He is the larger-than-life, self-proclaimed “Bengal tiger” of yoga: a fitness guru notorious for teaching his eponymous brand of hot yoga wearing nothing but black Speedos and a million-dollar Rolex, and openly bragging about his wealth and celebrity devotees. She is the softly spoken philanthropist and respected member of the yoga world, a Calcutta-born former yoga champion dedicated to assisting children and women in crisis.
Over three decades Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury have consolidated their status as yoga’s power couple. But last week Rajashree, 50, filed for divorce, ending a professional and personal union of 31 years and adding to the legal and reputational woes of her 69-year-old husband. Citing “irreconcilable differences,” Rajashree’s petition for legal separation at a Los Angeles court follows a string of sex allegations against the yoga mogul by six former students.
Bikram Choudhury moved to Los Angeles in the early 70s, and in 1978 published his first book, which claimed his hot yoga sessions could heal everything from joint injuries to obesity and arthritis. In health-obsessed Hollywood, he swiftly gathered celebrity devotees attracted by his charismatic teaching methods and the punishing regime. Over the next four decades, his clients would include three presidents — Nixon, Reagan and Clinton — and celebrities such as Charlie Sheen, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and Jennifer Aniston. Continue reading >>