Distancing her upper State Street studio from the controversy surrounding Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury, owner Mari Larangeira is changing its name to Yoga 105° (3891 State St.,  687-6900, bikramyogasb.com), with a May 1 relaunch of the hot-yoga melting pot that has served Santa Barbara since 1998.
The 69-year-old Choudhury faces several civil lawsuits accusing sexual assault or rape, according to Los Angeles Superior Court documents. In a statement, lawyers for Choudhury — who does not face criminal charges and has denied any wrongdoing — called the accusations “lurid.”
But even before allegations surfaced, Larangeira says she was put off by Choudhury’s ostentatious displays of the vast monetary wealth he has accrued since founding his hot yoga practice in the 1970s. “For many years, I have not resonated with his flamboyant lifestyle,” she said. “He doesn’t live simply and sustainably, which are important values to me.”
Larangeira received her teacher certificate from Bikram’s Yoga College of India in 2005 and runs classes with six additional Bikram-certified instructors, none of whom have experienced Choudhury’s alleged transgressions firsthand. “We have a deep appreciation for the yoga — it’s amazing,” she said. “We are simply separating ourselves from the man, not the practice.”
Bikram Yoga guides practitioners through 26 full-body poses that combine and accentuate balance, flexibility, and strength with meditative breathing. Classes run 90 minutes in rooms heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Along with traditional Bikram classes, Larangeira’s studio offers 60-minute versions and 75-minute vinyasa yoga “flow” classes.