‘Hot Yoga’ Guru Faces Sexual Harassment Charges
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Bikram Choudhury is the pioneer of the widely successful Bikram Yoga, or “hot yoga.” He teaches his 26-pose sequence in sweltering 105 degree temperatures.
In a recent twist, however, student Sarah Baughn is suing him for sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment.
The complaint states that Baughn was discriminated against as a woman because she did not submit to Choudhury’s “repeated demands for sex, and because she successfully fought him off when he sexually assaulted her.”
Baughn claims that because of her repeated refusal, she also was hindered professionally and was denied the judge-determined title of yoga’s International Champion in 2008.
“He’s affirmatively tried to block her from progressing in her career because she stood up for herself and rebuffed him,” explained Baughn’s lawyer, Mary Shea Hagebols.
Choudhury did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
In an interview with ABC News’ David Wright last fall, Choudhury said, “Women in the world love me, because I take care of the women. … But yogi is supposed to be yogi. They cannot involve with women. And I did pretty good for all my life.”
Baughn first met Choudhury in the spring of 2005 when she attended his teacher training course in Los Angeles with 300 students. She first regarded Choudhury as a hero who changed her life but claims that she then noticed he chose some women as favorites to brush his hair and massage his body.
During the course, Choudhury allegedly flirted with Baughn by telling her that they had known each other in a past life and that they had a strong, meaningful connection.
The complaint claims that he asked her, “What should we do about this? Should we make this a relationship?… I have never, never felt this way about anyone. Only you.”
During this training, while Choudhury was, according to the complaint, “pretending to assist her, he pushed her down toward the floor after pulling her arm and leg apart and opening her body. Defendant Bikram Choudhury then pressed his body into hers, and began whispering sexual things to her until she collapsed into sobs.”
Choudhury also allegedly pulled Baughn’s leg during a yoga posture, causing her to tear her hamstring.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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