Hot Yoga Guru
Hot Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury after a yoga session (File Photo)

Los Angeles: A US court has issued an arrest warrant for Bikram Choudhury, the Indian-American “hot” yoga guru who was ordered in 2016 to pay over USD 7 million in connection with a sexual harassment case, a media report said

Choudhury, the millionaire founder of global fitness business, has not paid the amount and last year claimed he was nearly bankrupt

Authorities believe the 69-year-old has hid his assets and left the country, the ABC News reported

According to the report, the warrant allows authorities to arrest him if he returns to the US or, possibly, in Mexico

In January last year, a jury determined that Choudhury had sexually harassed and then unfairly fired Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden, his onetime lawyer. He was ordered to pay nearly USD 6.5 million in punitive damages in addition to USD 924,000 in compensatory damages

Jafa-Bodden was general counsel to Bikram’s Yoga College of India but was fired after refusing to cover up allegations that Bikram had raped and sexually assaulted a yoga student

“I feel vindicated,” she told ABC News in 2016. “I’m elated.”

She convinced the jury that Choudhury had repeatedly sexually harassed her and subjected her to obscene comments about women

She also claimed she was fired after she tried to investigate another woman’s sexual harassment and rape allegations against him. During the trial over Jafa-Bodden’s allegations, Bikram strongly denied sexually assaulting any women. He also denied to ABC News ever having any sexual contact with his students or followers

Bail was set at USD 8 million, the report said

Choudhury was one of the pioneers of yoga in the US, setting up shop in Beverly Hills in the 1970s. Celebrities including Madonna, Andy Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goldie have all participated in Bikram yoga

Now his yoga studios are franchised worldwide

Created by Choudhury ‘Bikram Yoga’, as this form of yoga is known, is made up of a series of 26 postures which are performed in an extremely hot room

The 90-minute classes are taught in rooms heated to 40.5 deg Celsius exactly. Because of this consistency across the world, Choudhury refers to the practice as McYoga.

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