Bikram Yoga Closes in Kitsilano. Guru Scandal to Blame?

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Bikram Choudhury

Bikram Choudhury in his youth

Bikram Yoga Vancouver has closed their West End and Kitsilano studio locations. The last sweat sessions were held on March 30. Their Cambie studio, located at 555 West 12th at City Square Mall will remain open, but for how long?

The competition is fierce for yoga studios in our city, with over 7 studios in Kitsilano alone, and dozens more in the surrounding neighbourhoods. As we approach the balmier months, it is especially challenging for hot yoga varieties such as Bikram and Moksha to hold onto their clients. It hasn’t helped business either, with Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, and his fantastical, but now disputed health claims or his lifestyle in Beverly Hills that hardly resembles that of a yogi. Or perhaps the recent and rather serious accusations against Choudhury are to blame for a decline in membership.

Choudhury, 68, started up his first hot yoga class in Los Angeles in the 1970s. Essentially a form of hatha yoga performed in a sauna environment, the class involves a 90-minute series of 26 asanas (postures) and two breathing exercises practiced in 40.6 degree celsius rooms. There are now millions of Bikram Yoga followers, including high profile celebrities such as Beyonce, Madonna, and George Clooney. All of them strutting their stuff in barely-there-outfits at hundreds of certified schools worldwide which pay huge royalty fees to Choudhury.

While the health benefits claimed by Choudhury have not been fully supported by medical professionals, there are still some good reasons to continue the strenuous, sweat-soaked classes. Many students of Bikram Yoga, including friends that I’ve spoken to, have reported enhanced flexibility, relief of muscle tension, and a general well-being-glow after just one class.

Have you tried a variety of hot yoga? If so, what has your experience been like?

Last modified: April 9, 2014

2 Responses to " Bikram Yoga Closes in Kitsilano. Guru Scandal to Blame? "

  1. Jessica says:

    I have tried it a couple times in Kelowna and I really enjoyed it. After the first session, my body moved soooo slooowwwwly, which was very weird, but it wasn’t as bad the second time. I felt like I’d had a great workout. After seeing so many Groupon deals for it over the last few months, however, I was starting to wonder whether business was down.

  2. Deb says:

    Could it be mismanagement. That to me would be a more likely explanation.