Top “dog” indeed. Is Bikram Choudhury yoga’s messiah or just a narcissistic ass? In yoga ‘business’ this guy is in the running for top CEO (can’t forget about our friend the Swamster) with a keen mind for building his brand and watching his assets multiply. In the spiritual practice of yoga, Choudhury is the “the man” and not in a good way. Bikram is so sure of his hot yoga style that when asked if he’d make any changes to his 26 poses, like say, to add downward dog, he basically laughed it off calling D-dog “American circus.” And the clowns in the circus? Oh, well they’d be the teachers of course!
This all coming from a man who wears a zoot suit to his yoga competitions, sports a $58k Piaget watch (given to him by one of his students apparently?) and who owns so may Rolls-Royces he’s lost count…35? he guesses. Self-described “brain-washing,” scripted yoga classes, unsatiated thirst for lavish posessions, a battalion of Rolls-Royces. Anyone else creeped out? Osho revisited?
Don’t worry about his own 6,000 disciples though, Bikram watches over his teaching herd like any proper mob boss, “I take care of people like I am their own father and mother. That’s a key to my success. I take care of people, and they take care of me.”
Honestly there are so many ridiculously outrageous quotes in the rest of this interview it’s hard to pick our favorite! And that’s the edited version.
Here’s a top contender:
Q: Why do you call yoga teachers “clowns?”
A: Because they are clowns. Circus clowns. They completely [expletive] up yoga. They crucified hatha yoga in America. There is no yoga called kundalini, power, vinyasa, dog yoga.
We follow 4,400 years of Patanjali’s The Yoga Sutra. There are eight kinds of yoga—karma, hatha, raja, vedanta, bhakti, mantra, jnana and laya. What the hell is vinyasa?
And Iyengar school [which uses props] looks like a Santa Monica sex shop. You don’t need those things to do yoga.
They make so many stupid things here [in America]. I am teaching the exact same postures as my guru [Bishnu Ghosh] taught me.
Not like he has an opinion or anything.
So is Bikram’s slick self-assured attitude enough to keep his followers entranced or will it turn people off to the point of disgust? Either way he’s asking for controversy and he’s gonna get it! Circus clowns unite!
Yoga’s Top Dog Oversees a Hot Commodity [Chicago Tribune]
Bikram, the McDonald’s of Yoga, Serves it Hot But Not Fresh [Chicago Tribune]