Bikram Yoga

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Bikram Yoga
Founder Bikram Choudhury
Established late 20th century
Practice emphases
Unchanging sequence of postures in a heated room, designed as a rejuvenating exercise to strengthen the entire body, from head to toe.

Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques[1] and popularized beginning in the early 1970s.[2][3] All Bikram Yoga Beginning Series classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises.[4] Bikram Yoga is a hot yoga style, and is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40%.[5] All official Bikram classes are taught by Bikram-certified teachers, who have completed nine weeks of training endorsed by Choudhury.[6] Bikram-certified teachers are taught a standardized dialogue to run the class, but are encouraged to develop their teaching skills the longer they teach. This results in varying deliveries and distinct teaching styles.[5]

Bikram Choudhury leading a class, for Bikram yoga, at the L.A. Convention Center in 2003.[7]

History[edit]

Bikram Choudhury, founder of the Bikram Yoga system, is also the founder of the Yoga College of India. Born in Calcutta in 1944, Choudhury began practicing yoga at age four. He claims that he practiced yoga 4–6 hours every day. At the age of thirteen, he claims to have won the National India Yoga Championship[citation needed]. He claims he was undefeated for the following three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.

Choudhury later devised the 26 postures sequence and founded Bikram's Yoga College of India. He has also written books and sings.[8]

As of 2006, he had 1,650 yoga studios around the world.[9] In 2012, there were 330 studios in the United States and 600 worldwide.[10]

Health effects[edit]

A 2015 review found that one randomized controlled clinical trial has been conducted, using 21 healthy subjects with a mean age of 27; the study was too small to draw generalizations from but the people in the study arm had mildly improved strength and flexibility.[11]

A 2013 review of adverse effects from yoga found that Pranayama and Bikram were the most commonly cited styles, and found harm arising mostly in instructors who practiced intensely over a long period of time and who used advanced positions like handstands; in Bikram most of the adverse events arose from the heat and included low salt levels due to excessive water drinking and sweating.[12]

Controversy[edit]

Competition[edit]

One controversial component of Bikram Yoga pertains to the prevalence of Yoga Asana Championships, regionally and nationally. While practitioners of other forms of yoga maintain that competition contradicts the idea of peace and unity, Choudhury contends, "Competition is the foundation for all democratic societies. For without 'Competition', there is no democracy."[13][citation needed]

In India, where yoga originated, yoga competitions have been around for over a century.[14][citation needed] Yoga Sports Federation which hosted The 9th Annual Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup in June 2012 says that yoga competitions inspire both practicing yogis and newcomers to sharpen their skills. Another aim of the Federation is to turn Yoga Asana into a recognized Olympic sport.[15]

Copyright claims on Bikram Yoga[edit]

Choudhury has claimed that Bikram Yoga is under copyright and that it could not be taught or presented by anyone whom he had not authorized. Choudhury began making those claims in 2011. In 2011 Choudhury started a lawsuit against Yoga to the People, a competing yoga studio founded by a former student of Choudhury's and with a location near one of the Bikram Yoga studios in New York. Choudhury lost at first instance, and appealed the decision, with the Court of Appeal dismissing his copyright claim over yoga poses in Bikram Yoga.[citation needed]

As a result of that lawsuit, the United States Copyright Office issued a clarification that yoga postures (asanas) could not be copyrighted in the way claimed by Choudhury, and that Yoga to the People and others could continue to freely teach these exercises.

Training Programs[edit]

HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel aired a segment about Choudhoury in which they showed and spoke to people about his infamous and grueling teacher training programs. His behavior includes sleep deprivation, shouting, name-calling, and ridiculing over participants' weight, size or ability.

Some quotes from their interview with him:

On Bikram Yoga and Choudhury’s methods:

Bikram Choudhury: “This yoga worse than cocaine. Because you can get rid of cocaine, but once you used to this yoga, you can’t stop. Because nothing in this world makes you feel better than this yoga.”

Bikram Choudhury: “I try to kill them. They don’t die. I own– I torture them.” HBO’s Andrea Kremer: “And you have to do that? You have to torture them?” Bikram Choudhury: “I love it.”

Andrea Kremer: “What are some of the rules that you have?” Bikram Choudhury: “Number one: You have to forget who you are.” Andrea Kremer: “You’ve even said something along the lines of, ‘I implant my mind in your brain.’” Bikram Choudhury: “Yes. My way or highway. You don’t like it? Get the fuck out of here.”

