Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 10, 2012 05:00AM

Speaking of sex and yoga, I found an interesting feature about Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga or "hot yoga." The article is long, but it's worth reading because the man is a vivid example of what happens when a narcissist makes it big as a guru.

And with the client list comes a Hollywood lifestyle that has drawn criticism from rival gurus for being insufficiently modest. Choudhury owns an 8,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills and a fleet of more than 40 Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. He wears a million-dollar diamond-and-ruby-encrusted Franck Muller watch. "In America we like all of our spiritual leaders to come straight from central casting," says Robert Love, author of The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. "We want them to be poor, to be sexually ascetic, to be perfectly pure, to be almost inhuman. But in reality, few of them are that way."

Seems the man is not a humble vegetarian living an ascetic lifestyle. Apparently, he is quite the business person with an eye on ways to expand his already large bank account.

Others object to Choudhury's decision in 2002 to patent his sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, which has made him very rich (all Bikram studios must pay a licensing fee to open, along with a new, much-protested monthly fee) and, in the eyes of many, an apostate. Yoga is thought to date back 5,000 years, and for Hindus, claiming it as intellectual property is akin in Christian terms to copyrighting the Lord's Prayer. "Call it exercise. Call it a good workout. Call it what you like," says Dr. Aseem Shukla, cofounder of the Hindu American Foundation. "But don't call it yoga. It's a cynical appropriation of Hinduism."

The article covers a lot of territory, including his quirks and his rationalization for having sex with his students:

Choudhury has other quirks too. He says he javascript:editor_tools_handle_quote()eats a single meal a day (chicken or beef, no fruit or vegetables), drinks only water and Coke, and needs only two hours of sleep a night. Then there are the stories about him having sex with his students. When I ask him about this, he doesn't deny it—he claims they blackmail him: "Only when they give me no choice! If they say to me, 'Boss, you must fuck me or I will kill myself,' then I do it! Think if I don't! The karma!" Whatever the nature of his dalliances, his appeal to women is obvious—and a common trait among spiritual leaders, as Love points out: "When Swami Vivekananda"—another key figure in the spread of yoga to the West—"toured the U.S. at the end of the 19th century, it was the same way. Mostly women showed up for his lectures." And after Indian mysticism became popular in the West in the sixties, a new wave of gurus emerged, like Acharya Rajneesh, who evinced a radically open attitude toward sexuality.

The hot yoga founder is in his mid sixties and was photographed during a class, wearing nothing more than a black Speedo and headset, with his hair tied in a topknot. It's worth clicking on the link below to see him posing up close and personal in his little Speedo with two female students -- both of whom look young enough to be his granddaughters. Funny how a little charisma and some cash can make an old geezer a sex magnet.

One thing is for sure, I wouldn't be willing to pay $7,000 in tuition and $3,900 in residence fees to hear a yoga teacher say the following:

You, Miss Teeny-Weeny Bikini! Spread your legs! You, Mr. Masturbation! Until I say 'Change,' you do not move a muscle!

The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 10, 2012 05:10AM

Since information has a way of disappearing from the Net, I'm going to post the above mentioned feature.

The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury

The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury

At an advanced teacher-training session in San Diego, the inventor of "hot yoga" instructs a new generation of gurus. Is he leading them to enlightenment—or hosting a giant hookup party?

By Clancy Martin,
Photograph by Rebecca Greenfield
February 2011 Issue
Also on

In a white circus tent heated to 105 degrees, 600 not-quite-naked people contort their bodies into positions you never knew were possible. The men have perfect, rippling muscles. The women (and the majority of students here are female) are long and taut, with fatless stomachs curved just enough to be erotic and breasts that perk cheerfully upward. They sit with their legs tucked behind their heads, bodies arranged like pretzels, then gracefully deploy their arms, hips, hands, and legs to open like Georgia O'Keeffe flowers into variations on the split. The mats beneath them are damp with sweat. Overhead, great white plastic ventilating tubes, 70 feet long and 5 feet wide, pump humidity into the air. The vinyl of the tent drips with condensation, and a locker-room aroma hangs in the air.

I've only just arrived, but this bacchanal of bare flesh has been going on for two months. These men and women have come to the sprawling Town and Country Resort Hotel on the outskirts of San Diego to become certified instructors of Bikram Yoga, the controversial American variant that is performed at extreme temperatures. Each has paid $7,000 in tuition and $3,900 in residence fees (all students must stay at the Town and Country) for nine weeks of study, six days a week. This includes two daily 90-minute yoga sessions, as many as five more hours of posture clinic (where they learn to correct their spine or shoulders in particular asanas, or postures), and evening lessons in anatomy and Hindu philosophy followed by Bollywood movies and Indian soap operas until 2:30 or 3 in the morning. When they leave, they will be certified to teach at one of the 5,000 Bikram Yoga studios worldwide.

That's assuming they're able to execute the demanding series of postures that make up Bikram. Right now, the students are in head-to-knee pose, or dandayamana-janushirasana: From a standing position, lift one leg so that it's at a right angle to your body, keeping your knee locked, then bend your upper body forward toward the lifted leg. Imagine the tableau, the kaleidoscope of slim, strong-hipped, bowed bodies, the scene multiplied by the mirrors lining three of the four walls. Now it's camel pose, or ustrasana: On your knees, hands on your hips, bend back until you grab your heels with your hands, then thrust your chest into the air. Before the session is over, 50 or so students have rolled up their mats and left, overwhelmed. I hear what sounds like the chop-chop-chopping of helicopter blades and realize it's my own heartbeat. The ceiling spins. I roll over, open my eyes, and watch the ballet of it in the mirrors. I see more than I bargained for. Because of the heat, everyone is wearing the smallest, tightest thing they can, and, especially with the sweat, the clothes do not cover so much as exaggerate.

