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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Apr 17, 2013 5:48am

With every step we take, with every thing that we say, with every thought we give extra energy to, we walk either towards greater love, or greater hate. Towards greater connection or increased disconnection.
Choose mindfully, and actively engage in the co-creation of your reality, and the shaping of your future.
Regardless of what others are doing, what version of yourself are you building?

drlaurel Apr 1, 2013 2:41pm

I don't know, and I hate to judge, but I haven't seen many real yogis with cheesy "Vegas" portraits like that shown above and I find myself wondering how many people his car collection could feed. I, myself, feel guilty about my one car even when I have the funds to buy five. Sometimes we start out with good intentions and get sucked in to culture and sucked out of our true consciousness…

allison Mar 25, 2013 10:20pm

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

thank you

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Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She’s also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.