"The Yoga Is Bigger Than The Man."

In today's training session, I was explaining to Camp (my trainer) everything that is going on with the Bikram community right now... And how I am conflicted - as are a lot of people - about what exactly to do and feel.

First and foremost, I support the victims with claims against him in this situation. My understanding is that while only three have had their accusations move forward in the form of civil cases, there are more to come. I have personally heard Bikram refer to a woman as "Miss Boobs" at my training session. And he has also made derogatory comments about women and gay people in my presence.

Second, while a good chunk of us who become teachers do not like Bikram personally, we have appreciated what he has built with this style of yoga. It's very healing for the spine especially. And while I am unsure if I ever want to teach again, lately I have been struggling to even go to class.

I know some studios I have practiced at praise the yoga far, far, far above the man. But I'm not sure all studios do. And more importantly, I don't know if all teachers do.

There are teachers I know to avoid wherever I practice. Anyone who teaches and tries to be like Bikram with their demeanor and approach are not teachers for me. I like tough teachers, but ones who educate while they teach... Not just spit out verbatim what Bikram says. You should know this yoga so well, after practicing and teaching for a while, that you know how to bring yourself into it and make it a worthwhile experience for your students.

I've asked a few fellow trainees from my class if they are going back to teacher training in the Fall to be re-certified, as we are supposed to be. The responses have varied...

  • "I'm not. Flat-out no."
  • "You don't need to go back unless you are thinking of opening a studio. Headquarters doesn't audit. And a lot of studios really don't care if you do."
  • "I'm going to invest in training with Tony Sanchez instead. Some studios will accept his training as supplemental to TT." 

(Tony Sanchez was one of the first Bikram teachers. He and Bikram had a falling out. Sanchez pushes the "Ghosh" lineage of yoga, which Bikram's yoga comes from. But Bikram's way is different than the way of his guru - Ghosh.)

As I was telling Camp all of this, he pointed out that the style of yoga was much, much bigger than the man.

"Yes!" I said. "But he hasn't realized that and hasn't evolved with how he builds out his legacy." 

Now I feel myself wanting to favor studios that drop his name and let it be known that they do not support what he is alleged to have done to a number of women, how he articulates his "views" on women and gays in the training process, and how treats studio owners and people who want to teach his yoga.

I will get back to the studio. I know I will. I just have to find a way to get past that block of associating him with my practice.