Bikram & the Copyright Wars.

Via on Jul 9, 2012

Can Anyone Own Yoga?

Bikram Choudhury, the “glamour guru,” is at it again. And no, I’m not alluding to his claims of possessing “balls like atom bombs” (“two of them, 100 megatons each. Nobody F— with me.”). I’m referring to his litigious nature. He recently brought suit against several yoga studios claiming that they infringed upon his intellectual property rights.

In a statement released on June 22 of this year (published in the Federal Register), the U.S. Copyright Office finally settled the question: “a selection, coordination, or arrangement of exercise movements, such as a compilation of yoga poses, may be precluded from registration as a functional system or process.” Congress and the U.S. courts have had a longstanding position on enabling ideas (including systems and processes) to be within the public domain, rather than remaining in the sole ownership of any individual. This, in large part, is to foster creativity in the arts and sciences. According to U.S. law no one can own ideas, only their unique expression of those ideas (and even then only for a limited period of time).

This development raises another even more significant question: why does Bikram feel entitled to “own” yoga?

In large part (his ego aside) Bikram’s claim to intellectual property rights over his 26-posture sequence is bolstered by something deeper than the mere order of his physical contortions. According to a Yoga Journal article by Loraine Despres, Bikram believes himself to be the sole purveyor of authentic, pure, Hatha yoga.  In Despres’ interview he refers to other yoga teachers as “circus clowns.

He goes on to insist,

“Nobody here knows what the hell they are doing. There is no such thing as Kundalini Yoga. No such thing as Power Yoga. No such thing as Ashtanga Yoga.”

Bikram may not be incorrect in asserting that there is very little traditional basis for the modern yoga methods he cites. But regardless of these questions of historicity, he positions himself as the sole authority in the world of contemporary yoga.

These assertions of absolute authority are a product of his tutelage within the guru tradition. Not unlike competing factions of fundamentalist religions, Indian gurus often like to claim sole proprietorship over communion with the Divine. This, like many Bible thumpers, is justified through claims to the “true” and “authentic” (or in this case “pure”) tradition. Bikram’s ‘property rights’ are derived from his discipleship under Bishnu Ghosh (brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi), who he claims was the foremost authority on Patanjali and the practice of hatha yoga.

In a Chicago Tribune feature he claimed, “I am teaching the exact same postures as my guru [Bishnu Ghosh] taught me.” In this regard, Bikram’s marketing message is something more than a promise of a healthier body. He is claiming supernatural power that he alone is authorized to transmit via his connection to a guru lineage.

Putting aside, for a moment, the problems endemic to claims of authority based upon connection to imaginary kingdoms, there are legal issues at stake. If Bikram is correct in his right to traditional authority then his sequencing of postures (which he claims to have narrowed down from the ‘traditional’ 84 to 26) is not copyrightable, since, by merit of its age, it has entered the public domain long ago.

If his posture sequence is a process or system then, again according to Congress, it is not copyrightable, which is what the Copyright Office reasserted last month. So, once again, if Bikram’s contention is not legally tenable why does Mr. Choudhury feel entitled to sole proprietorship of what he terms “pure Hatha yoga”? Of course, there are financial issues at stake. He obviously would like a monopoly on yoga, as well as the right to claim himself the only true guru of yoga in the modern world.

But these narcissistic delusions have their roots, at least in my mind, in the guru tradition. Just as various “big time” religions attempted to claim a monopoly on heaven, gurus often herald themselves to be the sole vehicle for the communication of a divine message. In this regard, Bikram Choudhury would like to claim sole proprietorship over not only the financial rewards of yoga but also the spiritual liberation of the West.

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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About Shyam Dodge

Shyam Dodge is a former Hindu monk, author, and satirist. He is currently a student of religion at Harvard University. His memoir, Wet Hot and Wild American Yogi, enjoys a cult following in the United States and Europe, both for its enduring controversy and irreverence. His collection of sacred stories, Sweetened Condensed Milk, remains a part of the curriculum in the philosophy portion of many yoga teacher trainings worldwide. You can find his books here: http://amzn.to/utWZO7 Author Website: http://shyamdodge.com/

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55 Responses to “Bikram & the Copyright Wars.”

