Bikram Choudhury Netflix Documentary

~For Clarity~ and because one of our beloved practitioners asked … Thank you for asking.  You/your question deserve a proper response. The time available before/after class is short and never best utilized talking about these ‘troubles’.  Please read the following articles on our website under the ‘Liveyouryoga’ section.  They will hopefully answer all and any questions that you may have or that you didn’t even know you had on this matter. These 4 and this article represent our statement on this matter:

  1. Bikram Choudhury at Yoga Matters (Mar17)
  2. The Three Gunas
  3. This is the problem with Bikram Yoga
  4. Choosing a Yoga Instructor

They are old blogs that came from an intention of transparency.  We have ALWAYS been transparent.

MORE RECENTLY we have watched as more people became aware (via HD) of a sad old story (this story in the online/public domain for the longest time) in relation to the Bikram community.  The paparazzi style coverage is problematic in its shockumentary presentation of the allegations in that it doesn’t give a full picture; it is a bit rough (a lot of clips are just straight off the internet/youtube/mash) and Eva Orner steals from Ghosh College and Jerome Armstrong’s ‘Calcutta Yoga’ (author is understandably upset and is filing an ethics and business complaint and maybe a lawsuit against Netflix) (it is doing what it says it is actually highlighting; stealing – see the conflict there!); peppered with misleads/half-truths.  They use the same modus operandi that they say they are trying to expose and they didn’t really need to do that because this particular story was tragic enough without embellishment needed.  Yes there was actual truths embedded in the coverage and it is definitely an important story that MUST be told.  This particular piece, as it is, allows the haters to get in again and leverage their own agenda which isn’t necessarily all about seeking justice for any victims.

If you have read my first blog you will note I predicted such a documentary would come about at some point; there was so much material for any producer in the allegations and the personality.  In the telling of this story this way it becomes hard to distinguish fact from fiction if you are not ‘in the know’.

WE ARE GRATEFUL for this piece of ‘journalism’ ‘tho, regardless of its form.  Please be clear; we don’t have anything to do with him and he doesn’t have anything to do with us. We do not endorse him.  We received our learning from him in what one might call the ‘glory days’ before he started to ‘change’.  We are very fortunate on that front.  They really were amazing learning days.  Off the charts amazing and life transforming.  That is an experience that we as Bikram method instructors realise today we have become a rare breed. Instructors taught by Bikram Choudhury when things were pure and in that respect we feel very fortunate.

Additionally, the franchise thing is not true. The franchise thing never happened.  We are not a franchise and I don’t know ANY Bikram yoga schools who are part of a franchise.  We are a little family run school ‘just doin’ our own thing with our Yoga family’ whilst maintaining the integrity of this Yogasana practice and our core values.  This works for us because our core values are in line with yours.

Today, my 4 old blogs do not need to be altered or changed because this is NOT a new story (and if we are going to be philosophical about it, it is a AGE OLD tale of power, greed…).  We note that the readership of a couple of these blogs has shot up to ‘hundreds’ in the last week, so there seems to be great interest in this topic right now.

Please note around the world on various ‘Yoga teacher’ and studio forums we have observed the haters step up in a big way.  There are some who would like to throw the baby out with the bath water and give the Bikram ‘Yoga practice’ a terminal diagnosis and condemn any instructors who dare use the name.  But what of Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar, Osho and more lately Vishnu Devananda (the list is getting longer each day) and all the other swamis and famous instructors who failed their communities in one way or another? what if we were to throw all them/their teachings out too? What would we be left with?  Still some are demanding that Bikram the ‘word’ be dropped altogether.  Accusing those (who they do not even know) that are able to separate the man from the Yoga as ‘spiritually bypassing the matter and having a cult mentality’. Sigh. How that happens when someone is as far removed from the man emotionally as majority of Bikram instructors are, is beyond us.   Ultimately, whilst you should call a spade a spade 😉 life has taught Darren and I to have no particular attachment to anything so intangible as a name (unless it is one of our business names that we paid for/reserved which a somebody decides they are going to use without even checking at local registry of business names ;)LOL!  THEN we are going to say something (Jersey is an expensive, difficult place to operate, if we followed the rules on this front why should we ignore when someone casually hijacks our formally acquired, paid for, secured names/legends for their own use, but THAT is a whole other story worthy of a blog in its own right). Bikram ‘name’? Essentially it is a waste of energy for anyone coming at us on that front.  We will only respond to our YM family of practitioners should they wish us to do anything differently and we won’t hesitate to do what is best for them.

The events are something that is not exclusive to the Bikram community sadly. You will see I have written much on this topic in the past in order to help our practitioners and potential practitioners be more aware and discerning.  Perhaps this is a story of what can happen when one believes they have started to attain ‘special powers’ as described book III of the Sutras ‘Vibbhitu Pada’ (reading/controlling peoples’ minds).  Patanjali warned that these special powers can become destructive, that they must be practiced without ego or they themselves become an obstacle to liberation.  And so maybe that is what came to pass here.

We think it is very important to understand our recent history.  We personally don’t think the guru model works when teaching to classes full of ‘adoring’ ‘fans’.  A good teacher, a real guru would NEVER let the ‘fan’ thing happen and if it had its own momentum that he couldn’t control he would have remained detached.

WE ARE GRATEFUL that this documentary is out there even with its flaws as this will act as a ‘WARNING’ … otherwise this awful tale may have repeated itself; I don’t think it ever will now.  That HAS to be a good thing right?

ALL Yoga communities can learn from this.  At YM we put safeguards in place years ago; our safeguard is 100% transparency in our school and blogs about the reality of the Yoga world and about who we are so that people know us (flaws and limitations and all) and what they can expect from us. Our safeguard is in reminding/ educating people that they don’t give up their willpower when they walk through our front door.

We don’t wish to dwell here because I know all will make their own judgement but would hope that perhaps something better will finally come out of this.  Practitioners will finally stop giving away their power to ‘rock star type’ / charismatic Yoga instructors.  More instructors might finally start educating their students on what ‘pitfalls’ to look out for when they step onto the Yoga path.  Students will become more discerning.  We believe a warning should be given to all at the outset of a Yoga journey because it is quite clear that a few who enter on the path are very vulnerable and unquestioning to criminals who disguise themselves as Yogi/Guru.  We achieve us giving this ‘warning’ through our website/blogs.

We think that around the world some schools (all forms) are a still a bit slow off the mark in ‘potential risk’ management for prospective students on this front. We understand their slowness might just be down to the fact that they (like us) are ‘just Yoga instructors’ and ‘just wanna teach’.  They/we just want to share the joy of Yoga and never envisaged the backlash they would receive because of the behaviour of one man.  They do need to get on with it and we are sure they will this time.

We will continue to do what we do the way we do it which involves 100% transparency but we will not engage with hate. We are not afraid and we will not give the haters any of our energy; BUT nor will we let them beat us down or diminish our practice.   PLEASE READ OUR 4 BLOGS to round off our statement.

Life is too short. This method is an important method. WE want to model an approach that promotes Love and Peace and Liberation and AWARENESS . NOW we have to do better in embodying Yoga. That’s where we are at. But that is where we are ALWAYS at. We want to be better humans.  We take the path of Love and Peace and Liberation. We hope you will come along with us and we can all work together.  Thank you for reading.

Trisha & Darren

Yoga Matters


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