Can I call myself a staunch feminist and still practice Bikram yoga?
This is but one of many articles that describe the offensive things that Bikram Chowdhury is accused of doing. It’s a tough read – especially if you are a pretty committed Bikram practitioner as I am. He is sexist, racist, homophobic, has an issue with interracial marriage (and as such, would have an issue with me as I am the direct product of an interracial marriage). He has been accused of sexual harassment and rape. He is a mysogonist of the highest degree and the only people who disagree with this assessment seem to be completely brainwashed by him.
But I LOVE LOVE LOVE the practice. I love that it is the same wherever I go. I love that it is familiar and still challenging. Because I know each pose so well, I can really lose myself in the practice and get deeper in to the postures. I love that I can go to class in East Harlem or by work or on a trip to LA or Hawaii and walk in to a new studio and have the same practice. It is comforting. It honestly brings me joy.
In 2015, I would like to go to teacher training – not to necessarily become a teacher (I am terrified by public speaking) but because I would like to deepen my practice. And if I find the courage to share my love of yoga with others, that would be nice too. Originally I thought I would got o Bikram teacher training. However, it is INSANELY expensive and takes two months. If you read the article, you’ll see that many people take out a loan for the teacher training and then another to open a studio. With all this debt, women often feel trapped – they have made such an investment, they feel they have to continue forward even if Bikram himself has treated them poorly or even harassed them, or worse case scenario raped them. My teacher told me that she just turned a blind eye to him personally and took from the training what she needed. But I don’t think I could do that. If I saw him doing half of what is described in the article, and in law suits, I would have to say something. I also don’t have $11K to drop nor can I take two months off from my life (work, kids, husband).
I am looking at other studios that provide teacher training – studios in NYC that cost a third of what Bikram asks. And I am continuing my practice as I love the studios I frequent and especially enjoy supporting a black, female owned business. I will continue practicing Bikram Yoga and I will continue to dislike the man himself. I will disconnect one from the other. But if Yoga to the People ever opens a location in Harlem, I may have to give it a go.