Should We Throw The Baby Out With the Bathwater?

Since the recent NYTimes article about Bikram Choudhury, my friends keep asking me, “Isn’t that the yoga that you do? Are you going to stop now because of what he did?” A fair question, so I have given it some thought. And what I have decided is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

People are innocent until proven guilty, however, there is so much smoke in this situation that there is likely to be fire; meaning Bikram, the man, probably did some pretty bad stuff. And I think that is disgusting and vile. But is this a reason to stop practicing the yoga that I love, the yoga that has changed my life for the better? It is a tough question.

Others may disagree, but what I have decided to do is to separate the man from his magic. I did check with my studio to make sure that Bikram does not receive any revenue through royalties, or what have you, so I feel ok there. But even if he did, I’m not sure that would stop me from going to class. I have never felt healthier or calmer or stronger in my life, and that is worth a lot. In fact, my most recent physical at the doctor proved the case – higher bone density, off the chart good cholesterol levels and all other blood work normal. It would be foolish to give that up.

If Bikram Choudhury did these horrible things, I hope he is severely punished and goes to jail. There is no excuse for his behavior, particularly given his role as a teacher. But I hope the Bikram Yoga series lives on forever.

Fellow yogis, is it ok to hate the man, but love his yoga?

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9 thoughts on “Should We Throw The Baby Out With the Bathwater?

  1. I agree. I think Bikram incorporated has tried to separate the man from the yoga. My studio dropped bikram from their name and took down giant decals of him off the walls. I hope we can continue toe enjoy something a man created even if it turns out he did some horrible things.

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  2. I agree! The practice isn’t poisoned. It’s has helped many find health and happiness. Personally, I have never met the man, I don’t feel he has directly influenced my practice beyond the general framework/script.

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  3. I feel the same way. I’m saddened, repulsed, outraged, etc over the multiple alleged instances of sexual harassment and violation. But I have no intention of ever stopping to practice Bikram Yoga or even wanting it to be called something different. The practice or method he created is out all over the world now. For me, “Bikram” refers to the practice or the method not the person. It’s a shame the person has allegedly done so much to discredit himself and his brand. When I first discovered Bikram yoga, I was only vaguely familiar with yoga in general and may have heard of “hot yoga”, but I had no idea that Bikram was the name of a person or if that person was living now or long ago. Like many studios, my studio is not a franchise and does not pay dues or fees to Bikram headquarters. I’ve been to some studios where a large picture of him is prominently displayed. My studio doesn’t have that, and I could see that being uncomfortable and maybe wanting to take it down, but I don’t necessarily want all the studios to change their names. In so far that Bikram Yoga refers to the series the method the practice, it’s still very much needed in the world. Changing a studio’s name to Hot Yoga This or That could make it harder for people to know what it’s really about and what the studio has to offer. Not 100% of course, it’s just how I think about it as a student not a teacher or owner. I’m proud to be associated with the practice of Bikram yoga and know how powerful it is. I believe that all yoga is good yoga and any yoga is better than no yoga, but, for me, this shit is the Gold Standard and I like calling it what it is. I just wish he hadn’t dirtied the water so much.

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  4. Thanks for writing this. I’m glad that you checked into the financial relationship between your studio and Bikram HQ. I wish that all Bikram practitioners would do the same and then vote with their feet.

    One thing I’d also like to ask Bikram studio owners is whether they are still recommending Bikram yoga teacher training to their students. It’s my understanding that this is the most lucrative aspect of the Bikram empire (not surprisingly, at $10-15k per session). It’s also at the trainings where much of the sexual abuse is alleged to have taken place. It’s all well and good for a studio owner to say that they have no ongoing financial relationship with Bikram HQ, but if they require their teachers to complete Bikram YTT certification, then aren’t they continuing to feed the beast (both financially, and by supplying potential victims)?

    Anyhow, thanks for adding to the dialogue. If this method of yoga has enriched your life, then practice on!

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