Is Bikram Yoga, Yoga?

I’m curious what opinions people here hold regarding Bikram Yoga. Do you like the practice? Is it anything but yoga and more of a means for Bikram Choudhury to get rich? Can the practice be beneficial for practitioners or should it be walked away from? If you share your opinion in this thread, please also state how much Bikram Yoga you’ve actually done. Thanks :slight_smile:

I like Bikram yoga. But just as the power yoga it creates a powerful strong body thought generates a lot of will power and egoism. Mr Choudhry style of leaving is up to him… though very contradictory to yogic path.
I like to do Bikram ones in a while, but would like to substitute it with other yoga practices.

Do I like the practice? Not my favourite, too much knee pressure.
Seeing Bikram standing on his students makes me kringe.

Is it anything but yoga and more of a means for Bikram Choudhury to get rich?

Not only is it yoga in my opinion, but if someone says it isn’t I ask what is?
I would not dream the hubris to arbiter that can of worms.

Bikram also has a right to protect it, likely a legal right to at the very least.

How much Bikram have I done? Very little as it is hard to find teachers who actually have the full Bikram certification, and so the classes turned out to be knock offs, and very rarely did they credit Bikram all the while using both his language, and his system.

Asteya-Non stealing.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of ‘Hot Yoga’ classes, almost all of which are copied directly from the Bikram system. While yoga should never be patented because the wisdom belongs to all, profiting blatantly from someone’s else’s hard work without acknowledging the source is a form of stealing. -The Science & Philosophy of Teaching Yoga & Yoga Therapy-Koay and Barenholtz PT

Hi David,

As a college basketball recruiter I learned it is much healthier for me to discuss the positive aspects of my program rather than hammer the negatives of other programs - called “negative recruiting”. And this is actually more important in yoga since our behavioral bar is raised.

Generally, one can merely ask “is this thing appropriate for me”. And I have found the practice that fits that bill in Purna Yoga™. My teacher meets my level of commitment and relationship, deals with all students in a direct yet compassionate way, spends an inordinate amount of time reading, studying, teaching, sharing, and somehow finds time to be available for me and do that which is necessary for raising the consciousness of humanity.

He and his wife offer us a robust set of tools from Yoga including powerful meditation techniques, alignment-based asana that suits my current condition (whatever it may be), lifestyle, nutrition, and applied philosophy.

This last one allows me to radiate the light of the heart center, cultivated by the practice, in the world at large. Put another way, the efficacy of the practice is visible in the living of the student. And this I believe is the most relevant point. In what way or ways does the student express the growth of their being in the real world (beyond having a slimmer physique or the ability to stand on one’s thumbs).

To me there is a great difference between a Yoga practice and an asana practice. I enjoy an asana practice but I avoid calling it a yoga practice. While I know nothing at all I do realize yoga is vast and to label asana as yoga is not only ignorant on my part but also disingenuous.

Relative to wealth, I am certain you are aware of the four [I]Purusharthas[/I] of which [I]artha[/I] is one of the four. Having wealth is not the issue. The issue is if that wealth is utilized relative to the person’s dharma. Artha dictates that we should have only that which fulfills dharma, nothing more, nothing less. And obviously since dharma varies from soul to soul, so to would the level of wealth.

I have studied the practice as part of my teacher training and taken hot yoga but I have not taken a class in that style just as I’ve not stood in a burning condo in order to determine I should not stand in a burning condo.

Yoga is over 5,000 years old and is a huge body of knowledge which can lead people from a more animalistic egocentric way of living, to a more enlightened living from the heart awareness.

Over the past 100 years the western world has taken bits of the teachings and pieces of the practices and used them for many different purposes than becoming enlightened.

And i have heard people say that everyone has a right to take whatever they wish from the full body of knowledge and use if for whatever purpose they wish.

Personally i think it is a shame that we have potential access to this amazing body of knowledge, whose results can be felt through bringing the practices into our daily lives, but yet some people miss out on the gems of the practice and can get distracted by a few side effects such as looking good, or feeling good and may actually end up building up their ego and becoming more attached to the very things in life that yoga tries to free us from.