  1. anouscka says:

    No one owns yoga and yoga belongs to everybody. If you watch children and remember what we were doing when little, we already were "practising asanas" which come naturally out of the body that wants to move. During a meditative state asanas and mudras may also flow forth through our body. most of the old masters understood this and transferred to their students. If you become your own master the poses and flows that are suitable for your own body will reveal themselves to you as well.

    • yogasamurai says:

      Children take to dance and movement spontaneously, but they don't naturally take to asanas in my experience. If they did, would we need all these absurd yoga classes for every possible age group of child imaginable? It often seems like just another studio money maker that doubles as really bad baby-sitting and day care. For a lot of these teachers though, that may be the only population that they are actually qualified to teach.

  2. Annie Ory says:

    Thanks for this perspective. It sounds like you did your homework and you know the history and the facts behind the story of Bikram and his lawsuits. Bikram Choudhurry is likely the single most misunderstood figure in yoga in the developed world.

    None of this has anything to do with Bikram wanting to own people's spiritual processes, or anything like that. That's far more complicated than it really is. He wants to be loved. For all his bluster, he desperately needs to be seen, respected and loved. He sees love through the lens of "respect".
    When Jane Fonda made millions selling a yoga work out, an exact copy of Bikram's yoga, Bikram didn't decide to sue her until he'd watched every moment of the entire video. He was looking for his name. If it had been there, he'd have wished her well. But she took his teachings, which he holds, as he was taught to, as a sacred gift, and gave them away for profit without so much as a nod in his direction. In his world she should have asked for permission, which he would freely have granted, but she disrespected him. She did not include "in honor of guru Bikram Choudhurry" in the credits. The same is true of the studios he originally sued. If those owners had simply made the changes they wanted to make quietly, and paid him the honor of putting his name on the door, he would have ignored their indiscretions. But they made out, in his view, as if they were better than him. They took what he taught them, and used it to dismiss him. That's disrespectful. That is the moral of the story as he tells it at teacher training, and really, it's what he's all about up there on the stage in his giant orange throne.

    He hasn't "won" a lawsuit since that first one, you know? Now, he rarely has to sue. The cease and desist letters from the lawyers, forcing studios operating on a shoe string to hire attorneys at $500 an hour, is usually all it takes, and the studio caves. They close, sell, stop teaching what they have been. The rare occasion when he has to pursue a suit the legal bills drag things out until even a thriving studio would be bankrupted by it. The only way to win against an entity like that is band together and start a legal defense fund and choose good test cases to push the law to define things more clearly. He has a reputation for "suing" studios and "putting them out of business" but that really doesn't happen. It just adds to the myth and the resignation when the letter comes.

    What he may not live long enough to learn, Bikram, is that he is reaping what he has sown. He is disrespectful to people, and he leads from a selfish perspective. As with all Leaders, sometimes he will train people who choose to stay with him, and sometimes he'll train people who choose to leave and start their own community. How they handle that leaving will continue to reflect back to Bikram the way he interacts with the world. As it does for all of us. The Universe will show us our character flaws in the people we meet and in the way we are treated. I'm not blaming the victim by the way, or saying that every time something bad happens to someone it's because they did that exact thing, or something equal to it, to someone else. No. I'm saying that when something continually shows in my life, it's me I must look to for answers. I don't know if Bikram will figure that out this time around. Maybe, or maybe next life time.

    Meanwhile, seriously, why put yourself in the position. Don't teach his 26 & 2 until someone gets a precedent for beating him and then do it the way they did it. The first time he takes someone all the way to court and he loses, he'll stop. It's part of the reason he'll pepper a studio with legal letters, threats, demands, etc, that they must hire an attorney to answer. He prefers they just fold, because it means not getting the case before a judge again, which could result in his being stripped of his copyright – however limited it may be.

    • catnipkiss says:

      Very detailed and thoughtful response, Annie. I enjoyed reading your perspective. Personally, I think "the Boss" just needs a hug….. Alexa Maxwell

    • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

      Hi Annie, thanks for the long and detailed comment. Check out the links posted in the article. Bikram did bring suit against a studio late last year, and that is one of the reasons the Copyright Office issued their statement on June 22. Also, in order to use Bikram's name in a yoga studio is not as simple as you make it out to be (paying him the honor of plastering his name over the door)… Bikram yoga is a franchise that one has to buy into. I have nothing against franchises. But that being said, according to US law no one can copyright a system or process. So barring someone using Bikram's name and/or likeness without permission, he has no right to sue a studio for simply teaching his sequence of postures.

