Breaking news, but it looks like Bikram Choudhury, the founder and “creator” of the hot yoga craze has now been accused of rape from two different Jane Does. You can read all the ugly details over at YogaDork or at the source itself at Courthouse News Service. I warn you, it’s an uncomfortable read because if what is claimed is true, then it really shows up what a real misogynist Bikram really is.
Some choice quotes from the testimony:
Doe No. 2 claims the grueling schedule was designed to “break down her body, will and spirit,” and brainwash her with Choudhury’s “vision and teachings.” She describes Choudhury as a combustible tyrant who orders students during classes to remain mute, and treat him “with unquestioning obedience.”
“Students are also often required to attend evening lectures, where defendant Choudhury rants on subjects including his negative views on certain races; negative views on homosexuality; the moral lassitude of Americans; his guru; his views on sex, marriage, and relationships; and whatever else he should care to talk about,” the complaint states.
Some students are pushed so hard they faint, vomit, urinate on themselves, or suffer heat strokes and seizures, Doe says in the complaint.
It gets worse…a lot worse…
“Defendant Bikram Choudhury pulled her pants down and forced her onto the bed. Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 could not stop crying and kept begging him over and over to stop. He forced his unprotected penis in her vagina. Within moments it was over. The only thing defendant Bikram Choudhury said was, ‘How many times did you come?’ Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 was in pain, in shock and could not speak. Defendant Bikram Choudhury then ordered plaintiff to watch him until he fell asleep,” according to the complaint.
Doe adds: “The next day during lecture, defendant Bikram Choudhury made offensive sexual comments to the whole class. It was demoralizing and humiliating. He told the plaintiff and rest of the class that when he first moved to the U.S. women raped him all the time and taught him how to have sex. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said he would have sex marathons. Then he started talking about women’s bodies and how he liked ‘pussy’ without hair on it. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said, ‘I can’t stand fat unattractive women.’ As he spoke, his voice was becoming more and more intense and his language more vulgar.'”
I feel terrible for what those two women must have have gone through in order to summon up the courage to come forward and go ahead and make this public. Having worked with victims of violent crime as a former spiritual care-giver, this is something not to take lightly particularly from the victims’ point of view. Most cases of rape go unreported because the victims (usually women) are often terrified of reprisals or of having to face the perpetrator in court and relive the painful experience. This is often compounded by the fact that the police and the judicial system are often very clinical in their approach. They’re not exactly known for their warm, fuzzy feelings, caring and nurturing when people have gone through hell.
This culture of abuse between student and “guru” in the yoga world keeps happening over and over again. My own personal take is that a big part of the problem lies within the yoga community itself. If people just withheld their dollars, many of these outfits would go under overnight. I mean when YogaDork posted the news earlier today on their FaceBook page, some of the comments underneath included the likes of:
“Two sides to every story..”
“There are 3 sides to every story…yours, theirs, and the whole damn truth. Don’t judge.”
” It’s really too bad that people are willing to destroy the man before they know the whole picture. I say he’s innocent until proven guilty.”
And to that I say:
Especially when 2 different women and a third back in March have all come forward on Bikram’s sexual harassment/abuse?
This is what drives me nuts about the yoga community at times, it would seem in the drive to be “spiritual” or “enlightened” some people’s brains have been reduced to mush since they live in fear or being labelled “judgemental” like that’s tantamount to being labelled a child abuser. The problem is due to this fear of being labelled judgemental, they often allow some of their own moral compasses to slide and not necessarily in the correct direction.
Take this comment for instance from the same aforementioned FaceBook thread:
“I don’t even care. I will continue to go to my Bikram studio and do the yoga that works for me and that has changed my entire life for the better. I don’t need to agree with the supposed “founder” to get the benefits from my yoga studio. I love my teachers and do not feel any of the corruption that I read about Bikram. I feel love, compassion, and true caring. Bikram is not the one who has changed my life…my studio and instructors are. I take solace in the fact that I don’t actually give any money to him but instead get paid to do laundry AND free yoga.” (it got 28″Likes”)
What this poster fails to see, no doubt, in her blind drive for “love, compassion and true caring” and “free yoga” is that she’s certainly not showing any love, compassion and true caring whatsoever to the victims here of what is essentially a criminal and violent act and instead by continuing to frequent Bikram studios, has sided with the guilty party and is helping to augment the name, the brand and the organization.
I understand that there is something called moral relativism. What may be right for one person can be completely wrong for someone else given the context, life circumstance etc. However, I do think at some point a line has to be drawn in the sand particularly when abuse and violence come into play. And rape is violence, no matter how you cut it.
That’s just, plain unacceptable.