “I’ve had a week feeling shitty [from a cold], but now I feel great.”
Goldie lives with his wife Mika (who is four months pregnant) and 11-year-old daughter Chance (from a previous relationship) in Hertfordshire but several times a week he drives into London to visit the Sohot Bikram Yoga studio in Soho to get his fix.
And a fix is partly what it is like to Goldie. “Yoga is like a drug. You start feeling something across your skin and your hair stands up. You start feeling high,” he says. “If I had administered that stuff up my nose an hour earlier you’d think I had paid good money for that. It’s working.”
He should know, being no stranger to drugs. “I was addicted for years. But this starts to replace it. I’m getting high but it’s not bad for me and I don’t have dodgy dealers knocking on my door.”
Goldie has been clean of drugs for three years now but after taking up Bikram on the recommendation of a friend who “is always super-chilled – very Zen” the yoga is turning him off toxins altogether.
“It totally changes what you want to put in your body,” he says. “On a night out I used to have a litre and a half of vodka, two Rohypnol Now I have a double vodka and I’m hammered. I eat sushi like religion. I won’t have a McDonald’s any more because it makes me feel sick.” And if he falters? “If I slip, the next day you get in the room. I can go to Bikram and it’s a re-set.”
And it’s not just his body that has been affected. Over the years Goldie has been to rehab, which he says “didn’t work for me”, and through a therapy course called The Hoffman Process. He says it helped him come to understand
his “fear of abandonment and being misunderstood”, which was as a consequence of growing up in care in the Midlands.
Now he considers Bikram to be a “constant therapy”. “This is me just checking in,” he says.
“This is the right medicine for me. I’ve made this yoga planet that I can orbit around to give me gravity. It is what really makes me galvanise. I’m happy and this is a fresh start for me. I lost my son [last year his son Jamie Price, 24, was sentenced to a minimum 21 years for murder after stabbing a rival gang member to death], but we have choices. I’m just making choices in my life now that are setting me up for later on.”
It’s hard to stop Goldie’s sentences running away with him. Regularly he begins on a topic and by the time he takes his next breath he’s on a different thread altogether.
Bikram makes him “calm, focused and alert. I haven’t felt this clear for years”, he says, so I wonder what he would be like without it. I find out the next day when he rings me up, frantic – terrified that I might name one teacher in the piece and not the other 10 or so who are all “remarkable”, “spiritually calming” or “a legend”.
This evangelism for sweating it out in the yoga studio has not gone unnoticed. Founder of the practice Bikram Choudhury has been on the phone, offering Goldie private tuition in London – but he turned it down. “I felt like: ‘Who am I? I’m worthless. I’m a newbie.’ What was I going to say to him? I asked his advice. I said: ‘Sometimes I struggle with different postures on different days.’ He said: ‘That’s life.’ I felt like I was asking dumb questions of a guy I admire.”
So where can he go from here? “My wife keeps saying I should become a Bikram teacher”. I’d have to do the training in the US. We’re going to move to Thailand, so I could probably teach there.
When I’m 50 teaching yoga wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment begins on BBC2 this Saturday.