Bikram Choudhury at a book signing in New York in 2007.
February 10, 1946 |
Calcutta, British India (now West Bengal, India)
|Known for||Founder of Bikram Yoga|
Bikram Choudhury (born February 10, 1946) is an Indian yoga teacher and the founder of Bikram Yoga, a form of hot yoga performed in a series of 26 hatha yoga postures done in a hot (105 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius or greater) environment.
Life and work
Born in Calcutta, India, Bikram Choudhury began learning Hatha Yoga poses at the age of three. At five, he began studying with Bishnu Ghosh (Paramahansa Yogananda’s brother) and won the National India Yoga Championship for three consecutive years in his teens.
At age 20, a weightlifting accident crippled Bikram. Although he was told he would never be able to walk again, with the help of Ghosh, he claims to have fully recovered within 6 months. Choudhury emigrated to the United States in the 1970s and founded yoga studios in California and Hawaii. In the 1990s, he began offering nine-week teacher certification courses. Certified instructors now number in the thousands with Bikram Yoga studios all over the world.
Choudhury holds a copyright for the 26 poses which constitute Bikram yoga under the same theory which allows choreographic sequences to be copyrighted. In September, 2011, Choudhury filed an infringement suit against his former student, Greg Gumucio, founder of a competing chain of hot yoga studios. In June 2012, the United States Copyright Office (USCO) decided that since yoga poses claim to improve health, they are not eligible for copyright. The USCO's decision, however, did not relieve Gumucio of the need to defend the lawsuit against him. In December, 2012, Gumucio settled the suit with Choudhury, agreeing to stop using the series of 26 poses by February 15, 2013.
In March of 2013 a suit was filed in Los Angeles' superior court against Choudhury by Sarah Baughn, a former "protege", claiming she was denied championship yoga titles and promotions due to her refusal of Choudhury's sexual advances. Choudhury has denied all wrongdoing in the case. He has, however, reportedly made statements such as, "What happens when [students] say they will commit suicide unless you sleep with them? What am I supposed to do? Sometimes having an affair is the only way to save someone’s life.".
Bikram Choudhury is married to Rajashree Choudhury, founder of the United States Yoga Federation. According to the 2013 lawsuit, Choudhury reportedly told his former student, "My wife is such a bitch, you have no idea. I am so lonely."
- Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class
- Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment
- Erika Schickel (September 25, 2003). "Body Work". LA Weekly.
- Jordan Susman, Your Karma Ran Over My Dogma: Bikram Yoga and the (Im)Possibilities of Copyrighting Yoga, 25 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 245 (2004)
- Joshua Kurlantzick (March-April 2005). The Money Pose. Mother Jones.
- Rebecca Moss (July 19, 2012). "Bikram Choudhury Battles for Control of the Hot Yoga Tradition he Invented". LA Weekly.
- "NY yoga studio settles suit". Associated Press. December 13, 2012.
- Rushe, Dominic (March 21, 2013). "Hot yoga's Bikram Choudhury accused of sexual harassment by protege". The Guardian.
- Breslaw, Anna (March 21, 2013). "Bikram Choudhury Sexual Harassment Lawsuit: Is This the End of Fad Yoga? Read more: Bikram Yoga Lawsuit - Bikram Choudhury Sexual Harassment Charge". Cosmopolitan.
- Riley, Samantha (March 22, 2013). "‘Hot Yoga’ Guru Faces Sexual Harassment Charges". ABC News.
- Calman, Barney (March 24, 2013). "Leather suits, Bentleys and giggling fans: Inside the bizarre cult of the 'hot yoga' guru accused of being a sex pest".
- Maria Howard (October 21, 2012). "USA Yoga Federation founder wants yoga to become an Olympic sport". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Official Bikram Yoga website
- 'Yoga, Inc.', a documentary about the Bikram copyright case, 'competitive' yoga and the yoga industry
- Hot, sweaty and scandalous, Salon, April 2003.