Maybe. But in America, entertainers are leaders and leaders are (entertainers. In that light, Choudhury makes sense for American (yoga. He's a rock star—and the sweaty masses in the tent, currently struggling to hold the toe-stand pose, are his fans, joined together in shared idolatry.

After another grueling two-hour session, the warm morning air is like a meat locker compared with the superheated tent. My body and mind feel airy, illuminated, cleansed. It's a glimpse of samadhi that sparks a realization: Regardless of how it's packaged, yoga—or any demanding exercise—can produce a kind of enlightenment.

A feline yogini seated outside the tent looks at me appraisingly. She can tell from my body that I'm not a regular practitioner. "Stick with it," she says, bringing her arms over her head, her fingers knit loosely together. Her appearance is overtly sexual. "Soon you won't ask yourself why you do it. You'll ask yourself why everyone else doesn't."

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