Bikram Choudhury: The Man Behind the Speedo
Upon saying the name “Bikram Choudhury”….many things come to mind. Guru, healer, yoga sequence, accused rapist, flamboyant, torturer, conceited, and self righteous. I recently read the book Hell-bent by Benjamin Lorr, who intensely studied the Bikram practice, attended the Bikram teacher training, competed for Bikram in Asana Championships, and also discussed the “Bikram Subculture”—the way the business and relationships are run. I also read Bikram’s two books about his own story and how the sequence was developed. I will start by making my stance crystal clear: there are always three sides to every story: one side, the opposing side, and the truth.
In a nutshell, Bikram Choudhury spearheaded a yoga sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. He grew up in India, was a childhood prodigy in the weightlifting and yoga scene, moved to Beverly Hills in his 20’s, developed his brand, and excelled. He lives the high life with Rolexes, lives in a mansion, and drives Bentleys (but he buys them when they’re damaged and rebuilds them). He came from nothing and built a household name in the United States and eventually internationally with Bikram yoga. Unfortunately, Bikram’s reputation precedes his sequence in the media and yoga world. Without question, he is a rebel in the yoga world. His reputation includes cursing during class, alleged sexual misconduct, self glorification, and flamboyance in the yoga arena—an arena that’s known for its peace.
Accusations of misconduct
I don’t know what happened and no one except the parties involved will ever know the validity of what has come out to the press regarding Bikram’s alleged behavior. To play the devil’s advocate, Bikram has made a lot of money and people in power are easy targets for lawsuits. Just sayin’. I’ve seen false sexual harassment cases reported at jobs in order to get money, someone’s position, or to just get them fired. I’m not saying this happened or didn’t happen, but it’s something to keep in mind if we’re going to look at the entire picture. Money is the root of all evil and that is a motivator for lies and greed.
In my experience…
Kindness and generosity can also be misconstrued as flirtation. I say this in defense of all males because in previous jobs, I was aware of false sexual harassment claims against co-workers (all male) and it destroyed their careers. The accusers tried to convince me that I was sexually harassed and I was present when the alleged actions took place, and they were bullshit. These bitches wanted money and that person’s position. I can call them bitches because they were.
Bikram: continued accusations of misconduct
Mostly females attend Bikram’s trainings and a male instructor who wears Speedos and makes sexual innuendos regarding yoga postures on a regular basis opens himself up to accusations of sexual harassment. It’s like hunting a lame animal. Both sides have to be heard and analyzed and Bikram deserves a fair trial. As of this date, there appears to be no physical evidence of Bikram’s alleged behavior. Those key pieces of evidence appear to be missing. For all we know, this could have been consensual and the accusers needed some money to pay off the $12k teacher training. Many accusers likely know they’ll just get a settlement from Bikram and it will go away.
People sue for anything these days. You should always question the media and not side with people just because they report things to the media. One must weigh the facts on a case-by-case basis. Bikram is not my favorite person by any means but I know that people like to push successful people down. Sexual harassment is an easy card to use just like the race card. Be honest with yourself.
On the other hand, if these accusations are indeed valid well he should be punished accordingly. As a man in a female-dominated industry of yoga, one must be conscious to ensure comfort and if Bikram used his power to take advantage of women, then he what he has coming to him.
Who is right? Who is wrong?
You’re probably thinking, “Lindsay, what is wrong with you and why do you like him so much?” No I DO NOT like him. Reading the first few chapters of Bikram’s book could be equated to spending the day at a DMV but when he talked about the yoga, it was eloquent and has helped me in my practice. Benjamin Lorr, who wrote about him in his expose gives Bikram credit about the yoga. What does that tell you? Bikram is loved and hated, simultaneously, and nothing is stopping Bikram from spreading the news of yoga.
Let’s talk strictly facts about Bikram: is he an ego maniac? Yes. Overdramatic? Yes. Rapist? That’s for a jury to decide.