The year 2012 was a significant one for Bikram Choudhury.
As was well publicized, Choudhury sued his former protégé Greg Gumucio at the end of 2011 for intellectual property infringement. Gumucio had developed Yoga to the People, his own studio chain, and charged students a much lower price to practice Choudhury’s specific 26-posture Bikram sequence.
In June, Gumucio was finally granted the right by the federal copyright office to teach the sequence originally coined by Choudhury in his comparably hot rooms. Despite this ruling, earlier this month Gumucio acquiesced and committed to omitting the sequence from his classes by this coming February. He stated that he intends to develop a different hot yoga sequence to be taught at his studios instead.
In the end, Choudhury emerged victorious.
But did he?
During coverage of the lawsuit, different people chimed in with their own perspectives, no matter how unfavorable. Critics of the lawsuit have discussed how it seems greedy and contrary to the service of teaching yoga.
Yoga postures were created when the ancient sages of India observed how animals stretched themselves as they woke from sleep and conducted themselves in their natural habitats.
They began to emulate these stretches so as to open up their body and give themselves the strength and flexibility to sit for prolonged periods of time. With an extensive sitting ability they could develop higher practices like concentration and meditation, in order to ultimately relieve themselves of the suffering they endured as a result of their ego and attachments. When they relieved their suffering, they emerged peaceful.
In witnessing a lawsuit such as one between Choudhury and Gumucio, it can be very easy to debate who is wrong, who is right, and who should be declared victorious. When we engage in an argument like this, we are allowing our mind to impose itself on the situation and rely on victory—on being right—to feel fulfilled.
What about the one out of every two times in life that we lose? What if we are judged to not be right but wrong? If we allow our ego to base our happiness on victory, we are setting ourselves up to suffer through at least half of our lives.
When speaking of the lawsuit with Gumucio, Choudhury was quoted in an LA Weekly article as having said, “I am going to go to go to trial to get him punishment, to make him an example, so no one will ever have the guts to do that same kind of shit.” He wasn’t just suing, but he declared his intention to be punitive in the process. The profane, incendiary nature of this statement implies that it is comes from a place of intense anger—the kind of anger that suggests immense amounts of suffering.
My intention isn’t to call anyone out for being wrong, for that would simply be an imposition of my ego on the situation. I believe that there’s a delicate balance to be held between singling out Mr. Choudhury as wrong and simply identifying someone who appears to be in a lot of pain. It’s the difference between saying to someone, “Ha ha, you’re suffering,” as opposed to, “If you feel that you are suffering and aren’t content with that existence, then come and meditate with me for a while and find your balance once more.”
Instead of pointing fingers at anyone, I believe in the exploration of the potential that yoga postures have to open the body, so that we may sit for longer periods of time as was always intended.
With this practice, each of us has the potential to enjoy a far less contentious existence.
This exploration can begin right now.
Below are three basic postures you can try so as to open your body up, allow yourself to enjoy some silence, and relax a bit before you work your way through the remainder of the holiday season. With these postures, you’ll find greater calm as well—so maybe you’ll be less likely to sue somebody when they snatch the last LOL Elmo off the shelf.
Child’s Pose (balasana)
2. Come to your knees and rest your buttocks on your heels.
3. Exhale and lower your torso down so that your abdomen rests on your thighs. Place your forehead on the ground.
4. Allow your arms to rest at your sides.
Hero’s Pose (virasana)
2. Come to your knees so that your shins are on the floor and your buttocks rest on your heels.
3. Lift the top of your head as if someone were pulling it up with a string.
4. Place your hands on your knees.
Corpse Pose (savasana)
2. Lie on your back.
3. Allow your feet to open to the sides.
4. Rest your arms on the ground with your palms facing up.
5. Let go of any tension in your body and allow everything to sink into the floor.
6. Close your eyes.
Yogi Cameron Alborzian left the world of high fashion in 1998 to seek a higher path. Following his training at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City and Yogaville of Sri Satchidananda, he studied Ayurveda at Arsha Yoga Vidya Peetam Trust in India. Yogi Cameron has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, Extra and Martha, as well as in The New York Times, Men’s Journal, Wall Street Journal, The London Times and ELLE magazine. He regularly contributes to the Huffington Post and Sharecare. His first book, The Guru in You, was published in January 2011. In 2012, he came together with Veria Living to star in his own show “A Model Guru”, a weekly reality show based on Ayurvedic and yogic living. His latest book, The ONE Plan, provides a realistic approach to the Patanjali teachings designed to positively transform one’s life, and to improve overall physical, mental, and spiritual health. Visit Yogi Cameron Alborzian at www.yogicameron.com and follow him at [email protected]
Assistant Ed: Olivia Gray
Ed: Kate Bartolotta