When he wasn't producing arguably the greatest album of all time, Quincy Jones was a dedicated devotee of the Bikram system of Yoga for 15 years. He's even quoted as saying that Yoga was the most important thing in his life at one point. Though you can't really tell from how he speaks, Quincy Jones suffered from not one but two brain aneurysms in 1974 and the doctors thought he would almost certainly die soon because of them. In fact, he only had a 1 in 100 chance of surviving the surgeries needed to repair the aneurysms. His death seemed so certain that he attended his own memorial service which, I imagine, had to have been quite the experience. Miraculously, Jones did survive and said that his brush with death changed his outlook on life. In 1976 he is quoted as saying “I haven’t turned mean or anything like that, but I don’t ever again intend to hold all my feelings inside and refuse to get things out in the open. There’s going to be no more pretending about anything.” That last sentence really resonated with me because "no more pretending" is a mantra I adopted soon after my mom got sick. It's amazing how tragedy leads us to seeing through this game of pretend we play.
Jones admitted that he never rested or exercised before practicing Yoga and he believes that those choices contributed to his illness. Soon after recovering from the surgeries, Jones met Bikram Choudhury -- a pioneer of Yoga in the U.S. and creator of the Bikram system of Yoga or as it is better known, "hot yoga". Bikram migrated from India to the states in the early 1970's and set up Yoga schools in Hawaii and California. It wasn't long before he became the Yoga teacher to the stars as Quincy Jones noted in a 2016 Los Angeles Magazine interview, "I began doing yoga with Bikram Choudhury. Me and Jeff Bridges and Herb Alpert, Candice Bergen, Raquel Welch. Everybody was in that class. Ninety minutes a day for 15 years." Jones credits Yoga for helping him recover both physically and spiritually from the trauma of almost dying. So much credit that he even thanked Bikram in the liner notes of "Thriller"! Fair warning, Choudhury himself is a bit of an eccentric character and not someone that you'd think would be a Yoga teacher judging off of his behavior but one thing that can't be denied is that hot yoga is still a big deal! While Choudhury's name is shrouded in controversy these days, I'm grateful that he developed something that has helped so many people and even produced some of the first Black American Yogis!