Morning practice is bigger than usual today because this is "Intensive Training Week," when many come for the recertification required to maintain their teaching credentials. Most are working through the 84-posture intensive series, the two-hour-plus advanced routine practiced by the elite. This is the portion of the program that is personally supervised by Bikram Choudhury, the 64-year-old founder of Bikram Yoga. Only the best, bravest, and most beautiful practice at the feet of the guru, who sits cross-legged on a giant inflatable leather throne against the back wall. He's in a black Speedo, bare-chested, his hair tied in a topknot. His triceps stand out like pistons. Sometimes a woman will brush his hair or wash and massage his feet. He resembles a cartoon genie on his magic carpet. Between cell-phone calls, he barks Bengali-inflected criticisms and corrections into his headset. He speaks only in exclamation points.

"You, Miss Teeny-Weeny Bikini! Spread your legs! You, Mr. Masturbation! Until I say 'Change,' you do not move a muscle!"

It's hard to tell if these directives are intended for anyone in particular or if Choudhury is just working the crowd. He keeps up a patter of bawdy, sexually suggestive, often male-bashing banter throughout the session. Students—men, especially—have been known to complain, but for most, Bikram's commentary is part of the package. He's built his business, which has been estimated to earn him nearly $5 million a year, in large part by applying a veneer of eroticism to this ancient spiritual practice. For the women here, the "boss," as he calls himself (and everyone else), offers a path to sexual awakening. For the men, Bikram Yoga is a great workout, and maybe an opportunity to get close to a few kundalini-stimulated hard bodies once class lets out.

Choudhury hums "Killing Me Softly" into the mic of his headset as his pupils struggle to hold a posture, even the strongest among them trembling. At last he gives the signal to change.

"This posture called dirty old bitch! Because not even one more inch can you stretch!"


Born in Kolkata, India, Where Yoga is a competitive sport as well as a spiritual practice, Bikram Choudhury claims to have become the All-India National Yoga Champion at the age of 13. He left in 1970 after his guru, Bishnu Ghosh (the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, who is generally credited with bringing yoga to the West), instructed him to spread the practice throughout the world. Choudhury's principal innovation—heat—is supposed to increase flexibility and prevent injury, but he came to it by necessity. In Japan, where he first taught, he found himself shivering through his postures during winter, so he brought in space heaters. Suddenly it was easier for his students to lock their knees and touch their palms to the floor. As an added benefit, the saunalike temperatures heightened their sense of euphoria and purification after workouts. In 1972, when he launched Bikram's Yoga College of India in a tiny studio in the North Beach section of San Francisco, the heaters came with him. Bikram Yoga was born.

Choudhury's method has its critics. Some medical professionals claim that it can increase the risk of cartilage tears and stress the heart. There's also the obvious danger of heatstroke and dehydration. In San Diego, a medical tent is set up not far from the main practice area for students who vomit, suffer seizures, or pass out during sessions.

Others object to Choudhury's decision in 2002 to patent his sequence of 26 postures and two breathing exercises, which has made him very rich (all Bikram studios must pay a licensing fee to open, along with a new, much-protested monthly fee) and, in the eyes of many, an apostate. Yoga is thought to date back 5,000 years, and for Hindus, claiming it as intellectual property is akin in Christian terms to copyrighting the Lord's Prayer. "Call it exercise. Call it a good workout. Call it what you like," says Dr. Aseem Shukla, cofounder of the Hindu American Foundation. "But don't call it yoga. It's a cynical appropriation of Hinduism."

But Choudhury, whose classes have attracted more than 3 million people, has his defenders. Bikram Yoga "is certainly focused on the body," says Stefanie Syman, author of The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America. "But changes in the body can result in deeper, more spiritual changes. There's room for all different kinds of yoga." And from the beginning, Choudhury has been helped by friends in high places. Richard Nixon, a "good friend," was an early pupil. "That's how I get my visa!" Choudhury says. Soon, athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John McEnroe began approaching him. "They all say, 'Bikram, you must give me one more year, please! Let me play for one more year!' I give them 10 more years!" (This is not exactly correct. Choudhury has a penchant for hyperbole.)

Today, he's Hollywood's guru of choice, with followers like Madonna, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Lady Gaga, George Clooney, and Kobe Bryant. These endorsements have helped him peddle Bikram-branded products, including books, CDs, DVDs, apparel, towels, mats, and water bottles. Besides charging for teacher training and studio licensing, he also generates revenue from fees for regional Bikram Yoga tournaments that produce a national champion each year. And he's looking for ways to expand his empire: He's in talks with several U.S. cable networks about a reality show, and Sun, an Indian company, wants to launch an all-Bikram channel. There are also plans for a satellite-radio show and a magazine. He's even campaigning to get yoga recognized as an Olympic sport.

And with the client list comes a Hollywood lifestyle that has drawn criticism from rival gurus for being insufficiently modest. Choudhury owns an 8,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills and a fleet of more than 40 Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. He wears a million-dollar diamond-and-ruby-encrusted Franck Muller watch. "In America we like all of our spiritual leaders to come straight from central casting," says Robert Love, author of The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America. "We want them to be poor, to be sexually ascetic, to be perfectly pure, to be almost inhuman. But in reality, few of them are that way."

Choudhury has other quirks too. He says he eats a single meal a day (chicken or beef, no fruit or vegetables), drinks only water and Coke, and needs only two hours of sleep a night. Then there are the stories about him having sex with his students. When I ask him about this, he doesn't deny it—he claims they blackmail him: "Only when they give me no choice! If they say to me, 'Boss, you must fuck me or I will kill myself,' then I do it! Think if I don't! The karma!" Whatever the nature of his dalliances, his appeal to women is obvious—and a common trait among spiritual leaders, as Love points out: "When Swami Vivekananda"—another key figure in the spread of yoga to the West—"toured the U.S. at the end of the 19th century, it was the same way. Mostly women showed up for his lectures." And after Indian mysticism became popular in the West in the sixties, a new wave of gurus emerged, like Acharya Rajneesh, who evinced a radically open attitude toward sexuality.

