Bikram Choudhury began studying hatha yoga at the age of four. His guru was Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Parmahansa Yogananda (founder of The Self-Realization Fellowship). At age 12, Bikram was the youngest national yoga champion of India, holding the title three consecutive years. After his 3rd title, Bishnu encouraged Bikram to move on competitively. Bikram went on to pursue an athletic career as a marathon runner and an Olympic style weight lifter.
At the mere age of 20, a weight lifting accident crushed his knee, leaving Bikram severely crippled. With the guidance of his guru, Bikram created his 26-posture series, which restored his health. He quickly established himself as an expert yoga teacher around the globe, opening schools throughout the East. Combining all that he learned from both Eastern and Western doctors and scientists at Tokyo University Hospital, Bikram perfected his comprehensive yoga system.
Bikram then tailored his technique for the Western person, specifically for our cultural problems of occupational stress, chronic overeating, poor posture, and a high stress lifestyle.
Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class
Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class is a demanding series of 26 postures (asanas) and two breathing excises (pranayamas), which is suitable for all ages and levels of ability. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments, and joints needed for the next posture. The Bikram method also stimulates the organs, glands and nerves, moving fresh oxygenated blood through the body, restoring all systems to a healthy working order. Bikram designed this 90 minute program to deliver total health through the balancing and strengthening of every system in the body in order to prevent illness, injury, and limit the effects of aging. In addition, the series of postures combine skills of concentration, patience, determination, and self control, which lead to increased mental clarity and reduced stress.
Bikram’s Beginning Yoga class is done in a hot room to warm your muscles, prevent injury, allow deeper stretching, and cleanse the body by flushing toxins. As Bikram says, “Yoga is the only exercise in the world you can do at any age.” There is always some posture that will improve your health, mind or soul.
The year 2005 marked the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Bishnu Ghosh, one of the greatest and most influential yoga masters of the past century, guru of Bikram Choudhury and brother of Paramahnsa Yogananda. Ghosh, born in Lahore, India in 1903, was a celebrated physical culturist and the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body. Beginning in the 1920’s, Bishnu Ghosh developed a school of Yoga that provides a unique blend of spiritual inspiration and a highly disciplined physical regimen.
Ghosh came from an extraordinary family. He was initiated into the field of yogic exercise and physical education by his guru and older brother, Paramahnsa Yogananda, the world renowned Yogi and spiritual healer. Yogananda founded the Self Realization Fellowship Center and his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, continues to be one of the best-known and influential works of our time.
In 1923, at the young age of twenty, Ghosh founded the first Ghosh College of Physical Education in Calcutta and his name quickly spread throughout India. Other schools were opened, first in India then in other locations around the world.
In 1939 Bishnu Ghosh came to the United States to educate people on the subject of yoga by giving demonstrations of amazing yoga feats. He lectured at Colombia University in New York, generating a great deal of interest in the field, and was widely acknowledged and respected in the academic community. In 1968 he went to Japan with his troupe and traveled all over the country giving lectures and yogic demonstrations. Bishnu Ghosh’s were the first yoga exhibitions to be televised outside of India and were seen and loved by millions if Japanese. He passed away in 1970.
His students and disciples have gained worldwide recognition. One of them, Bikram Choudhury, has carried the message of the curative powers and benefits of Hatha Yoga, as well as the possibility of a disease-free life, around the world. He has trained thousands of teachers and has over 1,000 affiliated schools.
Bikram’s Dedication: “I hereby dedicate my life’s work to the cherished memory of my beloved guru Bishnu Charan Ghosh. May the eternal light of his spirit, made brighter by the love of his guru Paramahansa Yogananda and those who have carried his sacred lineage, through the halls of the ages, be reflected in the hearts of all the students and teachers, of whom it has been my privilege and honor to serve.”