    • yogasamurai says:

      There's always been this underlying psychological dynamic of people, especially women, venerating "Daddy," then turning on him when it turns out he didn't just dedicate his entire life to them. It's "daughter consciousness," and not very evolved. People often think of themselves as righteous crusaders in these settings, rather than spoiled, ungrateful brats seeking their own fast buck

      There's a very similar dynamic operating in the ranks of John Friend's crumbling Anusara organization. Maybe Bikram needs to look at something – or maybe he just knows and accepts himself more than you think. Any good businessman – or woman – will do what he is trying to do, protect his/her intellectual property, if he/she can. And the fact is, it's only because yoga has been defined as "exercise," apart from something deemed more creatively compelling like "dance," that the copyright laws don't apply.

      Even if they don't apply, if folks signed contracts with Bikram that say they won't do certain things with Bikram's methods without his permission, those contracts could still be binding. The issue would be covered under standard contract law – not copy right law. I suspect the Anusarans may have discovered this, as John-John undoubtedly went to school on the Bikram experience.

      Namaste -YS

      • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

        YS- Yoga to the People never signed any contracts with Bikram. He's going after them for simply teaching the sequencing in a hot room.

        • yogasamurai says:

          What do they call it? Just Hot Yoga or some such.

          • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

            Yes, exactly.

          • yogasamurai says:

            I am not familiar with the particulars of the case. But I suspect that Bikram is arguing that YTP Hot Yoga is operating as some kind of renegade Bikram franchise. It's escaping its obligation to function as one and is stealing his turnkey yoga system, and re-branding it as their own — as "YTP Hot Yoga." In his view, this is theft of intellectual property. He never granted them a license to use "his" system.

            Were the founders/managers of YTP ever Bikram franchise owners — or did they practice at Bikram studios for some time before going out on their own? Just curious. How are they explaining their "system" publicly in relation to Bikram since they didn't come up with it? They just say it's their own version of Hot Yoga "similar" to other "publicly available" versions.

            I assume they probably have their own "embellishment" – the 26 posture sequence but other elements that are unique to YTP? Is there any adaptation of the sequence? Is there musical accompaniment.. or other unique elements?

            These "IP" issues come up in business all the time. Certainly not unique to yoga. People want to protect their intellectual capital and investment, and other people see a potentially lucrative business model, and want to profit from it. In my experience, it's often just an ongoing process that gets worked out over time. YS

          • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

            Yeah, there might be issues of trade dress etc… but Bikram would have to prove that his business was seriously hurt by a blatant infringement upon his brand, but YTP doesn't teach only 'hot yoga' but a variety of yoga styles, so his argument is rather weak.

  3. Padmalinga Swami says:

    I'm so glad Bikram Choudhurry is quelling the narcissistic demands of his ego through the practice of his yoga asanas. If he is the end product of this practice, I'll pass and focus on the other 7 limbs that so many "yogis" seem to forget about.

    • yogasamurai says:

      I suspect that same criticism might apply to YTP also? Is it a non-profit or also a business enterprise. Does it copyright its name? I believe it does. So, if I were to call my own studio "Yoga to the People" — a very generic expression, in fact –I might be accused of violating the group's trademark?

      What if I called it Yoga FOR the People? Or does somebody else have that version already? What if I used a logo that was disturbingly similar to YTP's, but made the letters "YTP" stand for Yoga Transforms People? And what if I claimed that the aesthetic elements found in the logo – whatever it is, it wouldn't be a blatant copy – were generally available?
      Or the coloring, which matched perfectly, light blue and yellow, were simply established color patterns?

      This stuff comes up all the time. I've already seen somebody do a Lulu-like logo that powerfully reminds you of the Lulu logo – but it's not the same symbol. Sometimes a company like Lulu will look at this, the lawyers will consult, and they'll, say well since we are the brand leader this actually probably helps us, up to a point, and as long as they are not threatening our business, it's not worth spending $$$ on Maybe we'll send them a letter just to let them know that we noticed.

      Is it crystal clear, really, who the good guys and bad guys are in these settings?

      • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

        YS- all good points. You're spot on about trademarks in general… but again this isn't an issue about trademark infringement and/or contractural breach. It's about a company offering a similar product as another company (maybe identical) but at a much lower price and calling it by a different name. Depending upon the philosophy you subscribe to this is either fair in a free trade system (a way of militating against monopolies) or this is some sort of infringement on an established brand and its market.

        I see that you're trying to make some kind of point about yoga being a business etc… and I totally agree with you on that, but I just want to clarify the context of this case.

        On another note: I have no desire to discuss the 'Limbs' of yoga. Arguments like that strike me as eerily similar as asking whether or not someone is living up to their Christian values. The point I'm trying to advance is that Bikram is, at the very least, marketing his system as being "the only true yoga" as passed down by the ancients, and is claiming some kind of traditional authority. This argument from authority is philosophically untenable and legally preposterous.

        Now issues pertaining to his rights to protecting his trademark etc. I totally respect and value. But, I think the distinctions between protecting his trademark vs. his arguments from authority must be more closely parse out.

  4. Sonyata says:

    That is an interesting correlation – comparing him to the fundamentalist Christian community. I have been in too many churches where they do discount every other branch and denomination, going so far as teaching that they are going to hell, and only this one particular branch is right and true and will be "saved". The Mormons still claim to be the "one true church", and have since their inception. I read a long article a couple weeks ago from a Christian author claiming that "Christian Yoga" is dangerous, because it "opens the doorways to demons", or the influences of the Hindu religion, which are undeniably the roots of yoga. I took my time dissecting the article and writing a rebuttal to it.

    So far as Bikram being the intended heir of the divine teachings, I believe that both Iyengar and Jois have a better claim, through the lineage of Krishnamacharya, who studied with his master in the Himalayas. Besides, there is quite a difference in the names of the poses Bikram uses and the name of the same poses in A Light on Yoga or the Ashtanga collection.

    Yoga Alliance is the convening authority these days, allowing the credibility of certified teachers to be authenticated. Ideally, a yogi should be able to get their 200 hour certification through one institute, another 100 hours elsewhere, and their final 200 in order to achieve their RYT-500 certification, but this seem to still be an issue. Many of the large chains still want their method proprietary, and it becomes difficult to get this certification without taking the whole thing from one studio. And then, some of them want to license their graduates and charge them recurring fees for their association.

    I believe that the training and certification process should be as open as possible, and that a body such as the Yoga Alliance should oversee it. So, while this is not exactly the same as the Bikram copyright issue, it is in a way part of the same issue. The recent fallout of many of the Anusara community and the issues they raised about intellectual property rights is another part of this issue. I think it is all headed in the right direction.

    • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

      Sonyata-

      Have you read Mark Singleton's work? (I cited him in the article above) He has a book published by Oxford University Press that you might be interested in. Singelton reveals that modern postural yoga is, in fact, 'unambiguously the hybrid product of colonial and post-colonial globalization'–including (and specifically) the methodologies of Iyengar, Jois, etc. This in no way takes away from the value of the contributions made by the above mentioned innovators to contemporary postural yoga practice, but it does turn any claims to traditional authority on its ear.

      Here's a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Body-Origins-Practice-

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Yoga Alliance is not an authority on anything. They are a rubber stamp for anyone who gives them money. YA has no system of verification, follow up or oversight of any kind. The last thing anyone needs is for YA to oversee any certification process because they are in no way credible in their claim of being a certifying body.

      • yogasamurai says:

        Amen, brother. YA is part of the current yoga protection racket for the studios especially. It's an insult, and most people involved in what's popularly known as "YTT" knows it. The proper acronym might be CYA. — YS

  5. __MikeG__ says:

    The statement that Bikram's actions are informed by the guru system he was trained in is the most insightful commentary on the subject I have yet read. And many guru's do and have claimed that they only have the "truth". Bikram's actions make sense when viewed in the light that he believes he alone has the truth. Yet another reason why I believe that these ridiculous guru systems have lived way past their usefulness.

    Bikram royally fucked up when he took on Yoga to the People. YTP is not a mom and pop shop that can be intimidated by the threat of litigation.

    And YTP has already filed with the court the (clarified) statement from the Copyright Office which definitively stated that yoga sequences cannot be copyrighted.

