Why No Green in Bikram Yoga?

November 22, 2012 8:40 pm

Why No Green in Bikram Yoga?

Why Bikram Choudhury Hates the Colour Green

TL asks: Inquiring minds want to know … how does not wearing green pay respect to Bikram Choudhury’s guru, Bishnu Ghosh? What is the story behind Bikram’s distain for the colour green?

BYV says: Great question TL, lots of students often ask why no green in Bikram is so important! We started digging into this mystery, and found that it was harder to solve then we thought it would be!

First, for those who are not familiar with the issue, here is an excerpt from the “yoga etiquette” portion of Bikram’s Teacher Training guide:

We are guests at the hotel so all of us need to have cover ups while coming to class, in the lobby and in the elevators, we do not drip sweat in the lobby or in the elevator, we do not wash our feet in the ladies room for the hotel guests to complain we do not use the lobby water, which is for the other guests, and we do not ask the staff at the restaurant for water or ice cubes, most of all do not wear green.

Far from the hotel concierge being offended by the colour green, it is Bikram himself who feels put off by the hue. In fact, references on the Internet and among those who have gone to Bikram Teacher Training point to an all-out ban on green, both at training and at Bikram’s headquarters in Los Angeles. That means students, staff, trainees and certified instructors are under strict instructions not to wear green clothing or practise on green mats and towels – or risk unleashing the wrath of Bikram Choudhury.


Why No Green in Bikram Yoga: What the Online Yogis are Saying

  • Bikram Choudhury famously does not allow yogis to wear the color green in his Los Angeles yoga center; one rumor has it, he associates green with a tragic personal episode.”
  • “He says green is an unlucky colour and bans it from all his studios.”
  • “Green is not recommended at Teacher Training. Be wise when you choose your colors!”
  • “Bikram hates the color green. Seriously. The offending hue is barred from anything related to the hot yoga empire that bears his name, from students’ apparel to the décor of the 500 Bikram-affiliated studios worldwide. I witnessed this personal quirk firsthand at a retreat with Choudhury in 2002, during which he ordered one attendee to remove a green bandana and sent another in search of a towel that was any color but.”
  • “Please try to avoid the color green. Don’t ask, just try.”

History of Bikram Yoga: The Truth Behind Bikram Choudhury’s Distain for the Colour Green

After combing through blogs and forums about Bikram Yoga, we were able to uncover the story behind this searing subject. The general consensus appears to be as follows:

According to Bikram, Indian people are very superstitious – even when it comes to colours. Because green happens to represent nature in that country, and is also featured prominently on the national flag, it is considered to be a powerful “outside colour” that’s scarcely used for personal adornment or indoor décor. As such, wearing green clothing or painting one’s home green is generally considered to be bad luck.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Bikram’s guru, Bishnu Ghosh, reportedly lost his eldest son in an unspeakable tragedy. Rumour has it that the boy, at 12 or 13 years of age, decided to attend and/or participate in some kind of yoga show with a friend. Whether he went to perform or, rather, to watch his father demonstrate is unclear. What is clear is that the event was part of a larger festival, and the demo was taking place in the main tent.

Dressing for the occasion, Ghosh’s son decided to wear a green shirt that he had received as a gift – even though his mother warned him against it. Ignoring her (a typical teen), he left in his green shirt. At the festival, a blaze broke out – apparently the result of some fireworks being set off. The main tent caught fire, and Ghosh’s son managed to escape. When he realized, however, that his friend was still in the tent, he turned back to save his pal and, sadly, lost his life. Out of respect for his guru, who believed the green shirt played a part in the untimely death of his son, Bikram banned the colour (at the direction of Ghosh) from Day 1.

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