The physical demands and emotional stress inherent to his previous profession as a chef found Rich suffering from chronic knee and back pain, accompanied frequently by severe muscle spasms. He continuously explored alternative methods of therapy, including acupuncture and massage, which brought limited relief.
Rich stumbled into his first Bikram Yoga class in San Francisco in 1997. Within a month of practice, his back pain had nearly vanished, his knees had improved and he was enjoying the most restful sleep he could remember. He enjoyed increased flexibility, energy and stamina, greater mental clarity and focus, and a grounding sense of calm came into his life. A sufferer of asthma since the age of five, he felt his lungs growing stronger and more resilient and has not suffered an asthma attack since he began practicing. Rich knew immediately that he would someday teach Bikram Yoga and help people to help themselves through this amazing practice.
After three and a half years of regular yoga practice, he completed Bikram’s intensive teacher training program in Los Angeles in June 2001 and has been instructing full-time ever since, recently surpassing 4,500 classes. He has taught in over 50 studios in 10 countries worldwide and has facilitated the opening and successful operation of 10 studios in Asia, including four in Thailand.
Rich came to Thailand in 2004 at the invitation of his teacher, Bikram Choudhury, to oversee the opening and operation of studios owned by his new business partners in Southeast Asia. From February 2004 through October 2009, he served as Regional Bikram Yoga Teaching Director for two large fitness companies in Thailand, each successive partners of Bikram. He recruited and managed the teaching staff for studios in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in addition to his home base in Bangkok. Rich facilitated the first five Thailand Regional Yoga Asana Championships, from 2004 through 2008 and served as a judge at both the US Men’s Finals in 2008 and the US Women’s Finals in 2009 in Los Angeles. With Bikram’s blessing, he has now, along with his partners, opened the very first standalone Bikram Yoga studio in Bangkok.
While still making regular visits to Bikram’s World Headquarters in Los Angeles to deepen his knowledge and understanding of the yoga through continued study with Bikram and his staff of senior teachers, Rich also volunteers his time at Bikram’s ongoing teacher trainings, leads posture clinics and teaches Bikram’s beginning class to the teacher training student body.
Rich shares in the passion and collective vision of Bikram and his guru, Bishnu Ghosh, of spreading the seeds of Bikram’s healing yoga throughout Asia and the rest of the world. For him, the most rewarding aspect of teaching is watching students work within and eventually beyond their own physical limitations to strengthen their mind and body and overcome their own chronic ailments and disease.
Betty has always been interested in yoga. She grew up watching her grandfather practicing asanas on his own. She admired his strength, determination and peacefulness. At eighteen she started her yoga, “just like my grandfather – on my own – and my journey has not stopped since.”
When in University a friend introduced her to Bikram Yoga class, and she instantaneously felt that this practice was perfect for her. Both her mind and her body went through an incredible transformation. She has developed a strong sense of discipline that has changed her life both in and out of the hot room. After a few months of practice, her goal became clear – she wanted to become a Bikram Yoga teacher and share her love for yoga with people around the world.
She joined the Teacher Training course in Spring 2007 and graduated with distinction. After graduation she moved to teach in Manila, Philippines, where she remained as a full-time Bikram Yoga teacher for four years. It was a wonderful experience. She enjoyed sharing her passion every day with her students and watching them become more balanced, disciplined and healthy individuals.
In early 2012, she returned to Bangkok to teach in the city that brought her to Bikram Yoga. “And I am expecting nothing less than the great experience it has been so far,” says Betty.