Andrea Kremer: “You can be pretty harsh. You never have any regrets about any of the things that you say?” Bikram Choudhury: “Of course not. Why should I? I have to yell, scream, shout. ‘You fat ass. What the fuck’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? You don’t listen to me. You dumb– you dumb fuck.’ Because she doesn’t listen.”

On Bikram Yoga’s near-miraculous powers:

Bikram Choudhury: “I cure Parkinson’s disease, AIDS, cancer. Doctor knows very little about human body.” Andrea Kremer: “You know more than doctors?” Bikram Choudhury: “Million times, billion times. I teach doctors. I don’t go to doctors. Every doctor in the world, they come to me.”

Sexual assault[edit]

Two lawsuits accusing Choudhury of rape were filed in May 2013, in which a Jane Doe alleges sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, harassment, and other counts in addition to the rape allegation. It describes a cult-like atmosphere where Choudhury's followers help him find young women to assault. "Other persons in defendant Bikram Choudhury's inner circle, were aware of defendant Bikram Choudhury's pattern and practice of causing, inducing or persuading young women to enroll in teacher training classes to become yoga instructors only so he can sexually assault and/or rape them," the lawsuit claims.[16]

The suits paint a cult-like atmosphere at the training camps. Trainees were allegedly told that Choudhury is on the same level as Jesus Christ or the Buddha, that Bikram yoga can cure cancer and that practitioners will be able to live to 100 years old. Trainees were bullied and humiliated as well as praised, the suits say, and Choudhury allegedly gave lectures in which he disparaged gays, Americans and made ethnic slurs. Jane Doe 2 claims that Choudhury recruits volunteers from overseas who are "so in fear of defendant Bikram Choudhury's wrath that they will travel to the US and risk violating immigration laws in order to serve him. Once in the US these volunteers work for little or zero pay. "Their duties include grooming him, massaging him, making his tea, bring[ing] him food and being forced to submit to sexual assaults and rapes against their will," the suit alleges.[17]

Minakshi "Micki"Jafa-Bodden served as Head of Legal and International Affairs from Spring 2011 to March 13, 2013 when she claims she was "abruptly and unlawfully terminated" according to the court documents filed on July 12, 2013 in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. But perhaps the more serious matters lie within the 2 years that Jafa-Bodden worked closely with Choudhury, during which she claims she was victim and witness to Choudhury's "severe, ongoing, pervasive and offensive conduct" especially to women, as well as homosexuals, African Americans and basically every other minority. The complaint is the fourth sex-based discrimination/sexual harassment/rape related suit filed this year against Choudhury.[18]

Bikram teacher Sarah Baughn filed a sexual harassment suit in March (just before Jafa-Bodden was fired), and two other unnamed women filed similar suits accusing Choudhury of sexual harassment, intimidation and rape in May. Shea Law Offices and Shegerian & Associates, the attorneys representing Baughn, now represent a total of six women claiming Bikram sexually assaulted and/or raped them.[19] In an April, 2015 CNN interview with Baughn and Bikram, Bikram spoke out for the first time denying the allegations. Bikram went on to say "I have no intention to have sex with any of my students or any women...Sometimes students, they commit suicide. Lots of students of mine, they commit suicide because I will not have sex with them".[20]

In April 2015, the accusations raised larger questions in the yoga community, including an article by the Washington Post "asking whether it's wise to put so much faith in a guru".[21]

August 18, 2015, Petra Starke who was his attorney, President and CEO from 3/2013 to 1/2015 filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles (A6037-90064). This complaint alleged nine issues including breach of contract, wrongful termination and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment.

October 25, 2016 HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel airs an interview with Choudhury at one of his training programs in India. Correspondent Andrea Kremer also interviews three women who accuse him of raping them.[22]

Quotes from their interviews:

Jill Lawler: “I felt so disgusting, but I just did what he told me to do, which was basically, like, manually jerk him off. I hated doing it. But I felt like I owed him, you know? I felt like I owed him for, like, my life.”

Jill Lawler: “He hurt me, he assaulted me.” Andrea Kremer: “Bikram forced you to have sex?” Jill Lawler: “Yeah.”

Andrea Kremer: “What do you think made you vulnerable to him?” Jill Lawler: “Like, he was my guru. He wa– I can’t even explain. Like, I really, really loved him. You know? I really, really did.” Maggie Genthner: “He pulled me on the bed. I’m, like, screaming like, ‘No. Stop. Don’t do this. Please don’t do this.’ And he starts calling me an idiot, just over and over again. And then he penetrates me and I scream, ‘You’re hurting me. You’re hurting me.’ I screamed it. And he replies, ‘It’s supposed to hurt.’ All of a sudden, like, the veil lifts, the veil of who I think this person is.”

