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Bikram’s Survival Depends on You

in Business of Yoga, Lawsuit-asana

Bikram-Choudhury-Coke

We’re talking about the yoga style, not the yoga dude. (Though his fate is questionable, too.) In the wake of an already rocky reputation furthered by recent rape allegations, Bikram Choudhury is on shaky ground and his multi-million dollar franchise is starting to show some cracks.

While it’s highly unlikely there be quite the same Anusara-sized fallout, where the brand itself all but dissolved after founder John Friend’s terrible year, there is a trend of distancing happening in the Bikram community for those who do not wish to be connected with accusations of sexual misconduct, rape and ego-driven power plays. Now with the Bikram sequence no longer protected under U.S. copyright, the disenfranchised are starting to make some plays of their own. Hot yoga is hot right now, in case you haven’t noticed.

This Yoga Journal article poses the big question, ‘Will Bikram Yoga Survive?’ We’d say that all depends on you: the teachers, the studio owners, the practitioners, the community. Lately there hasn’t been much public conversation, but slowly murmurs are coming to the surface and changes are taking place.

YJ interviewed Stephanie Dixon, owner of the former Bikram Yoga Summerlin in Las Vegas, who just recently changed the studio name to Summerlin Yoga and has started to phase out Bikram classes.

“I don’t condone that type of behavior, and it’s not what I want to represent,” Dixon told YJ. Dixon says she’s been contacted by several other studios asking advice on how to transition away from Bikram Yoga.

And from the descent into the murk and the mud rise shiny new lotus flowers aka Bikram hybrids and/or hot-to-regular yoga bridges and bandaids, like Mark Balfe-Taylor’s Revitalize, an alternative to Bikram’s 26 poses he’s promoting to wannabe ex-Bikramers, with a teacher training and everything. Gotta strike while the yoga is hot, ya know?

Even the United States Yoga Federation, the organization run by Bikram’s wife Rajashree responsible for all those asana championships, has made a concerted effort to separate themselves from Bikram (yoga and Choudhury) which could be a smart move for their Olympic dreams, or just a smart move in general.

But while there’s certainly an air of dissension, distancing and entrepreneurial enterprises, there are many Bikram devotees who couldn’t care less about the accusations because they believe strongly that there’s a big difference behind Bikram the man and Bikram the yoga.

David Kiser, owner of Bikram Yoga Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina told YJ: “The yoga goes way beyond the man, and the practice is pure and simple. Nothing Bikram the man does can change that.”

So will Bikram Yoga survive? It may be too early to tell, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to look a lot different from the showy Rolex-wearing, Rolls Royce-riding bad boy image its leader has put forth for so many years. The times they are a-changin’. Friend, Desikachar, Bikram…are we done with the power-fiending gurus now, please?

Lawsuit update: Court documents state that the next hearing for one of the lawsuits filed in May is scheduled for October 23, 2014.

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44 comments… add one

  • I read Lorr’s book Hellbent which clearly shows that Bikram is a narcissistic sociopath who does have a cult. All the teachers memorize the script so every class is a cookie cutter and nobody can bring in their own innate wisdom or ideas.
    Because he blatantly abuses people and is definitely not leading a yogic lifestyle, I think its time for this man to be ‘defrocked” It looks like he is going to do it to himself. He is out of control with money, power and too many women surrounding him in tights.
    Besides his lack of integrity on many levels, I wonder how many barrels of oil a day are being burned to heat up all of the hot yoga studios. Is this really necessary? Many of the claims such as losing weight are simply not true and there is no science behind his poses or his claims. I have many clients and friends who have seriously injured knees and poor postural habits of standing with the knee joint pushed back in hyperextension. He tells people anatomically questionable things like ‘ you have no knees’ and we are in the business of selling pain. Many people suffer not just from being raped and abused mentally but his 26 poses contain several considered by PTS and experts like Bob Gadja to be russian roulette for the joints. Hero pose is one of them that overstretches knee ligaments and his famous client Lady Gaga just had to have major hip surgery from a torn labrum. Bikram is definitely on the way out. The man and the practice… Yoga needs to evolve. Info at http://www.yogainjuries.com

  • jojo

    The heat is one hundred percent definitely worth it. I’ve done a lot of yoga without the heat and the heat just takes it to another level.