    Additionally, Bikram alleged trademark violation in his lawsuit. But that probably would only hold water if YTP used the Bikram name. If they only marketed the classes in question as hot yoga I don't see how that would violate the Bikram trademark.

    Bikram also alleges violation of signed agreements for teachers trained in Bikram yoga. But it seems to me that this would only hold weight for individual teachers who use the Bikram trademark when they market themselves as teachers. YTP is not an individual and in any case YTP never signed contracts with Bikram.

    • Shyam Dodge shyamdodge says:

      Mike, very well said!

    • yogasamurai says:

      Interesting. These things can get grey in a hurry. I think it could be a real issue if those teachers signed non-compete and confidentiality agreements with Bikram that are binding for say, 5 years or more, and which effectively limit their ability to teach what they learned at Bikram elsewhere. Are most or all of the YTP teachers former Bikram teachers? If they are and they all signed such agreements, the YTP name and corporate entity might not protect them. It could just be viewed as a kind of collusion. I have no idea what those Bikram teachers signed. Non-competes are generally not to be messed with, though.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Yeah, individual teachers could be in trouble and lose their Bikram certifications if they taught hot yoga at YTP while claiming/advertising a Bikram certification. YTP never signed any contracts with Bikram.

        • yogasamurai says:

          Thanks for all the follow up. Personally, I prefer the Bikrams of the world to the people who sell you their "peace and love" agenda for money, then try to prey on your mind and soul. Bikram's a shameless capitalist – but he's not a spiritual vampire. Cheers!! – YS

  6. manorama says:

    Truth is one, Paths are many.

  7. profitoftruth says:

    BIKRAM CHOUDHURY SHOULD BE GIVEN A MEDAL OF HONOR FOR BEING ABLE TO CONTEND WITH WHAT I CALL THE 2ND ARYAN INVASION BECAUSE WINDU'S (WHITE HINDUS) HAVE SHOWN NO EMPATHY TOWARDS ANY INDIAN IN THE AMERICAN YOGA INDUSTRY AND THEY EVEN STATE AS SHARON AND DAVID OF JIVAMUKTI THEY ARE UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT TEACHING YOGA REGARDLESS OF ITS SACRED LINEAGE SYSTEM FROM MASTER TO DISCIPLE. TO INFER THAT BIKRAM IS AND (((((INDIAN))))) AND THAT THEY USUALLY WANT TO HAVE SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP OVER YOGA AND LIKE MOST (((((INDIAN))))) YOGI'S TRY TO DO IS BLATANT RACISM CAUSE IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING OR HAS BEEN HAPPENING HERE IN AMERICA WITH (((((WHITE SELF PROCLAIMED GURU'S))))) FOR THE LAST FEW DECADES AND NO ONE HAD ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT MAKES MOST ANTI BIKRAM AGITATORS OR COMPLAINERS LOOK LIKE HYPOCRITES WHICH IS A TYPICAL CHARACTERISTIC OF AMERICAN WINDUISM! I AM GLAD THAT BIKRAM IS AN SUCCESSFUL INDIAN GURU FROM INDIA AND THAT IT AGITATES THEM SO MUCH THAT IS AT LEAST SOME RESISTANCE TO THE CASTE SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED HERE IN AMERICA FOR THE CORE BELIEFS OF RACISM THAT CREATED THIS COUNTRY THESE WINDUS JUST FOUND A GOLD MINE AND VALIDATION FOR THE ATROCIOUS WAY OF RACIST IDEALS BOTH HERE AND ABROAD BUT BIKRAM IS HELPING TO BALANCE THAT OUT AND SAY NO HE IS OF DIRECT LINEAGE OF INDIA'S ANCIENT PAST AS A MODERN DAY YOGI! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK BIKRAM FROM P.O. HINDU

    • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

      Dude…why you yellin? You're harshin' my mellow. Not to mention, choking me with your generalizations.

      • profitoftruth says:

        I really think its pathetic that there are still people who hear screaming from reading words on a computer screen! you need psychological help and that is just a cop out from the words that are on your screen! Don't read if it bothers you!

