Bikram Choudhury the founder of Bikram’s Yoga College of India, is facing the lawsuits filed by six women with the latest case being filed in the Los Angeles Supreme Court this month by a woman identified as Jill Lawler, a Canadian.
In the suit, she is described as a bright, driven woman who fell in love with Bikram Yoga almost from her first class.
She begged her parents to let her borrow money from her college fund to attend a gruelling nine-week teacher training, which cost USD 10,000 at the time.
She started the course in April 2010. The alleged abuse started soon after.
According to the lawsuit, it began with Choudhury trying to put his hand inside Lawler’s pants, eventually escalating to rape, which continued for years, the report said.
“She was ashamed, and embarrassed. She did not think that anyone would believe her and she was afraid that if Defendant Bikram Choudhury heard that she had told, that he would kick her out of training and she would have lost both the USD 10,000 from her college fund and her ability to work as a yoga instructor in order to pay for college,” the suit reads.
It accuses Choudhury of rape at that training, and at a variety of other locations, including India, where he visited Lawler in 2013, the report said.
The suit says Lawler feared speaking out earlier because she needed her Bikram Yoga certification to support herself. She was also physically afraid of Choudhury.
Choudhury, who founded a form of ‘hot yoga’ performed in a series of 26 yoga postures done in a hot environment, is not facing any criminal charges and has denied any wrongdoing.
Attorney Mary Shea, who represents the women, said, “The one common thread to all their complaints is the betrayal of trust”.
According to one of the six lawsuits, Larissa Anderson went to Los Angeles in 2006 where, the suit says, Choudhury raped her at his home with his wife and children upstairs.