    You won’t hyperextend and injure yourself if you listen to your body. The same goes for life in general. You won’t hurt yourself if you learn to listen to yourself instead of pushing on with ego or being paralysed in fear.

  • James

    I’m sorry to focus on such a small part of your post but you have got to be kidding with the “how many barrels of oil a day are being burned to heat up all of the hot yoga studios” nonsense. Most building in the US use natural gas for heat. And even if we change your statement to “how much energy is used…” that would still be such a small portion of the hundreds of millions of buildings in the US as to be completely insignificant.

    Back on topic, Bikram is a dangerous game because the instructors don’t spend enough time explaining the difference between locking your knee by tensing your muscles and hyper-extending your knee. The problem lies in the competitive nature of the practitioners trying to go too far before they understand their bodies.

  • Adan

    James, you raise an interesting point. While the energy used may be insignificant, keep in mind that added demand for natural gas fuels the increased call for fracking, which may be problematic for the environment.

    At the same time, just because something is an insignificant or small portion, it could still be substantial. After all, 1% of a trillion is still 10million. Something each yogi should examine is whether their actions are contributing to the betterment or worsening of the environment (while balancing the benefit their actions bring to society and the Self), and whether they should change those actions.

  • James

    This really isn’t the proper forum for a discussion on the merits of using natural resources to continue our comfort at its present level. I agree that “insignificant” is a relative term.

  • My statement about burning the extra fossil fuels is given to show how non yogic it is to consume extra fossil fuels beyond heating our homes to do yoga Ideally yogis consider the earth and how we are all connected and would want to keep a lighter energy footprint. When I first tried Bikram yoga in the heat, I like the heat but not the sequence but I considered adding heat to my private home studio in Hawaii where we do not need heaters. My former husband said so now what, you are going to burn extra fossil fuels to do your yoga? I said sheepishly, no I am not. Its just an example of the excess lavish lifestyle that this man and his practice cultivate. Everyone believes they are sweating out their toxins in Bikram using the heaters ? No, sweating cools our body. We eliminate toxins and waste via our liver and kidneys when we go to the bathroom. Many people actually cause electrolyte imbalances and some even get so dehydrated that it is hard on the kidneys and adrenals. I have often wondered how much oxygen is even in the air in a Bikram class because most of the ones I have seen have the windows and doors sealed up and after about a half hour, how much oxygen is even available? It would be interesting to test the levels of O2 and Co2 before and after.

  • Yelba Zoe

    Hi Micahaelle,

    I can address your last question: How much oxygen is available? — Well, it depends on the studio — the better build ones have heating systems that pool in fresh air during the entire class — so it maybe getting hotter, but the air in ventilated. However, not all studios do that,you’d have to check.

    I agree with you that you don’t sweat the toxins, but it does feel great to sweat, and it’s much nicer on the muscles to stretch in a hot or warm room; maybe your happy medium would be to do the yoga in a warm room.

    Cheers!

  • I agree there is a competitive edge happening and people are pushing their joints to extreme hyperextension and hyper-flexion in various poses. But they will pay a price in terms of longterm joint integrity.
    Use the discernment skills suggested repeatedly in the yoga sutras to determine if something we are doing is contributing to a good outcome. How is this pose contributing to how my body moves in real life and what is the outcome of doing positions like standing head to knee? The flexion of the ankle in this position creates the hyperextension on the knee joint . It does not matter what you try to do at the knee. The body is a continuum and when we flex the ankle, the knee locks. It would be better to extend the ankle in this pose and keep the standing knee bent to release the sacral region. ( this is how we move in real life; one knee has to bend to allow the other to extend) In standing head to knee, if you look at the tension and torque on the entire spinal column especially the Sacroiliac joint, this is not natural anatomical function. This pose puts people in a muscled up slouch !These type of poses are akin to pulling yourself apart at the seams because ligaments are being over-stretched. The ligaments need to be tight enough to keep our knee and hip joint stabilized for real life function. The effect of many yoga poses is that flexibility has been glamorized and natural function is not even considered. Doing poses like standing head to knee ( with ankle flexed) causes knee hyperextension and the tibia and fibula to be pushed too far back instead of aligning with the femur. In the years to come, this will lead to the hip and knee replacements that are happening all over the yoga world to famous and non famous practitioners. It happens to ballet dancers too, pushing joints too far to get in artistic positions that do not simulate natural design and function leads to problems as we age. My client base is full of yogis whose joints are stretched out and they lack muscular strength that stabilizes the hip, spine and legs. Many poses allow people to hang from their joints ! this is why I invented something new 20 years ago. YogAlign.

