Bikram Choudhury, yoga's biggest asshole, squares off for a copyright showdown

I missed this great piece in the LA Weekly from a few weeks back about multi-millionaire yogi blowhard Bikram Choudhury. We've covered his antics before, but his copyrighty litigiousness just got interesting again.

Short version: Bikram is basically the Walter White of yoga. And I'm talking Breaking Bad Season 5 episode 6 Walter White. The "hot yoga" kingpin isn't in the yoga business or the money business, he's in the empire business, and he's suing his former apprentice and right-hand-dude Greg Gumucio for intellectual property infringement.

But now, the US Copyright office says it may have issued all protection related to yoga sequences in error, including the one Choudhury's suing over.

Random tech world connection: Choudhury was introduced to his now-nemesis by John McAfee, the software billionaire turned yoga teacher. Read the rest

A Handbook For Yogasana Teachers

This book is a tome of body science for yoga teachers with over 1000 pages in the second edition. I purchased it a few months ago. While I’ve skimmed the entire volume, I’ve spent the most time on the appendix related to balance in yoga postures.

Most yoga instructors can tell you a handful of things that improve balance such as a gazing point, engaged muscles of the standing leg, and mental concentration. Mel Robin has written 80 pages on this subject. He covers gravitational effects on yoga postures; aspects of mechanical metastability; generating counter-torque when falling; balance sensors, and neural repatterning among many, many other topics. This one section alone has changed the way I practice balancing asanas and how I teach them to my students.

With the recent publication of William Broad’s controversial book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards it’s more important than ever for yoga teachers to understand if and how science backs up claims related to the medical benefits of yoga. Robin’s book does just that. It looks at the science behind the asanas.

I understand that he is working on his newest edition…

-- Michele McGinnis

 

A Handbook for Yogasana TeachersMel RobinsFirst Edition, 1000 pages2009$83

Available from Amazon

A Handbook for Yogasana Teachers Read the rest

SFO unveils world's first (?) dedicated yoga room within an airport

Officials at San Francisco International Airport today unveiled what is said to be the first dedicated practice space for yoga in any airport, anywhere in the world. I'm not surprised to see it's in SFO's newly revamped Terminal 2, a swankily-designed space where Virgin America is based, and some really fantastic food vendors abound.

So much of the the blog/press coverage of today's SFO yoga room launch is cliché-ridden, scoffing at yoga as "woo woo" and so on. But I think it's a great, practical idea. I practice yoga, and when I'm waiting between long-haul flights in an airport, I'll often try and find a discreet, out-of-the-way spot to do a few poses before I'm crammed into my flying cattle pen. Gentle stretching and exercise before, after, or between plane flights makes good health sense.

I do hope this is the start of a trend at other airports around the world. One caveat: the idea of using their provided sticky-mats grosses me out. I'd definitely BYOM (bring your own mat).

More: SFist, MSNBC, SF Examiner, CBS.

(Photo: Shutterstock) Read the rest

Database to foil yoga copythieves to launch

A open Indian database of all yoga postures will go live soon. It's intended to serve as a reference for patent and copyright offices around the world who are petitioned by the likes of Bikram Choudhury with patent and copyright applications for individual postures and sequences of postures. The Times of India article is somewhat confusing in that it mixes patent and copyright freely. I haven't heard of patents being granted on yoga postures, but there have been many stories about the controversial practice of copyright offices allowing registration of choreography copyrights for sequences of postures:

In order to stop self-styled yoga gurus from claiming copyright to ancient `asanas', like Bikram Choudhury's Hot Yoga -- a set of 26 sequences practised in a heated room -- India has completed documenting 1,300 'asanas' which will soon be uploaded on the country's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), making them public knowledge.

Around 250 of these `asanas' have also been made into video clips with an expert performing them.

According to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research ( CSIR) and Union health ministry's department of Ayush, "once the database is up online, patent offices across the world will have a reference point to check on everytime a yoga guru claims patent on a particluar `asana'."

CSIR's Dr V P Gupta, who created TKDL, told TOI, "All the 26 sequences which are part of Hot Yoga have been mentioned in Indian yoga books written thousands of years ago."

He added, "However, we will not legally challenge Choudhury.

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Donate your old yoga mat to Haiti

This sign, spotted by James Fallows of the Atlantic in the Marina district of San Francisco, reminds me of that scene in Clueless where Alicia Silverstone donates her skis to the Pismo Beach Disaster.

(via @1bobcohn) Read the rest