Why I’m No Longer Teaching Bikram Yoga


I know for many of you, you are surprised at my change of heart when it comes to the twenty-six and two sequence. When we first went into quarantine I had quite a few messages with questions asking when would I be adding the class to my online schedule. And, I had to be honest: I’m not.

Listen, I still believe it’s a beautiful practice.

I believe it has awesome healing potential for those in the beginnings of their yoga journey. It’s just not for me right now. And, I would never teach something I’m currently not interested in practicing.

The more I learned about yoga, and the more education I sought, in not only the Ghosh tradition of yoga, the lineage in which Bikram Yoga as we know it stems from, but in other forms of yoga that interested me, the less the repetition of twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises spoke to me.

As a creative person, I no longer could vibe with the fact that I would be required to stick to the same words over and over again to teach my class. About five years ago, the whole, “What does the Dialogue say?” answer to any question about a posture in the sequence seemed ridiculous. We know so much more about our bodies and the mechanics and techniques of a yoga practice than when the words were first put to paper for the instructors to memorize – can’t we teach what we know?

And, different words, hit the student’s practice in new ways. Shaking the words up, or saying something in a different way, makes the student listen again and hear more – learn more. Aren’t we here to teach?

For me, Bikram Yoga – the original hot yoga – was a good starting point.

For both my teaching and my practice. But, I can’t hang out here anymore. I’ve realized it more and more now that I’ve had a chance to take a step back during this incredibly weird time in human history, pause, and decide what I really want for my life.

For one thing, I no longer crave the heat. Since I’ve stopped spending a minimum of three hours of my life every day in a heated studio, my skin has cleared up, I no longer have adrenal fatigue, and I don’t get night sweats from messing with my diuretic hormones with the constant sweating. I feel balanced in ways I didn’t understand, as an instructor, I wasn’t.

And, I don’t think this sequence should be done without heat. It relies on it.

But, this doesn’t even get into how exhausted I am from defending the sequence and why you should still do it regardless of the scandals surrounding Bikram Choudhury.

For almost ten years, I’ve had students ask what I knew, was he really like that, and should they still practice knowing what they know. I would tell them it’s not about the man, the yoga is awesome. Over and over again – practically every day.

Exhausting. Why? Because I honestly don’t know this man and have no affiliation with him, but taught his sequence. And, despite all of the craziness, the yoga is awesome and holds a ton of healing potential.

I still feel that way. If you want to improve your mobility and flexibility – this is a great jumping off point. But, there is so much more to yoga. And, there are stresses as a yoga teacher I can’t even begin to describe here, and the conversations that revolve around Bikram Choudhury, just add to it.

Look, I’ve always been honest with my readers. I support anyone that loves this sequence and wants to do it for the rest of their lives. I support the studios that are built around this methodology – I want to see them flourish and succeed.

I’m just following my own path and listening to my heart when it says, “Go this way – there’s so much joy here!”

I’m not against anything, I’m just for moving forward. And, as I move forward I’m realizing that some things need to be cleared away to make space for all of the new spaces and places ahead.

Whatever brings you joy, go do it. And, know that the lessons I learned teaching Bikram Yoga were invaluable to me and not lost. These postures are neatly tucked into my daily online sequences because they hold value and are a healing therapy, but it’s time to lift off, turn upside down, and bend a little deeper. Not because it’s better, but because you can.

Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor for real people looking to do extraordinary things. On her own mat for well over fifteen years, Tori works to inspire others to develop a life long practice through her classes, workshops, in-person events, and retreats. Find out more about Tori now.

12 thoughts on “Why I’m No Longer Teaching Bikram Yoga”

  1. I hear and feel you. ?
    Yes, there is a lot more to yoga than “26 + 2”.
    I admire your honesty and courage to tell us/the world.

    1. Thank you Daphne! It take some courage – this post has been rattling around my mind for at least two months. But, I think it’s better to just tell the truth and put it out there, instead of avoiding the issue – which is what I’ve been doing. I hope all is well on your end, and if you ever have the chance, come join me online for a class someday – you will love it!

      1. I feel as if I wrote the same message I just read . I was a Bikram teacher as well and this last year decided to move on as I was spending too much time before and after class exploring other postures and possibilities. I am forever grateful to the Bikram series as a wonderful base . Thank you for sharing what many ex Bikram teachers feel

    1. Awww…. thanks Bob – how nice to hear from you! I hope you and your beautiful family are doing well during this time. Big hugs to you!

  2. I am riding the journey too.

    “I’m not against anything, I’m just for moving forward. And, as I move forward I’m realizing that some things need to be cleared away to make space for all of the new spaces and places ahead.”

    So much YESSSSSSSSSS….
    When you are ready, that just happens.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. The fact that you’re called to something else yet can express appreciation for what it gave you really speaks to me and I appreciate it.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed the post Tonianne. There’s no need to bash something that was once something you loved and couldn’t picture as not having a part of your life. It’s best to be grateful it was a part of the journey and cheer those on that is still speaks to. Big hugs to you!

  4. T – I learned so much from you! Always loved your enthusiasm, sense of humor and the teaching moments that you tried to bring to the practice. Best of luck to you, it’s a small world, I’m sure our paths will cross again!

    1. Oh, Jack! I miss you!!! Thank you for always being such a positive force and, yes, I hope our paths cross again. Big hugs to you!

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