“How come you’ve not written on your blog lately?”
“Why haven’t you blogged my challenge?”
I’ve been asked lots of these questions recently and yes, I have been a bit quiet. Partly it’s been because I was ill and then away for a long time with family but also because this ‘becoming a Bikram yoga teacher’ journey is changing a little a lot. I’m on the same highway, I’ve just changed lanes.
Those who know me well will know that I’m not the quickest at letting go. I let go slowly and deliberately, with Virgoan meticulousness, which can be both a blessing and a curse. On this occasion it’s not been the easiest transition to make because I have been so married to the 26&2 that’s it’s taken a long time and a lot of care to slowly peel myself away from it. Not the yoga. The being a Bikram Yoga Teacher. Actually, it’s not even that. I still want to be a Bikram Yoga Teacher. It’s more that I don’t want to be taught by Bikram Choudhury.
Which is hard because I started out on this whole thing wanting to be a Bikram Yoga Teacher specifically. Not a yoga teacher, but a Bikram Yoga Teacher. And when I’ve been asked why I don’t go on a different yoga teaching course, maybe a cheaper one, I’ve always been a bit puzzled as to why someone would suggest that. Because it’s Bikram yoga that I practise. It was Bikram yoga that made me want to teach. It was Bikram yoga that grabbed me by the balls (so to speak) and wouldn’t let go. And transformed my life. Why would I want to teach something else? Sure, I always predicted that as a teacher I would develop, evolve and over time eventually teach other styles, but Bikram was my first love and that’s what I wanted to do.
And yes, there was always the man. I’ve never liked anything I’ve ever heard about him – even before all the news that’s been taking him in and out of court and never far from a headline in recent years. But even so, for me it was always clear that I had to keep him separate from the yoga. Despite who he is, he still brought us a truly incredible series of healing, accessible, transformative yoga. And I wanted to be a part of that. Not the man. The yoga.
But I have become (yes, at last) increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of giving him any money. Because by doing so, I am condoning and enabling his behaviour. Whilst there is clearly a lot of good that comes out of that 9 week training course (many of the teachers are testimony to that) there is too much that doesn’t sit right with me. From the way he talks to people, all the name calling and belittling of his students; his arrogance and bigotry; his swearing and seedy distasteful sense of humour; to the way people idolise and fawn over him, slavelike. It’s creepy. And we haven’t even touched on Bikram Choudhury, the sexual predator.
It’s taken a long time for me to come to terms with the idea that I will no longer do the Teacher Training course that I’ve had my heart set on for five years, the series I so evangelically promote. I hung onto it, clung to it. In some way I felt it defined me; my journey, so it was hard to dismantle and rebuild. But here I am, decision made. So long as Bikram Choudhury gets anything out of my going on Bikram Teacher Training, I won’t go.
As such, I’ve been looking into other options. I have been practising at Fierce Grace and whilst I find it, so far, a little cool for my liking, I really love the series. I chose the Classic class as my first since it’s the closest one they have to the Bikram series. And like my first Bikram class, I was sold immediately. I loved, loved loved it. All the additional postures seem to be exactly what my body needs and I love how dynamic the class feels because of them. I have done various other yoga classes over the years and whilst I have benefitted and loved many of them, it’s the Bikram series that still floats my boat. So I will continue to practise Bikram and the Fierce Grace classes side by side.
As for the training, I want to choose a course that still uses Bikram as its base. I still want to teach Bikram yoga, I just don’t want to be taught by him. Unsurprisingly, there are many other options out there (Fierce Grace being one of them) for which I am grateful and excited. Unless, of course, by some miracle, it’s all taken away from Bikram Choudhury and he’s popped in a box somewhere. And the course is run by someone else, with all earnings given to the women he abused and to teachers who behave with grace, love and dignity.
Then, I’ll take the next offramp, circle back and change lanes again.