Bikram Choudhury, the Bill Gates of Yoga. Patented his own Yoga experiments as ‘Bikram Yoga’ which is taught in more than 400 franchise training centers all over the world- from New York to Los Angeles to Paris to Missoula, Montana – a booming business with sizzling popularity in which millions of dollars are being exchanged. His unofficial net worth, estimated as 7 million US$.Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram began Yoga at the age of four. At the age of 14, he was National Yoga champion. At 17 during an weight-lifting exercise he had a serious knee injury and the doctors doubted that he could walk again. But with strong determination, he cured himself with Yoga. From that experience, Choudhury developed his method, using as his blueprint the 84-posture yoga sutras of Patanjali. Choudhury selected 26 essential postures that could be completed in 90 minutes.
Choudhury has lived in the United States for more than three decades. Founded the Yoga College of India in 1974 in Los Angeles, where he still teaches, has surfed the yoga wave that has swelled in the United States for the past decade. His clients list includes celebrities like Abdul Kareem Jabbar, Madonna, John McEnroe, Shirley MacLaine etc. Bikram’s wife Rajashree was also the unbeaten five-time winner of the All India Yoga Championship Competition, where she competed against both men and women, now lead instructor of Bikram Yoga. Bikram authored ‘Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class Book’ which is a popular seller among Yoga titles.
His style is not beyond controversy. Some Yoga traditionalists dislike the concept of selling spiritual practice. According to them, Yoga is based on five principles, and one of them is the one that discourages greed. But in the 21st century America, when around 18 million people are practicing it, Yoga is a business. And, Choudhury is successful in blending capitalism with spirituality.