Sexual harassment lawsuits destroyed Choudhury’s business in the US.
By Sreekanth A. Nair
Controversial hot yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, who faced a major setback earlier this year when a court ordered him to pay a whopping $7.5 million as punitive damages to his former lawyer who accused him of sexual harassment, has shut shop in the US and moved to India.
Choudhury has opened a new yoga learning center in the suburbs of Mumbai, Lonavla’s Aamby Valley. Meenakshi Jaffa-Bodden, who won the lawsuit against him has confirmed the news, reported Mid Day.
“Bikram closed his international headquarters and flagship studio in Los Angeles following the verdict in the case and has moved his teacher training to a resort in India at Aamby Valley. In the US, we understand his teacher training numbers are significantly down, with less than 50 paid attendees,” Jaffa-Bodden told the daily.
The report said that the yoga guru has devised two yearly yoga teachers’ training course that last 63 days and the first one has already started.
“We have created a 15,000 sqft closed space, which can accommodate 500 people, where he conducts his sessions at a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. The first one started on May 1 and will end on July 3,” Amresh Sahay, from the sales department at Aamby Valley City, was quoted as saying by Mid Day.
Choudhury is also planning to establish a wellness center that provides packages with 3-4 nights and 6-7 nights for people who want to rejuvenate, lose weight and improve their health. He is mulling another center in Mumbai as well.
His expansion plans in Mumbai may affect the activities of other yoga gurus in the city considering his popularity. It was Mandeep Sandhu, a student from Mumbai, whose testimony trapped Choudhury in the sexual harassment case.
Sandhu is conducting her own classes in the city now.
“It is a yoga guru’s responsibility to maintain a pure and peaceful relationship with his students. When I went for his teacher’s training in Las Vegas in 2009, I already had a degree in yoga. I joined him to improve my knowledge. Those teachers in the city who only teach his signature 26 poses, might be affected. I have nothing to fear, as I combine power, ashtanga, and pranayama in my own style of hot yoga,” she told Mid Day.
Several allegations of sexual harassment destroyed the reputation and popularity of the 69-year-old Choudhury.
Jafa-Bodden sued Choudhury claiming she was harassed and punished by him for speaking out against harassment of women in the workplace.