'Bikram a Gangster Like De Niro' Yoga Teacher Faces Rape Charges
Bikram Choudhary; Photo credits : newseastwest
NEW DELHI : “Bikram, a gangster like Cagney, like De Niro, like James Caan, like my most favorite Mr. James Caan, Sonny Sonny Sonny Sonny Boy”.
Benjamin Lorr, author of ‘Hell Bent’, a book about the never ending search and obsession for the ‘transcendental’ yoga scene in the United States, recorded Bikram Choudhury, famous ‘Hot’ yoga pioneer, speaking to himself. And chuckling, unmindful of the fact that the microphone he was wearing was on.
The words quoted above are not a one-off Freudian slip on the part of ‘McYoga’ practitioner, but just one of the many bombastic sentences he utters in a day’s course. But the yoga guru, originally from India, is uncharacteristically silent over the accusations of rape by six of his former clients, the latest being the accusations from a Canadian, Jill Lawler, who joined his classes when she was an 18 year old college student.
The Vancouver yoga instructor has accused the 69-year old guru for forcing her to have sex with him on multiple occasions during the three year period when she learnt the famous 26-pose technique from him.
According to the lawsuit as published in Reuters, Lawler was assaulted first during a, “nine-week yoga instructor training course in Las Vegas in 2010, when she was 18 years old”.
It is learnt from the report that the harassment started when the yoga guru tried to sneak his hand inside her pants during one of the sessions, and then took her to his hotel room where he allegedly raped her.
Lawler said that the harassment continued during the rest of her tenure as she worked at the Choudhary’s yoga center as a trainer.
Sarah Baughn, 29, a yoga champion, and another alleged victim of Bikram Choudhury’s deviant ways, blamed a “cult-like atmosphere” within the Bikram community in forcing the victims to stay quiet. She said that the devotees had advised her to “separate the man from the teacher”.
Baughn’s lawsuit will go to trial in August.
In an email sent to Reuters, Choudhary’s lawyer denied all rape charges, and added, “The founder has never been criminally charged in any of the cases.
“The women did not independently come forward to tell their stories of sexual assault after years of keeping them secret. Instead, they signed on to become plaintiffs in these cases following a world-wide and lengthy period of solicitation through letters and social media seeking to convince women to sue Choudhary” the statement from the defendant’s lawyer said.
Bikram Choudhury boasts of a cult following among the yoga aficionados, and is the one who formulated ‘Hot’ yoga in which people practice the yoga poses in a hall sweltering at exactly 105 Fahrenheit (40 degrees).
As told in ‘Hell Bent’, apart from teaching yoga, Choudhary claims to have kicked, “Roberta flack and Shirley MacLaine out of class for being late”; to have received a call from Ronald Reagan, “for an advice about his daughter (Patti Davis)”; to have got, “Bruce Lee his role in Enter The Dragon!”; and finally, he claims to have had a, “seventy-two hours of Marathon sex, where my partner has forty-nine orgasms, I count”
Now how that last bit helps him prove himself to be more virile is beyond any general understanding, but if it’s true, then it’s certainly going to go against him in the court when these cases go to trial.