In the last couple of weeks, Bikram has been full time with us, giving us daily lectures and leading most of the evening yoga classes. That has given me the opportunity to getting to know him a bit better and creating an initial opinion of him. He has now left for a couple of weeks and will come back in May to stay with us until the end of the training. As a result, now it is a perfect moment to do balance of my experience with him.
Overall, I must confess that I was completely overblown by meeting him in person. As my good friend Nikos would say, I had my expectations really high but Bikram was able to exceeded them by far. He is a very unique person both in the good and bad sides. I have never had so much fun in a lecture as in some of his lectures. Given his extremely big mouth and his wild eccentricity, you either love him or hate him. I personally find him very endearing and one of the most interesting and inspirational people I have ever met. If you have time, please download and watch the video that CBS’ 60 minutes did about Bikram.
Anyway, as a good consultant, I will organize my opinion about Bikram in 3 parts (with 3 bullets each :-): Things I love from him, things I find funny and things I don’t like that much.
Things I love from Bikram…
(1) His vital energy and joie de vivre. I have never met a person with highest energy and joy in live than Bikram. He sleeps only 2-3 hours per day. He thinks that the greatest enemy of humankind is the waste of time and he seems to enjoy every single minute of his existence.
(2) His focus and sense of purpose. His purpose in life is to spread the message of yoga in the world to make it a better place to live. He always has this in mind in everything that he does. And he has been very successful: he has introduced yoga to millions of people, trained thousands of instructors and his franchise has more than 2,000 studios around the world, the largest yoga organization in the world. Not bad, don’t you think?
(3) His ability to say and do whatever he wants without thinking what people will say. He doesn’t give a shit about what people think and does whatever he wants with his life if he thinks is the right thing to do.
Things I find funny from Bikram…
(1) His eccentricity. In these 2 weeks, I have witnessed some of his eccentricities. E.g. (a) his guru told him once before a yoga competition that a black outfit was the one that fitted him the best. Since then he has only wear a black outfit in every single yoga class or event (he combines it with a rolex packed with diamonds that he received as a gift:-)), (b) he loves to collect and repair cars. As a result, he has a large collection of old Roll-Royces, Bentleys and similar that he personally buys and repairs (including the Mercedes-Benz that Hitler used in the 1936 Olympics that he found buried underground and that is one of the only 3 copies of that model existing in the world). (c) he thinks green color brings bad luck and will dismiss any person that wears green (it is completely forbidden in the training). Apparently the origin of this involves the death of one of his brothers while wearing green.
(2) His big mouth. You can’t imagine how big his mouth is. He will express crazy opinions about whatever and say whatever crosses his mind. Some of his remarks are really funny. E.g. “My balls are like atomic bombs, 100 Megatons each”, “in a private session with Ronald Reagan, he told him that he was a complete idiot”.
(3) His “all started in India” approach to life. Do you remember the old greek men in the movie “ My big fat greek wedding” that was able to find the greek origin of any word in English. Give Bikram any piece of wisdom on Earth and he will be able to find the Indian text that is the true origin of it. E.g. The bible is nothing but a small chapter in the Indian ancient wisdom books, Jesus Christ and Mohammed were regular yogis (among the hundreds in the history of India) that learned everything from India and all existing science was already discovered and amplified in the old writings in India.
Things I don’t like from Bikram…
(1) His self-proclaimed biggest ego on Earth. One of the things that he will tell you very often is that you won’t find in the Earth someone who likes oneself as much as he does. And he really means it. I am OK with people loving themselves but I am not that much when that makes him say things like: “I have never been wrong in my life” (and he really believes that). In my humble opinion, the more a person becomes wise, the more he/she realizes how little he/she knows (Seneca’s I only know that I know nothing). Bikram’s lack of self-criticism doesn’t fit with my ideal of wisdom
(2) His dogmatic (and sometimes unnecessarily aggressive) approach about things outside yoga. In you mix Bikram’s big mouth, bluntness and ego, you get an idea of his dogmatism. I think this dogmatism is very useful in his teaching of yoga (where he is an authority). However, he extends it to any dimension of life and knowledge and I find it a bit disturbing. I am learning to not take him seriously in those matters.
(3) His comments on women. I am really happy I am not a woman here in the training. Some of his remarks in class regarding some of my female classmates are a bit too much for me. E.g. “did you pay for your haircut?”, “open your legs more, like in highschool years”, “your haircut reminds me of Charles Manson”, “from now on, no food for you, no breakfast, no lunch and half a sandwich for dinner”
Overall, I am following Bikram’s advice: don’t build barriers and find in each person what you can learn from them. I definitely can learn A TON of things from Bikram, so I focus on that and don’t take the rest seriously. Several people have already left the training because they felt personally offended by Bikram’s comments. I personally think they are missing a great opportunity to develop and grow by taking life (and themselves) too seriously.