Our Lineage

The history of Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is founded on the time-tested teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and his brother, Bishnu Ghosh, with whom Bikram Choudhury studied. Some of our yoga postures are more than 3,000 years old!

paramahansa yogananda

Our particular style of yoga was developed from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, a spiritual leader who dedicated his life to spreading the teachings of Kriya Yoga as a practical and scientific path to Self-Realization. Hatha yoga postures were a part of this system. In the 1920’s he came to the US to make Kriya Yoga available to the West, and in time created the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). He is also the author of the seminal Autobiography of a Yogi.

“The spine is the highway to the Infinite. Your own body is the temple of God. It is within your own self that God must be realized.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
bishnu charan ghosh

Yogananda’s brother, Bishnu Ghosh then formed a therapeutic yoga school in Kolkata, India, offering a prescription of Hatha Yoga postures for an individual’s specific ailments. He also combined weightlifting and bodybuilding with hatha yoga practice to promote physical and mental wellness.

“Yoga maintains youth long. It keeps the body full of vitality, immune to diseases, even at old, old age. The Yogi never becomes old.”
– Bishnu Charan Ghosh
bikram choudhury

In the late 1960s, after studying with Bishnu Ghosh for years, Bikram Choudhury distilled this particularly powerful sequence from the broader teachings of yoga and his personal, practical exploration of the health of the human body and mind. With Bikram Yoga, his vision was to maximize the therapeutic benefits for beginners and beyond, to make this yoga accessible as a healing tool for people all over the world.

And we know from our own practice, it works! Even now, the journey of yoga and the lineage continues – one person, one yoga practice at a time. From Paramahansa, to Bishnu, to Bikram, to each teacher, and to every person practicing on their mat.

“I hereby dedicate my life’s work to the cherished memory of my beloved guru, Bishnu Charan Ghosh. May the eternal light of his spirit, made brighter by the love of his brother and guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, and those who have carried this sacred lineage through the halls of the ages, be reflected in the hearts of all the students and teachers of whom it has been my privilege and honor to serve.”
– Bikram Choudhury

The Lineage of Bikram Yoga