Bikram Choudhury, who founded a popular “hot yoga method”, was ordered by a Los Angeles jury to pay an attorney $924,500 in compensatory damages. Attorney Minaskhi Jafa-Bodden, who was the accuser in the case, alleged that she had been fired for investigating sexual harassment allegations against guru Choudhury. But Choudhury was hit with a bigger bill on January 26, when the jury awarded $6.4 million in punitive damages to his accuser. Jafa-Bodden’s attorney, Carla Minnard, said that it is a “an enormous vindication."
 
Minnard said Choudhury sexually harassed and inappropriately touched Jafa-Bodden, and tried to get her to stay with him in a hotel suite. Choudhury fired Jafa-Bodden in June 2013 when she began investigating claims from other women of sexual abuse, Minnard said.
 
 
The 69-year-old Choudhury has earned a fortune based on his rigorous Bikram yoga classes that are given in a room that can reach more than 100 degrees F. It is taught at more than 650 studios around the world and has drawn devoted thousands of mostly female followers.
 
Choudhury also got bad news in October 2025 when he lost an appeal to copyright his particular sequence of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercise. Since the sequence he uses is a process intended to improve health, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that it cannot receive copyright. 
 
 
He is also facing lawsuits filed by six other women who alleged sexual assault. A trial in one case is set for April. A Canadian woman has accused Choudhury of raping her. Choudhury’s attorneys claim he has never sexually assaulted any of the women in question, adding that prosecutors had declined to bring charges in their cases.
 
In a Los Angeles court room on January 26, Choudhury argued that he is nearly bankrupt after paying millions in legal fees and facing a downturn in his business. “I have to borrow money from my family and friends,” he told jurors. “I have no money.” When he testified that he indeed owns a fleet of as many as 40 luxury cars, including Rolls- Royce, Ferrari, and Bentley models, he claimed that he gave them to California to start the “Bikram auto engineering school for children.” Jurors laughed. According to the office of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), no such agreement exists.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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