As six former students move forward with civil lawsuits against Bikram Choudhury for sexual assault and rape, the embattled teacher has again broken his silence. After three years of controversy, allegations and pending legal action, what does he have to say for himself? Women love me … I get offers all the time.
In the interview with CNN, he denies any wrong doing with a broad smile. He jokes about students throwing themselves at him and how he gallantly refuses them. In fact, the only time he stops smiling is when he is asked if his wife believes him. Then, he tearfully (for the first time) focuses on how much he loves her and their children, exposing his personal shame—and deflects the question.
Not everyone is smiling. Some yoga studios are changing their name to distance themselves from yet another fallen guru. Others are holding tight, waiting to see how the trials unfold and focusing on the yoga. Yet, even the yoga itself has been a source of controversy over the years—the alignment cues are scripted and horrible, some poses are dangerous for certain bodies, and injury is a completely acceptable outcome. On top of that, he’s tried to copyright commonly used poses as his own.
For those that feel the yoga rises above the man, that’s great. Keep practicing and let us know when you need a physical therapist recommendation.
For those that don’t want to judge him based on the word of six former students, imagine for a moment that he was a football coach. Would you still feel so forgiving? Or is the willingness to forgive and that wait-to-see attitude actually based upon a misguided hope that a yogi would be above this type of action? If you are holding on to hope, consider that when interviewed by Nightline he stated that he was the “most spiritual person you’ll ever meet”—a statement never uttered by a truly spiritual person.
Although many of are on the sidelines watching this spectacle from afar, we can still have a positive impact by not supporting studios bearing the Bikram name. As mentioned earlier, the man likes his trademarks, and any studio sporting his name is lining his pockets.
In the meantime, if you’ve clicked on the links and watched the interviews and feel ready to spit, the nice folks at YogaDawg have created a fun diversion. It’s a game of who said it? Bikram Choudhury or Charlie Sheen edition. You may be shocked at how poorly you do, but you may at least find some fun in all of this.