Bikram Choudhury Yoga Inc, the studio that popularized doing yoga in sauna heat, has filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy, dogged by $16.7 million in legal judgements and numerous lawsuits and allegations of sexual misconduct.
Founder Bikram Choudhury, who built a worldwide following with classes of 26 yoga postures in rooms heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6°C), has been accused of sexual assault by his yoga practitioners, students, instructors and teacher trainees.
The Simi Valley, California-based company said in a bankruptcy court filing on Thursday in the Central District of California that its liabilities were worth up to $50 million. It listed assets of up to $1 million, suggesting that its largest creditors – women who are owed money for court judgements awarded against Choudhury – will not be paid in full.
They include Miki Jaffa Bodden, former head of legal and international affairs at Choudhury’s yoga school who has an $8 million claim stemming from a wrongful dismissal case that included sexual harassment claims.
Bodden alleged that Choudhury repeatedly subjected her to vulgar sexual gestures and offensive comments about women and minority groups.