Bikram Choudhury, the founder of popular fitness franchise Bikram Yoga, is being sued by a former teacher trainee, Sarah Baughn, who claims Bikram sexually assaulted and harassed her.
Baughn, who teaches Bikram Yoga and has won multiple yoga competitions, claims Bikram made unwanted advances on her during a training session in 2005. According to a New York Times report, Baughn dropped out of college and took out a loan to enroll in the training program taught by her yoga hero. But things turned sour when Bikram made unwanted advances toward her.
Baughn claims Bikram told her they had met in a past life and said, “I have never felt this way about anyone.” Baughn’s lawsuit claims Bikram asked, “Should we make this a relationship?” Baughn says she refused a diamond Rolex watch he offered her, and instead told senior teachers about the uncomfortable situation.
Baughn says she attempted on multiple occasions to redirect Bikram’s attention to his wife, Rajashree Choudhury, who founded the competitive USA Yoga Federation. Baughn’s lawsuit accuses Bikram of improperly pressing his body against hers during posture adjustments, whispering sexually inappropriate comments to her, and demanding she kiss him in front of other trainees. She also alleges Bikram assaulted her in a hotel room in Acapulco, Mexico, during a training session. According to Baughn, Bikram made attempts to sabotage her career and her competitions as a result of her refusing his repeated advances. His wife is also being sued for her role in the business.
Bikram, whose celebrity clientele includes the likes of Madonna and Bill Clinton, charges $11,000 for his teacher training programs, wherein he presides over hundreds of faithful yogis in his Speedo-style trunks. Bikram’s brand of yoga is known for its skimpy attire and 105-degree temperatures, which are meant to aid in the body detoxing process.