  • David

    Ahimsa: non violence. So, if it’s a little violence or a lot of violence, it still creates an indifference to violence. “Yoga” is not just asana, but encompasses the 8 limbs described by Sri Patanjali. Our goal should be to create space and be light, not just on ourselves, but in the world. Egos and violence take up space and impede upon the world and its inhabitants. These things create weight and leave permanent marks upon the ground we walk and the space in which we travel. If there is a little energy or a lot, there is still a foot print. While it may be impossible to exist without leaving a mark, let that mark be as light and insignificant as possible. When we perform actions and express thoughts in this way, we are being intelligent with integrity. Peace.

  • Sarag

    agree!

  • Frank

    I’m a Bikram yoga teacher. Bikram is a nutcase, a lowlife, a pig. He’s not my guru. But, his yoga class is great. And yes, we do spend teacher training memorizing the 90 minute text. And it’s a good starting point, but believe me, the more experienced we get, the less we rely on the script. We do incorporate our “innate wisdom and ideas”.

    From what I’ve seen of the people who have injured themselves doing the yoga, they’ve been competing, pushing themselves way beyond where they should be pushing themselves. Anybody with common sense will listen to their bodies and protect themselves. And anybody with the type A competitive personality will injure themselves no matter what they do.

    I’m all for criticizing Bikram. As I said, he’s a complete asshole, but the class is good. You loose your credibility when you spout things about the class that you don’t really know about. Do everyone a favor, when you criticize him, know what you’re talking about, then your comments will have some power.

  • Great that you are not staying in the Bikram mold but I do speak from experience having once done Bikram yoga for two weeks to get a feeling for the practice.
    There are definitely poses that are risky to do whether you are pushing or not and I personally know two people with knee replacements who say that it was from Bikram yoga. The standing head to knee pose is a very dangerous pose and the sacral joint torque by flexing the lifted ankle and bowing back on the standing leg puts hundreds of pounds of pressure on the spine approximately 750 pounds ! In the coming years, the biomechanics of yoga poses are going to come under scrutiny and many poses will be considered too risky and unnecessary. Plow, headstand, and straight leg forward bends from seated and standing will be the first to go. Humans are made of curves and our spine should not be made to flex under a lot of pressure. The hip and knee replacements are becoming epidemic in the yoga world. People need to stop pushing their joints into extreme flexion or hyperextension to perform poses. Just try to walk without bending your knees. Feel the tension on your lumbar sacral region and backs of your knees? When you bend over with out letting your knees bend, you are stretching ligaments needed to keep the joints together. Ask any PT, dont stretch ligaments !

  • Frank, Thank goodness people like you are adding to or changing the Bikram script by bringing their own wisdom into teaching and even allowing props and pose variations.
    However according to what I have heard from people who took the training, Bikram teachers are supposed to stick with the script and if they are caught changing it, could be banned from teaching and using the Bikram name. Would you say that is correct?
    Also your statement that the class is great does not consider that there may be some poses that are anatomically questionable for the design of the human body. This will be questioned and scrutinized in the years to come as people began to realize that since the gurus are not infallible perhaps what the poses they teach are not either.
    Bikram holds no degrees in biomechanics or anatomy or even body work. What makes him such an expert on telling people how they should engage their body? And why does he himself no longer practice the 26 poses?Being ‘good’ at doing Bikrams series does not mean that you are functionally aligned or fit. Many teachers I have known have hypermobile joints which is not a safe condition for joint longevity. See my article at elephant journal. elephantjournal.com/2013/07/when-flexibility-becomes-a-liability-michaelle-edwards/

