• The Trump administration reportedly paid a PR firm more than $2 million to get a top healthcare official on 'Power Women' lists and magazine covers

    Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief, has been criticized for her agency's use of pricey communications consultants.

  • Netflix Documentary Shows Bikram Yoga’s Dark Side

    Indian Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury instructs his yoga class as he stands on the hips of student Patrice Baal (from Las Vegas, Nevada) during a workout in heated room, Beverly Hills, California, February 2, 2000. (Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images)An old joke: How do you know if someone does Bikram yoga? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Devotees of the technique, which involves doing 26 specific poses in a heated room, were traditionally vocal about their passion for the practice. But in the wake of the new Netflix documentary, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, people are starting to clam up about their former enthusiasm.The documentary focuses on Bikram Choudhury, the practice’s founder. It tracks Choudhury’s rise to successful yoga guru - one who charged up to $10,000 per person for teacher trainings. And the film charts, in painstaking detail, his fall. They came in a trickle, then a tidal wave: the allegations of sexual assault and rape from women who trained with Choudhury. The documentary airs interviews with some women, as well as video footage of Choudhury verbally abusing students. Finally, after losing a case in civil court over wrongful termination and sexual harassment, Choudhury fled the U.S. in 2016 - without serving any time, or paying the legal damages of $6.8 million the court determined he owed. (Choudhury has said he denies the allegations.) The documentary is fascinating, if stomach-turning. But it brings up an interesting question. What do you do when something you love was created by a monster? This isn’t a new query. Whether it’s possible to separate the artist from his art is a topic that’s been grappled with more and more lately, as increasing visibility toward issues like sexual assault have brought huge numbers of high-profile people into the spotlight. Therapist Gabrielle Applebury tells Refinery29 that going through trauma like this can lead to to “a range of incredibly confused feelings.” “Unfortunately it’s very common for an assaulter to craft a very likable public identity,” Applebury says. “Many are even beloved public figures. This crafted identity can make it easier for the assaulter to manipulate their victims and continue to prey on others, knowing that the public may not believe their victims, or that survivors may feel too nervous or ashamed to report the assaults.”“For me, he was a guru,” says Mandeep Kaur Sandhu, one of the women who came forward about Choudhury’s inappropriate behavior, in the film. “He was a teacher who was gonna make me perfect.” It’s impossible to over-emphasize how difficult it can be to speak out against a person you once held in such high regard - and in the aftermath, to develop a new relationship with a practice that had been so deeply intertwined with that person. Some followers decided they couldn’t teach the practice any more. Former student and Bikram teacher Jakob Schanzer, for example, says in the film that he thought of Choudhury like a “father.” Still, he ultimately decided to quit the practice for good. “[I had to] fully come to terms with the fact that I can’t teach it anymore,” he says. “It was really hard.” Even those who didn’t witness Choudhury’s darkness first-hand have been affected. Donna Rubin and Jen Lobo founded a Bikram studio in New York City in 1999. (They stress that while they did take Choudhury’s teacher training, they never paid him studio fees or had an official franchise agreement.) After the allegations against Choudhury they decided to rebrand to distance themselves from any affiliation with him. “We were horrified when we found out,” Rubin tells Refinery29. “How can it be that this person who created this beautiful thing that is healing and helps so many people, did these things?” Lobo says. The two ultimately decided to rebrand and rename their studio Bode NYC. Now, they offer classes outside of the traditional Bikram method. “In the end, it was a pretty easy decision to rebrand,” Lobo tells Refinery29. “As details came out, we realized: This is real bad, and we cannot be associated with this… There was no way that we could continue to carry the name.” Lobo and Rubin say that you’re in dangerous territory any time one person wields too much power. They say that with their revamped studio, they hope to take yoga in a direction that’s for the people, and by the people. “At this point in time, we all have to fend for ourselves and not look up to gurus any more,” Rubin says. “But we can still own our practices, and embrace the beautiful parts of yoga that are supposed to help heal you,” Lobo adds. “Today, we’re guru-less,” Rubin says. “And we’re better for it.” Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator is now available to view on NetflixRelated Content:Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Black Friday Fitness Deals: Workout Clothes, GymsDon't Sleep On These Black Friday Laptop DealsI Tried ClassPass For The First Time

  • Utah Teacher Says She Intervened to Help ‘Distraught’ Autistic Child. Police Charged Her With Kidnapping.

    Salt Lake County JailA Utah teacher is facing kidnapping charges after she says she intervened to help a 5-year-old get home safely after seeing the child “sobbing uncontrollably” before wandering off school property.“I did not kidnap a child. I followed a clearly distraught child as she left the school grounds. I felt she was not safe traveling alone,” Amy Louise Martz told reporters Thursday, according to Deseret News.Martz, a 49-year-old sixth grade teacher at Fox Hollow Elementary School, was charged with the felony on Monday in connection with an incident in early September, when a woman reported that her autistic 5-year-old daughter never came home from school. Martz and her attorney say the whole thing is a misunderstanding complicated by a language barrier, as the 5-year-old girl is apparently autistic and speaks Spanish at home. While authorities have charged Martz because they say she took an unauthorized walk with the child off school property, the teacher insists she spent most of the time trying to lead the girl to her parents, first trying to take her to the bus stop and then the parent pick-up spot. She said the little girl shook her head both times. “At each fork in the road I stopped and said, ‘Which way home?’ She would point confidently and said, ‘This way home,” Martz was quoted saying by Deseret News.At some point, however, she said she “realized this cute girl did not know where she was going.” The walk ultimately took the girl more than a half-mile away from school grounds and lasted about 40 minutes, authorities said. The two were eventually brought back to campus by another teacher who spotted them. According to charging documents, surveillance footage recorded Martz “walking hand-in-hand” with the girl on school property.Martz said she didn't intend to be gone for so long but had left her cellphone at school, leading her to ask a neighborhood resident to borrow a phone and call the school.The teacher of 24 years claimed that she tried to explain her intentions to the girl's father but that there was an apparent language barrier that prevented him from “understanding (her) good intentions and the safety (she) had provided.”After receiving a reprimand from the school and being denied a second chance to explain herself to the parents, Martz said she found out about the child kidnapping charges against her after being contacted by the media. She turned herself in, was booked into the county jail, and posted bail.If convicted, Martz faces up to 15 years to life in prison.“I had no intent to interfere with the child’s trip home. I was providing safety to what I felt was a vulnerable child because she was distraught. I did not learn until later that she had autism,” Martz told reporters on Thursday, adding that she was “acting out of compassion” for the child. “It’s a sad commentary on our society when educators who responsibly help children are disciplined and charged with crimes,” Martz said. “I plead with the prosecutor to drop the charges against me.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.