        • __MikeG__ says:

          Ridiculous. Writing in all caps is hard to read and usually done in failed attempt, as you failed miserably in this instance, to make poor arguments seem more important.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Careful Mike…to his own admission, he's pissed off.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            I think I will start writing in ALL CAPS from now on. And wear my underwear on the outside of my pants. But only on weekdays. Wearing one's underwear on the outside of one's pants on a weekend is just crazy talk.

          • profitoftruth says:

            Thaddeus my boy great observation and yes I do get pissed at Windu B.S.

          • profitoftruth says:

            The only thing that is ridiculous is your acknowledgement only that Iwrote in caps and without your own research into the matter trying toinvalidate what I wrote but close to 10,000 of South Asian youthsresponded to me by becoming my fans in just one month so your opinionis but a few and useless to me. If you want to retort please come tomy page and do so on my ground with my people as Bikram is one my own!

    • profitoftruth says:

      https://www.facebook.com/1raceHumanRace before you claim any more B.S. check out my fan page and see how my generalizations affect the children of color! then spew your accusations but do it on my page and prove your point with solid statements

      • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

        Naw…I'm good. I bow to your superior force and logic.

      • Louise Brooks says:

        Hey buddy, you're the Tom Cruise of Bikram. The rest of us aren't buying into the cult. We're hanging with Katie Holmes.

        • profitoftruth says:

          Hey Louise I don't know Bikram never done it but he's Indian and doingwhat all the So called American White HIndus (Windus) are doing andhe's one man in a sea of windus and he is frowned upon cause he beatAmericans at their own game! Hell I take my hat off to him! You keepworshiping whoever Katie Holmes is and practice that WInduism! Youhave the nerve to call him a cult what about all those WIndus who wearIndian clothing and have Sanskrit names??? thats not cultish??? atleast what he does is from his (((((Indian))))) culture not anyoneelses!!!! Namaste

          • Louise Brooks says:

            I'm not a "Windu". Nor am I American. And I abhor westerners who acquire "new names" and run around in saris, etc, so get off your high horse.

            Is your cultish obsession with Bikram because he is "Indian"?? Sounds like you are the racist, dude.

          • profitoftruth says:

            Yeah that would make sense! Mostly white people who are offended by myperspective are usually racist so you might want to search yourself!or reflect inward and seek why you are upset by my posting of Bikram 1Indian Yogi a real one at that in a sea of Windu's????

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Interesting to find you spewing the same BS as yesterday, when you made so many protestations about finding someone with whom you could intelligently debate. And yet, you just left me hanging.

            If anyone needs a primer school education in sanatana dharma, I'm afraid it's you my friend. My suspicion is that your simply here to gain notariety for yourself since you seem incapable of engaging on any level above and beyond your simple rhetoric. It's a shame. Probably explains your fascination and admiration of Bikram, since neither of you seem capable of grasping the first and only lesson of yoga, which is of course, that we are not these bodies.

            My suggestion….spend a wee-bit less time with your verbal barrages and a whole lot more time actually practicing the principles and discipline you seem so set on claiming as your birthright. Prabhupada was correct in pointing out…qualification comes in the form of behavior and realization, not birthplace.

          • nimitta says:

            No, profitoftruth, one doesn't have to be white or a 'Windu' to find your posts offensive, ignorant, and transparently self-promotional. Even a person of color – gasp, even an Indian! – can come away thinking your unprovoked hostility stems from deep insecurities, and that you've completely missed the point of yoga.

          • profitoftruth says:

            Well point out exactly what is offensive and self promotional? If youare Indian then most likely you would be offended thats if your lightskinned and believe in the caste system! I mean there is even proofnow of the Mahatma Ghandi approving the slaughter and oppression ofBlack people because they were or still are considered untouchable, sobefore you say I am offensive look at India's history and see who herein America is truly Self Promotional and benefitting. And your sodamned igonorant to to think I have insecurities by expressing myopinion well rather I would say your insecure about being Indian andknowing that the Caste System is a grave barrier for BLACK peopleotherwise you are a hypocrite. Ask yourself if you married a Black manhow happy would your family be????

