Bikram Yoga Teacher Training

Meet Our Staff


Bikram Choudhury Founder and President

Born in Kolkata, India, Bikram first practiced hatha yoga at the age of three. At age five, he began to study under his guru, Bishnu Charan Ghosh.

Bishnu Ghosh was among the 20th Century's most celebrated physical culturists. Convinced that human energy centers around the body's greatest nerve mass, the spine, Ghosh prescribed spinal fitness for health and happiness. His desire to improve humanity ran in the family. Ghosh's brother, Yogananda Paramahansa, promoted spiritual health and happiness with his most famous yoga book, Autobiography of a Yogi, and by founding the Self-Realization Fellowship based in Los Angeles.

Bikram practiced at Ghosh's College of Physical Education for up to six hours a day. At age 11, Bikram became the youngest ever to win the National India Yoga Championships. He won again at ages 12 and 13, prompting Swami Sivananda to declare him Yogi Raj (King of Yogis). At age 18, Bikram suffered a weightlifting accident. Defying pessimistic doctors who diagnosed a permanently crippled knee, Bikram returned to his guru's care and was walking again in six months.

Inspired by his injury and rehabilitation, Bikram decided to teach yoga full time and came into his own. After teaching the ancient way - one student at a time - he wondered how he could teach the same poses to an entire class of people regardless of their individual problems. He started to develop an original sequence of 26 yoga postures and two breathing exercises, a choreography accessible to beginners and beneficial for all. At Ghosh's direction he opened studios in India and Japan before moving to the U.S. in 1973. He quickly became the foremost yoga teacher in the West as celebrities, athletes and other aspirants flocked to his studios in Beverly Hills and San Francisco.

His instructional book Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class was first published in 1978 and has since been translated into several languages; the second edition was published in 2000. Bikram's second book, Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment, was published in 2007. His intensive Bikram Yoga Teacher Training course was first offered in 1994 and has since graduated over 3000 Certified Bikram Method Instructors. Today, with hundreds of licensed studios offering authentic Bikram Yoga classes, Bikram now dedicates his energy towards fulfilling his guru's wish and bringing yoga's powers of health and beauty across the globe.

"Because of lack of self-realization, you always underestimate yourself."

"You're never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again."

Rajashree Choudhury

Born in Kolkata, India, Rajashree Choudhury started her yoga training at the urging of her parents at age four. She was a five-time winner of the National Indian Yoga Championship from 1979 to 1983.

With over 15 years in the East and 25 years in the West, Rajashree’s special focus has been on the emotional side of yoga and how yoga balances the energy of the human body and impacts not only disease, but also affects the body/mind/soul connection which constitutes vibrant health.

She also helped her husband create the highly successful Teacher Training program after more than ten years of teaching yoga in the United States. She conducts seminars on yoga and personal development worldwide. She also teaches her highly acclaimed and has a DVD Pregnancy Yoga Classes.

Rajashree has appeared on many national television programs in the United States and abroad doing seminars worldwide promoting the countless benefits of yoga. In conjunction with the International Yoga Asana Championships, now in its tenth year, she has founded the USA Yoga Federation, a non-profit organization formed to facilitate her goal of yoga ultimately being accepted as Sport. Most recently her mission is to help women in crisis of all ages and nationalities. She has been active in many charitable organizations over the years including Karma for Kids, dedicated to helping children with cancer, Uprising yoga, helping child victims of sex trafficking, and Parikrama, educating slum children in India.

Emmy Cleaves - Principal Teacher

Born in Latvia sometime before 1960, Emmy Cleaves is Bikram's most senior teacher. She began studying under Bikram in July of 1973, and currently teaches Bikram's Advanced Class to senior instructors at the International Headquarters. As a practicing yogini for over 40 years, Emmy brings a priceless combination of knowledge, experience and expertise to her classes. Widely traveled and internationally recognized, she holds a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Bonn in Germany.








Academic Instructors

Dr Gautam Chaudhuri M.D

Dr. Chauduri is a Distinguished Professor and Executive Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. He received his M.D. from India and his Ph.D from LondonUniversity under the mentorship of a Nobel Laureate. He then completed his Residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology in New York and his fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at UCLA. He see’s patients related to their Gynecology problems, menopause and hormone therapy as well as Gynecology and Gynecologic surgery.

