By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters”
He’s the yoga guru to the stars as folks like Madonna, Bill Ford Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Goldie Hawn and many thousands more in neighborhoods across America can’t get enough of what Bikram Choudhury has to say. It isn’t only his words or best selling books on health but the “torture chamber” environment he is famous for as he puts people through the motions.
Welcome to Bikram Yoga — or hot yoga as it is also known — where the heat is over 105 degrees farenheit as devotees voluntarily go through 26 yoga poses during a grueling 90-minute session, contorting their way to health and feeling better.
Choudhury, 59, who lives in California and who created the sensation, is coming to Northville this Saturday for an event that will undoubtedly be standing room only. Born and raised in India, Choudhury came to this country after helping former president Richard M. Nixon back in the 1970s. Nixon had phlebitis and was in excruciating pain on a visit to India. Choudhury, well known in India, was summoned to help. He gave Nixon some poses and other things to do to alleviate the pain. Nixon was so impressed he invited him to come to the U.S. After moving to California, Choudhury met actress Shirley MacLaine who was a big influence on him and his business.
“When I started, I didn’t charge anyone anything,” Choudhury told me. “But Shirley told me I had to charge.” He did and his legend grew. As did his business. Choudhury has also helped train other yogis in his method. There are over 400 Bikram studios across the nation. Bikram devotees say it is unmatched in stretching and strengthening muscles, ligaments and joints, helps to prevent illness and limits the effects of aging.
Choudhury will be at the Northville Marquis Theatre this Saturday to give a lecture starting at 6 p.m. and he will also sign books. Bikram Yoga Northville — which is sponsoring the event — will be open from 4:30 to 5:30 so visitors can stop by to see what it’s all about.
“I’m as excited as the first Christmas morning I can ever remember,” said Melissa Curnett, who co-owns the studio with husband, Ernie Curnett. “I have been teaching Bikram Yoga for 14 years and practicing for 16 years and always wanted Bikram to come to Detroit! Now at long last, he is coming. We are so happy to have him,” she added.
The Curnetts opened their Bikram studio 10 years ago. Since then, the studio has produced 50 teachers, including those who’ve gone on to open Bikram studios in Farmington Hills, Troy, Grosse Pointe, Ann Arbor and Traverse City.
For more information on the event, visit BikramYogaDetroit.com or call (248) 924-2002.