Bikram Choudhury | Global Healer
Spiritual healing is his goal, and the journey has thus begun. Ruchi M meets yoga guru Bikram Choudhury in Beverly Hills.
In America you cannot help but notice Bikram Choudhury’s yoga schools. There’re almost everywhere, helping people to cope with stress, illness and even lonliness. Choudhury, whose humble beginnings, can be traced to Kolkata says, “Yoga is a time tested way to overcome most human ills… when medical science has given up on a person, yoga will help.”
Right from the age of three, Choudhury was perfectly aware of his purpose, beginning lessons under the tutelage of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (founder of the Self Realisation Fellowship in Los Angeles).
For Bikram, his yoga lessons continued even when the family moved to Deogarh, Bihar. He would practice yoga for four to five hours a day, and at the age of 13, won the National India Yoga contest. When just 17, a knee injury during a weight-lifting championship turned out to be enormously distressing as doctors declared that he would never walk again.
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. On his guru’s request Bikram went to Mumbai to see a patient, but in no time became known as ‘the guru of Mumbai’. From Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Darmendra to popular politicians, he met all, and his yoga became a household name.
“Bishnu Chandra Ghosh, was one of the greatest yoga masters of the 20th century… I’ve been very lucky to have him as my guru. He inspired me to go West and sow the seeds of yoga into the hearts of the people there,” said Choudhury, who works 24 hours a day to ensure the growth and prosperity of this spiritual practice.
“If you want to see the true red carpet scenario, just step into Bikram’s Yoga School in Beverly Hills,” says a Los Angeles resident. His copyrighted 26 pose sequence, carried out in a room heated to 105 degrees, have brought him wealth as well as a string of celebrity clients including Michael Jackson, Madonna to Serena Williams. Be it a veteran Hollywood star or a contemporary one, 75 per cent of his students are celebrities. Bikram has taught yoga to all and is dauntlessly called the ‘Guru of Hollywood’. The guru not only teaches them a healthy lifestyle but is also their emotional healer.
But for Bikram it does not really matter whether you are a pauper or a prince. He provides equal attention to all his students and that’s what sets him apart. “It does not matter whether you are rich or poor. I have taught famous athletes and movie stars, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and housewives, everybody’s life demands the same thing, good health, and that is what I provide,” explains Choudhury.
This exceptionally successful tale of yoga and the yogi began with just eight dollars in his pocket. Today, anything will be in huge demand if it carries the label ‘Bikram’s Yoga’. “Nobody ever imagined that yoga would do such a flourishing business… I made yoga enterprising, as big as computers, electronics, clothing or drugs,” claims Bikram. “Today people like yoga more than anything else.”
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, which means, ‘to yoke’ (to the spirit) meaning the union of an Individual soul (atman) with the universal soul (brahman). Yoga embraces a wide range of Hindu ideologies but the ultimate goal is the joining of body, mind, and soul.
For over 40 years Bikram Choudhury has been teaching yoga, one of six classic systems of Hindu philosophy whose roots are some 5,000 years old. In the West, yoga has become a household ritual. Initially, it was the domain of the elite but now it is a common man’s approach. With over 1,200 Bikram yoga schools in the United States, Choudhury has taken the West with a storm.
Bikram’s yoga classes are very systematic comprising of 26 asana series, scientifically proven to warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the order in which they should be stretched. Each pose is done carefully, and any pseudo knowledge could prove harmful. Choudhury does not talk about vegetarianism, all he insists is to do yoga regularly. A certain kind of dialogue delivery is used while teaching yoga, which is very effective.
Choudhury’s wife, Rajashree also holds a degree in yoga. After studying at Mahila Yoga Byam Kendra, Ghosh’s College of Physical Education, Kolkata she certified in ‘Hatha Yoga Therapy’ for chronic diseases and disorders. She has also taught yoga extensively throughout the world and the United States. Now both husband and wife spread the art of healthy living through yoga. They are extremely busy conducting seminars and trips to India based on health and yoga. “We all know about Bikram Choudhury but it was amazing to see his wife in such postures which are beyond human imagination,” says Ellen Goldberg, an admirer.
A beautiful wife, a lovely son, Bikram Choudhury is happy, but not content. He is agonized with all the terror and hatred around the world. Spiritual healing is his goal, and the journey has thus begun.