Bikram Choudhury

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Bikram Choudhury
Bikram Choudhury.jpg
Bikram Choudhury at a book signing in New York in 2007.
Born (1944-02-10) February 10, 1944 (age 72)[1]
Calcutta, British India (now West Bengal, India)
Nationality Indian, American
Occupation Yoga
Known for Founder of Bikram Yoga
Spouse(s) Rajashree Choudhury (1984-2016; divorced)

Bikram Choudhury (born February 10, 1944) is an Indian yoga teacher and the founder of Bikram Yoga, a form of hot yoga performed in a series of 26 hatha yoga postures done in a hot environment of 40 °C (104 °F).

Life and work[edit]

Born in Calcutta, India, Bikram Choudhury began learning Hatha Yoga poses at the age of three. At five, he began studying with Bishnu Ghosh (Paramahansa Yogananda’s brother) and is reported to have won the National India Yoga Championship for three consecutive years in his teens.[2]

Bikram created a 26 posture series, which he reports restored his health. The 105 degree Fahrenheit heat in which Bikram yoga is practiced is, according to Choudhury, meant to mimic the climate of India.[2]

At age 20, Bikram describes being in a crippling weightlifting accident. Although he says he was told he would never be able to walk again, with the help of Ghosh, he reports to have fully recovered within 6 months.[3] Choudhury emigrated to the United States in the 1970s and founded yoga studios in California and Hawaii.[4] In the 1990s, he began offering nine-week teacher certification courses. Certified instructors now number in the thousands with Bikram Yoga studios all over the world.[5]

Bikram Choudhury was married to Rajashree Choudhury, founder of the United States Yoga Federation.[6] In December 2015, Rajashree filled for divorce from Bikram citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized in May 2016. [7]

Copyright claims on Bikram Yoga[edit]

Bikram Choudhury previously made claims that the postures of his yoga practice, Bikram Yoga, were under copyright and that they could not be taught or presented by anyone whom he had not authorized. Bikram began making copyright claims on Bikram Yoga in 2012. In 2011 Choudhury started a lawsuit against Yoga to the People, a competing yoga studio founded by a former student of Bikram's and with a location near one of the Bikram Yoga studios in New York City. As a result of that lawsuit, the United States Copyright Office issued a clarification that yoga postures (asanas) could not be copyrighted in the way claimed by Bikram, and that Yoga to the People and others could continue to freely teach these exercises.


As of January 2014, five women were suing Bikram Choudhury with allegations including sexual harassment and sexual assault.[8] Two lawsuits accusing Bikram Choudhury of rape were filed in May 2013, in which a Jane Doe alleges sexual battery, false imprisonment, discrimination, harassment and other counts in addition to the rape allegation. It describes a cult-like atmosphere where members of Bikram’s inner circle help him find young women to assault.[9] Jane Doe 2 claims that Choudhury recruits volunteers from overseas who are "so in fear of defendant Bikram Choudhury’s wrath that they will travel to the US and risk violating immigration laws in order to serve him." [10]

Minakshi "Micki" Jafa-Bodden served as Head of Legal and International Affairs from Spring 2011 to March 13, 2013 when she claims she was "abruptly and unlawfully terminated" according to the court documents filed on July 12, 2013 in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. During the two years that Jafa-Bodden worked closely with Bikram, she claims she was both the victim of and witness to Bikram’s "severe, ongoing, pervasive and offensive conduct" toward women, homosexuals, African Americans and every other minority. Bikram teacher Sarah Baughn filed a sexual harassment suit in March, just before Jafa-Bodden was fired.[11] On January 25, 2016, a jury awarded Jafa-Bodden $924,500 against Choudhury in actual damages. The jury also found that Choudhury acted with malice, oppression and fraud.[12] On January 26, 2016, the jury awarded Jafa-Bodden an additional $6.4 million in punitive damages.[13]



  1. ^ "Superior Court of the State of California". Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  2. ^ a b Erika Schickel (September 25, 2003). "Body Work". LA Weekly. 
  3. ^ Jordan Susman, Your Karma Ran Over My Dogma: Bikram Yoga and the (Im)Possibilities of Copyrighting Yoga, 25 Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 245 (2004)
  4. ^ Joshua Kurlantzick (March–April 2005). "The Money Pose". Mother Jones. 
  5. ^ Rebecca Moss (July 19, 2012). "Bikram Choudhury Battles for Control of the Hot Yoga Tradition he Invented". LA Weekly. 
  6. ^ Maria Howard (October 21, 2012). "USA Yoga Federation founder wants yoga to become an Olympic sport". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 
  7. ^ "Bikram yoga guru's wife to get homes and cars in divorce". Mail Online. May 31, 2016. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Yoga Journal "Rape Accusations Against Bikram Choudury"
  10. ^ The Raw Story "Millionaire Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury Accused of Rape and Human Trafficking"
  11. ^ Yoga Dork "Former Bikram Legal Advisor Files Extremely Disturbing Lawsuit over Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Assault"
  12. ^ L.A. Times "Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury must pay $900,000 to former employee, jury decides"
  13. ^ "Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury must pay $6.4 million in punitive damages, jury decides". Retrieved 2016-01-26. 

External links[edit]