A Los Angeles judge has issued an arrest warrant for world-renowned yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury for non-payment of damages from a sexual harassment lawsuit, according to ABC 7 Los Angeles. Choudhury was ordered to pay over $7 million dollars to former associate Minakshi "Micki" Jafa-Bodden, after she sued him for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Choudhury fled the United States following the loss of the civil suit and has hid his assets, including a fleet of luxury cars. “Pretty much everything that he's been doing in terms of his assets is a violation of one court order or another,” said Jafa-Bodden's attorney Mark Quigley. “It's highly illegal what he's doing."
Bikram Choudhury became one of the rock stars of yoga after popularizing his own Bikram Yoga, which is to be practiced in a heated room with a temperature between 95 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Choudhury bragged that his form of yoga could cure diseases including cancer, and according to BBC News, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow are among its celebrity adherents. However, as the style’s popularity grew and its creator’s fame spread, disturbing claims began to come to light.
Sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape allegations dogged the yoga guru starting in 2013. Jafa-Bodden served as Choudhury’s head of legal and international affairs from 2011 to 2013, during which she claims she was regularly subjected to sexual harassment, and says Choudhury fired her after she refused to cover up other women’s abuse claims against him. In January, 2016, a jury awarded Jafa-Bodden over $7 million in damages. "I feel vindicated," ABC News quoted her in 2016. "I'm elated."
Following the judgment against him, Choudhury fled the United States, returning to his native India. Jafa-Bodden's attorneys have tracked his luxury car collection from Los Angeles to a warehouse in Florida, where they claim he was attempting to ship them overseas. Due to non-payment of damages, a Los Angeles judge gave control of his global yoga business over to Jafa-Bodden in December. Choudhury was served court papers in Mexico, where he still holds teaching seminars, as close as Acapulco. Should he be detained and extradited to the U.S., the judge set his bail at $8 million.
[Photo: Bikram Yoga Instagram]