I have taken a number of Bikram classes over the years as i believe as yoga teachers we should try to at least experience what current individuals are referring to as yoga.

I personally think it is a great fitness workout using ‘yoga-like’ postures, in a fitness style environment, often with a competitive western way of ‘performing’.

And definitely at the end of the practice one does feel great, so i guess Bikram does have very good insight into putting together this very effective physical sequence.

Personally if i am looking for a genuine form of Yoga that has less financial focus and more of a focus on liberating others, i would choose Satyananda yoga which is a much more heart felt practice encompassing the whole 8 limbs of yoga. Swami Satyananda yoga was a disciple of Swami Sivananda and has adhered to more traditional practices rather than letting his own ego change the practices or blend one form of yoga with another.

The teacher training courses are a minimum of 2 years long and all people applying for the teacher training have to have a minimum of 4 years of attending yoga classes and a minimum of 1 year of continuous daily self practice. So there is a very good standard within the qualified teachers compared to some other shorter teacher training courses… some of which will allow complete beginners onto their courses… to train for a few months, and then call themselves a yoga teacher.

I believe that yoga is such a huge body of knowledge with such potential to liberate us on many levels of our being, that it deserves the respect to be studied and practiced in it’s entirety.

And if an individual is not ready for the more subtle inner transformation practices, then it is fine to start at the more grosser levels of physical practice, but hopefully under the guidance of a yoga teacher who has at least themselves practiced and experienced some of the more subtle effects.

Otherwise it can become like the blind leading the blind.

Best Wishes,

Home run, Dave.

If you would have asked me two months ago what I thought of Bikram Yoga, I may have talked quite negatively about it. Of course, up until that point, I had done a grand total of five classes over the years and absolutely hated every minute of all of them.

My health over the last nine months has been nothing short of terrible. To say that I had tried just about everything would be about right. One illness after another, lethargy, weakness, you name it. While I have been diagnosed with IBD, I knew there was more to it than that. After going to Hawaii and managing to get sick there, my fiance suggested I try going to Bikram Yoga for awhile.

After about six weeks of going quite regularly, I feel amazing:

  1. My health has improved dramatically.
  2. I can feel years of toxins flowing out of me when I sweat. It’s to the point that I HAVE to shower right after otherwise my skin breaks out from the crap in my sweat. If it makes my skin break out, I can’t imagine what it does to my internal body.
  3. I feel infinitely more present and peaceful. I’m actually enjoying the world around me and excited at the beauty of it all when I wake up in the morning.
  4. I have a ton more energy and am getting a lot done these days.
  5. My meditation practice has progressed by leaps and bounds. I’ve had some of my best meditations ever in the last 6 weeks, in large part because my mind and body have been more peaceful.
  6. The first few weeks my mind and body would freak out in the heat and humidity. I’m starting to find peace in the market place as you either accept and calm yourself, or suffer. A very hot, very humid market place.
  7. My penis grew 3 inches. Just making sure you’re paying attention :wink:

I’ve begun to ponder Bikram Yoga a little more. About the founder, bold is by me:

Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram began Yoga at the age of four [B]with India’s most-renowned physical culturist at that time, Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (Author of the most popular book on Yoga, The Autobiography of a Yogi, and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles)[/B]. Bikram practiced Yoga at least four to six hours every day at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At the age of thirteen, he won the National India Yoga Championship. He was undefeated for the following three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.

At seventeen, an injury to his knee during a weight-lifting accident brought the prediction from leading European doctors that he would never walk again. Not accepting their pronouncement, he had himself carried back to Bishnu Ghosh’s school, for he knew that if anyone could help to heal his knee, it was his teacher. Six months later, his knee had totally recovered. Ghosh was a celebrated physical culturist and the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body.
Bikram later on devised the 26 postures sequence, which work irrespective of age groups. These 26 postures series has a profound healing power on your body and mind. He founded Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Bikram has shown the light of healthy life to millions of people around the world.
Bikram is the most respected living Yoga Guru in the world. He has written books on Bikram Yoga. These books are wonderful work for the entire yoga world.
Bikram is also singer. His songs are really refreshing and have soothing effect on mind.
Bikram conducts workshops, lectures and seminars throughout the world. It’s a wonder and lifetime experience to do his class. He will tell you where is your weak point while doing Bikram Yoga Posture. He will not stop until you come out of your best.
A. The lineage is certainly there.
B. The 26 postures of the beginning series are a fantastic sequence and quite genius in my opinion. It’s designed to access most areas of the body and provides not only tremendous healing potential but also helps prepare the body for the soul should the practitioner decide to take it further than just a physical practice.

