Bikram Yoga: A Short History

Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury is the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India™. Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram began Yoga at the age of four with one of India’s most-renowned physical culturists, Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (Author of the most popular book on Yoga, The Autobiography of a Yogi, and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles).

Bikram practiced Yoga at least four to six hours every day at Ghosh’s College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At the age of thirteen, he won the National India Yoga Championship. He was undefeated for the following three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.

At seventeen, after an injury to his knee during a weight-lifting accident, predictions from leading European doctors announced that he would never walk again. Not accepting their prognosis, Bikram had himself carried back to Bishnu Ghosh’s school. He knew that if anyone could help to heal his knee it was his beloved teacher. Six months later, his knee had totally recovered. Ghosh was the first to scientifically document Yoga’s ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body.

Bikram was asked by Ghosh to start several yoga schools in India to pass on the tradition. The schools were so successful that, at Ghosh’s request, Bikram traveled to Japan and opened two more. In Japan, working alongside doctors at the Tokyo University Hospital, Bikram was able to prove the medical benefits of his yoga system including tissue regeneration and healing of chronic ailments. These findings were presented in 1972 at the International Medical Conference in Kyoto.

Bikram arrived in the United States in 1973 at the invitation of President Richard Nixon and support of Shirley Maclaine. He quickly became the most prominent yoga teacher in the West as celebrities like Madonna and Lady Gaga, and athletes like David Beckham and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, began to flock to him. Since that time he has been healing thousands of students at his school in Beverly Hills and traveling the world extensively, bringing the benefits of Bikram Yoga to millions of yoga students in over 800 studios worldwide.

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