Bikram Choudhury, one of the country’s most popular and controversial fitness gurus, is the founder of Bikram Yoga and of the worldwide Yoga College of India. His main school is now based in Los Angeles, California.

Born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, in 1946, he was introduced to the technique of yoga at the age of four.

He trained under Bishnu Ghosh at the ‘College of Physical Education,’ practicing yoga rigorously for four to six hours every day.

When he was just thirteen years old, he won the National India Yoga Championship and claimed the title for the next three years,  then retiring as the undisputed ‘All-India National Yoga Champion’

At the age of seventeen, Bikram crushed his knee during a weight-lifting accident and several doctors told him he had little chance of ever walking again. However, his faith in Bishnu Ghosh, and his teacher’s yoga techniques, took him back to the college. Six months later, he experienced total recovery in his knee.

Bishnu subsequently asked Bikram to start a number of yoga schools in India. The public’s response was fantastic, and his yoga schools became extremely successful. Again at Bishnu’s insistence, Bikram traveled to Japan, where he opened two more yoga schools.

Bikram came to the United States in 1973 at the invitation of President Nixon and the urging of Shirley MacLaine. Celebrities, athletes, and others began to flock to him.

In the 1990s he began offering nine-week teacher certification courses, and now many thousands of certified instructors now teach at Bikram Yoga studios all over the world.