Bikram Yoga’s got a brand new vibe, and it has less and less to do with Bikram. It’s happened. NYC’s first Bikram Yoga Studio has officially dropped the namesake and is no longer limited to the strict, stick-to-the-script 26 pose practice made famous by the foul-mouthed philanderer himself, Bikram Choudhury.
Choudhury, in case you missed it (because you were blissfully meditating under a yoga mat for the past few years? understandable, by the way), is still entwined in multiple lawsuits and allegations of rape and sexual assault. The latest news was that the Rolex-adorned adulterer was trying to weasel his way out of paying the close to $7 million he was ordered to pay his former legal advisor after losing the sexual harassment case. That, and he skipped town and there’s a warrant out for his arrest.
Believe it or not, some people don’t want to be associated with the ‘Don’ anymore, though not too long ago they appeared to be some of his loyalest supporters. To the man or to the practice? Can they be separated?
Bode, the studio formerly known as Bikram Yoga NYC might be hoping so. After 18 years on the Bikram blitz, all four of the Bikram Yoga NYC studio locations have undergone a full transformation complete with a cute new logo and an expanded menu of offerings including Reiki, Yin Nidra and special core-focused classes. According to the press release, co-owners Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo “felt the need to rebrand to reflect its new approach with the addition of classes to give its clients a more well-rounded experience.”
While Bikram style classes still remain on the schedule, the move to distance themselves from the man, and to essentially diversify is none too surprising. They’re also not the first to drop the name; Bikram Yoga Soho did their own sidestepping by renaming their studio The Yoga Loft in 2015 and basing their decision heavily in response to the serious allegations Choudhury was facing.
At the time, the owners wrote in a newsletter to their students, “As a female-owned business in the most progressive city in the world, we strive to create a safe, supportive, healing environment for everyone who walks in the door. We cannot tolerate the thought of even one person feeling uncomfortable or unsafe in our studio because of these allegations.”
Rubin and Lobo have made no such announcement, but explained the big change this way: “We believe that the combination of a consistent Bikram Method practice which has the beauty of simplicity, coupled with new challenges for the body and mind enables one to have continuous growth. We look forward to seeing our clients’ continued growth as they explore our other offerings,” Donna said via the press release.
Growth. Moving on. Exploring. Sure. Or maybe no longer keeping a glaring association with a flagrant asanahole who preyed on the vulnerability of his students and staff.
But who needs (wants?) the Bikram name anymore? Bode already touts their own signature Hot HIIT classes—one-hour core-focused classes focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Pilates done in a heated room (a bearable 98 degrees).
And so, the student surpasses the teacher.
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