Sometimes people don’t know when to stop. That may be the case of the man who has come to embody the worst of the “yoga industry,” Bikram Choudhury. Bikram was teaching in Japan in the 1970s. It was here that he started to heat his classes to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, ostensibly to mirror the heat of his home in Kolkata, India. However, he had also taken noted of the fact that his Japanese students liked to visit saunas on their lunch breaks. Whatever the reasoning, he noticed that the hot temperature in his studio made people work harder and, that they associated the excessive sweating with a successful workout.
Being the astute business that he was, and still is, he increased the temperature of his studios so that today you can expect to practice Bikram yoga in a 104 degree room. It also didn’t do him any hard to come to Hollywood and see his brand thrive. It was around 2011 that Bikram tried to copyright his sequence of poses. Ultimately the process failed the legal test, but it did nothing to diminish Bikram star power, even as it left a bitter taste in the mouths of many in the yoga world who felt that Bikram had become too predatory.
Speaking of predatory, Bikram wasn’t done with the law at that point. You think he would learn. The next hit came after he a jury awarded $7 million in damages to his lawyer determining that he had sexually harassed her and dismissed her unfairly.
It doesn’t end there. There are at least six other cases filed by women claiming Bikram either committed sexually battery, discriminated or harassed them, among other things. You’d think the man would tread lightly but, nope. Last week he pops up on an interview on HBO’s Real Sports and proceeds to say, “Sexually assault. If I need women I can make a line. The most beautiful, famous, rich women in the world. If I have to sleep with women, then I have to sleep, you know, 5,000 girls every day.”
The interviewer, Andrea Kremer, is probably counting YouTube hits in her head at this point because she quizzes Bikram on his claim that four women killed themselves because he wouldn’t have sex with them.
Bikram then says, “Yeah, all died. Why I have to harass women? People spend $1 million for one drop of my sperm. I can make million dollars a day every drop.”
With regards to one particular accuser, Kremer directly asks, “Did you sexually assault Sarah Baughn or …”
Before she can finish her sentence, Bikram replies, “Of course not. I will never even piss on her face with — nuts like that she is. She is psychopath.”
There you have it. If you are going to do yoga you might want to turn up the air conditioner or keep some ice handy. The hotter you get under the collar the more likelier you are to say, or do, some whacky schizznit.
An HBO Real Sports interview with hot yoga guru does nothing to take away from the controversy surrounding the man.
We mustn’t forget though that Bikram has left a great deal of damage in his wake. These three women, Sara Baugh, Jill Lawler, and Maggie Genthner, have accused Bikram Choudhury of sexually assaulting them.
It’s also worth noting that before the scandals and the lawsuits, Bikram was supporting a network of studios who relied on his brand for their business. Bikram teacher training programs start from $12,500. Franchise operations are not cheap and rely solely on Bikram’s strict guidelines, materials and pose sequences. Many have changed their names. Many have lost their businesses.
Finally, this is not the first scandalous yoga guru goes sexy time crazy story. Before Bikram there was John Friend. Sex and money. Makes CrossFit look pretty boring and prudish by comparison.