Hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury to pay $7.4 million in sexual harassment case

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Global yoga guru Bikram Choudhury has been ordered to pay nearly $7.4 million to his former legal advisor who alleged that he sexually harassed her and fired her for investigating claims that he raped a yoga student.

Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, the former personal attorney of the founder of Bikram yoga and a celebrity yoga guru, was awarded $6.4 million in punitive damages and almost $1 million in compensatory damages.

Women asked to give massage

A Los Angeles jury, that heard the case, awarded Jafa-Bodden compensatory damages for claims of discrimination, retaliation and of suffering sexual harassment herself. The lawyer alleged in the lawsuit that Bikram Choudhury created a “hyper-sexualized” and “degrading” environment for women. She also alleged that some women, who participated in Vikram’s yoga sessions, were requested to brush his hair and give him massages.

Bikram yoga2

According to Aljazeera America, one witness, Sharon Clerkin, testified that Vikram, 29, once announced at a packed training session, the majority of whose participants are usually women, that “I should rape more girls, it’s good for business.”

Bikram style hot Yoga

Bikram yoga style, performed in sweltering rooms heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), is reportedly practised by millions of people around the globe.

‘Bikram is a dangerous predator’

The Los Angeles Times quoted Minakshi Jafa-Bodden as saying “I feel vindicated, I’m elated,” after the verdict and describing Bikram Choudhury as “a dangerous, dangerous predator.”

According to the newspaper, Bikram Choudhury admitted to keeping a fleet of up to 40 luxury cars — including Bentleys, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces – during cross-examination in the court. Prospective teachers of Bikram studio reportedly pay thousands of dollars to attend his weeks-long training certification programs, which are required to teach his style of hot yoga.

The Minakshi Jafa-Bodden v. Bikram Choudhury lawsuit is one of several against the renowned yoga guru that allege sexual harassment and abuse.

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