A Dunedin yoga studio owner has apologised for sending teachers to train with a disgraced yoga guru accused of rape and sexual harassment.

One of the trainees she sent to be taught by embattled yogi Bikram Choudhury was ''propositioned'' by him, she said.

Mr Choudhury is the subject of a new Netflix documentary, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, which details alleged rape and sexual misconduct against students who went to train with the Bikram Yoga founder.

Mr Choudhury has strongly denied all the accusations.


In an open letter emailed to clients and published on her studio's Facebook page this week, Hot Yoga Dunedin founder Donna Wikio said the Bikram Yoga community was ''in tatters''.

She had sent 16 people to Mr Choudhury's training sessions over the past decade, at $11,000 per person.

''I can see now that I may have made a mistake in doing this, and for that I am very sorry.

''I would like to apologise to my teachers that I have mentored, taught and prepared, because I know at least one of you was 'propositioned' by Bikram during training and I did nothing at the time except parrot the words of my teachers before me; 'trust the process' , 'keep away from him' etc, etc ad nauseam.

''That was wrong of me and I am very sorry. I owed you better.''

Ms Wikio declined to comment when contacted by the Otago Daily Times.

But in her letter she said she had viewed Mr Choudhury ''like he was some kind of uncle''.

''That embarrassing one that shows up at family events and says the wrong things, but everyone else loves him, so you tolerate it.''


She said she removed Mr Choudhury's name from her business four years ago in light of previous allegations against him.

She had never paid franchise fees to him, she said.

''I still believe that the Bikram yoga method has the power to heal and transform lives, but the method of training needs to change.

''We will retain the name 'Bikram' as our main style of hot yoga out of respect for the method, but all of my respect for the man has gone.''

She hoped people would be able to ''separate the yoga from the man''.

Mr Choudhury is being represented by New Zealand-born, UK-based public relations professional Richard Hillgrove.

Mr Hillgrove has represented clients including Charles Saatchi, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Steven Seagal. Last year he added Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to that list.

He was convicted in 2014 on a $144,855 tax fraud.

His firm, 6 Hillgrove Public Relations, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline yesterday.

But in a statement to media about the Netflix documentary, he said Mr Choudhury ''totally refutes all the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment presented in the film and is deeply upset by the continued character assassination''.

''Bikram believes that the concerted effort by money-motivated lawyers to proactively send letters to a database of all his clients, offering people free legal representation and the promise of $1million insurance policy payouts, is the primary motivation for this reputational catastrophe.''