On this episode, I speak to Julia Lowrie Henderson, the producer behind ESPN’s new 30 for 30 podcast series “Bikram.”
Bikram Choudhury arrived in the U.S. from Calcutta, India and opened a yoga studio in Beverly Hills in 1973. His intense system of yoga caught on quickly and Bikram became known as the “guru to the stars,” with devotees ranging from Shirley MacLaine to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Raquel Welch.
Within two decades, Bikram built a “yoga empire” that included national television appearances, a massive following of devoted students, and a multi-million dollar brand. But Bikram’s rise to power came at a cost to many of his students and employees. By 2015, six women had filed civil lawsuits against him, with allegations ranging from sexual harassment to assault to rape.
For the podcast series, Lowrie Henderson spent more than a year of her life traveling to India, interviewing students from the Bikram community, and speaking Bikram himself so that we can hear the truth of his story. In this interview, Lowrie Henderson offers insight into Bikram’s early rise to fame, his teacher training methodology, and how the 26/2 system is faring without Bikram in the U.S.
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