          • profitoftruth says:

            BOTTOMLIINE THIS IS AN ISSUE NO (((((INDIAN))))) WANTS TO ACKNOWLEDGE! THE TREATMENT OF DARK SKINNED PEOPLE OF INDIA IS STILL THE SAME TODAYLook at Bollywood movies for example! Look at Sri KRSNA his nameactually means one who is Black or Dark colored but for some reasonthey paint him (((((BLUE))))) and I bet your like the rest of themyou will choose to believe he was BLUE CAUSE BLACK CANNOT BE A COLOROF GOD! That is what the WINDU'S over here in America preach intheir teacher trainings in there kirtans and puja's! I had to grow upbelieving that I was not as good as them but thank GOD sri KRSNA TheDARK ONE I realize thats not true. So if you see it from my point ofview CHILDREN OF COLOR NEED TO KNOW THAT THEY CAN BE PART OF DIVINITYTOO!On Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 9:53 PM, allowyoga RavSHiVA Sri Devi Maya wrote:> Well point out exactly what is offensive and self promotional? If you> are Indian then most likely you would be offended thats if your light> skinned and believe in the caste system! I mean there is even proof> now of the Mahatma Ghandi approving the slaughter and oppression of> Black people because they were or still are considered untouchable, so> before you say I am offensive look at India's history and see who here> in America is truly Self Promotional and benefitting. And your so> damned igonorant to to think I have insecurities by expressing my> opinion well rather I would say your insecure about being Indian and> knowing that the Caste System is a grave barrier for BLACK people> otherwise you are a hypocrite. Ask yourself if you married a Black man> how happy would your family be????>>

    • Wow. Right, because everything from India is perfect and sacred. No evolution or balance needed there! Certainly, if we just go back to the way it's supposed to be done, we won't be in the same place in another 100 years… certainly not. Very interesting. How did we get so informed and open-minded these days?

      • profitoftruth says:

        Erin if you read my posts correctly I just slammed (((((INDIA))))) AND INDIANS for their role in participating up to this day in Caste System! So before you use your SUPERIOR ARYAN intellect please read all of the posts!

  8. Andie says:

    Why does Bikram have to bash all other systems and practices??? In my opinion, he represents everything I am trying to release from in my practice. Being judgemental, possesive, narcissistic and overindulgent…these are the things I peel off like layers of an onion when I step on and off my mat each day. I respect him for inspiring and continuing hatha yoga for new generations of practitioners, but as a "Guru" maybe he should devote himself a bit more to the study of the Sutras and discover the love within himself.

    1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
    (maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

    So how about it Bikram? How about letting go of trying to own something that's universal and just be happy that ALL forms of yoga helps the human shift in conciousness!

    • yogasamurai says:

      I actually think Bikram is a perfect example of the great and glorious American tradition of ostentatious showmanship – and conspicuous consumption And he is surpassed in this regard only by the equally great and glorious INDIAN tradition for ostentatious showmanship – and conspicuous consumption.

      And from the beginning, racketeering, hype, and circus contortionism have gone hand in hand with the "high brow" yoga practices preferred by the spiritual and political elites. It seems to be one of the great yoga myths that it's ever really been otherwise?

  9. Edward Staskus says:

    The 4 teachers at Bikram Yoga in University Heights, Ohio, where I practice, have all been trained by the boss himself, but after 6 months of the hot room there, I do not see any of the many negatives painted of Bikram the man in this article and the replies in any of those teachers. They strike me as open, generous, and concerned with the well-being of the hatha exercise students who practice there. Unlike many other practices, the teachers do not do the poses, rather instructing and keeping an eye on everyone.
    They seem concerned that the poses be done correctly based on a student's level of ability, and it seems to me that the welfare of the students in the room is of primary concern to them.
    Even the desk girl is charming as she processes my credit card every couple of weeks.
    Since they have all been trained in Bikram Yoga by Bikram himself, why is it that none of his greedy, narcissistic, and supposed Barnum and Bailey personality has rubbed off on them?
    I am inclined to believe there is a gulf between the man and the myth, at least as seen by his critics.

