Catching Thoughts: “Yoga, Inc.”

Via Celia Aurora de Blas
on May 3, 2010
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I just watched this film “Yoga, Inc.” As a yogi, how do you feel about “yoga competitions”? And Bikram Choudhury treating his yoga as a business with a copywright?


About Celia Aurora de Blas

Celia Aurora de Blas is an Actress, Producer and Yoga Nidra teacher in Los Angeles. By being honest and public about her path in changing herself, she intends to help others by example. "Change is challenging, but it helps when we see others do what we're trying to do. It makes it less scary."


3 Responses to “Catching Thoughts: “Yoga, Inc.””

  1. Annie Ory says:

    The clip you played has no information about Bikram or competition. Of course, the press shows a very distorted picture of Bikram Choudhury anyway, When they want information about him and what he's up to, they ask him, which isn't very good reporting. Bikram has been building up to a "franchise" of his yoga for many years. The reason it took so long to develop one is that he refused to pay attorneys for a long time. During the years since the 1st studio opened he has received no money from studio owners. None. Teacher training costs money. Opening a studio was always free, other than your costs, but getting official sanction meant doing according to Bikram's proscriptions. Finally he hired a franchise builder to create the franchise for him on a national level (International franchises are much more difficult and much more expensive and with fewer overseas studios wouldn't have paid off) and he presented it to his studio owners. After years of promises that the franchise would mean more business and support for them and would be affordable ($500-1000 annually "at most") the franchise requests went out and the studio owners were shocked to discover that there was a $10,000 buy in and that operating under the agreement as it was written would mean a minimum of $10,000 a year, a number that would put 50% of Bikram studios out of business as it would remove their profit margin effectively. In an interview with INC magazine Bikram was quoted as saying the reason for the franchise was to cover his legal fees for protecting his series and dialog, in other words, because he needed the money. The new agreement guaranteed no support or rights for the studio owners and vaguely alluded to a series of gradually rolled out "potential" features that would supposedly benefit the studios. These features would be based on a full buy in by all studios or couldn't be afforded. Even the die-hard long time Bikram disciples balked and everywhere in the country people started looking for other groups or styles they could associate with. In the end the most dedicated of his followers grouped to go to LA and talk to him about it, saying that they loved him, but couldn't buy into the franchise he created and volunteered to create something that would benefit him and the studio owners consequently. As yet, a year or more later, nothing has changed and there is no franchise at this time. Some studios, having done the research on other hot yoga groups that do offer some things in support of the studio, have gone ahead and switched from Bikram studios to other brands. There has always been a chasm in the Bikram community between the people who follow him without question and who believe completely in his teachings and his yoga, and those who love the yoga and the heat but could do without the drama and the Nazi approach to yoga. Bikram Choudhury is a brilliant yogi and a wonderful teacher. He is also a deeply conflicted and challenged leader and is surrounded by people who will put up with that for the sake of learning yoga from him. He has no personal spiritual yoga practice and therefore doesn't know how to teach that. He has been unable to create a yoga empire of money, though he has come closer than anyone in the world to creating a truly global yoga community that is connected on a core level, in part because of it's exclusivity. By nature of the agreement between Bikram and his teachers that they will NEVER practice or teach any other kind of yoga he controls those who want to be accepted in his community with the threat of exile. The tribe and the sense of belonging are strong motivators and the yoga is good, especially for those who are in the "advanced class" subset. Worry not though, yoga can't be owned, and Bikram's empire can only be as large and as powerful as the man himself, and he is not a very expansive human….

  2. Aurora says:

    Thanks for the info, Annie:) Do you practice Bikram?

    If you click on the link in the text you can find the full feature on hulu or you can go to the youtube channel the video above is posted on and find the rest broken up in sections:) -Aurora

  3. Aurora says:

    Take a listen. Another controvercial Yogi: Pierre Bernard. Soooooo Interesting:)