The entire resort throbs with the libidinal energy of Choudhury's followers. They're everywhere: in line at the ice machine, under the thatched umbrellas at the restaurant, stretching in front of the mirrors by the elevators. The other hotel guests eye them. As one session ends, two middle-aged, beer-bellied guys in baseball caps pull up chairs to smoke cigars and watch the girls as they file out of the tent.

Female instructors laugh about the erections created by the pulmonary effects of some seated postures. "At times I can't even look at the men," says Mollie Glicksberg, a teacher who is getting recertified. "There's a swollen penis, jumping out at me. I don't know whether to laugh or run away screaming."

That hard-core yoga would stimulate sexual appetites seems obvious. But the practice's Tantric aspects have long been taboo, thanks to the influence of Christian missionaries in India. Officially, hookups are forbidden at teacher training. "I tell them all, 'No touchy-touchy, no kissy-kissy, no fucky-fucky!' " Choudhury says. But everyone knows better.

"It's a sexual playground," says Paul, a trainer from the Bay Area who has been certified in Bikram for seven years. "What do you expect? There are hundreds of gorgeous, extremely fit women everywhere. There are almost no guys. The practice gets everyone all worked up. It's the energy going up the spine." Paul is tall and well-muscled, in his early thirties, with curly black hair hanging to his shoulders. He's wearing only a tiger-striped Lycra Speedo (you can buy your own in the water tent) and flip-flops. Several women—hotel guests, not yoginis-in-training—inspect him hungrily as they pass by. "We're not supposed to have sex here," Paul acknowledges. "But you know how it is. A lot of us come back year after year. Seeds are planted." He winks.

Charlie, a teacher from Los Angeles, is middle-aged but has the body of a much younger man. He's here for just a few sessions (walk-ins are allowed at $20). He comes to practice with Choudhury and "honestly, to meet girls," he says. "I just walk up and say hi in the laundry room. A lot of them do their wash after evening practice. Or you can get lucky at the pool in the afternoon." But by far the best place for pickups, he says, is the posture clinic.

It's guys like Charlie and Paul, with their evident ability to offer more advanced forms of stimulation, who inspire worry among men whose wives or girlfriends have caught the yoga bug. "Often, one partner will outgrow the other," Syman acknowledges. "Yoga is about growth and change. If you don't grow and change together, well, you grow and change apart."

"My husband and I joke that Bikram Yoga is my other lover," says Angela Sinclair Moulin, who owns a studio in Kansas City, Missouri. "Our anniversary is the same day as I graduated, so he'll say to me, 'Who are you spending our anniversary with: me or Bikram?' "

At a Q&A that follows one of Choudhury's evening lectures, several women ask which postures are best for inducing orgasms. "For good sex, you want eagle pose!" he answers. This involves twining your arms around one another, doing the same with your legs, then lowering yourself into a seated position. "With this one you are fucking until you are 90! You have seven orgasms in a row!"

That afternoon, Judes, a young Australian who works for Choudhury, shows me into his hotel suite. "I'm in love!" she exclaims blissfully. "I'm in love with Bikram! I'm in love with our life! I'm in love with what we are doing for people!"

The doors and windows are open, and the white curtains billow in the breeze. Barefoot, smiling women in their early twenties—blond California babes and dark Indian princesses—walk back and forth performing mysterious errands. Choudhury, in tight black jeans and a black T-shirt, his ponytail pulled through the back of a black baseball cap, is sitting on the couch talking to the owners of an Indian TV station while a dozen or so admirers look on. Up close, he appears even more muscular, vibrant, youthful. You half expect him to leap up and stand on one hand.

Seeing me, he pats the couch. I sit, and everyone in the room turns their attention to the two of us.

I ask whether Bikram Yoga promotes spiritual growth.

"You Westerners are like spiritual babies," Choudhury says. "You were born in the wrong country, with the wrong skin color, in the wrong culture. You can never be spiritual! It is not your fault. I'm sorry about that. If you can even get the body right, that much is good enough for you!"

So there isn't any religious aspect to Bikram Yoga?

"Religion is the biggest piece of shit created in all time!"

Does he ever feel embarrassed about the way he lives?

"All this money means nothing! They ask me, 'Bikram, now you are so rich. Why do you not live like the poor Indians?' I tell you why! Because I have been in that gutter! I have lived in the streets of Calcutta!"

When I get up to go, he takes my hand. "It is very simple," he says. "Go do good in the world, like me. Teach them their mind has a screw loose. It hates itself, it hates its body. But the lotus can grow in the garbage! Make them fall in love with themselves! That is the secret. I tell the same thing to my good friends, and they write Chicken Soup for the Soul. They sell, what, 10 million copies? You can trust me." (You'll have to—the authors wouldn't confirm any interaction with Choudhury.)

The next morning, back in the practice tent, Choudhury resumes his soliloquizing. "Woman is one-third mind, one-third body, one-third spirit," he shouts as the students go through their standing postures. "Man is one-third goat, one-third dog, one-third spirit!" It's easy to wonder if he actually means any of the things he says. Is Choudhury, as he himself sometimes says, nothing more than an entertainer?

Maybe. But in America, entertainers are leaders and leaders are (entertainers. In that light, Choudhury makes sense for American (yoga. He's a rock star—and the sweaty masses in the tent, currently struggling to hold the toe-stand pose, are his fans, joined together in shared idolatry.

After another grueling two-hour session, the warm morning air is like a meat locker compared with the superheated tent. My body and mind feel airy, illuminated, cleansed. It's a glimpse of samadhi that sparks a realization: Regardless of how it's packaged, yoga—or any demanding exercise—can produce a kind of enlightenment.

A feline yogini seated outside the tent looks at me appraisingly. She can tell from my body that I'm not a regular practitioner. "Stick with it," she says, bringing her arms over her head, her fingers knit loosely together. Her appearance is overtly sexual. "Soon you won't ask yourself why you do it. You'll ask yourself why everyone else doesn't."

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 10, 2012 06:08AM

More on sexism, greed and sexualizing yoga the Bikram way.

Bikram Yoga: The End Logic of a Love Affair with Capitalism

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 10, 2012 06:14AM

No ego here as Bikram Choudhury, self-proclaimed guru to the rich and famous, claims he alone teaches "true, pure hatha yoga" in the U.S.][/url]

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 10, 2012 09:09AM

The stuff Bikram reportedly bellows during his classes is abusive and vile. It's the language of a goonda/brute.

And worse yet....students appear to submit to it, rather than leaving him to stew in his own juices.

This is deplorable.

These students have made the man wealthy and powerful.

For that reason alone, he should speak to them politely.

Without his students, he'd be just another Desi, trying to scrabble along for a living.

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: good enough ()
Date: March 10, 2012 11:26PM

corboy, I agree with you.

I would add one thing, his students not only appear to "submit" to his disrespectful treatment, they seem to put him on a pedestal. It's because of his students that he's become a very wealthy yoga celebrity, and instead of being grateful, he's got a huge ego. So large, it's a wonder he can fit through doorways.

I don't get it.

I also don't understand why any of his groupies would want to have sex with him or why his wife puts up with such a person.

But then I never understood why people put rock stars, actors or athletes on a pedestal and worship them like mini gods, making excuses for their repugnant behaviour.

To be quite blunt, Bikram seems to be a dirty old man with expensive toys and questionable attitudes. The thing is he's a human being, no better and no worse. He has to use a toilet and brush his teeth just like everyone else.

I hope the women who sleep with him (including his wife) use condoms.

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 10, 2012 11:55PM

Instead of reading Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, every yoga student, newbie to advanced should be advised to read about what I call the Stanford Cookie Experiment

It demonstrates that being in the leadership role carries a statistically significant probability that the assigned leader will demonstrate self seeking qualities - and this behavior showed up in persons randomly assigned to leadership role, and for only the hour or two that the experiment lasted!

Imagine the effect on someone who is ambitious and then occupies that place on the pedestal for YEARS.

No amount of alleged 'enlightenment' will protect any human person from this effect.

The only safeguards are placing institutional, not personal, but institutional safeguards in place, such as codes of conduct and financial accountability.

And the finest leaders begin, early on to look for and train successors and take precautions to avoid, yes avoid, 'celebrity syndrome."

This article describes the temptions facing bosses in companies in which people wear business attire.

The temptations described have to be infinitely more potent in a psychologically 'hot' environment, in which people are showing large amounts of curvaceous, rippling flesh, clad in the booty flattering clothing that has become fashionable in yoga country.

From Harvard Business Review - How to Be a Good Boss in a Bad Economy



The Idea in Brief

It’s not easy being the boss during a downturn. Your natural impulse is to focus on your own well-justified concerns, but your people are watching your every move for clues to their fate.

You need to rethink your responsibilities in terms of what your people may lack most in unsettling times: predictability, understanding, control, and compassion.

By making tough times less traumatic, you’ll equip your organization to thrive when conditions improve—and earn the loyalty of individuals who will remain in your network for years to come.

The Idea in Practice

Some years ago Robert Sutton led a workshop with the senior managers of Procter & Gamble that touched on the importance of providing workers with predictability, understanding, control, and compassion. It turned out that his framework aligned with what they’d already learned in the context of plant closings. John E. Pepper, Jr., who was then P&G’s chairman, explained an internal analysis of the effects that management’s actions had on productivity, retention of employees who were offered jobs elsewhere in the company, and sales in the cities where the closings occurred. Plant closings did far less damage when leaders:

1. Announced the closing date and key milestones well in advance and described how events would unfold both for employees and for members of the affected community.

2. Explained in detail to employees and the community the business case for closing the plant.

3. Gave affected employees options for finding other jobs inside the company or resources to job hunt outside.

4. Expressed human concern—in public and in private—to affected employees and community officials.

In other words, P&G executives saw the value of predictability, understanding, control, and compassion in times of distressing organizational change.

Watch video with Bob Sutton talking about being a good boss in a bad economy at

These are tough times for every boss I know. Fear and paranoia are running wild, not just in financial markets but in workplaces, too. A few weeks back a weary executive at a professional services firm told me how painful it had been to lay off 10% of his people and how he was struggling to comfort and inspire those who remained. When I asked a mutual friend, the CEO of a manufacturing firm, to “show some love” to this distressed executive, he jumped in to help—but admitted that he was wrestling with his own demons, having just implemented a 20% workforce reduction.

It was not a coincidence to find two friends in such similar straits; few organizations seem to have avoided them. Even in businesses renowned for having heart, bosses have been forced to wield the ax. NetApp, declared number one in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 2009, announced it was cutting loose 6% of its employees less than a month after the ranking appeared. Google, top-rated by Fortune in 2008, has shed hundreds of full-time employees. And layoffs aren’t the only reason it’s a miserable time to be the boss. Where cuts haven’t occurred, people suspect they will, and the lingering dread creates its own challenges. One technology sector CEO I’ve worked with for years felt compelled to inform his people in writing that not only were no layoffs planned but the company would be hiring a lot more people in the coming year. Yet, he said, “no matter how much I share about how safe we are, people still ask, When are the layoffs coming?” Even where jobs are demonstrably safe, lesser but real disappointments occur: Salaries are cut, budgets are pared, projects are back-burnered.

As a result, most bosses—like you, perhaps—are operating in difficult and sometimes unfamiliar territory. Equipped with skills and approaches honed over long years of business growth, they now find their roles defined by an unexpected question: How should people be managed when fear is in the air, confidence is slipping, and it looks as if the road ahead will remain rough for many miles? This isn’t the job most executives and managers signed on for, and not everyone will rise to the occasion. This article is designed to help those who want to do so—first by clarifying why it’s so hard to be a good boss, and then by sharing the essence of what the best bosses do during tough times.

The Toxic Tandem

Let’s be clear: It’s never easy to be a great boss, even in good economic times. It’s challenging in part because of an unfortunate dynamic that naturally arises in relationships of unequal power. Research confirms what many of us have long suspected: People who gain authority over others tend to become more self-centered and less mindful of what others need, do, and say. That would be bad enough, but the problem is compounded because a boss’s self-absorbed words and deeds are scrutinized so closely by his or her followers. Combined, these tendencies make for a toxic tandem that deserves closer study.

