Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What are we to make of this?

Apparently, India is thinking about suing our asses for theft of their intellectual property ... and by intellectual property, I mean yoga.

From an article published by the Washington Times:

"We know of at least 150 asanas [yoga positions] that have been pirated in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Japan," he says. "These were developed in India long ago and no one can claim them as their own."

In an effort to protect India's heritage, the task force has begun documenting 1,500 yoga postures drawn from classical yoga texts -- including the writings of the Indian sage, Patanjali, the first man to codify the art of yoga. The data is being stored in a digital library whose computerized contents will soon be made available to patent offices worldwide.

"This is a very good idea," says B.K.S. Iyengar, the 86-year old yoga guru credited with having introduced yoga to the West in the 1970s. "Yoga is an essential part of our heritage, and India has to protect it."

The worst "culprits" are Indians based in America, where yoga has become a $30 billion-a-year business -- a growth fueled by celebrity adherents such as Madonna."

For once Yoga Chickie is speechless. What is there to say? Surely something is missing here, something has to have been taken out of context...surely no one can sue anyone on the basis of copyright or trademark infringement for using yoga poses or the teachings of Patanjali...




Blissful Yogini said...

That's nuts! And I'm not surprised Mr. Iyengar said that ... There's a book called 'First There Was a Mountain" by Elizabeth Kudelka (sp?), and she conducted several interviews with Mr. Iyengar and he seems very 'nationalistic' (to put it mildly).

It's nuts, but not surprising at all.

kanjalid said...

Well now, that's just completely bonkers.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure SK (or her Indian counterpart) is not behind this?

yoga chickie said...

Who is SK?

jody said...

Wait a minute there... on the surface this may sound crazy but you know its not a bad idea. Think about it this way, here we have yoga or more accurately asanas that originated in India thousands of years ago. Now we have people like Chodury who have somehow claimed ownership over some of them as their own. This is wrong. If the Indian government is looking to stop that type of action from happening by copywriting asna before others can in effect owning them, then more power to them. If they are lookign to copyright all asanas (is this possible) and do all the legaleze stuff around licensing it out to the world then its more of a crazy thing.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the above annonymous statement. Why should someone like Bikram be able to claim the poses anymore than anyone in India??? It is all too bad, but the U.S. does have a habit of usurping cultures or extinguishing them. Why wouldn't India want to preserve its right to its holy rituals and practices. It is a science and we protect our scientific discoveries. There are so many ways to look at it.


Anonymous said...

I work for a national magazine and we're looking to feature yoga studios in the U.S. that in addition to have great teachers and classes also incorporate
interesting architectural or design elements into their studio d├ęcor. We're especially interesting in any stunning looking studios in urban areas. If
you've been to one, work for one or own one that might be great, please e-mail the suggestions to

Vanessa said...

Bikram didn't copyright the poses, he copyrighted the particular arrangement, the sequence.

Anonymous said...

It seems they are only trying to stop or slow down the insane practice in the U.S. of filing patents for poses. I don't see what's so incredulous about what the Indians are doing. What's unseemly and absurd is the current state of "this is my yoga" found today in the states (Bikram and Jiva, etc.)

Jody said...

Asanas or sequence its basically the same principe. However now that you mention it perhaps its not so strange to trademark a particular sequence of asanas, as the combination ,while rooted in India, may have specific benefits (real or imagined) that werent specified or discovered in at the tiem of their origin.
I just think that Indida is saying hey this is our culture and primarily belongs to us. You in the west cant litigate it out of our heritage. Which In my opinion would eventually happen.

Anonymous said...

think of all the folks trying to make money off of yoga-- that are not Indian-- no matter how often they may prance around in a sari or whatever --- Jivamukti,"Power Yoga", anusara, etc. etc. etc... i say right on to the Indians... That lineage should never be forgotten...

Anonymous said...

i think it is a bit far fetched, are we expecting now other countries will sue the u.s for the use of their "kitchen" think french, italian, chinese, japanese etc....if there was not so much money involved they would not have given a hoot! how about the use of greek and latin in modern medicine? there will be no end to suing, after all, the u.s. is made up of people from all countries. and a lot of them brought something here from their native land. (my humble opinion),

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

My photo
Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


Ashtanga Blogs

Thanks for reading Yoga Chickie!