Bikram Choudhury is on the lam after a sexual harassment lawsuit has put his hot yoga empire on the line. The Associated Press reports that an arrest warrant has been issued for Choudhury in California, and he’s been ordered to pay $6.8 million to his former legal adviser Minakshi “Micki” Jafa-Bodden. Where Choudhury is hiding isn’t exactly clear, although he’s fled the country. His warehouses in Nevada and Florida are locked by court order, and he’s apparently being tracked down by his attempts to move luxury property overseas.
The link between sex and Bikram Yoga’s founder are nothing new. He’s long lead a glamorous lifestyle, teaching some of the most beautiful people on the planet. As the Guardian reports, Choudhury has had celebrity clients in enviable locals since the 1970s, when he taught the likes of “Michael Jackson, Jeff Bridges, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand and Raquel Welch.” According to the Guardian, Benjamin Lorr — who wrote a book on Choudhury in 2012 — chalked much of the guru’s success up to his charisma, and even compared the Bikram founder’s “unscripted responsiveness” to that of Donald Trump.
In 2011, at the height of hot yoga fever, GQ did a profile on Choudhury’s San Diego teacher training course, describing a scene where lithe yogis strip down to their Speedos at a resort which “throbs with the libidinal energy,” as Choudhury barks aggressive, lewd comments to the crowd. Erections and hookups apparently abounded. Numerous profiles describe women brushing their guru’s hair and providing him massages at these events.
Even so, Choudhury himself insists that sex and yoga don’t mix. It isn’t that he doesn’t notice the beautiful women — he once told ABC “Nightline, “Every women loves me. You know, president’s daughter, you know, prime minister’s daughter, you know, billionaire’s daughter, super star, actress, singers. The hardest problem in my life … is to stay away from women.” But according to Choudhury, he’s stayed true to his spiritual path. “Yogi is supposed to be yogi,” he told “Nightline.” “They cannot involve with the women.”
Except that there are numerous plaintiffs who tell a different story.