To appreciate the first half of the dynamic—that bosses tend to be oblivious to their followers’ perspectives—consider the “cookie experiment” reported by the psychologists Dacher Keltner, Deborah H. Gruenfeld, and Cameron Anderson in 2003. In this study, teams of three students each were instructed to produce a short policy paper. Two members of each team were randomly assigned to write the paper. The third member evaluated it and determined how much the other two would be paid, in effect making them subordinates. About 30 minutes into the meeting, the experimenter brought in a plate of five cookies—a welcome break that was in fact the focus of the experiment. No one was expected to reach for the last cookie on the plate, and no one did. Basic manners dictate such restraint. But what of the fourth cookie—the extra one that could be taken without negotiation or an awkward moment? It turns out that a little taste of power has a substantial effect. The “bosses” not only tended to take the fourth cookie but also displayed signs of “disinhibited” eating, chewing with their mouths open and scattering crumbs widely.

It’s a cute little experiment, but it beautifully illustrates a finding consistent across many studies. When people—independent of personality—wield power, their ability to lord it over others causes them to (1) become more focused on their own needs and wants; (2) become less focused on others’ needs, wants, and actions; and (3) act as if written and unwritten rules that others are expected to follow don’t apply to them. To make matters worse, many bosses suffer a related form of power poisoning: They believe that they are aware of every important development in the organization (even when they are remarkably ignorant of key facts). This affliction is called “the fallacy of centrality”—the assumption that because one holds a central position, one automatically knows everything necessary to exercise effective leadership.

Now let’s look at the other half of the dynamic—that followers devote immense energy to watching, interpreting, and worrying about even the smallest and most innocent moves their superiors make. This is something we’ve long known about animals; studies of baboon troops show that the typical member glances at the alpha male every 20 or 30 seconds to see what he is doing. And although people don’t check what their boss is doing two or three times a minute, this tendency is well documented in human groups, too. As the psychologist Susan Fiske puts it, “Attention is directed up the hierarchy. Secretaries know more about their bosses than vice versa; graduate students know more about their advisors than vice versa.” Fiske explains: “People pay attention to those who control their outcomes. In an effort to predict and possibly influence what is going to happen to them, people gather information about those with power.” Further, people tend to interpret what they see the boss do in a negative light. Keltner and his colleagues report that when the top dog makes an ambiguous move (one that isn’t clearly good or bad for followers), followers are most likely to construe it as a sign that something bad is going to happen to them. Related studies also show that when people down the pecking order feel threatened by their superiors, they become distracted from their work. They redirect their efforts to trying to figure out what is going on and to coping with their fear and anxiety—perhaps searching the web for insight or huddling with their peers to gossip, complain, and exchange emotional support. As a result, performance suffers.

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Robert I. Sutton ( is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, where he cofounded the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. He is the author of The No Asshole Rule (Business Plus, 2007) and is currently writing a book on great bosses.

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 11, 2012 12:09AM

One leaves empire building behind to practice yoga, not practice yoga to create a personal empire.


In addition to reading Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, yoga students of all levels and the yoga teachers should make it a priority to read and discuss Gruenfeld's article and the article from Harvard Business Review.

Not once, but discuss it regulary and bring it into their practices.

Finally, its no longer yoga (Sankrit for 'yoke' -- the collar that guided oxen and cows pulling plows and wagons) --it is no longer yoga when it is 'entertainment'.

There is too much manufactured entertainment today, without corrupting yoga by turning it into yet another celebrity driven 'scene.'

One is supposed to be doing yoga as part of bramacharya - control/discipline of the senses, just as one directed the energy of draft animals by placing a yoke on them so that a field could be ploughed or a wagon or cart driven to town.

Control of senses is not supposed to mean stifling ones senses, but to have choice in whether to act or not.

A very simple application of brahmacharya is to minimize distractions in ones life and to avoid being an annoyance or distraction to other persons.

You may have an attractive body. But if others are trying to concentrate on client's tax forms or some other deadline, one doesnt parade round the office in revealing clothing.

Its not that sex or beauty are wrong, but there are appropriate times and places for this to be displayed and celebrated.

An application of brahmacharya is, if one is a leader, to avoid any behavior that fosters a public persona. For in yoga philosophy, ambition driven self is a trap, not a destination.

Yoga is supposed to be an emancipatory alternative to our distraction ridden, reactive society - not an extension of our distraction ridden, reactive society.



Third Yama of Ashtanga Yoga
Brahmacharya has two main meanings. In the broad sense it means control of the senses or indriyas. More specifically it refers to celibacy or chastity. Like all traditional spiritual traditions, yoga advocates restraining from indulging in sensual gratification. One of the many reasons is that practicing the higher limbs of ashtanga yoga - dharana, dhyana, samadhi - requires a tremendous amount of energy or prana. This energy is built up through the practices of yoga such as asanas, pranayama and japa but is dissipated during sensual enjoyment. Of all the sensual activities, sex is the one that will be the most depleting to the psychic and nervous system. Most people don't like to hear this but, like the other yamas, everyone should practice brahmacharya to the best of their ability. It is a fact that the more people gratify their senses, the less energy they have and the less ability they have to meditate on the absolute.

The more broad definition of brahmacharya also includes conduct that leads to the realisation of the Self, or Brahman, study of the Vedas and scriptures, and contemplation on Brahman.

Benefits of Brahmacharya
There are many benefits to health and spiritual life that come from the practice of brahmacharya.

Practice of Brahmacharya gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained... He who is established in Brahmacharya will have lustrous eyes, a sweet voice and a beautiful complexion. Swami Sivananda,
Practice of Brahmacharya
Brachmacharya is considered one of the cornerstones of a serious yoga practice. The conservation of energy that comes from practicing celibacy is converted into Ojas and Tejas (spiritual energy). Eventually yogic powers can also manifest by the perfect practice of brahmacharya. There are many famous yogis and spiritual leaders who were established in this yama. Some of them are Sankara, Jesus, Gandhi, Hanuman, Lakshmana, and Bhishma from the Mahabharata. From their practice of brahmacharya they had incredible amounts of energy, will-power and thought-power to do great works for the world.

Many people mistakenly believe that practicing brahmacharya means suppression of the natural sexual instincts. Suppression is not what is wanted, because anything that is suppressed will eventually be released with redoubled force when an opportunity arises, the will becomes weak or when sadhana slackens.

The proper way to practice brahmacharya is to sublimate these natural urges into Ojas by a strong yoga practice that includes meditation, asanas, pranayama, japa, kirtan, satsang, and reading of scriptures or yogic texts. Contrary to some popular ideas and incorrect psychological beliefs, celibacy improves health and all aspects of life when practiced in the proper context.

It is worth noting that most religions place emphasis on brahmacharya, considering it a higher state of religious practice, and have nuns and monks who take vows of chastity. While not everyone wants to take vows and enter a religious order, there are also guidelines for householders to practice brahmacharya within their personal relationships.

Brahmacharya for Householders
Swami Sivananda recommends that for householders moderation should be practiced. He recommends self-control in order to have one or two children who are healthy and strong. He advocates living a more selfless life of charity, goodness and kindness, including worship of God. Marriage should lead the husband and wife upwards in the spiritual path towards a life of spiritual partnership. When this is accomplished, much spiritual progress can be gained.

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 11, 2012 10:15PM

From Yoga Dork's Blog


¡®Yoga Don¡¯ Bikram to be Bigger Than Elvis?by YD on September 8, 2010

in Business of Yoga,MUST READS,News

Look out world, here comes Bikram the Yoga King! With megaton balls, and a massive hot yoga empire getting ready to capitalize the pants off you.

And we thought Lady Gaga yoga was bigger than Elvis¡­ Bikram is going to BE Elvis! Or so we gather from the latest story about Mr. hot pants Choudhury close to reaching a deal with Colony Capital, a $30 billion asset yielding investment firm making bankroll mostly in real estate, but which has also previously played a hand in buying Michael Jackson¡¯s Neverland Ranch, arranging a debt-relief package for famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and more recently stepping in to purchase the Weinstein bros-founded Miramax Films from Disney. They mean business!

So why the interest in yoga? Because it¡¯s a huge industry with an estimated over 100 million practitioners worldwide! Need we bring out the ¡®yoga is worth $6 billion¡¯ card again? Reports say Colony CEO Tom Barrack has been chatting up Bikram for several weeks now and we may hear something about a ¡°deal¡± as early as this month.

Via NYPOST Pagesix:

The partnership comes as Barrack has formed a new venture under the Colony umbrella with his sculpted actor buddy, Rob Lowe. The two have been deal-hunting for opportunities in media, entertainment, sports and other lifestyle brands.

What¡¯s the Bikram connection? According to sources Barrack and Bikram are longtime pals, but have just now entered into negotiations to ¡°grow the highly franchised yoga business into a well-managed global industry.¡±

Fabulous! The ¡®Yoga Don¡¯ is setting the world on fire one 105 degree room at a time! Looks like he¡¯ll show us what a TITAN is. Whereas Anusara Daddy John Friend downplays the ¡°Moguel¡± title, Bikram is having it for breakfast.

We have no idea what this means exactly, but we can at least rest assured he won¡¯t be putting out any pop albums. Good grief, we hope!

Will this improve Bikram¡¯s chances to bring yoga to the Olympics? Will he finally get that 43rd Rolls Royce? Oh, we kid.



Caption This: BKS Iyengar Blesses Bikram Choudhury in India? (photo)
Bappi Lahiri Records Michael Jackson Tribute, Bikram Choudhury Twiddles the Knobs
Tara Stiles Launches ¡®Slim, Calm, Sexy¡¯ Yoga to Acclaim, Insult, Revolt (see marketing)

Tagged as: Bikram Choudhury, Colony Capital, Miramax, Rob Lowe, Tom Barrack, yogapreneur

{ 25 comments¡­ read them below or add one }

Linda September 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm
a cave in India is looking damn good to me right now¡­¡­


jane September 8, 2010 at 8:59 pm
We can only hope humility will set in.


Yogini3 September 9, 2010 at 8:06 am
The only thing I like about Bikram is that for the first year and a half of my regular yoga practice, I too avoided inversions. But that¡¯s only because I didn¡¯t LIKE ¡®em ¡­. not because of any particular identifications of ¡®em with clowns or circuses ¡­


Shanda September 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm
I am at a complete loss for words¡­ which is an impressive feat that I suspect only Bikram Himself can accomplish.


Annie Oh September 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Bikram doesn¡¯t own a ¡°franchise¡±. Currently not one single studio owner pays Bikram anything. He spent 3 years working with an international franchising operation, all the while promising his studio owners and teachers in training that ¡°at most¡± the franchising would cost them a couple thousand a year and would bring mega-benefits. When the package finally came the sign up costs alone, for nothing in return, were $10,000, not including training or tri-annual recertification. There were additional annual costs as well such that the cost of being part of the franchise system would have meant many studios currently in operation would have gone out of business. The studio owners wrote Bikram a letter and told him, respectfully, where he could shove his agreement. He has NO legal basis for insisting his teachers buy in.

I owned a large national massage therapy company. I used to tell people all the time that the hardest thing about it was the practitioners. Trying to ¡°manage¡± massage therapists is like herding cats. Yoga teachers are the same. They are independent thinkers and don¡¯t conform well to other people¡¯s structures.

I feel sorry for anyone who lets Bikram convince them of his control over ¡°his¡± people.

The man is a consummate liar. He invents reality out of thin air. I will keep watching with a bemused smile. His ¡°teacher training¡± is a joke where you learn little about yoga and everything about Bikram worship. I¡¯d be shocked if anything came of this¡­


(name omitted for privacy corboy)October 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm
First I have to say ¨C YogaDork, you are awesome.

