I came to this yoga at a great time. It was five years ago, amidst all of the controversy about copyright. Bikram (Choudhury) was suing many studios to prevent them from offering his brand of yoga. He claimed that he owned the series of 26 postures known as "Bikram Yoga" and no one else could teach it without his permission and control.
The studio that I practiced at is a "Hot Yoga" studio. It offers the 26 postures in a heated room, just like Bikram teaches. But there is no mention of Bikram. Quite the contrary. They don't say the name Bikram and pretend that he doesn't exist. This has turned out to be a huge blessing for me. I got all the benefits of the yoga - the postures, the discipline, the sequencing, the therapy, the will-power - without the cultish worship of the man who it came from.
HELL-BENT & TONY SANCHEZ
With the publishing of Benjamin Lorr's Hell-Bent in 2012, Tony Sanchez entered into the popular consciousness. Sanchez was a student of Bikram in the 70s, long before the Bikram Yoga empire became what it is today. Sanchez is now about 60 years old and maintains a daily practice. He offers training in Ghosh Lineage Yoga including all of the postures and exercises that Bikram excludes. He also teaches from an opposing viewpoint to Bikram's - non-possessive, patient, compassionate and peaceful. And un-heated. Ghosh yoga suddenly has two senior teachers instead of one.
Now, as the intensity of sexual assault lawsuits against Bikram grows, many yogis are breaking ranks. They are taking his name off of their studios and even making changes in the yoga itself.
USA Yoga, a newish organization trying to nurture yoga competition, has its eyes on getting yoga into the olympics. Founded by Bikram's wife Rajashree, it started as an extension of Bikram Yoga but is steadily moving away. USA Yoga is still firmly rooted in the Ghosh tradition, using mainly the postures taught by Ghosh, but it is trying to open the participation to yogis of other traditions.
In June of this year, we will be publishing the lost manuscript of Buddha Bose, one of Ghosh's star pupils in the 30s, long before Bikram came along. Bose's presentation of the yoga is enlightening in both its similarities and its differences to Bikram's yoga.
Slowly but surely, the tentacles of Ghosh's yoga are spreading. More senior teachers and more historical references are available. Bikram's monopoly on the yoga is crumbling, making way for more individuality, exploration and development in the tradition. This is a great time for Ghosh Yoga.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga