Photo courtesy of GQ magazine
Over the past five years, we have seen the dark side of Bikram Choudhury come to light.
It all began when former students like Sarah Baughn and Larissa Anderson bravely came forward with their stories about being physically assaulted by The Bikram Yoga Founder. This was followed by many others coming forward as well as Vanity Fair publishing an article on him that caused a lot of controversy.
This article, which was published in December 2013, clearly describes Mr. Choudhury as someone who took advantage of his former students. The controversial article mentions the different phrases that Bikram used to lure his former students into sleeping with him or blatantly raping them.
Sara Baughn was interviewed by ABC news alleging that she was forced to engage in sexual intercourse with Bikram while his wife and kids were asleep upstairs in his California mansion.
Bikram was later interviewed by ABC news claiming that the allegations were due to American people wanting to defame him and what he has done for this country. He seems like has no remorse for what has happened; however, he turns it around to blame the women and this country for thinking such a thing of him.He claims that his yoga has helped heal many, including former President Johnson, from illnesses that Western doctors were not able to.
As someone who practices this type of yoga at least four times a week, I was dis-heartened to believe the allegations. I wondered how someone who gave so much to The Yoga Community behave in such a savage way, allegedly. Truthfully, the twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises helped me through two big heartbreaks, job- changes and life.
My wonder led me to find out what had happened to Bikram and where he is now. You might be asking, why I care? I care because I have noticed a trend in this celebrity-world that is a love or hate. People fall off the map of our minds once they are no longer significant to us. Can we still love someone and appreciate them for what they have taught and shown us regardless of their wrong-doingings?
After googling Bikram Choudhury, I found out that he is in India. I wondered how he could end up back in India after establishing a life here with his wife and kids? I also found out that he is now divorced and owes his former employee, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, $7 million according to another Vanity Fair article.
Ms. Jafa-Bodden claimed that she was the lawyer who had to deal with Bikram's allegations and was treated inhumanely by Mr. Choudhury. She also sued him based on being inappropriately touched and violated by The Yoga Champion. Her lawyer, Aaron Osten, says that Bikram threatened her life and family.
As many others came forward in the lawsuit against Mr. Choudhury, a California Judge warranted an arrest for Bikram Choudhury on the grounds of sexual harassment and unfair dismissal of Ms. Jafa-Bodden. However, instead of co-operating with the California legal system, Bikram Choudhury fled to India - where he has not been able to be located.
His wife, Rajeshree Choudhury, filed for legal separation and then divorced him in 2016. 'In the past few years, The Bikram community knew that they were not really married', says a source who owns a Bikram studio.
As for the people who own Bikram studios? Many are ecstatic that they can attract new customers with the addition of hot Pilates, hot vinyasa or other additions.
As many hot studios change their name, some other studios worry that this is how Bikram Yoga will be remembered and associated with.
So, can we know what we know about the creator of this practice and still practice it?