Students practice the unique Bikram Yoga at the City Studio, on March 13, 2007 in London, England.
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty

Lawsuits accuse yoga guru Bikram Choudhury of sexual assault

Bikram Choudhury, the yoga master behind the exercise practice known as “hot yoga,” is facing at least six separate civil lawsuits from women who say he sexually assaulted them, according to multiple reports.

The most recent suit, filed earlier this month in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles, comes from a Vancouver, Canada woman named Jill Lawler. The suit alleges that during a 2010 training course in Las Vegas, Lawler was with the 69-year-old Choudhury one evening massaging his feet when he put his hand on her thigh and then attempted to put his hand in her pants, according to CBC News.

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The lawsuit also alleges approximately one week after that incident, “Choudhury insisted that [Lawler] accompany him to his hotel room … where in addition to raping her … Choudhury demanded she say disgusting and untrue things, including: ’Bikram you’re the best’ and ‘I want to f–k you all night long,’” according to CBC News.

“Mr. Choudhury did not sexually assault any of the plaintiffs.”
Statement from Lawyers for Bikram Choudhury
Lawler’s lawsuit also claims that Choudhury told her, “I’m dying, I need to you to save me. If I don’t have sex I will die. You are saving my life, you are helping me,” the Associated Press reports.

The first complaint against Choudhury was filed two years ago, the New York Times reports. The allegations are creating a division in the tight-knit world of yoga. Sarah Baughn, a one-time international yoga competitor, filed a lawsuit against Choudhury in 2013 alleging sexual harassment, defamation, and discrimination. Earlier this month, Baughn told the Times when it comes to the allegations against the yoga guru, “A lot of people have blinders on.”

Lawyers for Choudhury refute the claims made against their client. A statement given to media outlets states, “Mr. Choudhury did not sexually assault any of the plaintiffs.” The statement continues, “Their claims are false and dishonor Bikram yoga and the health and spiritual benefits it has brought to the lives of millions of practitioners throughout the world.”

According to the official Bikram Yoga website, Choudhury is slated to lead his next seminar in Costa Blanca, Spain, from March 14-20. The website features a photo of a smiling Choudhury on its front page as well as photos of the yoga instructor leading courses wearing only a black Speedo.

Celebrities, Rape and Sexual Assault

Lawsuits accuse yoga guru Bikram Choudhury of sexual assault