Bikram yoga founder told to pay KSh660 million for harassment

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BEVERLY HILLS - 1982: Founder and teacher of Bikram Yoga, Bikram Choudhury assists actress Carol Lynley with the 'Standing Head to Knee Pose' at his yoga studio in Beverly Hills, California. (Joan Adlen/Getty Images)

The founder of Bikram yoga, the heated exercise and breathing routine that enjoys worldwide popularity, was ordered in the United States to pay more than $6 million in damages for harassment.

Bikram Choudhury, the man behind the Bikram yoga empire, was sued by a lawyer who worked for him, complaining that she suffered damaging consequences after she spoke out against his alleged sexual harassment of other women.

A jury in Los Angeles Superior Court deliberated for two hours before ordering the 69-year-old guru to pay a massive $6.47 million fine in punitive damages.

The jury had already awarded the plaintiff, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, nearly $1 million in compensation, after it decided that she was the subject of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Jafa-Bodden smiled after the verdict was announced while the famed yogi remained impassive. His lawyer, Robert Tafoya, gave no comment.

Jafa-Bodden’s lawyer Mark Quigley said in his closing statement that Choudhury “thinks that he can do whatever he wants to do.”

Participants in Bikram yoga go through a series of postures in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

Bikram yoga first came under an unwanted spotlight when Choudhury tried to copyright the routine. He said Tuesday he had earned little money in the last three years and was near bankruptcy.

Choudhury, originally from India, was said to have made a fortune after he moved to California.

During the trial, he said that even though he has a garage of 30 to 40 luxury cars, they contain old parts from other vehicles and he plans to give them to the state and charitable organizations.

His lawyers said Jafa-Bodden, who filed her lawsuit in 2013, was sacked by Choudhury because she was not licensed to practice law in California.

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  • john k.

    hardly a ‘relief’! get the whole story and history before using such strong words please! 🙁

  • dianilifeguru

    Sad about losing a lioness, and the cubs will not grow to add to the wild population once raised at the orphanage

    • They get thrown back to the jungle after about one year of orphaning

  • simon3

    Tragic – take the easy way out – now we have 4 cubs that will grow up without freedom – Did the lioness kill anyone – NO – did it kill any livestock – NO so why do we take the easy way out and kill her – Well done KWS – protecting kenyas wildlife

    • Ok, it is it tragic, yes, is it “the easy way out.” Please. You weren’t there, you have no idea what happened. It clearly says the lion charged at them AS THEY WERE PREPARING TO DART IT. That means they were taking the hard way and trying to tranquilize the lion. The lion charged them and they did what they had to do to protect themselves. They didn’t go in and say, “ah, there’s the lion, KILL IT!”

      Again, tragic, but don’t trivialize what the veterinarians and park rangers did. They put themselves in harm’s way first and unfortunately, their efforts to non-lethally detain the animal were unsuccessful. It’s truly sad those cubs will grow up without a mother, and that an innocent animal died, but to think the park rangers wanted this to happen is absurd.

  • Nairobi Fly

    Sloppy work, why kill it?

  • Erin Allan

    this story has many factual errors in it making it easy to believe the the KWS erred as well. the lions have been in our neighbourhood for nine months, not four. the traps the KWS put out were leopard traps- not at all suitable for catching lions. this was brought to their attention, and proper traps were offered but KWS would not grant permission to set these traps up. as  a resident of mukoma, there is not way i’d report the whereabouts to the KWS. we are saddened- not relieved. this could have been avoided.

    • Common Cents

      Seems like a catalogue of errors from the KWS. One would think as proffesionals they would prepare their darts in the safety of their car, not out in the open in full view of the lioness.  

  • Vinny

    This was definitely a relief. I live in this neighborhood and  for all those that had to walk from the bus stop to our houses every day it has been a frightening experience knowing there are lions on the loose.

  • luvmeluvu

    Mediocrity that defines our present day Kenya. How can trained rangers fail to capture a nursing lioness that did not have a history of aggressive behavior. She had not killed or attacked anyone. The villagers caught the lion on camera, not KWS. Someone should be jailed for making the curbs destitute orphans. What a waste. What a shame?

  • Oxfordgirl

    Tragedy rather than relief I’d have thought.  A sad day for all concerned…

  • Sshutch

    We are certainly NOT relieved…this is absolutely shameful the way it was carried out…we are supposed to be protecting our wildlife not killing it, This lioness has lived in our neighborhood for around 9 months and NOT ONCE has she attacked a person. She attacked yesterday because she was threatened and because she was trying to protect her cubs. We are all very saddened and angry at how it all went down. There are no excuses for this!

  • Shame on KWS – I am not convinced that they did enough to put her back in the park! This was a short cut!

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