Most importantly, Bikram realized that millions of people needed this practice. I’m guessing he also realized that most yoga teachers are anything but. As some people have said in this thread and all over the forum elsewhere, many “yoga teachers” are terrible. Yet Bikram knew that his sequence and method were sound. So he systemized it. Go to any Bikram studio in the world and the sequence is the same AND the audible instruction is the same. All Bikram Teachers have to do is say the same thing over and over and over again and the students do the same thing over and over again. This has allowed me to really delve deep into each pose and I experience new things and have new realizations every class. Naturally I’m simplifying what Bikram teachers have to do since they have to keep an eye out for people doing things incorrectly and hold the space, but I think it’s important to note that a well honed method by a teacher with a tremendous amount of knowledge and lineage is being taught over and over again in studios across the nation because that is all they’re supposed to do.

As for Bikram and his personal life, I could care less. All I know is that I’ve been practicing yoga these past 6 weeks.

I’ve seen Bikram style yoga work wonderfully for people who otherwise were incapable of calming or quieting their minds, most of them Type A or OCD. The same people couldn’t be dragged into a slow yoga class, or asked to do a practice at home in a way that was safe and effective. So if it works for you, then it works.

If it works for you David then I’m pleased as I’ve said the proof is in the pudding…Though I’d separate all that from the kool-aid drinking.

That article made me like Bikram (the man and the practice) that much more. Talk about just being yourself and having fun with life. Thanks :slight_smile:

“Is Bikran Yoga, Yoga?”

No. Yoga itself does not refer to any particular method or technique, it simply means “Union”. When you are living in direct communion with your original nature, then you are in a state of yoga. Any method which leads towards this can be called a method towards yoga, but it is itself not yoga. Yoga is a certain state of consciousness that enters into your perception once you come to know of a dimension which is beyond the mind, which is the very source of one’s existence.

Bikram Yoga is not a method towards yoga at all, it is simply a kind of physical exercise. It may be useful if you are just an egoist who is interested in fulfilling one’s desires - either physical health, or looking good, or something else, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the expansion of consciousness towards one’s liberation.

A fair opinion. Out of curiosity, how much Bikram Yoga have you done? And is Ashtanga Yoga a method towards yoga considering its founder (some guy named Pattabhi Jois) says it should be “99% physical practice”?


It is not a question of opinion, but of simply stating things as they are. And I would not be speaking of the matter unless it were out of my own direct experience. One does not need to practice something like the so called Bikram Yoga to understand this. It simply consists of a set of twenty six physical postures, and two techniques of pranayam - it has no place whatsoever for meditation. It’s whole concern is centered around the body, and through the body alone one is not capable of coming to a transformation. The same has happened with many of the other so called forms of yoga that have arisen in the West, whether “Bikram” yoga, “Lyengar” yoga, or by some other name, they have all become fixated upon the body, simply because the mind of the Western man himself is far too identified with the body. And, to fulfill the demands of the Western mind, all of these different so called forms of yoga have arisen, which is just simply skillful marketing. They have not come into being with the intention of bringing a human being to his enlightenment, they have come into being with the intention of fulfilling the desires of the people whom they have been manufactured for. These are products in the marketplace, and the way of enlightenment is completely indifferent to the demands of the marketplace, it makes no exceptions.

There is nothing wrong with something like Bikram yoga, if all you are interested in is physical health. But it should be seen for what it is. It is not a method for the transformation of consciousness. And rather than calling it yoga, it should simply be called exercise.