  • Jenifer

    As a yoga teacher as well (not bikram, but well enough familiar with bikram — the style, not the man), I have to say that there tend to be four reasons why people injure themselves in yoga (all forms):

    1. the student is being stupid (competing, ego, not following instructions, etc);

    2. the teacher is being stupid (the sequence isn’t compatible with the student’s needs, the teaching isn’t clear and accessible — ie, bad instruction — the hands on assists are too heavy or potentially injurious, etc;

    3. the teacher and students are being stupid simultaneously;

    4. the student has underlying postural conditions and patterns that the teacher does not observe and/or cannot reach because s/he lacks understanding/awareness around what the student needs specifically (this can be reached with or without a set sequence), nor is the student even aware of these postural conditions and patterns that affect their movement and therefore, ultimately, will lead to injury in any endeavor, including just being alive (live long enough, the pattern will manifest in pain and injury.

    I think it’s important for everyone to take responsibility for WHY a person gets injured. A large part of it IS the teacher. Some of it is decisions that teachers make — like not fully understanding the science and risks of using heat therapeutically, and at what point it may not be therapeutic for an individual student (my experience of hot yogas in general is that “heat is what cures you!” is a rather common refrain — even if it seems clear that part of the issue in the injury (particularly ligament and tendon damage that is developing or actually has manifest).

    The “heat is always good” idea can be a huge barrier to being really honest about the origins of injury within yoga. Just like saying ‘heat is always bad” closes the door on a therapeutic tool at our disposal as teachers (sometimes, it’s the *right* thing to apply in a given situation).

    And I’ll be honest, I use the bikram sequence therapeutically in my teaching. It is amazing for women with endometriosis. I have no idea why (there’s no science to back it up, basically. I’ve read the traditional claims). But, I take them through the sequence without heat in the room (ambient temperatures). I also use a lot of props (iyengar style) as they go through the sequence.

    I’ve used other “preexisting” sequences as well — astanga, iyengar, kundalini and kali rae triyoga sequences, etc etc etc. And, I also make my own based on what’s presenting in front of me (ie, what the clients specific needs are, what their goals are, and so on).

    I consider all of these things therapeutic tools. But I don’t think that any given sequence or method is the end-all, be all of sequences or methods. It’s good to judiciously apply critical thinking to our work.

  • Having created a 60 minute show + nightly Q&A about Bikram and his sexual exploits, I know I am not alone in being unable to seperate the asana practice from the dictatorship of the master. So long as Bikram trained instructors continue to echo the dictator’s wordship and demand their students to move according to the gospel (I wonder if they have experience to teach in any other way?) and so long as pictures of Bikram hang on each side of studio walls (to be purchased on the training college website); even the most inward looking practitioners are reminded of his presence. Thanks for the discussion YD!!

  • Where is the show you did ? would like to view that. thanks, M

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    It’s an entry-level to yoga practice at this point.

    I did it exclusively for a decade and loved it. But obviously Bikram the person has faults (to say the least). But since earlier this year, I’ve found myself going to various other yoga studios that have started popping up in the area.

    The biggest advantage that Bikram studios have to me is the ability to really work hard, sweat, and afterwards take a shower. Core Power Yoga studios are much better, in terms of the practice, than Bikram-only studios. Their Hot 90 minute practice is there, as is the Fusion, which is half flow and half Bikram, and my favorite.

    But to the point, in some places, like Portland Oregon, Bikram yoga is obviously over. I think there is only 1 Bikram studio there now, among what, 80 yoga studios in the city? But in other places, where yoga is just starting, the Bikram studio is the mainstay still.

  • MEM

    Bikram yoga is definitely NOT over in Portland, OR. Actually, in the past 6 months, 3 new Bikram yoga studios have opened in the Portland OR metro area. There are a total of 8 Bikram studios now, and they are all well-attended. One Portland studio (Alberta Street) is apparently in the process of distancing from Bikram, but they’re still using his name on their website, teaching his yoga series.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    Well, are you counting in your 8 Portland OR studios that are Bikram “hot” yoga classes MEM? Having lived in the city for a number of times over the years, I can recall when Bikram was THE place for yoga, and it is not the case any longer.

