The third season of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcasts sounds like it’s going to be a good one.
Its five-episode series Bikram will kick off May 22 by taking a deep dive into the seemingly idyllic world of the exclusive Bikram Yoga community and the controversy surrounding its founder, Bikram Choudhury.
The disgraced guru — who used his connections with celebrities such as Shirley MacLaine, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Quincy Jones to build his highly profitable hot yoga empire in the U.S. — has been accused of sexually assaulting several of his followers, verbally harassing students, and failing to pay business partners. As the exclusive trailer for the premiere above notes: “He’s created a yoga that has helped tens of thousands of people at minimum, and has hurt and destroyed thousands of lives.”
Reported and produced by ESPN’s Julia Lowrie Henderson, Bikram will feature interviews with women who claim to have been sexually abused by Choudhury, Bikram practitioners, teachers, and studio owners to give an in-depth understanding of the events that led to these charges.
“Approaching a community that I once was a part of — and thought I understood — only to realize how much I didn’t know and how great a toll one man’s struggles have had on his followers has been quite a rollercoaster,” says Henderson, who not only practiced but worked in the Bikram Yoga community. “Questions of identity are never easy, especially when yours becomes so intertwined with someone else’s name. I’m grateful that this story is getting the platform and space that it deserves.”
A story for the #MeToo and Time’s Up era, the series is not only relevant but timely as there is currently a warrant out for Choudhury’s arrest. He has filed for bankruptcy and fled the country.
“This story checks all of the 30 for 30 boxes. It’s full of compelling characters, big ideas, and offers a lot of lessons for how we think about sports, gender, power, and community,” adds 30 for 30 Podcasts host and producer Jody Avirgan. “Because the story is so layered, it’s worthy of the multi-episode treatment — a new format for us that we’re very excited to experiment with.”