What about Ashtanga Yoga which arose in India and is “99% physical practice”? Is that a path towards yoga or just exercise?

And anything can be a meditation, you don’t have to sit with your legs in lotus with your eyes closed to meditate. On the other side of the coin, sitting with your legs in lotus with your eyes closed isn’t necessarily meditation either. :wink:


If you mean the “Ashtanga” yoga which has been distorted in the West, then it is not a method towards yoga either. But if one means the “ashtanga” yoga in the sense of the eight limbed yoga which has been described by Patanjali, that is something entirely different. Patanjali has reduced the whole science of the expansion of consciousness into an exact technology. And most of the work of the eight limbed yoga is entirely of meditation, of bringing the activity of the mind to a stillness, and out of that stillness one can come to a direct perception of a dimension which is not of the mind. It is impossible to see one’s reflection in running water, and once one’s whole lake of consciousness has become absolutely silent - it simply reflects according to it’s original nature. So the “ashtanga” yoga of Patanjali is something entirely different, it is a certain systamatic process in meditation. It consists of eight limbs, eight aspects which, when put together, form a ladder for the expansion of consciousness. The first five limbs are just preparation for the last three.

One first starts with concentration, fixing the mind upon a single point. Once the mind has becomed fixed upon a single point without interruption, concentration becomes transformed into meditation. And it is in meditation that the energy of one’s awareness starts turning inwards towards it’s very source. Once the dualities of the mind dissolve into silence, and one comes to a direct experience of the original nature of the mind, then one enters into cosmic consciousness. And it is this experience which is the very peak of the yogic sciences, all of the various different techniques and approaches are just a skillful means towards this.

“you don’t have to sit with your legs in lotus with your eyes closed to meditate. On the other side of the coin, sitting with your legs in lotus with your eyes closed isn’t necessarily meditation either.”

You are right. Because once meditation has become one’s very nature, one’s very fragrance, then it does not matter whatever one may be doing. Whether one is sitting, standing, lying down, walking, talking or saying nothing at all - it is irrelevant - it makes no disturbance at all for one’s meditation. But this is only the case for one who has already come to the space. For those who have yet to come to the space, without sitting meditation, it is almost impossible to integrate this meditation from moment to moment in daily living. Because while you are involved in action, you can become distracted and disturbed by a million and one different things. And unless one has already come to a certain integration, one is bound to become entangled in the experience of the senses. That is why if you cannot manage sitting meditation, it is almost impossible to remain meditative while one is not in sitting meditation. One’s sitting meditation is to be used to create a solid foundation, so that once you are out of sitting meditation, the stream of meditation continues. Then one can start learning to integrate one’s meditation from moment to moment. In fact, after a while, it will not require any effort at all on your part, to be absolutely rooted in the present moment becomes as natural as one’s own breath.

Thanks for your insight, I really appreciate it :slight_smile: Great stuff!

I must say I’ve avoided Bikram for the same reason I won’t pay to see a Tom Cruise movie, but I do know many people who swear by it. I practice Ashtanga as a part of yoga that addresses the physical. I’m working on the other bits, and am getting further down the road of meditation.

As I learn more about this thing called yoga I have come to know that, just as there are many ways to practice the physical arm, there are many expressions of the other 7. As IA mentioned, we find the ways that are right for us.

Glad to read that you are finally feeling better.

[QUOTE=David;52059]A fair opinion. Out of curiosity, how much Bikram Yoga have you done? And is Ashtanga Yoga a method towards yoga considering its founder (some guy named Pattabhi Jois) says it should be “99% physical practice”?[/QUOTE]


Bikram Yoga or Iyengar Yoga etc. These are only names given by individual teachers -more of a marketing spiel than anything else. Jois’s ashtanga yoga is in the same category. I might as well start a school of yoga and call it " Easwaran Yoga".:cool:

Any one who understand and respects yoga for what it is and teaches it for the sake of teaching yoga and not purely as a commercial activity, will not give it labels. My father Eknath Easwaran was a meditation guru who founded his ashram in Tomales at Los Angeles and taught there for more than thirty years. I have not heard his teaching referred to in any manner other than “meditation” - even the eight steps he taught were simply referred to as “the eight steps”. Another example- take Kaivalyadham in Lonawala, India, take Parmarth in Rishikesh, take Bihar school of yoga -take SVYASA in Bangalore, these are some of the most respected schools for learning yoga in India. They teach for the love of teaching -sure they have fees , but they all charge very reasonable amounts - needed I am sure for upkeep and maintenance. -and they all teach yoga -not pramarth yoga or BSY yoga or Kaivalyadhama yoga

Yoga has two sets of broad classifications- Gyan, Rajya, Karma and Bhakti- these are the classifications bases on the type of person the aspirant is and hence the type of practice suitable for him - and is referred to in Bhagawad Geeta and by Swami Vivekananda ( his eight volume complete works). The other is the codification by Patanjali - the eight limbs which is called "ashtanga yoga " in the yoga sutras.

Your question is loaded with the western interpretation of yoga - only asans. Yoga is a complete practice. asans are a very small part of the practice. An advanced aspirant in yoga would spend maybe an hour a day in asan and pranayam and eight twelve hours in dharan-only then could he hope to move into dhyan and perhaps samadhi.

There are many who are not built to take such discipline. For them is prescribed Bhakti and karma yoga.

and to answer your question on individual practice-I do practice yoga asan -learnt at kaivalyadham- its called the Sivananda series -(please note - even the Sivananda Ashram does not call it Sivananada Yoga !)- an hour a day and pranayam half an hour a day- meditation 90 min a day - and post by retirement (only a week to go !) -plan to significantly increase the time on meditation (technically dharan - for dhyan happens - you cant do dhyan).

Interesting article I read recently.

A friend of mine recently took a Bikram class, a back band was causing her considerable pain. The instructor told her to take the pain and stretch more.

Bikram yoga doesn’t even pretend to be a whole system of yoga.

However I will say this. The studio that me and my wife attend certainly addresses some of the other aspects of yoga. Sure the 90 minute Bikram class at 105 degrees is brutal, but all along the way our teachers are giving yogic insights about life. At the end of practice we are all instructed to take as much time to be with the mind as we need. Most stay for about 5 minutes are so with the lights dimmed in the room.

Is it a complete yoga? No. No yoga class is. Yoga can’t be completed in a class setting. Meditation is something that has to been done alone and with complete dedication. To be effective meditation has to been undertaken as a science of the mind…and you have to treat it like you are the lead investigator…because you are! :slight_smile: Just reciting mantra’s that others concoct will not get one very far with meditation. Fully analysing the mind will. What is that thought? Where did it arise from? Who is this questioning these thoughts, were does the source of this questioner arise form…that’s real meditation. Yes there are plenty of breathing techniques that can be taught to help one first quiet the noisy mind…but once the mind is quiet real insight comes because the devotee has the sincere desire to not only find the truth, but to directly experience the truth. That can’t be fully taught in class, but it is somethign that the sincere seeker will easily find on his on once he’s had some instruction and a push in the right direction.

Is Bikram great for the mind and the body. Yes. For most people in the world it is a good place to start. I have been a long time meditater before coming to the asana parts of yoga. I can say that Bikram yoga has helped steady my mind further and it’s impossible to deny the physical benefits.

My wife has had scoliosis combined with intense back pain her whole life and after a few Bikram classes she can already notice a huge difference…in fact her physical therapist also noticed a difference. yes I understand other systems of yoga will help her as well.

Our plan is to start with Bikram to get us into better shape and then move to other styles of Yoga. I’m trying to introduce my wife to the full system of yoga…well and myself to. I’m hoping that through classes and discussions with me she will embrace more of the yoga philosophy and way of life…aka I’d love it if my wife took up meditation with me! :slight_smile:

Personally I think Bikram is good and has it’s place. There are as many paths up the mountain as their are people. Everyone is at their own evolutionary level. What’s perfect for one is nonsense for another. What’s nonsense for one is enlightenment for the other.