Bikram Choudhury (b. 1946) began his yoga training at age four under Bishnu Ghosh at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta, India. At the time, Ghosh was one of India’s most beloved physical culturalists and the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of The Autobiography of a Yogi. Under Ghosh’s tough love, Bikram came to win the National India Yoga Championship at age 13, which he held for three years. Bikram retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion. At 17, Bikram suffered a crippling knee injury in a weightlifting accident. Refusing to accept doctor orders for surgery and even amputation, Bikram returned to Bishnu, and after six months of intense yoga therapy was walking normally. Bikram says, “Now every time I want to quit or just get up and leave, my guru is there with his sword . . . It was nothing less than a miracle, and this inspired me to become a yoga teacher.”
Bishnu sent Bikram to Bombay in 1965 to teach yoga. Overwhelmed with sick people seeking his yoga prescription, Bikram developed a sequence of postures (asanas). Bishnu opposed his one-for-all approach, but as the healing efficacy of the sequence revealed itself, he became Bikram’s biggest supporter. More than 45 years later, Bikram’s yoga continues to heal the knees, bodies, minds, and lives of countless people around the world. In 1972, Bikram was summoned to Hawaii to treat President Nixon for advanced thrombophlebetis. Bikram prescribed a simple yoga routine, which resulted in the President’s healing and his personal invitation to Bikram to come live permanently in the United States of America. Bikram established his Yoga College of India and Los Angeles headquarters in 1974, where celebrities, athletes, and others began to flock to him. Students and teachers from all corners of the world come to practice his yoga. In the 1990s he began offering nine-week teacher certification courses, and certified instructors now number in the thousands with Bikram Yoga studios all over the world.
Rajashree Choudhury (b. 1965) began studying yoga at age three under Dr. P.S. Das. Rajashree became the five-time undefeated champion of All India Yoga Championship Competition (1979-1983), Champion of the National Yoga Byayam Competition, and Mrs. India (1985). Rajashree is a Registered Medical Practitioner in Alternative Medicine with a specialization in Hatha Yoga Therapy for chronic diseases and disorders. Rajashree was the driving force behind Bikram yoga teacher training program. She founded the United States Yoga Federation, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and qualifying yoga as a competitive and Olympic sport. Rajashree’s combination of detailed knowledge, compassion, and poise make her retreats and lectures some of the most sought after in the yoga world and across yoga disciplines.
People have been known to ask about the Bikram Dialogue and why we use it. The dialogue is the instruction you hear our certified Bikram yoga instructors speak during class to allow you to fully and safely benefit from each posture in the series. Bikram himself, along with several key senior instructors, developed the dialogue and each Bikram instructor strives in teacher training to not only learn the words, but also the meaning and the importance of each word in the dialogue. It is considered a dialogue even though only the teacher speaks because the students respond by moving their bodies as directed and described!
There are many reasons we use and adhere to the dialogue when we teach Bikram yoga. Here are some of them:
Everything you need; nothing you don't: Bikram and his senior staff created the dialogue to be thorough and efficient. It is designed to communicate how to do each posture while keeping your mind engaged and focused. It gives you the instruction you need to do it the right way for the most benefit within a specific time frame.
Trust in the timing leads to strength in the postures: By regularly hearing the same dialogue over time, you will learn to turn off your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to hear what it needs in order to execute the pose to the best of your ability.
Collective movement equals collective energy: You will find that when everyone in the class moves together to the best of their ability, the collective energy is palpable and will help you to have a better class. That's the power of the dialogue – when everyone works together do what they can the right way, the collective energy helps each member of the class.
Open-eyed meditation improves the mind/body connection: Over time, the connection you have between your mind and your body will become stronger and stronger. By turning off your conscious mind, you grow to develop a laser sharp focus in the moment of the posture. That calm, sharp focus will transfer to other parts of your life outside of the studio. Over time you will find that you can calmly and with focus make your way through what used to be very stressful situations