Justin Washington's Blog

“Game of Groans”: The Sweaty Third-World Politics of the Bikram Yoga Wars

January 30, 2016
Leave a Comment

A few days ago in a Los Angeles Superior Court, the doe-eyed yet formidable former in-house counsel to the eponymous Bikram Yoga Empire emerged victorious in her 20-count lawsuit against the hot and sweaty guru. Among other accusations, the British-educated lawyer and plaintiff, Ms. Jafa-Bodden had alleged sexual harassment and wrongful termination by Bikram after she refused to backdown from investigating accusations by a number of teacher trainees of sexual improprieties and even rape by Bikram himself.

Much to the relief of the grateful jury and Ms. Jafa-Bodden no doubt, the diminutive Indian satyr appeared in court in a suit rather than his trademark speedo and without the man-bun on top of his balding pate. With his long wiry black and gray hair drifting behind him like so much sulphur smoke in his wake, he was flanked by his corpulent defense counsel Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, who visually bookended the very thin volume of substance by the name of Bikram Choudry.

Carla Minnard, one of Ms. Jafa-Bodden’s attorneys, appeared like Cindy Brady from “The Brady Bunch” who had grown up and traded in her pigtails for boxing gloves; she barely broke a sweat in the ring with both of Bikram’s clearly out-classed attorneys. Meanwhile, during the punitive damages phase of the trial, Mr. Quigley, Ms. Jafa-Bodden’s other attorney, wryly questioned the Slum Dog Millionaire — who claimed to be destitute — about his garage full of cars, the exact number of which was not clear, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 — all Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Ferraris. Regardless, Bikram’s collection could put Jay Leno’s collection of vintage autos to shame. When pressed further by Mr. Quigley about the cars, Bikram claimed that he no longer was the legal owner of the vehicles since he had a “verbal agreement” with Governor of California Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown to donate the cars to a children’s museum to which assertion a few of the jurists nearly exploded for want of laughing out loud.

Among other highlights from the two week trial, there was: testimony from former Obama White House counsel who testified that working at Bikram’s Yoga College of India was like working in a “horror show”; testimony from former outside counsel who testified that it was UNUSUAL to have a meeting with Bikram and NOT hear him verbally assaulting and denigrating female employees; and, of course, the humor derived from listening to Bikram’s attorneys attempting to create their own Perry Mason trial moments by telling the jury: that “there are two-sides to every pancake”; that Ms. Jafa-Bodden’s case is like “fluffy popcorn with only a kernel of truth”; and lastly, that the case had some allusion to a donkey’s nether regions in a reality television show.

Rumor has it that two of Bikram’s illustrious admirers, Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton, were nervously glued to the outcome of the trial while Ms. Bikram Choudry, Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin Weiner are planning a support group for spousal enablers of misunderstood serial molesters.