A powerful examination of the dynamics of power, money, and trauma, the film shines a light on a villain who hid in plain sight as a healer
Hot yoga is offered in most gyms across the country, but while it might be the perfect Saturday morning activity, the origins of this specific yoga practice are littered with controversy.
In Netflix's upcoming documentary Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, the film unpacks the dramatic rise and fall of hot-yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, an Indian immigrant who brought yoga to Beverly Hills and beyond in the 1970s. Often described as a larger than life figure, he taught classes in sweltering hotel ballrooms, hectoring his students as they twisted and pushed their bodies, stalking the room in a black speedo and large Rolex watch.
The documentary charts Bikram's rise to fame and fortune, his development of "hot yoga", and allegations that, for decades, he sexually assaulted and raped young women who saw him as a mentor.
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With testimonies from past students, Academy Award winner Eva Orner's film explores the ways in which Bikram and a small group of insiders created a system that enabled his abuse to remain a secret until students finally began to break ranks and come forward with stories of rape, assault, and homophobia – as well as an insight to the aggressive and almost cult-like training atmosphere he forced people to endure. "[Choudhury] saw himself as a cross between Mother Theresa and Howard Stern," one person tells the camera, before another chimes in that he was "so good at getting inside of our brains."
He saw himself as a cross between Mother Theresa and Howard Stern
In 2016, amid several legal judgements against him, Bikram fled the country. While his victims wait for the day they can hold him responsible, the guru continues to operate yoga studios in India.
Watch the trailer below before Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator begins streaming on Netflix on November 20.
Main image by @summerperez on Instagram