Bikram Choudhury, 69, the founder of Bikram yoga, the heated exercise and breathing routine that enjoys worldwide popularity, was fined for sexual harassment in the United States. The Yoga guru was ordered by the US court to pay $924,500 as compensatory damages in a lawsuit filed by Minaksi Jafa-Bodden, his former legal advisor, for sexually harassing and firing a female employee. The US court further instructed the ‘celebrity’ guru to pay around $6.5 million in the punitive damages.
A former White House lawyer, Petra Starke, who worked for Choudhury after Plaintiff Minakshi Jafa-Bodden filed her lawsuit had told the US jurors that Choudhury presided over a crazy work environment with a sexually charged atmosphere. Choudhury's former legal adviser said in her lawsuit that he inappropriately touched her and wrongfully fired her in 2013 after she began probing sexual abuse claims from other women.
The Kolkata-born yoga guru is also facing lawsuits by several other women who claim he sexually assaulted or raped them. Choudhury, however testified that he is almost ‘bankrupt’. Choudhury’s lawyers say their client is innocent and prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges in connection with the women’s claims.
The participants in Bikram yoga reportedly go through a series of postures in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) — a form of Hot Yoga.