Bikram Yoga Founder Accused of Rape, Sexual Harassment, Racism

Bikram Choudhury, the man who founded the now-ubiquitous and wildly trendy Bikram Yoga practice, is now facing allegations of rape, sexual harassment, racism, and homophobia from a former employee. This is the third accusation against the yoga guru: in May, IBT reported that he was accused of rape by two of his students, one of whom also added sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, and harassment to her charges against him.

The most recent charges come from Minakshi Jaffa-Bodden, Choudhury's former legal advisor. Jaffa-Bodden claims that she became aware of allegations of sexual assault and harassment during a multi-day training conference; when she approached Choudhury about them, she was told that it would be "best" to "not look into it any further." When she attempted to stand up to the yoga guru, his company threatened to have her and her 8-year-old daughter deported. In March 2013, Jaffa-Bodden says that she was forced to resign by Choudhury himself. He apparently made her sign a resignation letter by threatening her physically.

Jaffa-Bodden's suit also claims that Choudhury created a hostile work environment, rife with sexism, homophobia, racism, and threats of violence. According to the suit, he referred to his female employees as "bitches" and treated African-American students differently, saying "these blacks just don't get my yoga." His bigoted vitriol extended to his gay students as well: allegedly, Choudhury once said, "AIDS is caused by gays, it is the truth, but these fucking asshole guys love me, they love Bikram."

A former employee told the Huffington Post that the Bikram Yoga company is run "like a cult"; Choudhury clearly has no qualms about using his revered pedagogue/important guru status to intimidate, harass, and coerce his students and employees into doing what he wants. (In 2012, he told LA Weekly, "I kind of run this city. They depend on me.") According to the IB Times report, those in Choudhury's "inner circle" were aware that he would sexually assault women in his yoga centre and would work to protect him, leaving young women vulnerable to rape and harassment.

Choudhury and his company are currently working to seal the complaint. He has yet to comment on Jaffa-Bodden's accusations.

"Bikram Yoga Founder Accused Of Rape, Racism" [LAist]
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