Bikram is certainly a character. The only thing bigger than his bank accounts are his ego and his legal team. During ¡¯08 teacher training ($10,000 per), attendees were forced to endure hours of old video footage ranging from ¡°That¡¯s Incredible¡± episodes from the early 80¡äs to Bollywood B-movies in which Bikram played some part.

That is one of the many ways that Bikram attempts to ¡°reprogram¡± Yoga teachers so that they go out into the world like cult members spreading his gospel. I would stop just short of calling him a megalomaniac, but he¡¯s just about as close as you can get.
His franchise is certainly making him a lot more money, even though most people can¡¯t afford the tuition. As to whether his so-called patented 105-degree brand is all it¡¯s cracked up to be¡­I¡¯ll just leave that one alone.


Bevie November 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm

I¡¯m so happy I came across your blog. I¡¯ve been taking a hot yoga class that uses the 26 postures of Bikram. It¡¯s transforming my life and I thought I would be interested in taking the Bikram teacher training. I was shocked to find out the costs as well as the commercialism involved. It seems so hypocritical of everything that yoga teaches us and I cannot take this man seriously. I¡¯m pleased that others feel the same and I will seek out training elsewhere.


Jt Brown February 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Great write-up! There are now many Hot Yoga studios that are NOT under the Bikram umbrella, and thank God. Yoga is like music and there are millions of notes and styles not just 26!

If anyone on here is looking for a Hot Yoga Teacher Training alternative see



thedancingj February 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm
Oh, Bikram¡¯s thought that he was Elvis for YEARS, this is not new! And he does have pop CDs out, they just never made it into the mainstream. The funniest one is probably the ¡°country western¡± track. Absolutely ridiculous and very entertaining. The man grew up on Elvis¡­

@ Adam: They don¡¯t HAVE ¡°hours¡± of old video footage. They¡¯ve got maybe 60 minutes total of old news clips, and they are priceless. It was one of my favorite parts of training: seeing the clips of Bikram when we was really young, like in his 20¡äs. Other than the hair, he¡¯s hardly changed a bit.


(Name omitted for privacy) February 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I was training at White Lotus at one point when Ganga White mentioned The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diane Alstad, which tries to tackle the dangers inherent in the guru system. Bikram is a classic case of an Indian guru attempting to deify himself. The hitch for Bikram is that the United States has a very short attention span.


Jessica February 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm
I absolutely hate how ¡°Bikram¡± makes money by capitalizing on a style of yoga that has been around for thousands of years¡­
I suggest you all watch ¡°Yoga Inc.¡±


Tara March 17, 2011 at 7:16 pm
Several years ago I ruptured my L5 disc in my spine, riding an ATV in Alaska. Unable to work, walk, stand or sit without tremendous back and sciatic nerve pain, I went to the top medical experts and spine specialists at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, California for help. They gave me two choices 1) drill through my spine, remove the disc and fuse three vertebrae with a steel rod, ($75,000 and immediate relief from pain), or 2) do nothing and ride out the pain with physical therapy, pain killers, chiropractors, and yoga.

Then I discovered Bikram yoga. I admit, the first few months were hell. But soon my body responded. Only with the heated class and the ¡®camel and rabbit¡¯ postures, was I able to go deeply enough into my spine, to heal the L5 disc that was ruptured. Now, i¡¯ve been doing Bikram yoga for ten years and my body thanks me every day. After ten years without back pain, I¡¯m living proof that Bikram knows more about healing the spine then all of the back specialists, chiropractors, accupuncturists, and drug companies combined.

Meanwhile, over the years, I¡¯ve had to protect myself from countless ¡®yoga experts¡¯ and ¡®holistic health care practitioners¡¯ and well intentioned ¡®true believers¡¯ who LOVE to rail against Bikram.

And now seeing your website I¡¯m seeing how far people will go to make themselves seem more knowledgeable than they truly are. While all of you, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, yoga dorks, yoga dawgs, and media whores are great for juicy entertainment; you are no one to assess the health benefits of Bikram yoga. Ironically, YOU are also the one¡¯s profiting on people¡¯s confusion about yoga and lust for entertainment. However, you should be careful, because had I listened to you, I might have never tried Bikram yoga, and would still be on pain killers, having chronic back pain and doing relaxing, but ineffective yoga. Or worse, listening to Eminem while chanting ¡®Om¡¯ in a sun salutation. You may think that doing 108 sun salutations listening to Eminem¡¯s ¡®lose yourself¡¯ and Rolling Stones ¡®Sympathy for the Devil¡¯ while chanting ¡®Om¡¯, qualifies you all as lineage holders or a yoga experts, but I wholeheartedly disagree. And having to deal with such a spurious and entertaining yoga community, I have a lot more compassion for Bikram¡¯s game face and smile that his egoic comments ruffle your ¡®enlightened¡¯ feathers.



(full name omitted for privacy-corboy)March 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm
Even the Indian government has found Bikram¡¯s attempt to copyright yoga sequences to be annoying, that is why they launched a massive database documenting the ancient lineage of the asanas.

No one in this thread has been critical of Bikram¡¯s asanas or sequences. Yoga is an ancient healing modality and Bikram¡¯s yoga works just as well as other forms of yoga. Yoga is yoga. Apparently in your case, the heat worked for you and that¡¯s great.

Yoga Dork has brought a fresh spirit of open debate into the yoga community, which I think is healthy. I don¡¯t think the Yoga Dorks and Yoga Dawgs of the world are profiting on people¡¯s ¡°lust for entertainment,¡± they are simply combining their love for the ancient science of yoga with their modern Western culture and the internet, which is rather rowdy and vocal.

It¡¯s good to hear you defend Bikram and to remind everyone that he has contributed valuable teaching to the community¡­. but he really ought to stop trying to copyright asanas.

Yoga belongs to everyone.


Tara March 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm
Thank you for your heartfelt response Amy, I give my respect and respond in kind. As I think you can tell, i¡¯m not trying to spam your thread. In fact, I thought the photo of Bikram was very funny.

