After 5 months of searching, I finally discovered a studio that teaches Bikram Yoga but is not a Bikram Yoga affiliate/franchise.

If you read my post from January about mourning my Bikram Yoga practice, you know I gave up the practice after much struggle, thought, and consideration.

I am a survivor of abuse and work every day to bring awareness and help to others struggling in the aftermath of their abuse. When I discovered the abuse and sexual assault allegations against Bikram Choudhury, I had to consider their legitimacy based on the combination of multiple allegations and on what my gut and intuition was telling me.

And because the majority of studios that teach Bikram Yoga are affiliates and pay fees to Bikram, Inc., I could no longer reconcile giving my hard-earned money and energy to a man and empire that directly counters my ultimate hopes for this world.

Last week, my husband, son, and I were driving through Bethesda. I glanced over in the direction of the Bikram Yoga Bethesda studio and was shocked to see that the name of the studio had changed to Pure Om Yoga. I immediately grabbed my phone and messaged the studio through its Facebook page asking if they still offered Bikram-style yoga and if they remained affiliated with the Bikram brand and empire. Happily surprised, I received a response within an hour confirming that they still taught the same yoga but were no longer affiliated with Bikram, Inc.

Do yo have any idea how thrilled I was? Despite who and what Bikram is today, he created a series of poses and breathing exercises that helped me in many ways. Like with any style, there are teachers who exploit and harm through inflated egos and their need to be revered as gurus.

I just want the yoga without the guru and without knowing my money is lining the pockets of an empire that misrepresents all that I have come to understand and love about yoga and life on this planet.

I am a conscientious consumer. Every day and with each new experience, I become more and more aware of what I put into my body and where and with whom I interact daily. As information is provided to me, I will continue to make choices that resonate with my core values and beliefs. As a deep feeler and emotional person who has been harmed in the past by overlooking the seemingly insignificant misdeeds of those around me, I can never again compromise my core beliefs, as I have in the past, for the sake of convenience.

I visited Pure Om Yoga on Saturday and went back on Sunday. The anxieties I had been feeling a few months ago before I quit my Bikram Yoga practice no longer interfered with my conscience while on the mat and in the hot room. Where I was drained prior, I am invigorated today.

Outside of this explanation, I can’t express exactly how that “letting go” filled me with peace, joy, and hope.


© 2014 Paula Carrasquillo and A Yogini Transformed.

Paula Carrasquillo is an active yogi, author, and advocate who has lived in numerous watersheds throughout the United States, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Paula is passionate about her family, friends and the motivational and brave people she meets daily through her online writing and social media exchanges. To Paula, every person, place, thing, idea and feeling she encounters is significant and meaningful, even those which she most wants to forget. Follow Paula on Twitter and check out her other blog.

Asanas/poses, Bikram Yoga, Fears, Meditation, Spirituality, Therapuetic and Integrative Medicine
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Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you on wanting the series without the guru. I was raised Hindu and the beliefs and values I was raised with make it difficult for me to see Bikram as a “guru”. Good for you on finding a place to practice that is not affiliated! Wonderful post, thanks for sharing 🙂


  2. Good for you!
    I would like to clarify though, that MOST bikram studios DO NOT pay bikram any fees despite what the media says. Most of us are non franchised and the affiliation agreements ended long ago. Bikram keeps studios on his website.. But as far as I know, only about 30 or so studios worldwide are actually franchised.
    I haven’t changed the name of my studio…yet… (Getting there) But clearly state on our website that we are non franchised and independent.
    It may be worth asking studio owners. Most of us will be honest about where we stand.


  3. Hey Paula!
    I’m so glad that this has come your way! Yoga does NOT depend on one person or philosophy, it is timeless and ever current to the individual! Be free and healthy in a studio where you feel comfortable and safe and let the BS stay out on the street!
    Shanti, shanti, shanti, om!


    • Thank you, Gert. I’ve been under some stress at work and in life…more so than my norm. Finding this studio wasn’t an accident. I think the Universe was sending me a gift, a much-needed gift that I really appreciate. XOXO


  4. So glad the yoga studio changed and is a perfect fit for you now. People do have power each and every day. How we spend our money dictates what we really support. It’s why I only buy cruelty free products and cosmetics. I don’t want to fund cruel practices. I’d rather pay a bit more and have a clear consiousness. Now if I could only find a yoga studio where I live–that would be awesome.


    • I knew you would get it, Ivonne!! Something that seems so minor and insignificant to many, is very important to me and you and others who reside deeply in our passion and compassion. XOXO


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