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Former Bikram Legal Advisor Files Extremely Disturbing Lawsuit Over Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Assault

in Lawsuit-asana

Bikram-Choudhury-Details

Wow, you guys, this is some serious and disturbing stuff. And it just keeps coming. Have we reached the tipping point? As we already know, Mr. Choudhury’s legal troubles are so far from over. In fact, there seems to be no end in sight. We’ve been alerted to a lawsuit filed by Bikram’s own former Head of Legal and International Affairs, Minakshi “Micki” Jafa-Bodden, against Bikram and all the Bikram entities claiming an exhaustive list of complaints that include sexual harassment, gender discrimination, assault , defamation, negligence, breach of contract…and the list goes on, 25 items of complaint for damages in total.

Jafa-Bodden served as Head of Legal and International Affairs from Spring 2011 to March 13, 2013 when she claims she was “abruptly and unlawfully terminated,” according to the court documents filed on July 12, 2013 in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. But perhaps the more serious matters lie within the 2 years that Jafa-Bodden worked closely with Bikram, during which she claims she was victim and witness to Bikram’s “severe, ongoing, pervasive and offensive conduct” especially to women, as well as homosexuals, African Americans and basically every other minority.

The complaint is the fourth sex-based discrimination/sexual harassment/rape related suit filed this year against Bikram Choudhury. Bikram teacher Sarah Baughn filed a sexual harassment suit in March (just before Jafa-Bodden was fired), and two other unnamed women filed similar suits in May accusing Bikram of sexual harassment, intimidation and rape.

If all of this is true, Bikram is getting the sweaty carpet pulled way out from under him, and his empire. Can the yoga be separated from the man?

Here’s the the full “Summary of Facts & Claims” we converted from the official court documents. The complaint can be found in its entirety below.

She was offered and accepted a three-year contract with a starting annual salary of $125,000.00. (Exhibit B hereto is a true and correct copy of Bikram Choudhury’s August 2011 offer letter).

In March 2011, Plaintiff relocated her home and her young daughter from Delhi, India in to Los Angeles, California to serve as Head of Legal and International Affairs for Bikram Choudhury and the Bikram entities.

Despite the promise and contract to pay a starting annual salary of $125,000.00, Defendants failed to pay Plaintiff as agreed.

From almost the beginning of her employment Plaintiff was subject to severe, ongoing, pervasive and offensive conduct by Defendant Bikram Choudhury. Such conduct included, among other things:

- Bikram Choudhury repeatedly referring to women, including female employees and others as “bitches,” “fucking bitches,” “fat bitches” and “stupid bitches;”

- Bikram Choudhury repeatedly made offensive and vulgar sexual gestures including placing his fingers in a circle and inserting the fingers of his other hand into them, simulating intercourse; licking his fingers, sticking his fingers in the air and licking them, simulating oral sex;

- Bikram Choudhury repeatedly made disparaging remarks about single mothers, including myself, and stated to a co-worker “make sure we don’t hire single women with kids in the future;”

- Bikram Choudhury created a hyper-sexualized, offensive and degrading environment for women by, among other things, demanding that female staffers brush his hair and give him massages. Plaintiff was often required to conduct business meetings with Bikram Choudhury while he was receiving such massages. Plaintiff was on a number of occasions required to meet Bikram Choudhury in his hotel room typically at night. During one such meeting, Bikram Choudhury climbed into bed, and patted the bedspread next to him (indicating to Plaintiff to come and sit/lie down next to him in the bed). Plaintiff moved away from Choudhury and the bed and went and sat at a desk to conduct a telephone conference.

- Bikram Choudhury frequently leered at female staffers and others, and often stared at and remarked on their physical attributes, including stating such offensive comments as “that bitch is too skinny,” or — to Plaintiff’s assistant “you look good sweetheart but what shall we do about her [gesturing to Plaintiff] she is still too fat.”

- Bikram Choudhury made outrageous and offensive comments about homosexuals, including “AIDS is caused by gays, it is the truth,” and “but these fucking asshole guys love me, they love Bikram;”

- Bikram Choudhury made outrageous and offensive comments about African Americans, including “these blacks just don’t get my yoga;” He also targeted African American studio owners and students, treating them differently than non-African American owners/students.

- Bikram Choudhury made outrageous and offensive comments about Jewish people, including saying Hitler had the right idea, but that he “was just not eflicient enough. If he was more efficient, all these fucking Jews would be finished;”

- Bikram Choudhury frequently brought his mistress to the workplace and flaunted her, despite the fact that he knew this made me extremely uncomfortable given my close relationship with his wife, Rajashree Choudhury. Bikram Choudhury pressured Plaintiff into secretly purchasing a property in Hawaii for his mistress.

- Bikrarn Choudhury repeatedly to female yoga studio owners as “bitches;” and referred to one particular female studio owner in Los Angeles as “that fucking stupid Korean bitch;”

- Bikram Choudhury often would call for young women yoga students/trainees to be brought up to his hotel room. When Plaintiff objected to this practice out of concern for the safety and security of the young women, she was retaliated against and pushed out of Bikram Choudhury’s “inner circle.” One such example of Bikram Choudhury’s predatory and illegal behavior took place during the Spring 2012 Teacher Training in Los Angeles at the Radisson Hotel. One young female trainee asked for permission to go home because she felt intimidated and shocked by the sexually charged atmosphere. One of Bikram’s senior staffers refused to let her leave, telling her that she must FIRST go to Bikram’s hotel room that night and talk to him. Once Plaintiff learned of this, she immediately instructed staff that this was not permissible or appropriate and that it must never happen again.

- Bikram Choudhury also permitted and encouraged his male friends from overseas to treat his female staff and students as if they were chattels there for his and his friend’s enjoyment, sexual gratification and pleasure.

- Bikram Choudhm’y also pressured the foregoing is just a sample of Defendant Bikram Choudhury’s improper, illegal, wrongful conduct, and not an exhaustive list.

Plaintiff attempted to investigate an incident that was reported by a female student seeking readmission to the Fall 2012 Teacher Training, which involved her claim that she had been raped at an earlier Training (Plaintiff believes Spring 2012) and had been sent home. Plaintiff was told to stay out of it and not investigate.

Plaintiff also attempted to investigate the mistreatment of another female student trainee at the Fall 2012 Teacher Training by a friend of Bikram Choudhury’s and another male trainee. During that investigation, Plaintiff withheld the male trainee’s teaching certificate pending the outcome of the investigation. When Bikram Choudhury found out that Plaintiff was investigating the incident and had withheld the male trainees’ certificate, Bikram angrily demanded that Plaintiff stop her investigation and give him his certificate, stating “those boys didn’t do nothing to that stupid girl.”

Another female staffer reported to Plaintiff that a female trainee in Acapulco reported that Bikram had done something “of a sexual nature” to her during that training.

Thereafier, Plaintiff was later told that it was “resolved” and that it was “best” if she “not look into it any further.”

When former CEO Mark Sacks was fired, all of his duties were pushed onto Plaintiff, with no additional compensation or assistance.

Plaintiff also was treated in an offensive and threatening way by Bikram Choudhury’s driver, Sando Panday. As but one example of this, when Plaintiff instructed Panday that the temperature in the yoga room must not exceed 105 degree Fahrenheit (which had reached 120 degrees on numerous occasions which caused complaints and created a dangerous and unsafe condition for those in the room), Panday screamed at “Bikram said to tell you to mind your own fucking business.” Plaintiff complained about this attack to Rajashree Choudhury and to another individual. Nothing was done, and Plaintiff was further marginalized and retaliated against for dan’ng to question Bikram Choudhury.

In or about February, 2012, Bikram Choudhury’s conduct, harassment, discrimination and retaliation escalated, and Bikram threatened to have Plaintiff put in jail because he was apparently displeased with the way she handled an endorsement deal (which he later then complimented Plaintiff on, saying it was a great business deal for him and requested repeatedly that Plaintiff “put the water deal back together.”)

In Summer 2012, when Plaintiff explained to Bikram Choudhury that he was compelled by a Court to present himself for a deposition, he yelled at her and berated her stating “I am famous. Famous people don’t do fucking depositions” and he referred to Plaintiffs lawyer in that case as “that fucking bitch.”

In or about November, 2012, Defendant Petra Starke first began appearing and getting involved in the Bikram entities business dealings and attending business meetings. Plaintiff questioned whether this was not a conflict of interest and potentially illegal conduct given that Ms. Starke was then employed by the US. Government as White House Counsel. Plaintiffs concerns were ignored.

Plaintiff believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendant Petra Starke was engaged in the business and business dealings of Bikram Choudhury and the Bikram entities at the same time she was employed by the US. Government as Counsel to the White House.

Numerous documents and records, including telephone records and electronic communications, show this involvement. Plaintiff believed that this was ethically improper and possibly criminal conduct and expressed her concerns to Defendants but those concerns were ignored.

Defendant Bikram Choudhury also engaged in physically intimidating and threatening conduct, including pointing his finger in the shape of a gun and demonstrating like he was shooting Plaintiff.

Defendant Rajashree Choudhury (an Officer of various Bikram Entity Defendants named herein) knew that much of this abusive, illegal, threatening, harassing and discriminatory conduct was taking place but she did nothing to prevent or curtail it. She also knew that young female yoga trainees and students were potential victims of her husband

Bikram Choudhury and endangered by his presence, and in fact discussed that very subject with Plaintiff, but she did nothing whatsoever to prevent or restrain her husband.

During the course of coordinating the defense of Bikram Choudhury and the Bikram entities in other lawsuits, Plaintifi‘ kept Bikram Choudhury up to date on the litigation and status. At one such time, when Plaintiff informed Bikram Choudhury that a witness had testified in a manner that was unhelpful to him and was “against” him, Bikram demanded that Plaintiff contact the witness and intimated that she should be pressured to keep quiet. When Plaintiff refused, Bikram became angry and fin’ther retaliated against Plaintiff.

Defendant Bikram Choudhury also made threatening statements about a Federal Court Judge who issued a ruling that was unfavorable to Bikram Choudhury and the Bikram entities. Defendant Bikrarn Choudhury made references to having the Judge “taken out” and “removed,” and “fixed.” Bikram Choudhury stated – in the presence of witnesses including Rajashree Choudhury and Petra Starke that he would “handle [the Judge] his own way.”

Defendant Bikram Choudhury also directed Plaintiff to begin a smear campaign against a male studio owner that he was involved in a lawsuit with. Bikram Choudhury told Plaintiff that she needed to accuse that studio owner of sexual misconduct, including being a “rapist.” Plaintiff refused and the retaliation against her continued to escalate.

When Plaintiff told Bikram Choudhury that certain of his “marketing” materials likely constituted false advertising, she was further retaliated against.

At or about the end of 2012, in or about November, Plaintifi‘ complained to Rajashree Choudhury that Bikram Choudhury was becoming more and more abusive.

Defendant Rajashree Choudhury stated that Bikram was telling people that Plaintiff was “having an affair” with one of the attorneys she had retained to do work defending Bikram and the Bikram entities.

Also at or near the end of 2012, Plaintiff became increasingly vocal about the fact that she was not being paid as agreed upon despite the fact that she had been working for almost 2 years.

All of the retaliation, harassment and discrimination against Plaintiff came to a head on March 15‘, 2013, when she was terminated. The afternoon of March 15‘, 2013, Plaintiff was told by Bikram that she could not go home early that day (she normally went and picked her daughter up from school which Bikram knew). At approximately 6:00 pm, Plaintiff was summoned to Bikram Choudhury’s office by Defendant Petra Starke. During that meeting, Plaintiff was told “we have decided to terminate you immediately,” and “we will withdraw your green card sponsorship.” She was then told that she could either resign immediately, or be fired. During this “meeting” Bikram Choudhury accused Plaintiff of having a sexual relationship with one of the attorneys hired to defend Bikram and the Bikram entities (Robert Gilchrest), and Bikram made a sexual gesture stating that Plaintiff and “Bob” were “closer than husband and wife.” Plaintiff stated that she did not want to resign. Plaintiff was again told that if she did not resign immediately, right then, she would be terminated and that it “would be very bad for her.” The entire environment was extremely hostile and threatening, and Plaintiff feared for her own safety as well as the safety of her daughter. She was then ordered to go to her “room” and type her resignation letter. Plaintiff stated that she would hand write it, which she did, handing it to Petra Starke.

Shortly after she was terminated/forced to resign, Defendants evicted Plaintifi’ from her home and repossessed her car without her knowledge or permission.

The Bikram entity defendants, and individual defendants knew or should have known about Bikram Choudhury’s propensity to engage in discriminatory and harassing conduct against women. In fact, the subject of the risk posed to young girls by Bikram

Choudhury was specifically discussed with and known to his wife, Defendant Rajashree Choudhury. Defendant Rajashree Choudhury asked Plaintiff to keep Bikram Choudhury away from a yoga competition being held in New York in 2013 (as well as in prior years) because of a concern for the safety and well being of the young girls if Bikram Choudhury were permitted to be around them.

Defendants Petra Starke and Rajashree Choudhury engaged in a civil conspiracy with Bikram Choudhury and others to keep Bikram Choudhury’s illegal conduct from being discovered and in an effort to retaliate against anyone who attempted to speak up against it or bring it to light. Defendant Bikram Choudhury and other defendants have engaged in a campaign of civil conspiracy that began when Plaintifi‘ objected to illegal conduct and when

Plaintiff attempted to uncover the truth of various allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Bikram Choudhury.

As a direct consequence of these unlawful acts, Plaintiff has suffered economic, consequential, and other damages, all to her detriment. Defendants’ actions forced Plaintiff to hire attorneys and file suit and she, therefore, has incurred and will continue to incur substantial attorneys fees and costs.

 

Bikram – Jaffa-Bodden – Complaint by byci

 

As summary and collection of Bikram’s legal woes and documents can be found here.

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Earlier

49 comments… add one

  • Heather

    “bitches,” “fucking bitches,” “fat bitches” and “stupid bitches”, “bitch is too skinny”, “fucking stupid Korean bitch;” He sure seem to have all his bitches covered.

  • André

    In his arrogant righteousness he seems to have forgotten about “Karma’s a bitch!”
    Time’s up Bikram!

  • Ma shakti devi

    Namaste. Many yoga lineages have had this horrendous kind of experience. I am confident that the Bikram community will untangle their loyalties, and make the right decision. I support %100 the studios who have changed their names and alliances. Theirs is an act of bravery, and they have all my respect.

  • nl

    holy hell….what a pig!

  • Michelle

    He stinks worse than the carpeting in one of his studios. Are there people still foolish enough to drink the hot, poisonous Kool-Aid he keeps shilling?

  • Liz

    People are still lining up for John Friend’s b.s….

  • Sarag

    WHAT?! John Friend did not do anything close to these allegations. I’m fully aware of John Friend’s doings, I don’t need to be revised. John Friend did not engage in illegal sexual misconduct. He screwed adult students with consent of them and never threatened their line of work. He screwed the senior teachers out of pensions and was unsupportive. But he never resolved to countless felonies as you read in this. That is a really poor comparison.

  • ST

    Actually, while there are few comparisons, the themes are not dissimilar. False promises to staff, misguided and overly selfish expectations of how people should treat them, and a fundamental hypocrisy between teachings and personal actions. People using the word narcissism are onto something. But the community all creates this problem, I don’t mean the victims, I mean the atmosphere of having gurus and people wishing for a piece of fame, making yoga about fame and money and power. Heads get big, and self-awareness and integrity are lost. Bikram’s situation is far more offensive and ritualistic and (allegedly) very abusive. JF was just a bad boss, a scumbag, and a bit of a loser, who was taking what he could get based on what he had to offer and forgetting to think about his staff as whole people.

    We should be careful whom we put on pedestals and how we conduct our personal and professional lives, in every industry, and the problem with yoga is that it’s supposed to be holistically integral, and people who teach it need to be among the most cautious, introspective, and respectful of us all.

  • Think Again

    And yes, Friend did threaten and undermine teachers’ line of work, for purely personal and spiteful reasons. Careers, incomes and reputations suffered and languished because of his behavior long before Anusara came crashing down.

  • Prema

    It’s the principal that matters. Not just the facts. They both had false personas while in a leadership position teaching the Sutras and right living. A double life. His may be more stinky and corrupt but the betrayal of trust is the same. The both became false Gods. And those will fall. But they will be stepping stones to a deeper understanding of Yoga as a consequence. The dirt has to rise to the surface to clean the water. So. The fallen demi Gods of yoga is a fair comparison.

  • nadia

    There is not one single guru, not one single truth, not in yoga not in reality. Follow your body and your soul, not someone claiming to have the truth…

  • VC

    This is the real story of Yoga in the West. Doesn’t matter if it’s a big empire or dinky studio that holds 15 people. Predators find prey. Actually, it’s not the story of yoga. Yoga is a lovely lovely practice. It’s just the tired old story of predators finding prey. Don’t judge the victims – you’d be surprised how many really sane people become prey to crafty predators. It happens. So keep your guard up …wherever you practice.

  • Daryl D.

    Like they say (metaphorically) “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”.

  • Jean

    How can the Plaintiff manage to stay on without being paid for that long?

  • Sarag

    perhaps plaintiff was paid, just not the agreed upon amount. i worry about how things must have been for her and her daughter when they threatened to take away her green card and stripped her of her home and vehicle abruptly. that’s pretty messed up, to anyone, but i have extra compassion for this single mother’s situation, i’m sure it messed up her daughter’s schooling and rocked her home life quite a bit!

  • Sarag

    Narcissism and narcissism enablers. Brushing his hair! That’s what this is. Furthermore, I think what needs to go on trial next is the efficacy of the style of yoga too. It’s BS, people doing yoga in a stinky stagnant clammy room. Sure they’re trying hard, but the health claims made by “hot yoga” studios are unfounded. I could take a nap in 105 degrees and sweat. Doesn’t mean my lymphatic system is going to do something magical for me though. Get real!

  • Sarag
  • Jamie Grollman

    Karma is something that should be taken very seriously – you get back what you put out.

  • Go Yoga Girl!!

    What a hot douche bag

  • I hope that no other people fall into a situation that they can be physically or emotionally harmed by this man. He should have his day in court.

  • Lilli

    I do believe in the therapeutic purpose of the heat and concept of the yoga, but I am happy that I did not invest my life’s savings to open a studio with his name. It seems his ego has gotten the better of him, but unfortunately people from all over the world will have to work on sustaining their businesses by disassociating with the name on their buildings. Karma will take care of Bikram, but I “do” feel bad for all of the good teachers who invested hard earned money into training and opening up studios….for the moment that customers google “Bikram Yoga” to search for a studio or to look into the practice, they will see news of these scandals in their search. Not good for business.

  • Bikram is gross and is yoga’s equivalent to McDonalds. One on every corner, but can you really say what they are selling is the real thing (actual yoga or food)? Is its ubiquity and profit-centered raison d’être actually more like an auto-immune disorder, attacking destroying the original host?

    As Ben Ralston wrote so well: Yoga is not gymnastics.

    Yogasana is intended primarily to prepare the body to be comfortable sitting for meditation. If it’s taught as such, with emphasis on breath and inner awareness rather than physical ‘shape’ and external competition then it’s totally, 100% ‘safe’. Actually, it’s more than safe, it’s healing.
    It is also, of course, a wonderful physical exercise – but that is a secondary benefit.
    Yoga is a spiritual practice.
    http://benralston.blogspot.com/2012/02/swami-vishnu-he-flew-over-war-zones-in.html

  • Jessica Powers

    When in Bikram’s wife going to be her own person and reply to any of this? How much has she been through to go along with all this horrific behaviour? When will she be inspired by the brave women stepping up and showing her husband for what he is, sexist, racist, abusive – I think she must have not only a responsibility to herself but also to the community she’s part of.

  • Stockholm Syndrome. She probably needs to be rescued and healed and made to feel safe before she can get at him.

  • Daryl D.

    Beyond pathetic and sad. It seems we’re heading towards a critical mass with thes yoga scandals. What it’s going to look like on the other side…who knows? And at about the same time as this article, a new you tube video compliation of Patabhi Jois surfaced that will blow your minds. I can’t see how any Ashtangi is going to rationalize what’s in that vid or claim it was faked…It makes the pic that Yoga Dork posted two years ago look G rated…..It’s been on the web a week now and NO ONE has dared to even post one comment (though it’s up to 11,000 views)…..all at about the same time the Jois foundation changes it’s name to Sonima, Sonoma or whatever the heck it is. Why the name change? Hmmm. . PKJ and Bikram are universes apart…..or are they? Wrong, inappropriate and sexually abusive behavior and/or hate speach has absolutely NO place in yoga. I don’t care how many people have experienced healing from these practices (I’m one of them) it will never justify any of that kind of behviour….it is wrong. Period. People need to wake. Here’s the link if you’re interested on the PKJ video and if YD allows it: http://www.youtube.com/user/yogagurusrevealed/featured

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    There’s not a single thing wrong with that video. You are just a big ignorant of how yoga has been practiced in India. You remind me of the zealots that figured Mahatma Ghandi was a child molester because he slept with small children– not realizing that old people in India do this traditionally, to stay warm from the grandchildren’s heat.

  • Daryl D.

    Well there ya go…a predeictable defensive rationalization of someone in denial. And I’ve practised yoga IN INDIA btw with PKJ over long periods of time over the years. Never saw it this bad, but saw some stuff he would be arrested for in the U.S. for doing. You would have never caught him doing any of that with an Indian woman. Also, I know for a fact after having lived IN INDIA for a very long period of time that it has one of the highest rates of sexual abuse by family members than anywhere’s else in the world. But because family ties are vey strong,, sometime to the detrement of the victim of abuse, it’s all just swept under the rug and kept all status quo for the sake of keeping face for the family. Is it regular course for a grandparent to put their genitals directly on on a child’s to keep warm? Get a clue.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    I don’t practice PKJ yoga, so I don’t know what I could be in denial about here… maybe the finger pointing is toward yourself, over some sort of harbored anger or regret that you’re bent on acknowledging through projection. Give it a try and see what’s up.

    I just don’t see the sexual intent that you do in the video. Is he also being homosexual with the guys he’s bending into shape? He’s using his weight to help push through the muscular blocks. So what that he can do this in India but it’s against cultural norm here. It’s all about intent, and I don’t believe you have an insight there as to the intent, unless you are pointing toward something more than the video (like Bikram for example, which is pretty plain to see through firsthand and secondhand info).

  • Daryl D.

    Are you an Indian male? NRI or PIO male? You come across as defending turf without acknowledging the possibility of anything else.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    Nope, neither. As American as white american gets.

    I do consider the possibility of what you are assuming. I just don’t see the intent of that assumption being displayed.

    All I see is an old yogi in an old body that has thrown off the norms of what a teacher might do in using his body’s weight to help his students push through their barriers. Those poses are just the way he’s best able to use the body on the other body.

  • philokalia

    I studied yoga in India for several years through two different schools and was never adjusted by a male teacher even remotely like this. In fact women and men were purposely separated to different sides of the room in one of my schools to furthur insure the modesty of indian and foreign women in a co-ed course.. Touching women like this in his own culture would be highly improper for any other man. Furthur, it would be improper for for any man in the US to give an adjustment to a woman by pressing his package up against her genital area. All that being said, I don’t believe that his intentions were in the wrong place, but the judgement on performing an adjustment in this manner is off. A teacher in the US could easily be sued for those actions, so while a little fanatical, the original poster is not making an ignorant claim.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    Good point. I think the “ignorant” claim was off-base and not accurate on my part. As the posters says, he’s practiced in India as well. I just don’t see this reaching the “scandal” level in India, like it would in the US.

    The main point is the intent, as like you, I just don’t see it there.

  • Asha

    This comment is ridiculous and incredibly ignorant. Since you don’t even know how to spell Gandhi, I will simply have to assume that you know little about India.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet

    I have a hard time going to the Bikram yoga studio here locally, but the classes are packed, and no one even knows about this. I wonder how teacher training is going, lol.

  • Rainbow Patchouli Bracelet
  • Personally I’m bored with Bikram. Can’t someone ELSE do something scandalous?

  • John

    :) can’t one of the other yoga people busy doing scandalous stuff all the time get caught?

  • @ John – exactly! Of course there aren’t laws against merely being a greedy, selfish, self serving narcissicist. Perhaps there should be a new category called “Merely a Douche”.

  • Daryl D.

    After some thought, in response to Rainbow Patchouli Bracket, I’d like to say that sometimes some people who have experienced trauma whether it be through illness, chemical abuse, emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse might be drawn to these particularly powerful yoga practices looking for healing. And for the most part, these practices bring healing of varying degrees depending on multiple factors, or not. Whether acknowledged by the student seeking healing or not, they are extremely vulnerable due to the trust put in their teacher/guru. Sometimes (emphasis on sometimes), a teacher/guru, quite innocently at first gets away with something that may have started off as slip up from something well intentioned (a misplaced hand or misspoken word) because of the initial trust the student has in the teacher/guru, it may pass without question or comment. And it may happen again, but the more it happens without question or comment, the more it may become a pattern built on a growing self perceived greatness by the teacher/ guru that rises from an increased ability to get away with it. The community of students surrounding the teacher/guru remains silent for any of multiple reasons which may give rise to an inability to acknowledge and engage in constructive dialogue in a realistic manner when accusations arise. The accusations are either laughed off with juvenile excuses or those making the accusations are quickly shunned or quarantined as not “getting it” or “crazy” or “projecting their own issues”. An elaborate defense mechanism for communal denial grows stronger and entrenched as time passes in order to maintain status quo. I speak from personal experience. It happens all the time in families world wide, as well as corporations, schools, churches, governments, etc. It is human behavior. Why would any type of yoga be immune from something so very human, unless those practicing a particular type of yoga have set themselves up as being above the rest of humanity? I’m done and having nothing more to say. Yoga on, people.

  • VC

    This is so well said and I’m glad you took the time to say it. I think this happens far far more regularly and often than people realize. It can be very hard for a victim to speak up. I admire this woman’s courage to do just that. She may be saving countless others from a similar fate.

    It’s not about the yoga or the style of yoga. People shouldn’t dismiss it like that.

  • David

    Why clowns like him are not exposed sooner??? People need to wake up and expose abuse on the spot. Hope he enjoys doing downward dog for his cellmate.

  • Stewart Lawrence

    Why are “clowns” like Bikram not exposed earlier? Because he’s the most popular yogi in America with by far the single most cmmmercially successful yoga brand. That’s why.

    For decades, top athletes like NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar (currently a Huff Po blogger, by the way) have extolled the virtues of Bikram’s yoga methods and Bikram himself as a teacher and a healer. Jabbar credits Bikram with extending his career basketball over a decade beyond what he coud have managed alone. So do other top athletes and scores of Holly wood celebrities.

    Read the accounts of this week, last week, every week from athletes and others still celebrating Bikram yoga . Or talk to the 1 million people who practice Bikram Yoga — and LOVE IT.

    Sure, it’s a wake up call. For American Yoga as a whole, which refuses to regulate what it does and then cries these empty crocodile tears over the consequences of rampant commercialism — the very same rampant commercialism that Yoga Dork and all the other yoga blogs are promoting every single day as a way of bringing yoga to the masses.

    Well you got your wish, ladies. Enjoy it. If you want a different yoga industry with a more social responsible ethos, stricter guidelines on teacher training and certification, and more honest and responsible science about yoga’s health risks and rewards, than work for it.

    What’s really sad here is that basically the only people you’re concerned about are the other narcissistic monsters in Bikram’s immediate and coveted circle. This isn’t about the larger yoga public, which knows nothing about this, and still swears by his yoga.

    But since when has Yoga Dork really been about the concerns and needs of the larger yoga public? Since when has anyone in a position of yoga leadership really ever concerned themselves with anything but themselves?

    Namaste.

  • Matt
  • adam

    Karma is bitch

  • Rishikesh Yoga

    Rishikesh is the most fames yoga place in world. The place is known as the TapoBhumi; meaning the place for yoga meditation of the Gods. Rishikesh is a peaceful, temple town on the banks of the holy Ganges River, which is clear and flows full of spiritual energy. Rishikesh is an entry point leading to the sacred places deep in the Himalayas.

    Ever since, Rishikesh has been the stepping stone and the first destination on a list of holy shrines and sites stretching across the lofty Himalayan Range.

    There are innumerable Prize Fitness yoga centeras such Rishikesh is known as ‘World Capital of YogaRishikesh.In the 1960s, Rishikesh came in to the Western world’s limelight as the place where the pop group Beatles met their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    Rishikesh attracts millions of tourists,people every year come here to practice YOGA, MEDITATE, REJUVINATE and gain peace of mind. The place is also very famous with foreigners who come to Indiaas part of a spiritual journey. People find that Rishikesh can touch their hearts and change their souls for the better.

    Yoga retreat with Rishikesh tour
    6:00 am :- Wake-up with herbal tea .
    7:00 am to 8: 00 am :- Purification/Pranayama or Satang (group discussion/meditation/mantras chanting) or Morning Maun
    8:15 am :- light breakfast with Milk/juice
    9:00 am to 11:00 am :- Beginners Asana class
    11:30 am to 12:15 am :- ayurvedicconsaltation (5 peoples a day)
    12 : 30 pm to 1:30 pm :- lunch
    Free time after lunch student can go for local sight seeing / 5 people will have ayurvedic treatment a day
    7:00 pm to 8:00 pm :- Guided meditation / yogic philosophy
    8:15 pm to 9:00 pm :- Dinner
    Self-study/discussion
    9:30 pm :- good night

    WHERE : HOTEL Narayan kunj in Ramjhula
    WHEN : WINTER TIME 9.15AM TO 11.30 AM
    EVENING TIME 5 PM TO 7 PM

    Yoga Hall Is Open 15 Minutes Before Class Timefor Students. Time After Class Is Also Given For Q&A.

    STYLE : Focus Of Class Is Body & Breath Alignment To Achieve Awareness (Supra Consciousness). Daily Classes Are Designed To Meet The Needs Of The Students In Attendance, Frozen Shoulder, Scoliosis, Etc.

    IDEAL STUDENT : Willing To Work The Entire Two Hour Period On Their Own Self Effort. Student Should Not Be Suffering Under Time Considerations. The Yoga Performed In The Class Will Be Their Main Focus.

    OBJECTIVE : There Are Over 200 Muscles In The Body And We Are Going To Attempt To Reach All Of Them.

    SPECIALTY OF THE CLASS : Is Variations Which Lead Into The Final Positions – Transformations.

    SPECIAL 10 DAY CLASSES FOR GROUPS : Diagnostic, Medicinal, 5 Elements, Recuperative, Standing & Back Bendings, Partner, Intermediate, Advanced, And Pranayamas.

    For bookings on Yoga Tours India please tours@prizefitness.com

  • Me Myself

    I’m looking forward to and yearning for the day when all the shrieky Bikram instructors wake up, realize that, yes, there are other forms of yoga out there, no Bikram didn’t “invent” yoga and no, you don’t have pay $10,000 to an ass like that to become “certified” to teach yoga.

    I did Bikram yoga for about 6 years, then discovered a Baron Baptiste vinyasa studio and loved it. Did that for 2 years.

    Now I’m living somewhere where there are barely any studios, so I’m back in a Bikram studio. I do think hot yoga is therapeutic, I do think it’s good for you.

    You can go to the picnic, have a good time, but you don’t have to drink the cult Kool-Aid. I do yoga for me and no one else.

  • nadine

    I have to say that it give me a little hope in the human race when finally from the inside of the Bikram Company has come foward with really hard evidence that Bikram is an extremely unhealthy person. I am tired of hearing from teachers, studio owner and more that you Bikram is really not that bad. Really!!! He has been unhealthy for years. Why do we even give the man one ounce of praise. What concerns me even more is the 1000′s of teachers and staff that are willing to ignore the Man behavior all in the name of Yoga! or his sequence. Why are studio still recommending his school? Because they believe in the yoga not the man…. bull shit… Can we not stand up for something that is right and healthy? We teach integrity in the posture, how about integrity outside of the posture and yoga! I could go on and on…. but where are those BIKRAM teachers and studio owner and senior teachers now… why are they not standing up for their community now, and why did they not share the truth about Bikram and put their students in harms reach of such an unhealthy training and more.

  • Anya Burilina

    South Park needs to make an episode on this

  • Steve

    Bikram gives Bikram a bad name.

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