History of Bikram Yoga

Traditional Bikram Yoga

The traditional yoga method and system we specialize in was developed in Calcutta, India, between the 1930s and 1960s by Bishnu Ghosh, younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda L. Ghosh).  Bishnu Ghosh mentored a number of outstanding students such as Buddha Bose, Gouri Shankar Mukerji, and Bikram Choudhury.

Bikram was initially sent to Japan in the early 1970s to teach Ghosh lineage yoga and shortly thereafter he arrived in the United States.  Since the early 1970s-1990s, the Ghosh lineage beginning sequence and teaching methods were more developed and refined by Bikram Choudhury, Rajashree Choudhury, principal teacher Emmy Cleaves, and others. The Bikram Yoga College of India was established in Los Angeles where thousands of classes were conducted and the first official school of Bikram Yoga was established.

Bikram Yoga is Hot Yoga (but not all Hot Yoga is Bikram Yoga)

A traditional Bikram Yoga class (beginners series) consists of 26 precisely-sequenced postures and 2 breathing exercises, practiced in a heated room over 90 minutes. The Ghosh lineage also contains an advanced class of 84 postures. Many Ghosh lineage teachers have continued to develop a bridge class between the beginning 26 postures and the advanced 84 postures, this class is often referred to as Level 2 or Intermediate. There are also shortened variations of the class in 60 or 75 minute modules, however this is not the traditional and therapeutic prescription.

From the early 1970s until approximately 2010, Bikram Yoga was equivalent to “hot yoga”.  The unparallelled benefits and worldwide popularity inspired many to try to imitate it and name classes “hot yoga”.

As a result, a large number of other “hot yoga” and heated fitness trends have proliferated across the globe. However, it is not simply the heat that makes this traditional style yoga work.  Many sequences and styles of yoga are now performed in a heated room such as Power Yoga, Hot Vinyasa Flow-style classes, and others. Nevertheless, the heat does not equate to a Bikram Yoga Class; the precise sequence, teacher education, teaching, principles, and practice methods that work symbiotically to create the various transformative benefits are what make the class Bikram Yoga .

Bikram Yoga remains the original and time-tested therapeutic heated hatha yoga. It is associated with scientifically proven health benefits and is truly accessible to all ages and bodies.

donna antonelli