Bikram yoga guru faces sexual harassment charges in the US

Mar 23, 2013, 08:15 IST | Agencies

Model alleges that the Indian-born yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury sexually assaulted her and when she refused his overtures, he sabotaged her yoga career

A devotee has accused the founder of Bikram Yoga of sexual harassment and revealed he allegedly referred to his wife as a bitch.

Sarah Baughn was wooed by Bikram Choudhury as part of a pattern of behaviour which included asking female followers for massages and sexual favours, the ex-student alleged in a lawsuit.

Allegations: Sarah Baughn claims that Bikram Choudhury would ask female followers for massages and sexual favours

“My wife is such a bitch, you have no idea,” said Bikram Choudhury. “She is terrible to me. She is so mean. You have to save me.”

Baughn, a model and a yoga teacher has filed the suit at Los Angeles Superior Court.

Baughn (29) said Choudhury pursued her for years and then sabotaged her Bikram career after she refused his advances.

Choudhury counts Madonna, George Clooney and Demi Moore among his followers.

Baughn said Choudhury screened his female students, choosing the most devoted “to brush his hair and massage his body.”

Baughn said she was inspired by the classes — held in rooms heated to 100 degrees — since 2005 and enrolled in teacher-training seminar in LA.

“I know you from a past life. We have a connection. It is amazing. Should we make this a relationship?” Choudhury allegedly told her.

Baughn’s suit alleges, he pushed the star student “down toward the floor after pulling her arm and leg apart and opening her body” where he “pressed his body into hers and began whispering sexual things [until] she collapsed into sobs.”

Choudhury even “rigged the outcome” at a 2008 yoga competition so Baughn — considered a shoe-in for first place — came in second to a student who was sharing Choudhury’s hotel room, according to the lawsuit.

Choudhury, who was sued last year by another woman who said the guru routinely made sexually explicit and inappropriate remarks at teacher-training seminars, could not be reached for comment.

Rise to fame
Bikram Choudhury went to the US in 1973 at the invitation of then US President Nixon, who was suffering from phlebitis or inflammation of veins in the leg.
With the encouragement of other celebrity supporters, such as actress Shirley MacLaine, his fitness regime became a global phenomenon, with 720 yoga schools in 220 countries. Over the years his celebrity devotees have included Michael Jackson and George Clooney.
Andy Murray put his ascent to number three in the world tennis rankings down to Bikram Yoga and David Beckham supposedly tried it. Choudhury is now a multi-millionaire, living in the Hollywood Hills with a fleet of 40 Rolls-Royces.  

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