A California judge has issued an arrest warrant for the founder of Bikram yoga, who’s been ordered to hand over proceeds from his global fitness business to satisfy a $6.8 million judgment won by a former legal adviser.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edward Moreton issued the warrant Wednesday for Bikram Choudhury and set bail at $8 million. No lawyers appeared for Choudhury, who claimed last year he was nearly bankrupt.
The award was won by Minakshi “Micki” Jafa-Bodden, who claimed Choudhury fired her when she refused to help him cover up a rape allegation. Her attorney, Carla Minnard, says they’ve tracked luxury vehicles and other property that Choudhury moved out of state and have court orders in Nevada and Florida preventing him from moving property out of warehouses there.
The guru, who had no attorney representing him in court May 24, first traveled to India, after leaving the U.S., and then Thailand and Japan before heading to Mexico, where he was served court papers in May, Minnard said. “He is currently in Acapulco conducting teacher training classes,” she said. “Our intent is to have him arrested before he leaves Mexico.”
Minnard has said they have tracked luxury vehicles and other property that Choudhury moved out of state, and have court orders in Nevada and Florida preventing him from moving property from warehouses, according to the report. The warrant reportedly allows authorities to arrest Choudhury if he returns to the U.S. or, possibly, in Mexico.
Choudhury, 69, has built an empire around Bikram yoga, a rigorous, 90-minute routine performed in a room that can reach more than 100 degrees. The ‘hot yoga’ technique is taught at more than 650 studios worldwide and has drawn devoted followers, according to the AP report. He has claimed that he is nearly bankrupt and that his business is no longer thriving.
Choudhury was one of the pioneers of yoga in the U.S., setting up shop in Beverly Hills in the 1970s. His client list included top celebrities like Madonna, Andy Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow and Goldie Hawn. His yoga studios are franchised worldwide.