    Even Bikram’s yoga site only lists 2 studios in the city:
    http://www.bikramyoga.com/studioSearch.php?address1=&pin=&studio_actual_name=&state_code=&searchBox=Portland%2C+OR&btnSubmit=Get+Studio

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    In fact, there are only 7 Bikram places in the entire state of Oregon:

    http://www.bikramyoga.com/studioListing.php?type=ALL

    Maybe there are more that are not listed? I dunno.

    I’m not saying Bikram yoga is collapsing, far from it. I live on the east coast right now and it is still just starting, and I think it’s great. But I know that in the developed places of yoga in the states, that Bikram pales in comparison to the better class styles, better teachers, than the one-size-fits-all of Bikram– but it’s a great start.

  • MEM

    In the Portland metro area, which includes Beaverton, West Linn, the ‘Couv, there are 8 Bikram Yoga Studios, all of which are well-attended.
    Three Portland area studios are owned by Bikram Yoga Greater Portland. Their website is:
    http://www.bikramyogapdx.com/
    Also in Portland metro area:
    http://www.bikramfremontstreet.com/
    http://www.bikramyogawestlinn.com/
    In Vancouver, WA–part of the metro area, not part of Oregon,
    http://www.bikramyogahazeldell.com/
    Two studios owned by Bikram Hot Yoga Vancouver:
    http://www.vancouverbikramyoga.com/

    In addtion, the Alberta Street studio continues to teach Bikram yoga, but they are supposedly dropping Bikram from their name.

    As in just about every style of yoga, there are some fantastic and highly knowledgeable Bikram teachers, some wonderful studios. As in other forms and styles of yoga, some are not so good. I’ve been to plenty of less-than-stellar non-Bikam classes in Portland–vinyasa, “power flow,” and generic hatha yoga classes taught by people with very minimal training and seemingly little knowledge of yoga.

    Yoga is growing in popularity across the board. There are new studios of all kinds popping up all over, so perhaps, in your opinion, Bikram yoga looks to be “over.” But at least 3 of the above Bikram studios are seeing their highest ever class attendance this summer. Bikram Yoga continues to be very very popular in Portland.

  • Warmax
  • Francesca McInnis

    The latest lawsuit is the most damning of all…from his ex inhouse lawyer…Even the Mafia don’t fire their lawyers because they know where all the bodies are buried…this lawsuit shows Rajashree’s knowledge of what her husband was doing to young girls and the fact she dinothing to help them….that i the very same woman who is supposedly heling sex trafficking of young women…meanwhile back at the lodge….

  • James

    Source? Bikram (the man) fired his lawyer and the lawyer is suing? Suing for what?

    I can’t find anything about this.

  • aj

    Tis true! She filed 25 charges. Backed up the allegations and called Raj out too. Keep searching… there are links out there to the actual case.

  • James

    Still can’t find anything.

    “Backed up the allegations” of what? Of the rape cases? I’m pretty sure that would violate most jurisdictions’ attorney/client privilege.

    I’m going to go ahead and decide you are full of it until I see any evidence at all to the contrary.

  • James

    YD beat you to it. Pretty interesting stuff. This will be a fun read.

    Still surprised that it still doesn’t appear online even when I search by “Mickie Jafa-Bodden”.

  • Sarag

    this is why i would NEVER support Bikram yoga being an Olympic sport, the man and his wife that are behind this are f’d up beyond repair, and do not represent the sport of an Olympian.

  • John Friend shouldn’t have vacated his position. He had sex with mature woman not children. I do agree it wasn’t a good idea and repentance was needed but he didn’t do anything illegal worse is done all the time. From a business perspective it was a bad move on his part to step down and wipe out his business. Bikram is being sued for rape. This is completely different allegations than having sex with willing partners that could have said no. One is rape was is philandering. Many men and woman have slept with multiple partners or dated multiple people at one time this isn’t illegal while RAPE is.

