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Yoga pioneer sued for sexual harassment

March 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM

LOS ANGELES, March 23 (UPI) -- A California woman who is suing Bikram Choudhury alleged the Bikram yoga pioneer sexually harassed her and hindered her professional yoga career.

Sarah Baughn sued Choudhury for sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment after "repeated demands for sex," the complaint said.

Baughn met Choudury in 2005 when she attended a teacher training course he taught in Los Angeles, ABC News reported. She said she felt like he changed her life and considered him a hero, but his later flirting was unwelcome.

The complaint describes one instance in which Choudury was "pretending to assist her, he pushed her down toward the floor after pulling her arm and leg apart and opening her body.  Defendant Bikram Choudhury then pressed his body into hers, and began whispering sexual things to her until she collapsed into sobs."

Baughn's lawyer, Mary Shea Hagebols, said her client was denied the judge-determined title of yoga's International Champion in 2008 because she fought off Choudhury's advances.

"He's affirmatively tried to block her from progressing in her career because she stood up for herself and rebuffed him," Hagebols said.

Last fall, Choudury said in an ABC News interview that as a yogi, he can't become involved with women.

"Women in the world love me, because I take care of the women. ... But yogi is supposed to be yogi. They cannot involve with women," he said.

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