March 23, 2013

Bikram Founder Back in Hot Seat.

Bikram Choudhury

The first piece of news I happened upon this morning was about the founder of “hot yoga,” Bikram Choudhury.

According to ABC news, Choudhury is being sued by a former student for “sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment.”

Choudhury is known by yoga enthusiasts, regardless of their yogic style preferences, for saying outrageously arrogant things, especially regarding his self-proclaimed magnetic sexuality.

“In an interview with ABC’s David Wright last fall, Choudhury said, ‘Women in the world love me, because I take care of women…But yogi is supposed to be yogi. They cannot involve with women.””

In an article for Yoga Journal, Choudhury calls all other yoga instructors of non-Bikram styles “clowns.” He goes on to say that “No one knows what the hell they are doing. There is no such thing as Kundalini Yoga. No such thing as Power Yoga. No such thing as Ashtanga Yoga.” He then claims that he alone teaches true Hatha Yoga and is the sole follower of Patanjali.

Just Google his name. The internet is filled with a plethora of examples of his douchebaggery. This guy couldn’t be more absurd, and while I have absolutely no idea if there’s anything real or criminal behind this recent lawsuit, it also doesn’t come as a shock—which I think says a lot.

Regardless of Choudhury’s controversial nature, people love when heroes are taken off their pedestals by the media. John Friend’s scandal rocked the yoga community because it made yogis own up to the reality that there can be—gasp!—human flaws that exist in yoga’s top authorities.

At the same time, Choudhury’s potential upcoming legal battle is even more ideal for us to grab onto and enjoy (watching) the ride, because he’s a rather unlikable character anyway, but while he might be personally difficult to stomach, his professional success is easily measured.

The above-mentioned Yoga Journal article begins by noting that Choudhury “makes no secret of his stable of Rolls Royces, his mansion and swimming pool, and his vaunted friendships with Hollywood stars.”

In short, he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he has no plans to not fully enjoy his monetary and name-branded success.

I guess some yogis could see this as admirable. (I’m looking at the Bikram yogis in the audience with questioning eyes, because I honestly can’t see many other takers.) Possibly it’s admirable to own up to luxurious enjoyment instead of being dishonest and pretending to be humble and practical only on the surface.

Still, to most serious practitioners, this goes against our yogic teachings. I don’t pretend here that I want to get heavily into this moral and ethical argument or discussion, but it is unavoidable when you merely mention the name “Bikram Choudhury” to a room of in-the-know yogis.

I think the bottom line is that, as I’ve mentioned before in my Pistorious article and now here in this one, the media promotes fallen hero stories for a reason: people like them, and this fallen (self-proclaimed) hero is not only no exception, he’s the golden (yoga media) ticket.

Why? Because the guy’s a douchebag. Sorry (Bikram lovers), but he is.

So there you have it. The latest breaking yoga news. Talk amongst yourselves, and think about keeping in mind that when you call yourself things like the “most respected living yoga guru in the world,” society is going to love to see that pillar topple.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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