INDIA'S SACRED CHOW
Some highlights from Mr. Bikram Choudhury's appearance on 60 Minutes this evening:
According to Bikram mythology it was Richard Nixon who brought him to this country; Nixon was sick in the South Pacific, Bikram was summoned and "cured" him with yoga. [The disease was phlebitis, or inflamation of the vein. According to eMedicine Health, "superficial phlebitis affects veins on the skin surface. The condition is rarely serious and, with proper care, usually resolves rapidly."] Nonetheless Dick was so pleased, he gave him a free pass to come to America whenever he wanted. So far no one's unearthed a photo of Bikram and Fat Elvis flanking Tricky D.
He has a unique sense of style (read; ick... although you do kind of have to appreciate that he wears just a Speedo, Rolex and cordless headset while teaching). Not once did they show or mention his wife, Rajashree, who teaches with him and was herself a five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship Competition.* (She specializes in yoga for pregnancy, and runs a yoga camp for kids with cancer).
They showed Mr. Choudhury walking and being hailed in Kolkata, where he visited Ghosh's College of Physical Education. That's where he (and Rajashree) learned the ancient / patented poses. While there he corrected someone's finger placement in a pose I cannot name, and stood on a man's hips while he performed Ustrasana [his hips were way too far back if you ask me]. It reminded me of the story of Krishnamacharya standing on Pattabhi Jois while he was making a speech. Of course, later in life Krishnamacharya was all about adapting the yoga to the person's needs.
Bikram said that Americans have everything and are miserable, while in India they have nothing and are not [groan]. It's all because we measure success according to wealth, he said, and in India there are other measures [like caste?]. Also they have The Yoga. He basically said that the only way to enlightenment is through his yoga. He stopped short of saying "Do my practice and all is coming." They also mentioned the lawsuit. So far it seems like he's winning. The woman on the other side came off like a spoiled brat, which is unfortunate.
They did not show Bikram doing asana. The news-lady had to take a Bikram class but unfortuantely the camera only caught her struggling with the poses at the beginning of his series. Darn. Although she did get a nice adjustment in Natarajasana (dancing warrior).
Some zingers from the show...
While showing off his collection of classic automobiles:
NEWSIE: "That doesn't seem very yogic."
BIKRAM: "I am an American yogi!"
When asked how he felt about the comparison between his copyrighted sequence of yoga poses and McDonald's (his franchise has been referred to as "McYoga"):
BIKRAM: "What's wrong with that? I eat Big Mac...."
And that's when he showed his hand.
*Rajashree is a year younger than I am, meaning she really *is* 39.