Patently Preserved: India Will No Longer Let You Steal Their Yoga.

Via on Jun 9, 2010

Think you can patent your new awesome form of yoga? Think again!

While many Western yogis perish the thought of locking down an absolute definition of yoga—why pigeon hole the practice as physical, spiritual or religious? And discount all the crazy hybrids and spin-offs with rollerblades and 105 degree heat franchise opportunities? Not a chance! Also, that government licensing issue gets pretty sticky when we try and label yoga as one thing or the other. How can you define something that transcends any one description? That’s what freewheeling and (it must be said) free enterprising, equal opportunity Westerner yoga minds tend to think. But, the head honchos of team preservation India have other ideas on the matter.

The Indian government has already compiled a library, the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library to be exact (which we reported on last year), to document every single yoga pose from ancient texts, not to mention other bits of heritage such as ayurveda, to provide a concrete system, essentially protecting it all from bastardization and subsequent “unlawful” patenting and other naughtiness. But so far the contextual efforts haven’t been enough, and now they’ve taken to filming hundreds of asanas to prove India had ‘em first!

From Tuesday’s Guardian UK:

“It’s like soccer and Britain,” said Suneel Singh, one of India’s leading yoga gurus. “You have given it to the world which is wonderful and generous. But imagine that people started saying they had invented the sport. That would be annoying.”

OMG, right? Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta, head of the TKDL, explains the move to “videographs” as they call them:

“Simple text isn’t adequate. People are claiming they are doing something different from the original yoga when they are not.”

“Yoga originated in India. People cannot claim to invent a new yoga when they have not.”

Uh oh. Lookout Christoga-ers! We’d love to hear what scholarly yogapop star Deepak Chopra and his journalistic nemesis Aseem Shukla have to say about this, after battling it out over whether or not yoga and Hinduism are intertwined. London Swamster Pragyamurti Saraswati has already spoken out about India’s move to claim yoga asanas as property:

“Poses are not the definition of yoga, which consists of breathing practices, deep relaxation, and meditative practices – not just postures.”

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6 Responses to “Patently Preserved: India Will No Longer Let You Steal Their Yoga.”

  1. swati jr* says:

    sigh. it's all so immense. thanks yogadork!

  2. Mat says:

    Poses certainly may not be the definition of yoga, but India's move to document it and lay claim to it stems out of the same fight to stop corporations coming in and trying to patent neem and other traditional medicines, not to ossify it. Yoga may have originated in India, but by now is on the way to becoming human heritage, and anything that prevents it from being patented and owned by any individual seems a good thing to me.

  3. elaine says:

    Everything evolves from something else. Nothing is "pure". Who, exactly, would patent asanas? The government, or will there be lineages fighting each other for the right?

  4. Tobye says:

    Personally, I kinda see it like this…. If it has a proper sanskrit name attatched to it, then it's classic yogasana. Sanskrit could be used for classification of yoga poses the same way Latin is for the birds and the bees ie; they may have different local names, but the root name stays the same.
    But as I keep saying to people, if you're not creating a union between mind, body and spirit, it aint yoga, no sir!

    Hatha yoga pradipika states "There are 840,000 yoga poses, of which 84 are useful to man"

  5. lighthasmass says:

    Ironic example. India as a country didn't exist until the Brits created it.

  6. shruthi says:

    oh ok now thats enough. indians are the smartest people ever and people who couldn't take it say mean things like "india as a country didn't even exist until the brits created it". then why would brits take away riches from india and yoga 100% belongs to the indians and the people here use it like a gymnast. wht the hell is "no ohm zone". if you don't respect indnia then u have no right to practice yoga. and u have any clue what "namaste" means?

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