The Privatization of Yoga
Posted on October 5, 2010
It is a sign of the predatory nature of markets today that a tradition that goes back 4,500 years now needs to affirmatively defend itself as a common legacy of humankind. Yes, the latest endangered resource is…. yoga.
Yoga was developed in India as a physical and spiritual practice for everyone. The breathing known as pranayama is perhaps the most elemental aspect of human existence. But wouldn’t you know it…. all sorts of scheming entrepreneurs now want to convert yoga into “intellectual property.”
The pioneer in this endeavor was Bikram Choudhury, born in Calcutta, who came to the U.S. and began to franchise his trademarked yoga studios with his own distinctive adaptations of the ancient practice. Bikram’s claimed a copyright in his “original” sequence of 26 postures that his clients perform in 105-degree rooms. Anyone who “stole” his copyrighted yoga postures for commercial purposes would then be liable for damages, he claimed.