MANILA, Philippines - Here's good news (and more money) for "world's richest yoga guru" Bikram Choudhury -- in a span of 7 months, more than a thousand people in Alabang, Muntinlupa are raving about the benefits of his postures and breathing exercises.
Bikram Yoga Alabang, which opened at the start of the year, is the newest Bikram-certified studio in the Philippines.
Dubbed as "the south's newest health enclave," the studio has at least 1,500 yoga practitioners, mostly moms, young professionals and athletes.
In a room heated up to 40 degrees Celsius, they spend 90 minutes performing a series of postures and breathing exercises to "fully engage the mind and the body."
"What actually makes any studio unique or special is the kind of community it cultivates. We are constantly working on ways to make our growth a positive one for each and every member of the community," said studio director Ginger Diaz, who attended her Bikram teacher training in Hawaii.
She added, "We really look forward to establishing a strong community of yoga practitioners, not only in the Metro South but in the whole country."
Love and yoga
Many yoga practitioners claim that Bikram yoga has helped them lose weight and be flexible, among others.
But according to Diaz, Bikram yoga not only changed her body but also her way of thinking.
"I started to accept the way my body looked, which allowed me to work on it more, and love myself even more," she said.
Self-love is one of the main ideas behind yoga, said Choudhury himself, when he held a lecture in Manila early this year.
During the said lecture, he claimed he can work 23 hours a day, not sleep and hardly eat by "loving" himself through yoga.
"What's most important is you learn to like and fall in love with yourself. Yoga is marriage with one's self. Then you'll be able to love others, your country, etc.," he said.
He added, "What's the most important thing in your life? You! If you die tonight, what will be important in your life tomorrow morning? Nothing, because you don't get to see tomorrow anymore."
Choudhury founded Bikram yoga, which consists of 26 postures or asanas and 2 breathing exercises, in the early 1970s.
Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney, as well as pop icon Lady Gaga, are said to be among the faithful followers of Bikram yoga.
Some of the celebrities who practice it here in the Philippines include actress Bea Alonzo and socialite Tessa Prieto-Valdes.