Sarah Baughn: “I wanted to kill myself. I tried several times to kill myself.”

Sarah Baughn: “He was in charge of all of these people, all of whom just sat and listened and laughed and applauded and regarded him as yoga god. People stand up for this person really no matter what.”[23]

The 26 Asanas (postures)[edit]

The following are the 26 postures of Bikram Yoga. These are taught in the Beginning Bikram Yoga Class. The sequence is taught by people who have been trained and certified by Bikram Choudhury.[24][25]

# Sanskrit English Benefits claimed
1 प्राणायाम

Prāṇāyāma

Standing Deep Breathing (lit. Breath Extension)
Bpose1.jpg
May help prevent respiratory problems
2 अर्धचन्द्रासन with पादहस्तासन

Ardhacandrāsana with Pādahastāsana

Half Moon Pose with Hands To Feet Pose
Bpose2.jpg
Strengthens muscles in body's core along with improving flexibility of the spine
3 उत्कटासन

Utkaṭāsana

Awkward Pose
Bpose3.jpg
Helps tone and shape legs while it may relieve arthritis in the legs
4 गरुडासन

Garuḍāsana

Eagle Pose
Bpose4.jpg
Opens up the 14 largest joints and helps fresh blood move through the reproductive system
5 दण्डायमन जानुशीर्षासन

Daṇḍāyamana Jānuśīrṣāsana

Standing Head To Knee Pose
Bpose5.jpg
Improves the sciatic nerves flexibility and may strengthen hamstrings plus other leg muscles
6 दण्डायमन धनुरासन

Daṇḍāyamana Dhanurāsana

Standing Bow Pose
Bpose6.jpg
Helps develop balance while potentially firming upper thighs and the abdominal wall
7 तुलादण्डासन

Tulādaṇḍāsana

Balancing Stick Pose
Bpose7.jpg
Helps send blood to the heart, cleansing the arteries and veins
8 दण्डायमन विभक्तपाद पश्चिमोत्तानासन

Daṇḍāyamana Vibhaktapāda Paścimottānāsana

Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
Bpose8.jpg
Helps stretch and strengthen sciatic nerves and tendons in the legs
9 त्रिकोणासन

Trikoṇāsana

Triangle Pose
Bpose9.jpg
May help alleviate lower back pain and crooked spines while improving muscles and internal organs
10 दण्डायमन विभक्तपाद जानुशीर्षासन

Daṇḍāyamana Vibhaktapāda Jānuśīrṣāsana

Standing Separate Leg Head To Knee Pose
Bpose11.jpg
May help regulate metabolism and immune system while trimming the lower body
11 ताडासन

Tāḍāsana

Tree Pose
Bpose10.jpg
Helps improve posture, balance and flexibility while strengthening oblique muscles
12 पादाङ्गुष्ठासन

Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana

Toe Stand Pose
Bpose12.jpg
Helps strengthen knees, ankles, and feet while potentially reducing hemorrhoid problems
13 शवासन

Śavāsana

Corpse Pose
Bpose13.jpg
Helps circulation and the blood flows throughout the body to create internal cleansing
14 पवनमुक्तासन

Pavanamuktāsana

Wind Removing Pose
Bpose14.jpg
Compresses the digestive system and helps strengthen the arms, abdomen and thighs while improving hip flexibility
15 पादहस्तासन

Pādahastāsana

Situp
Bpose15.jpg
Helps increase flexibility to stretch the spine and improves circulation of the legs by working the muscles
16 भुजङ्गासन

Bhujaṅgāsana

Cobra Pose
Bpose16.jpg
Helps strengthen the spine and may relieve pain from scoliosis, arthritis and menstrual disorders while potentially improving the digestive system
17 शलभासन

Śalabhāsana

Locust Pose
Bpose17.jpg
Similar benefits as Cobra

Helps strengthen the upper spine and legs

18 पूर्णशलभासन

Pūrṇaśalabhāsana

Full Locust Pose
Bpose18.jpg
May relieve pain from scoliosis and slipped discs while strengthening the middle spine and increasing elasticity of the rib cage
19 धनुरासन

Dhanurāsana

Bow Pose
Bpose19.jpg
Helps increase circulation and strength of the spine while revitalizing the spinal nerves and opening up the rib cage to expand lungs
20 सुप्तवज्रासन

Suptavajrāsana

Fixed Firm Pose (lit. Reclining Thunderbolt Pose)
Bpose20.jpg
Helps improve strength and flexibility of the lower spine, knees, hips and ankle joints while increasing circulation that may relieve pain
21 अर्धकूर्मासन

