Bikram Choudhury: Judge issues arrest warrant against yoga founder

BBC News/May 25, 2017

A Los Angeles judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of the founder of hot yoga after he failed to pay more than $6m (£4.6m) to his former lawyer in a sexual harassment case.

US-based millionaire Bikram Choudhury, 70, is famous for the yoga method he began performing in a hot room in 2002.

Mr Choudhury fled California shortly after he was ordered to pay Minakshi Jafa-Bodden punitive damages.

He was served court papers in Mexico, where he is holding training classes.

The judge also set bail for him at $8m.

Ms Jafa-Bodden was head of legal and international affairs at Mr Choudhury's Los Angeles yoga school from 2011 until 2013.

She said she was abruptly sacked from her position for refusing to cover up an investigation into a rape allegation.

Mr Choudhury claimed during his trial that he was nearly bankrupt because of the high cost of his legal fees and because his business was no longer thriving.

A lawyer for Ms Jafa-Bodden told AFP news agency that they would keep pursuing Mr Choudhury "however long it takes, wherever it takes".

What is Bikram yoga?

Created by Bikram Choudhury this form of yoga is made up of a series of 26 postures which are performed in an extremely hot room.

The 90-minute classes are all taught in exactly the same way in rooms heated to 105F (40.5C) exactly. Because of this consistency across the world, Mr Choudhury refers to the practice as McYoga.

He teaches wearing small black pants, while followers also wear tight, skimpy clothing.

Many followers are very loyal to Bikram yoga and credit it with changing their lives.

Celebrities including Madonna, Andy Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goldie Hawn have all participated in Bikram yoga.

"Ms Jafa-Bodden faced retaliation and intimidation when she refused to stay silent about witnessing illegal behaviour," her attorney, Mark Quigley, said in a statement.

Mr Choudhury had dismissed the allegations during the trial and said Ms Jafa-Bodden was sacked from her job because she did not have a licence to practice law in the US. 

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