Yogi guru Bikram Choudhury’s reputation was tarnished after female yoga instructors who had taken his training course began to speak out about alleged sexual assaults and rapes they said occurred at the hands of the man credited with starting the hot yoga movement.
But there is at least one yoga instructor who continues to voice her love for the 75-year-old even amidst the scandal.
Bikram Choudhury’s adult daughter Laju Choudhury continues to maintain a relationship with Bikram, even posting images of the pair together on social media and continuing to teach classes that adhere to the yoga practice made famous by her father.
In 2016—two years after the sexual assault allegations first surfaced—Laju Choudhury penned an article in Women’s Health titled “In Defense of What My Father Founded: Bikram Yoga.”
“Besides my parents, nobody knows Bikram Yoga better than I do,” she wrote. “It’s been part of my life since I was born, and virtually every day for 26 years.”
Laju fondly recalled growing up in the Bikram’s Yoga College of India studio founded by her parents, Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury, and said she often saw how participants were able to wash away stress from their daily lives during their practice—a benefit she has also seen in her own life.
“I know the power of yoga,” she wrote. “For me, it’s a constant that keeps me sane amidst the hectic life I love to live.”
In another 2016 interview with Fit Bottomed Girls, Laju and her brother Anurag are described as the “second-generation leadership” of Bikram Yoga, a practice made famous by the 26 poses and two breathing exercises that are at the core of each class.
Bikram yoga is also distinctive because it is practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 40 percent for each 90-minute session.
“We set the humidity at 40 percent because one can breathe comfortably in that temperature and it loosens up your muscles; therefore, you can stretch more safely,” Laju told the media outlet.
But while Laju touted the benefits of the program, telling the outlet it made her feel “so damn good,” the article admittedly did not address any of the controversy surrounding her famous father.
“For the record, we didn’t think it was fair in this interview to get into anything about her father — she is her own person after all and deserves that amount of respect,” Fit Bottomed Girls wrote.
Bikram fled the United States in 2016 after a court awarded his former head of legal affairs Micki Jafa-Bodden approximately $6.5 million, according to Esquire. She had filed a lawsuit against the yoga guru for gender discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment after she said she was fired after looking into the sexual assault claims made against him.
Bikram’s meteoric rise and fall within the yoga world is chronicled in the new Netflix documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator.”
Before fleeing the country, Bikram had been accused by six women of sexual assault or rape, CNN reported in 2015. Some of the women later settled lawsuits against Bikram, who continues to maintain his innocence.
“Bikram Choudhury totally refutes all the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment presented in the film and is deeply upset by the continued character assassination,” spokesperson Richard J. Hillgrove recently told The Los Angeles Times.
While there have been few public details about the relationship between the Bikram and his daughter in recent years, Laju has continued to profess her love for him on social media.
This summer she posted pictures of herself with her dad on Facebook with the caption “Daddy’s girl forever.” In the images, the pair can be seen smiling as they embraced.
Another series of photos of the pair together were posted in February, with Laju writing “Happy Birthday to you baba.”
Laju also praised her mother—who filed for divorce from Bikram in 2015 after the allegations and impending lawsuits began—on social media describing her as the “queen of all queens.”
“Mom, in my eyes you are the definition of pose, grace, charisma, beauty and strength packaged perfectly in one soul,” she wrote on Facebook. “Everything u do, u do with integrity and a pure heart. You have taught me the most important lesson this year…to never forget how much power and influence I have to better this world.”
Laju went on to praise her mother for teaching her to focus on what she has in life and forgetting about what she doesn’t.
“Our relationship has changed so much over the past few years,” she said. “It’s grown deeper and fuller with understanding for each other as people.”
Laju’s social media account is filled with images of yoga classes and poses as she continues the work her parents began so many years ago.
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