Ardhakūrmāsana

Half Tortoise Pose
Bpose21.jpg
Helps increase blood flow to the brain and stretches the lower part of the lungs while relieving tension in the neck and shoulders
22 उष्ट्रासन

Uṣṭrāsana

Camel Pose
Bpose22.jpg
Stimulates the nervous system and improves flexibility of the spine and neck while stretching the abdominal organs and throat
23 शसांगासना

Śasāṁgāsanā

Rabbit Pose
Bpose23.jpg
Increases elasticity of the spine and back muscles while potentially helping to alleviate colds or sinus problems and may relieve tension near the neck and shoulders
24 जानुशीर्षासन with पश्चिमोत्तानासन

Jānuśīrṣāsana with Paścimottānāsana

Head To Knee Pose with Back Stretching Pose
Bpose24.jpg
May improve digestion and circulation in the bowels while helping the immune system
25 अर्धमत्स्येन्द्रासन

Ardha Matsyendrāsana

Spine Twisting Pose (lit. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Bpose25.jpg
Helps improve elasticity of the spine and increases circulation in the spinal nerves while relieving lower back pain
26 कपालभाति

Kapālabhāti

Blowing In Firm Pose (lit. Skull Illuminating)
Bpose26.jpg
Strengthens the abdominal organs while increasing the elasticity of the lungs and helping improve digestion and circulation

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bikram's Yoga College of India". Bikramyoga.com. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  2. ^ Corporate registration for "Bikram Choudhury Yoga, Inc." Number: C2288343
  3. ^ Farrell, Maureen (September 3, 2009). "Bikram Yoga's New Twists". Forbes.com. 
  4. ^ Wilson, Cynthia. "Different types of yoga and their benefits". Womenio. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Bikram Yoga Basic". BikramYoga.com. 
  6. ^ "Yoga teacher training programs". Bikramyoga.com. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  7. ^ "Bikram Choudhury, hot yoga founder, ordered to pay nearly $6.5M in damages in harassment lawsuit". ABC7 Chicago. Archived from the original on 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  8. ^ "Bikram Choudhury," last modified 2010, accessed April 4, 2012, http://www.bikramyoga.com/Bikram/bikram.php
  9. ^ Shakespeare, Jocasta (10 June 2006). "Bend it like Bikram". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Moss, Rebecca (8 July 2012). "The Hot Yoga War". The Village Voice. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Hewett, ZL; Cheema, BS; Pumpa, KL; Smith, CA (2015). "The Effects of Bikram Yoga on Health: Critical Review and Clinical Trial Recommendations.". Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2015: 428427. PMC 4609431Freely accessible. PMID 26504475. 
  12. ^ Cramer, H; Krucoff, C; Dobos, G (16 October 2013). "Adverse events associated with yoga: a systematic review of published case reports and case series.". PloS one. 8 (10): e75515. PMC 3797727Freely accessible. PMID 24146758. 
  13. ^ Official website
  14. ^ Beck, Sara (11 June 2012). "Yoga Is Not Just Posing as Sport at World Event". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ "The 9th Annual Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup". Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup. 
  16. ^ Yoga Journal "Rape Accusations Against Bikram Choudury" http://blogs.yogajournal.com/yogabuzz/2013/05/rape-accusations-against-birkram-choudury.html
  17. ^ The Raw Story "Millionaire Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury Accused of Rape and Human Trafficking" http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/14/millionaire-yoga-guru-bikram-choudhury-accused-of-rape-and-human-trafficking/
  18. ^ Yoga Dork "Former Bikram Legal Advisor Files Extremely Disturbing Lawsuit over Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Assault" http://yogadork.com/news/lawsuit-asana/bikrams-former-head-of-legal-files-extremely-disturbing-complaint-involving-sexual-harassment-discrimination/
  19. ^ "Attorneys Speak Out as CNN Sheds New Light on Bikram Choudhury Sexual Assault Cases". Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  20. ^ "Bikram yoga founder denies sex assault allegations". Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  21. ^ Shalva, Benjamin. "After sex scandal, a Bikram yogi asks whether it's wise to put so much faith in a guru". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  22. ^ http://www.hbo.com/real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel/episodes/0/235-episode/synopsis/october-on-real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel.html
  23. ^ http://yogadork.com/2016/10/31/most-disturbing-moments-from-bikram-choudhurys-real-sports-interview-addressing-rape-accusations/
  24. ^ "Bikram yoga 26 postures". PeaceQuarters.com. 
  25. ^ "26 Bikram Yoga Poses". www.bikramyogaposesguide.com.