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Why I'm No Longer Teaching Bikram Yoga

bikramyoga online yoga yoga Aug 29, 2022

I know for many of you, you are surprised at my change of heart when it comes to the twenty-six and two sequence. When we first went into quarantine I had quite a few messages with questions asking when would I be adding the class to my online schedule. And, I had to be honest: I’m not.

Listen, I still believe it’s a beautiful practice.

I believe it has awesome healing potential for those in the beginnings of their yoga journey. It’s just not for me right now. And, I would never teach something I’m currently not interested in practicing.  

The more I learned about yoga, and the more education I sought, in not only the Ghosh tradition of yoga, the lineage in which Bikram Yoga as we know it stems from, but in other forms of yoga that interested me, the less the repetition of twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises spoke to me.

As a creative person, I no longer could vibe with the fact that I would be required to stick to the same words over and over again to teach my class. About eight years ago, the whole, “What does the Dialogue say?” answer to any question about a posture in the sequence seemed ridiculous.

We know so much more about our bodies and the mechanics and techniques of a yoga practice than when the words were first put to paper for the instructors to memorize. Can’t we teach what we know?

And, different words, hit the student’s practice in new ways. Shaking the words up, or saying something in a different way, makes the student listen again and hear more – learn more. Aren’t we here to teach?

For me, Bikram Yoga – the original hot yoga – was a good starting point.

For both my teaching and my practice. But, I can’t hang out here anymore. I’ve realized it more and more now that I’ve had a chance to take a step back during this incredibly weird time in human history, pause, and decide what I really want for my life.

For one thing, I no longer crave the heat. Since I’ve stopped spending three hours of my life every day in a heated studio, my skin has cleared up, I no longer have adrenal fatigue, and I don’t get night sweats from messing with my diuretic hormones with the constant sweating.

I feel balanced in ways I didn’t understand I wasn’t.

And, I don’t think this sequence should be done without heat. It relies on it.

No good yoga instructor is going to pull you from Eagle Pose right into Standing Head to Knee Pose without the heat, twenty-five minutes into a beginner’s yoga class in which you’ve only done three postures at that point. No way. 

But, this doesn’t even get into how exhausted I am from defending the sequence and why you should still do it regardless of the scandals surrounding Bikram Choudhury.

For almost ten years, I’ve had students ask what I knew, was he really like that, and should they still practice knowing what they know?

I would tell them it’s not about the man, the yoga is awesome. Over and over again – practically every day.

Exhausting. Why? Because I honestly don’t know this man and have no affiliation with him, but taught his sequence. And, despite all of the craziness, the yoga is awesome and holds a ton of healing potential.

I still feel that way. If you want to improve your mobility and flexibility – this is a great jumping off point.

But, there is so much more to yoga.

And, there are stresses as a yoga teacher I can’t even begin to describe here, and the conversations that revolve around Bikram Choudhury, just add to it. 

Look, I’ve always been honest with you. I support anyone that loves this sequence and wants to do it for the rest of their lives. I support the studios that are built around this methodology – I want to see them flourish and succeed.

I’m just following my own path and listening to my heart when it says, “Go this way – there’s so much joy here!”  I’m not against anything, I’m just for moving forward.

And, as I move forward I’m realizing that some things need to be cleared away to make space for all of the new spaces and places ahead.

Whatever brings you joy, go do it.

And, know that the lessons I learned teaching Bikram Yoga were invaluable to me and not lost.

These postures are neatly tucked into pieces of my online sequences because they hold value and are a healing therapy, but it’s time to lift off, turn upside down, and bend a little deeper.

Not because it’s better, but because you can.

(Originally published September 9th, 2020.)

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