Yes, yoga is for everyone. Just like music. Know one owns individual notes or chords. However, when you put chords together in specific sequences and write a song, are you not the creator of that song? I know this was unprecedented in the yoga community, but this is not the same world as when Bikram was in India teaching yoga for free. If i¡¯m not mistaken, it was Shirley McClain who told him he had to charge Americans for yoga or they would never respect it. She was right. The yoga community should be thanking Bikram for demanding respectable prices for a product that not only changes people¡¯s lives, but allows them to run their businesses. And if you have spent your life writing music as your sole source of income, wouldn¡¯t you want to protect the ownership of the songs you wrote? Those asana sequences were Bikram¡¯s contribution to yoga, they never existed before.

Just as Mozart¡¯s music never existed until he wrote the songs. Yes, the notes existed for thousands of years, but not in those sequences. Bikram brought the completed sequence to his teacher Bishnu Ghosh and said he created his masterpiece. Oxygenating your blood, then systematically pumping freshly oxygenated blood to every part of your body in 26 postures, with each posture preparing you for the next, while the twenty second savasana between each posture allows the blood to completely circulate the body. With each posture preparing you systematically to go deeper and deeper into the spine.

I now realize what this means for the quality of people¡¯s lives. Then writing the dialogue so that you not only know precisely where to place your mind in each posture, but then an authentic level of mastery could be duplicated worldwide to thousands of teachers relatively easily. It was nothing short of ingenious, coming straight from one of the greatest yogis of the twenty first century. This is a serious contribution to the yoga community. I believe he deserves to own his creation and so do the courts of the United States. Besides who better to maintain the integrity of his designed sequence as it¡¯s distributed worldwide than Bikram himself? People make fun of him because of his personality, and that¡¯s fine, Mozart was creepy too.

But I don¡¯t make fun of Mozart¡¯s music or Bikram¡¯s yoga or his decision to deliver it to the masses in heated rooms or to charge his teachers what he does for training, or to protect the integrity of his company as it grows worldwide. He¡¯s not selling hamburgers, or coffee, or entertainment, or a half assed, dumbed down product that appeals to everyone. And if it doesn¡¯t work, why do so many dedicated, smart people swear that it does? And having spent quality time with him, I can honestly say, his heart is bigger than his ego, which may be hard for some to believe.



Kindel March 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm
I¡¯m with you Tara!!!! Bikram Rocks!


Amy Eyrie March 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm
Hey Tara,

That was a beautifully voiced defense of Bikram¡­. you really made me see his side of the controversy. Thank you for sharing your passion. It¡¯s clear from all the yogis who study with Bikram that his sequences are powerful and transformative and his students are loyal, and in your case, quite eloquent. I will remember what you said about Bikram¡¯s heart being bigger than his ego¡­. Thanks to Yoga Dork for hosting such a lively discussion.


Tara March 22, 2011 at 11:31 am
Thank you Amy and Yoga Dork,

May we all find a viable practice and surrender to the process.



Yogini5 March 22, 2011 at 11:40 am
Thank you, Tara.

Healing/self-healing is a process, and lucky is the person who finds it from their practice in this lifetime.


Jessica March 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I am just upset over the fact that a man can franchise on a practice that has been around for thousands of years. It isn¡¯t truly HIS practice. He does not deserve the title. I am 100% for hot yoga. I just will not attend any of his bikram studios but instead do it in my home..which is heated. Hot yoga is AMAZING for you. But the man Bikram Choudhury is just¡­.awful and I will never support him.


(Full name omitted for privacy Corboy) April 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm
Yogadork! You took the words right outta my mouth! I also never thanked you for previous mentions of my website/blog, but that¡¯s because I only just realized it today when I googled my site and you came up. Peace to you! Here is a link to a satirical comedy story I just wrote about Bikram. []


Yoga Roots April 14, 2011 at 3:15 am
Yoga Dork and Karma Lampoon, we love you! Thanks for Bikram article. It is humorous when student¡¯s feathers get ruffled over satya. Just keeping it all real, Zazo!


Toddy May 4, 2011 at 10:42 pm
I¡¯m hoping that one day Bikram will get so big someone will open a studio in a town called Marble Bar in Western Australia where the summer (which lasts 5 months) temperature range from 105 deg F to 120 deg F. It could be the first airconditioned Bikram studio.

Bikram is hilarious and not for me but I¡¯ve learned something important in the last few years: The only bad style of yoga is the one that makes you want to not do yoga.


Brian June 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm
Bikram is a stud!


Ed August 28, 2011 at 10:11 am
Bikram¡¯s Yoga is absolutely unparalled in it¡¯s effectiveness as side-effect free natural medicine, and as preventive medicine. Bikram¡¯s Yoga has curative properties for asthma, allergies, lung disorders, heart disease, cancer, MS, heartburn, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder. Please see articles: ¡°5 ways bikram¡¯s yoga reverses the cancer process¡± as well as ¡°bikram yoga better than zoloft for depression¡±. Bikram¡¯s Yoga is the most important tool in America for curing our health care problems.


Anna November 2, 2011 at 10:59 am
Well this was a very enlightening discussion indeed. My question is really to Ed. As I know very little about Bikram Yoga but I am very interested, would you kindly refer me to if there has been any medical research done on benefits of Bikram Yoga as the claims are very interesting and, if true, fantastic. I would like to do more research into Bikram Yoga and if anyone can pint me in the right direction I would be grateful.
Many Thanks

Re: The downside of yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 11, 2012 10:23PM

Do Not Do This Computer Search At Work

Friends, if you go to yoga studios, demand to know if there is a confidentiality policy that includes NO use of cameras in the studio or in the locker rooms.

I did not click to open any of these links. So I do not know if any of these are posed fantasy scenarios or were photographed on the sly in some yoga situation.

Your studio and teacher should have a written policy to be read and signed by all participants that all recording devices are to be put aside and turned off during classes and in the locker rooms.


It appears that some of this yoga related stuff is, from the titles of some of these items, entering the repertoire of porno films.

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