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Hot yoga guru ordered to give up income for sex harassment

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2003

    In this Sept. 27, 2003 file photo, Bikram Choudhury, front, leads a yoga class at the Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

LOS ANGELES >> The founder of Bikram yoga has been ordered to turn over the proceeds from his global fitness business to go toward a $6.8 million judgment his former legal adviser won against him last year in a sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit, the adviser’s lawyer said Wednesday.

The ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge orders Bikram Choudhury to turn over to a court-appointed receiver funds from his book sales and from the nearly 700 yoga studios in Europe, Asia and the Americas that pay to use his name. There are several Bikram yoga studios in Hawaii, including on Oahu and Maui.

Carla Minnard, attorney for the former adviser Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the series of orders issued in December include Choudhury turning over a luxury car collection he owns.

Jafa-Bodden said in the lawsuit that Choudhury fired her when she refused to help him cover up a rape allegation. The suit also said he inappropriately touched her. She was awarded nearly $1 million in compensatory damages and more than $6 million in punitive damages.

She had worked as head of legal and international affairs at Choudhury’s Los Angeles yoga school from spring 2011 until March 2013

Choudhury, 70, has built an empire around Bikram yoga, a rigorous, 90-minute routine performed in a room that can reach more than 100 degrees. The technique is taught at more than 650 studios worldwide and has drawn a throng of devoted followers.

He contended at the time the award was given last January that he is nearly bankrupt.

A current attorney for Choudhury could not be found to offer comment, nor could he be reached.

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  • When viewed proportionately, this is quite a penalty when compared to the manini penalties paid by the likes of Wells Fargo. It’s obvious that he did not retain the right attorney.

    • He didn’t grease the right hands. LOL Good thing he was charged in California because the courts here would do nothing but set him free after offering a 10% discount to a yoga class to the judge. 😉

    • That was my first thought too. I’m not condoning trying to cover up a rape crime, but to be asked to cover up and say, “No!” doesn’t seem to warrant an award for $7 Million dollars. She must have been making a ton of dough in her role as counsel. Even whistleblowers don’t normally get this kind of award.

      • The award wasn’t for saying no when asked to help cover up an alleged crime. Rather, the award was because she was sexually harassed and wrongfully terminated.

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