  • Sarag

    thank you! it is interesting that JF and Bikram are being put on the same category, Friend did nothing close to these allegations whatsoever!

  • Spiritual Bypass

    They certainly do not belong in the same category.

    By the same token, Friend thoroughly undermined his own integrity and credibility, not just by the behavior that come to light, but by how he handled the the fallout in the following months. Teachers who went through hell with him trying to find a way forward ended up having to give up and walk away while trying yet to salvage the brand.

    It wasn’t so simple as him just making a ‘bad call’ in ‘vacating’ his position — not by a long shot; nor did the whole matter come down to just sexual transgressions.

    That said, Friend did not merit criminal proceedings and never faced them (though he came rather close to facing civil proceedings). Bikram does, and merits a very hot cell for all that he is accused of, if it comes to trial and conviction in criminal proceedings. He hasn’t dodged that bullet yet.

  • Love the “hot cell” concept :) )
    I’m sure he’ll figure out a new hot-prison-break yoga style with his new companions… when birdie nam-nam meets brokeback mountain pose… (??!)

  • Peter Sarandon

    This man has created something quite exceptional and had brought yoga to so many. I for one will never forget the exhilaration I felt after my first class. Ive taken that feeling into other forms of yoga with great success….
    That said I think its not for everyone and having extended into other yoga think that its far from perfect, but if one truly follows the dialogue one can have a truly uplifting experience.
    As for the legal issues, I can distance myself quite easily – they’re totally separate.
    If rape is proven then give it to him hard, but proving it is, quite rightly, key!

  • Sarag

    After reading this article and had my own questions about “hot yoga”, I have come to the opinion that I do not wish to put my body through hot yoga, nor will I recommend it to anyone who asks me what I think about it. You can cut and paste this link to your browser if you want to read a good article that really gives some thought into whether hot yoga is effective or ineffective, if the claims and statements of health benefits in a heated room have been fully investigated:
    http://jessicawilsonyoga.com/2013/07/31/battle-of-the-yogis-hot-vs-not-what-research-says-about-hot-yoga/

  • To each of us, our own (form of yoga). Those committed to this style will likely stay with it. Those who aren’t, likely won’t adopt it. It is difficult to separate the man from his brand in this society. I hope that we can start on the path of being able to separate the person from the style, avoid the hero worship that usually goes along with fame such as this, and just do the yoga that suits each of us.

  • Spiritual Bypass

    If the ‘yoga is different from the man,’ then why does the ‘yoga’ need to continue to carry the man’s name?

    If teachers carry on with the name, aren’t they continuing to cash in on the ‘Bikram’ name, rather than letting the ‘practice’ stand on its own merits?

    The sequence is not protected by copyright. If teachers have such faith in the sequence and heat, let them drop the name and continue on.

    If they don’t, they are continuing to piggy-back on a sociopath while putting money in his pocket and enabling his behavior by their tacit support/failure to fully abjure his behavior.

    Let it fall of its own weight, let it burn and move on.

    Yoga up and get off of your comfortable seat on the fence, ‘Bikram’ teachers.

  • I do agree with some of Michaelle’s points. I also consider that some of the memorized instruction leads people/clients to be injurious to their body as she pointed out with the classic “lock the knee” instruction. Although, anatomy experts like, David Coulter, author of “Anatomy of Hatha Yoga” and Ray Long, author of the “Yoga mat companion series” both agree that it is a sound instruction for the majority, but potentially harmful for those that hyperextend. Hero pose or Fixed Firm (Supta Virasana) is also fine if done with tools like a yoga block to modify for those that have knee issues. The Bikram series is showing its age as it hasn’t been updated since its creation in the 70′s. Ashtanga, another classic set sequence, has evolved probably because of the widespread, documented yoga information circulated these days. Teachers now have resources such as the authors mentioned above and others like the great work of Leslie Kaminoff, that highlight the body in yoga poses. The work of these authors challenges some of the instruction in the Bikram dialogue and it’s my view that the Bikram dialogue works fantastically well for the vast majority of people; however, there are the unspoken percentage of people who need modification and the use of tools to reach their potential and prevent injury. Also, the Bikram series sequencing has long been challenged by traditional yogis. Hot yoga has a tremendous following and that is mostly due to people feeling better for practicing yoga in the heat. But there are other hot yoga sequences evolving, such as Moksha and my own Revitalize (currently being met with much positivity in the Las Vegas Bikram community), that are taking the best elements of the Bikram practice along with some researched changes to the sequencing and modifications to provide longevity in the practice to promote and spread peace, love, health and wellness. ~@YogiMarkBT

  • Amen! Good for you. Sounds like you have the right idea!

