Bikram vs. Barkan
Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE Bikram Yoga. Bottom line. Have loved it since I took my first class almost a decade ago… BUT – I have chosen a different path. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but let me share with you the Number One reason. I cannot, with integrity, go to Bikram training when I know full well that I will be ‘dis-obeying’ the Man Himself…Bikram Choudhury has strict requirements regarding teaching his class and owning a studio with his name on it. There is so much controversy in the Bikram community… the website says one thing, his representatives say another, his recent graduates tell another story, and Bikram himself contradicts everyone. MY understanding is that – if you become a Bikram Certified Teacher you: must do 6 months of ‘student teaching’ before you can own a studio (ummmmm there are no Bikram studios in my area – 90 miles is the closest), you may NEVER teach ANY OTHER form of Yoga or risk losing your certification, you must pay upwards of $10,000 initially and $1,500 a month to own and operate a Bikram Studio, Bikram Studios may not have or teach any other classes besides the Bikram Beginning Yoga Series – they must have certain dimensions, particular carpet, on and on…and…Even if you go to his training ($11,000 + accommodations for two months) you still may not be given permission to open a studio.
So, it’s Barkan training for me. Jimmy Barkan was a senior student of Bikram Choudhury’s before he decided to create his own ‘method’ and was essentially ‘disowned’ from the Bikram community. It is my understanding that is was NOT an amicable break (lawsuits were filed).
The Barkan method is NOT the same as a Bikram series, but it IS very similar. Mostly all the same postures, and a few more… the poses are sometimes called by a different name, and modifications are given for the more difficult postures. As he says in his interview on the DVD, Jimmy Barkan encourages his students to arrive at their own unique way of teaching the series (this sounds great to me! I am a Gemini after all!). The Barkan training is shorter than the Bikram training, and with two-weeks off in the middle, I will be able to come back to Montana to see all my wonderful clients! (no one’s gonna miss out on a Massage because of Yoga School. Trust me!). Even though it is half the time, it seems to be from the curriculum that Jimmy’s ‘school’ is actually more diverse and thorough (my opinion only people)…Barkan training is more than half the cost of Bikram training and that is also a plus for me.
The downside is I’ll never be able to teach a Bikram class, but guess what? I’m happy just to be a student.
Having practiced Bikram yoga for about ten years and VERY ‘on/off’ for the last 4, I am currently in the middle of my own 60 Bikram challenge. I live in an area where the closest Bikram studio is 87 miles away, and so, I travel every Sunday to practice in a studio. Otherwise I listen and practice to the iTunes (2 CD set) of Bikram himself. What has bothered me from the start is the inconsistency in the class as it is edited, and SOLD to us as faithful students, AND consumers. There are more than one posture in the class that are held either too long, or not long enough, and there are also postures where Bikram doesn’t even say when or how to get out of the pose, or stop… (there is also a mistake in the Jimmy Barkan DVD – however, minor) Having listened to Bikram himself make mistake after mistake in the ‘script’ he so adamantly requires his students to memorize; as WELL as the new Franchise requirements for owning a Bikram studio (of which I cannot find ONE existing studio owner who has participated in) I had become disillusioned and disheartened towards my dream of becoming a Bikram College of India studio owner. Last night I tried Barkan method for the first time, and LOVED it… I loved it because it showed me that there is another way, and I loved it because it allowed me to continue my dream of teaching my own ‘sequence’ in a way that would have integrity, poise, heart, and challenge. I will still practice my Bikram yoga, but I do not belive as he says, that his way is the ONLY way, and that all other American yogi’s are ‘hackjobs’…
thank you Jimmy for having the courage to follow your own heart, and I hope to see you soon at the New York teacher training.