Over the past few months a scandal has developed around the founder of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury. Back in May, Choudhury was accused of raping two of his students and now faces another lawsuit filed in June by his former legal adviser, Minakshi Jaffa-Bodden, which accuses him of racism, misogyny, sexual harassment, homophobia and threats of violence. So much for that whole yogi mindset of peace, love, and harmony, right?
By all accounts, even before these allegations, many believed Choudhury to be … well, kind of a dick. His lavish lifestyle (he owns a mansion in Beverley Hills, a fleet of Rolls Royces and Bentleys and frequently wears ostentatious jewelery) and narcissism have been well-chronicled by many. In order to protect his brand, Choudhury has never shied away from suing yoga studios that don’t credit him for using postures and breathing exercises resembling his own.
Due to his infamous reputation, it seems like not too many are surprised about the allegations (I haven’t come across anyone that’s come to his defense). If I was a betting man, I’d wager that we’ll see more allegations before we see a large number of people coming to his defense. It just doesn’t look good for him.
As a frequently infrequent practitioner of Bikram Yoga and other forms of hot yoga, I was pretty crestfallen about the news. Now, to be clear, I wasn’t disappointed because of what it means for Choudhury; I’ve never met him and from the stories I’ve read and just relayed to you I wouldn’t want to either. If he’s proven guilty of those crimes, then I hope that he is punished however the law deems it appropriate. What I was a bit dispirited about, however, is how this might affect yoga and the people I’ve met through it.
During my time doing Bikram Yoga, I never met anyone like Choudhury. The people I met were kind and honest and pleasant to be around. I would really hate to see this news negatively affect the owners of Bikram studios, who have done nothing wrong and, in my experience, are only trying to help those people that come into their practices.
So if you have been considering doing Bikram Yoga or any type of yoga for that matter, don’t let this news keep you away. Whether or not hot yoga is actually better than regular yoga is still up for debate, but it’s a great work out and a good way to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. But, if you’ll allow me one piece of advice: hydrate before you go. Seriously, drink a ton of water. You can thank me later.
Charlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ Nigella Lawson and the Bystander Effect
♦ Monday’s Viral Video: Bun in the Oven
♦ The People Have Spoken … and They Want Waffles
♦ Bringing It All Back Home: Clint Dempsey Returns to Major League Soccer
♦ An Interview With @NeinQuarterly’s Dr. Eric Jarosinski