  10. michaelmiles says:

    Hij heeft nog niet 'gewonnen' een rechtszaak sinds die eerste, weet je? Nu heeft hij zelden te klagen is. De last onder dwangsom brieven van de advocaten, waardoor studio's die op een schoen string om advocaten op $ 500 per uur te huren, is meestal alles wat nodig is, en de studio grotten. Ze sluiten, verkopen, stoppen met het onderwijzen van wat ze geweest zijn. De zeldzame keer dat hij een pak te gaan met de juridische rekeningen sleep Vochtbestrijding bedrijf tegen Opstijgend vocht en andere vochtproblemen in muren en kelders. Homeprotec, de vochtbestrijdings specialist.
    dingen uit tot zelfs een bloeiende studio zou worden geruïneerd door haar. De enige manier om te winnen tegen een entiteit, zoals die band bij elkaar en start een juridische verdediging fonds en kiezen voor een goede testcases om de wet te duwen om dingen duidelijker te omschrijven. Hij heeft een reputatie van "klagen" studio's en "waardoor ze uit de markt", maar dat echt niet gebeurt. Het voegt alleen maar om de mythe en het ontslag als de brief komt.

  11. [...] those that aren’t familiar with Bikram yoga, the class is comprised of a sequence of twenty-six asanas (poses) and 2 breathing exercises [...]

  12. profitoftruth says:

    Ya know I have a theory about people who pic on my grammar and so onthat they get the words and ideas expressed in my writings but becauseof the fear of public ridicule for being RACIST they only pick on mygrammar!Can you intelligently make a statement to redeem yourself? or prove otherwise?

  13. Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

    From what I can tell, there is only one of us who is invoking "race" here and I'm pretty sure it ain't me. But maybe that's because I'm one of those "windus," I don't know. And it seems for being so pissed off, you might actually want to be asking questions about the validity of the first Arayan invasion, or better yet, pointing out that the label "Hindu" is itself a cultural demarcation stemming from colonialism.

    And, so you got a lot of fans. I read a story today. The moral of it goes a little something like this. "If you bang on an empty drum, it makes a lot of noise. If you pound on a solid drum, it doesn't make a sound."

    As for your turf, I shall quote the cult classic "Warriors"…"It's all our turf." But seriously dude, get a grip.

    Let's be clear here. I have no objection to Bikram primarily because I don't think about him. If you want to follow him, more power to you. I think it's questionable however for him to assert that he's teaching the same method of his guru since I've never found any reference to heating a room to 105 degrees in shastra.

    Also, seems that the lineage of Krishnamacraya is doing just fine in keeping yoga real and rooted in Vedic past. Unless, you want to disparage Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar and Desikacharaya, which I would be interested in hearing about.

  14. profitoftruth says:

    Finally intelligence great, ok so on to your accusations again what Isay is an observation not just made by me but obviously quite manyHindus and muslims and many others my page is 1 month old and itappears that RACE is an issue especially here in USA! Yes ofcourse Iam POHINDU but that is just a nickname for a character I invented andit seems to work just fine!The whole empty/solid drum metaphor is ridiculous again as your claimsthat Bikram wants to copyright the temperature 105 degrees!!!! LMAOtoo funny and as for lineage yes his claims are true and he is rightthere is only one form of YOGA all the rest is bullshit! Made up forthe idea of CAPITALISM!Dude I actually read some of your stuff we may actually have more incommon with our world views than you think just step outside your skinand look and research the American Yoga Industry then come at meagain.Peace out my Windu WIgga

  15. Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

    Yes, I'm sure that we have quite a bit in common and in the long run would probably agree more than disagree. You'll find no defense of the yoga industry coming from me. But if you're so against the western proliferation of yoga might I suggest that you have succumb to your own racial bias in touting Bikram as the bastion of yoga knowledge. If you want to be racist in your defense of yoga, pick Iyengar or Jois, but seriously leave Bikram to his Rolls and ego.

    Sure, I'm down with yoga being of one form accessible via many paths. And I would even agree that the vast majority of what is called "yoga" in the Western world is a joke, however it's not just North America, or the "whites" that are perpetuating this. Take a trip to Rishikesh and tell me how many Indians you find teaching real yoga.

    I never claimed that Bikram wants to copyright the temperature of his rooms. What I questioned was the authenticity of his claim to be teaching what his guru taught him because of the fact that such a requirement of practice is not mentioned in the shastra, not to mention by Yogananda, or to my knowledge Gosh, himself. So, in this respect, it seems that Bikram would be guilty of the very same crimes you lay at the feet of all the "Windu" teachers of yoga.

    Metaphors are neither ridiculous or not ridiculous…they are instructive.

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