Bikram Yoga Instructor, North Beach, San Francisco (2005)

Although Melanie Einzig now lives in New York, she was born in Los Angeles and frequently returns to California to photograph. As this image suggests, she hasn't lost touch with her roots.

After a day of pounding the pavement in San Francisco, looking for pictures, Einzig decided to attend a yoga class near her hotel. According to the teachings of founder Bikram Choudhury, exercises in this relatively recent school of yoga must be conducted in rooms heated to 105° F, in order to relax the muscles and encourage sweating as a form of purification. This is why the instructor, seen here just after class, is stripped to the waist.

Sitting behind his mirrored desk, he looks as if he might be levitating. Einzig recognized that she was caught up in a real California moment, a new episode in the state's long infatuation with gurus and fakirs. It was good to be home again, so she took a picture.

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