  • tommyloyd

    26 and 2 is in the process of throwing off it’s chains and gettin’ free and stuff. We have a new HOT yoga studio in town that teaches multiple styles, great teachers, nice room and the studio is more profitable! Fantastic community, awesome yoga! I’m headed off to my Sunday Vinyasa right now…

  • Hi, all.

    I have enjoyed each of your comments. All worthwhile considerations.

    I am Bikram yoga certified (2006), and taught it for several years. I ultimately had to leave the local BY studios because of philosophical differences in management of staff and personnel. It was a difficult decision because the students and the practice are all great.

    Since leaving Bikram, I have read many books on yoga and practiced other traditions. There is so much to be explored and enjoyed, in addition to Bikram’s style.

    As luck would have it, students are everywhere!!! You just have to create a venue for them. Which is exactly what I have done with Hot Mix Yoga. Now our city has an alternative, where students can actually talk in the yoga room, ask questions, etc. On some days, I don’t even turn the heat on.

    “Mix” because I can mix in any postures I see fit for the students in front of me, and I can actually teach my students how to execute postures safely, as opposed to just “spouting out dialogue” without any real teaching.

    Many who graduate from Bikram Training have no prior background in the human body, anatomy, physiology, psychology of sports and performance, or teaching techniques, etc. And their teaching shows it! Alot of them just have cute little bodies and good postures. They fail to give corrections, often times because they do not know how! And that is scary to me.

    About 90% of the former Bikram yogis that now practice HMY with me said, “oh my god, I have been practicing for years and no one ever told me I was doing it wrong”. I kid you not.

    I wish the local Bikram studios well, (btw, they changed their name, but still sponsored the Asana Competition), and encourage everyone to get out there and provide your community with a safe, fun and effective alternative.

    Wish me luck. I just started in November.

    Peace,
    RD
    Hot Mix Yoga

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    Very cool RD, you will do fine.

  • David

    He set a precident. He likes to sue people, so interm, he is going to get sued. Whether these claims are true or false, you create the world you live in. What you put into the world comes back to you. If these claims are true, he’s lucky this is all that’s happening. If the claims are not true (which at this point, I doubt) he is still experiencing the kind of justice he likes to dish out. Is that actually a coke that he’s holding up? I mean non bodies perfect, but a teacher drinking a coke in a hot yoga class is about as silly as it gets. Oh my!

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  • EP

    Like most (all?) of you I find these charges very troubling. I hope the legal system addresses them correctly, and personally I will never put another dollar in his pocket. But this leaves me with a question. Is is OK for people to teach the sequence in a heated room and not call it Bikram yoga? I’m leaning towards yes, but am not 100% and am curious what others think. As we’ve seen, the copyright attempt didn’t work, and besides the oddness of trying to personally claim asanas, I remember Bikram would say that the sequence was passed to him from his teacher, so he didn’t even create this particular combination. Although I don’t do it now, I’ve spent a lot of time in Bikram classes in several cities, and in every studio I’ve spent time in, the owners were lovely. From my view, they are nothing like Bikram. I’m not opposed to them continuing to offer the sequence but changing the name of the studio if they want to distance themselves from the person/brand. (And FWIW: I learned the sequence from Bikram and a lot of the standard criticisms of the class don’t reflect how he taught it. For example, as others have noted, the famous “locked knee” is taught as engaging all of the muscles in the leg- it’s not so focused on the knee. *One of the things I appreciated was that there was an option in each asana for people at every fitness level- they are all on a continuum. This is not the case for 95% of the classes that I see now. I think this is a lesson a lot of teachers could incorporate into their classes)

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