Meet the Innovators: Bikram Choudhury

Proprietor of the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, Bikram Choudhury, a.k.a. “yoga teacher to the stars,” is a man with a mission: saving America through his yoga. His intensive two-month teacher training course turns out 200-plus teachers a year, many of whom go on to open schools bearing his name, all across the country. He is currently building a health resort and yoga college in India, where he plans to train 500 teachers next summer.

Bikram began training in his native India at age 5 with Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda. He teaches a rigorous, aerobic yoga, in which a standardized set of 24 poses and two Pranayamas are repeated twice during 90 minutes, in a heated room. He urges his students to push beyond their limits, insisting, “Pain is good.”

“Americans have built the best country in the world,” says Bikram. “But do American people have the best life in the world? No. Something is missing. The American people are now beginning to wake up from a long, deep sleep. To make the best life in the best country, you need to know one thing: yoga, the discipline of self-realization.”