A study at Colorado State University is looking at the health effects of Bikram yoga, a form of yoga in which practitioners follow a prescribed set of 26 poses in a room heated to 105 degrees. The sketchy thing? The majority of the funding for the study comes from the founder of Bikram yoga, Bikram Choudhury.
I shouldn’t be surprised: Bikram Choudhury is becoming increasingly-notorious for his shady moves, like lawsuits, yoga supplements and overall doucheyness. It makes sense that he would fund a study in which “people interviewed only had good things to say about Bikram yoga and professed its benefits.”
But Brian Tracy, the CSU professor who is heading up the study, says that “agreements on intellectual freedom were signed that don’t bond the research results to the funding.” Hmmm. Well, ok.
Apparently, no one else is studying or has studied the specific effects of Bikram yoga. According to CSU’s student newspaper, selected participants are experienced practitioners who take SOMAX fitness tests, and a DEXA body composition scans to determine their fitness levels. They’re paid $30. 75% of the funding for the study comes from The Bikram Yoga College of India and the rest comes from the Pure Action Foundation, an organization I can’t seem to find any information about, including a website.
Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t seem right to me that the inventor of something should provide money to an institution to find the study of that same something. It’s nothing new, of course (manufacturers do it all the time for their products, for example), but regardless, information like this only serves to deter me from practicing Bikram, which I bet is not really the goal Bikram Choudhury is trying to achieve.
I’ve got nothing against the actual physical practice of Bikram yoga, which I’m sure can give you many of the health benefits the study says it does (greater flexibility, increased strength, better balance and cardiovascular health improvement). But personally, I have no desire to practice this controversial form of yoga. From the cult-y aspects to the shady research funding, to the tell-all book, I think I’ll stick with hot yoga that’s not branded “Bikram.”