Dr. P.S. Das

Dr. Das holds a double Masters Degree from Calcutta University and is a registered Medical Practitioner in Allopathy and Alternative Medicine. Holding a Ph.D. in Yoga Therapy, he is the Principal of Yoga Medical College and the Castle Corner Yoga Center in Calcutta, and is Chief Consultant to Ghosh's College of Physical Education founded by Bishnu Ghosh. Dr. Das helped to publish Paramahansa Yogananda's famous Autobiography, and has been guest speaker at several conferences for Cardio-Pulmonary Health.

Dr. Jim Preddy

Dr. Jim Preddy is an Emergency Room Physician at University Medical Center (UMC), Adult ER and Trauma, Las Vegas, Nevada. He completed his Emergency Medicine Residency at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, FL, graduated as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro University California. He is the Anatomy and Physiology Instructor at Touro University, college of Osteopathic Medicine, and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Nevada, School of Medicine. He has received numerous awards and honors in his academic and professional career. In his previous life, he was a massage therapist, does fantastic manipulations of the spine, and being a home grown Las Vegas boy, was a cheerleader for UNLV! Go Rebels!

Dr. Tushar Ray

Dr. Tushar Ray holds a Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta, India in Biochemistry. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology at Arizona State University and owns his own yoga center in Tempe, Arizona where he offers lectures, yoga and meditation classes. He recently submitted a grant proposal entitled "Hatha Yoga and Immunity" to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for possible funding.

Dr. Mani Bhaumik

Dr. Bhaumik is a laser physicist who announced the invention of the world's first excimer laser at the Denver, Colorado meeting of the American Optical Society in May 1972. During his 25-year career in laser research, he has published over 50 papers in professional scientific journals and is a holder of a dozen U.S. patents in the field of lasers. Dr. Bhaumik has lectured worldwide, including some television appearances. Recently, Dr. Bhaumik received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd Annual North American Bengali Conference in Long Beach, California. In 2005, Dr. Bhaumik has received the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award from The Indian American Heritage Foundation for his outstanding contributions to science and humanity and in celebration of his bestselling book "Code Name God".

Jon Burras

A certified Yoga Therapist, the creator of a unique blend of bodywork called Intuitive Connective Tissue Bodywork. Jon studied with the Bodymind Institute of Los Angeles and a graduate of Esalen Institute's massage therapy program. His lecture series at BYCOI since 1998 is about connective tissue and how it relates to yoga and stretching. Jon provides an array of visual aids and props that make his classes fun and effective.

Brian L. Tracy, Ph.D.

Dr. Tracy obtained his doctoral degree in 1997 at the University of Maryland and completed postdoctoral fellowship training in the Integrative Physiology Department at the University of Colorado. Since 2003 he has been a faculty member in the Health and Exercise Science Department and is currently an Associate Professor at Colorado State University. Dr. Tracy teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Neuromuscular Physiology and Anatomical Kinesiology and is the Director of the Neuromuscular Function Laboratory. The laboratory examines the effect of aging, training-induced neuromuscular plasticity, and certain disease processes on the control of muscle force and physical function from both a basic physiology and applied/translational perspective. He has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sources since 1999, including an NIH post-doctoral National Research Service Award and an NIH Mentored Career Award. Dr. Tracy is a former President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. In addition to scientific presentations, he regularly provides community-based lectures on neuromuscular aspects of human aging and training. In 2008 he and graduate student Cady Hart authored the first ever peer-reviewed, published study on the neuromuscular effects of Bikram yoga on young adults.

Debbie Vojik

Debbie studied nursing at The University of Maryland at Baltimore, and has been practicing nurse since 1993. Her clinical specialty is Neonatal/Pediatric Intensive care, but she has, in the past worked at all levels of ICU care. She graduated from the Bikram yoga teacher training in spring 2006. Currently she works full time in the insurance industry and owns and manages a yoga studio in Baltimore, MD. She has been assisting with the medical coordination at Bikram Teacher Training since fall 2011.

Leigh Willyard

Leigh graduated from Kansas University Medical Center with a Bachleor of Science degree in Nursing. She specializes in Critical Care and has been working as a Registered nurse in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit for 10 years. Leigh became a certified Bikram Yoga instructor in Spring, 2002. She has been teaching the CPR class for Teacher Training since 2003. She managed the Berkeley studio for Funky Door Yoga in 2004. She currently teaches in Honolulu, Hawaii.

I want to become a Bikram yoga teacher because I have an intense desire to share my passion and enthusiasm for the practice with other people.I have personally experienced amazing physical healing from traumatic injuries through the practice.
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I have had such amazing healing and strengthening experiences (both physically and psychologically) since beginning this practice.One year later I quit smoking and began practicing Bikram yoga.
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