An ex-employee and two former students recently accused Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury of a variety of not-so-enlightening practices including rape, sexual harassment, and racism. According to a woman who trained with the cultish guru in Los Angeles, Choudhury doesn't limit his repulsive behavior to his close circle; he waxed poetic on his dick, women's bodies, and matrimony ("Love your bitch wife every moment," he advised) by way of introduction.
Sydney Towne said she kept a list of Bikram's behavior when she trained with him full-time from April to June 2012 because "he dislikes so many types of people" that "a list seemed like the only way to keep track of it all." She loved Bikram Yoga, but hated the way Bikram himself "completely takes advantage of people and their desire for wellness."
"I think he preys on people and there's such a cult of personality around him that people don't question his clearly inappropriate behavior," she said. "I completely believe all accusations against him."
Towne said the training schedule was based on Bikram's erratic desires; sometimes students would be in lecture until 3 A.M. and still be expected to show up at 8:30 A.M. the same morning. (Bikram talks a lot about his ability to avoid eating and sleeping, she said; "Sleep is the number one crime" was one of his favorite sayings.) The yoga master always had three young women around him during training sessions to cater to his every need — serving him tea, making him snacks, fluffing his blankets, rubbing his legs for hours at a time — and he'd yell at them if they made even the "slightest misstep," like if his tea wasn't hot enough. His staff told Towne that he'd "go off his nut" if she shared any of his "wisdom" with the public. Oops. Here are some of the best quotes she wrote down:
- "My name is Bikram. I'm always victorious."
- "I'll inject your brain."
- "You can't wait to be abused by bitch teacher." (Talking about why people come to Bikram Yoga.)
- "Get your fat ass here everyday. Do you want to die?" (Talking about what to tell students who are new.)
- "Even from the side you look so sexy." (Directed at a woman walking across the ballroom where he gives lectures in front of 400+ people, during the first week of training.)
- On testicles: "You never see two balls in one line."
- On penises: "You think big body equals big dick?"
- How to make marriage last: "Women become best babysitter in the world. Men become German Shepard, Doberman."
- More marriage advice: "Love your bitch wife every moment."
- On a student who was formerly a ballerina: "Ballerina has body combination chicken and turkey. Half and half."
- "60% of men that do Bikram come to the yoga for erectile dysfunction," according to Bikram.
Bikram said offensive things about:
- Dog Owners
- Women: "Chubbies, too skinny, small-breasted, without make-up, with short hair, with long hair, but worn up"
- People who live in cold climates
- Tattooed people
- Chinese speakers
- "Skanky" American men
Bikram really, really despises the color green. Towne wrote:
We had an issue at my training with safety that was pretty serious, but kept completely under wraps with threats of being kicked out and therefore, not being able to teach if you spoke about them.
Bikram hates the color green. There are theories why, but he won't actually explain the exact reason. For the yoga they take over a ballroom at the hotel where everything happens and pump in extra heat to get it warm enough. They took down all the emergency exit signs because they were green and put duct tape over all the doors to keep the heat in. That left over 400 people in a room with extra heaters in the hallway keeping it hot and with only one exit via two sets of double doors separated by a 20 ft. enclosed hallway. A man in my group, everyone is put in a group of 20 people to learn the poses, complained because one weekend an extra 200+ people were scheduled to come for their re-certification and he felt that having no emergency exits was dangerous. He brought his complaints to the people in charge of our training and they ignored him. So he called the LA Fire Department to ask them to check out whether the space was safe. Obviously, the FD said no and made the organizers both put up the green emergency exit signs and un-tape the emergency exit doors so we could get out in case of an emergency. Bikram kicked the guy out of the training and spent a significant amount of time berating him and his actions to the group. It was a clear safety violation, but the group mentality of Bikram does everything for the good of the group came out and people were pissed that we had to miss a few days of yoga while the room was made safe and then heated back up.
Image via AP.