I just stumbled across this open letter by Yoga To the People owner Gregory Gumucio regarding the settlement of their lawsuit with Bikram Yoga. It was written in December of 2012, right after the settlement. The letter is a partial explanation of the lawsuit and settlement, and also an explanation of Greg's thought process throughout the lawsuit. Below are some highlights. Read the whole letter here.
A little background: Bikram Yoga sued Yoga To the People, claiming to have a copyright and therefore ownership of the series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises known as Bikram Yoga. The US Copyright Office determined that Bikram's copyright had been "issued in error." The litigation was settled out of court. Yoga To the People no longer offers "the 26+2" or "Bikram Yoga."
From Greg's open letter:
"I find the idea of anyone claiming ownership of yoga asanas, or sequences, counterintuitive to the essence of yoga. I believe that this sacred and traditional knowledge is a gift to all mankind, and thus beyond claims of ownership and copyright."
"My wholehearted objection was to the concept of copyrighting yoga sequences, which I felt had to be prevented...This, in my eyes, was a fight for the future freedom of yoga for all."
"Regardless of [Bikram's] personal feelings for me, I still have an incredible amount of gratitude in my heart for the impact that the crossing of our two paths has had on my life. There was a time when I considered him not just my teacher but also a dear friend. He shared yoga with me, we broke bread in each other’s homes, and he opened his family to me."
"I had always thought (maybe even counted on) that Rajashree would one day lead the Bikram community to a renewed place of honor, respect, and understanding. However, during her deposition...it became abundantly clear that the Choudhuryʼs are entirely united in the determination to own the sequence or postures known as Bikram Yoga."
From the US Copyright office: "Choudhury claims that he arranged the asanas in a manner that was both aesthetically pleasing and in a way that he believes is best designed to improve the practitioner's health. While such a functional system or process may be aesthetically appealing, it is nevertheless uncopyrightable subject matter."
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga