YogaGlo aims to patent their style of filming a Yoga Class?

Via Krista Katrovas
on Sep 24, 2013
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Editor’s note: I’ve offered to interview or publish a statement from Yogaglo’s pov. We are not about taking sides, but about sharing truth and the greater good. ~ Waylon

Relephant: A Love Letter to YogaGlo.

Yoga was traditionally taught one-on-one—there wasn’t a classroom or a studio.

The yoga class, as we know it, didn’t come into existence until the 20th century.

Since then, McYoga has boomed and numerous inflated egos and wallets have appropriated the ancient art and lifestyle.

These McYoga Fitness studios often prevent teachers from referring to “that elephant god,” (Ganesha) or that “monkey god,” (Hanuman, whom the ancient yogi’s named the “splits,” after). Some also minimize Om (the sacred sound where all life comes from and returns to). Om can be bad for business; it can scare away clientele.

McYoga is yoked to the almighty dollar; it is a greed machine that has appropriated the ancient art of yoga.

Most people don’t know that the Navajo and Hindu belief systems cherished the Swastika as a holy symbol of good luck. It was cherished long before the Nazis appropriated it and left it infected with such evil that one cannot look at that holy symbol anymore without thinking of evil.

I’m not saying these appropriating greed machines in the yoga community are anything like that evil; I’m simply suggesting that the appropriation of something wonderful and life-affirming can become so diluted that many will forget the healing traditions unless we continue to honor them.

Yoga is meant to be shared, and how this knowledge, this practice is disseminated, should not be patented. Yes, teachers should be honored, should be paid, but the money exchange between a teacher and student should be personal relationship, not a corporate one.

Many fail to recognize that the mention of deities is not the promotion of Hinduism, or any faith for that matter, but rather the teaching of yoga relative to its traditions, where it came from before we westerners got ahold of it and began to make it into a mere business. We should not allow yoga to be yet another aspect of the wretched tradition of colonialism.

The appropriation of yoga, appropriating its healing aspects without humbling ourselves to its origins, without honoring the Eight Limb Path which is the foundation for all classic yoga practices, is simply wrong.

I believe there is a place for all lineages of yoga that are not steeped merely in “fitness” and are not merely a revenue stream. I also believe patenting the way a class is viewed or experienced online is profoundly wrong.

The teaching of yoga online is very popular in this busy world of ours, and bringing yoga into the homes of those unable to “make it to class,” is indeed wonderful. But patenting the way in which yoga is taught, how camera angles are set, where the students and teachers will stand, and what the set will look like is contrary to the spirt of yoga.

Such a posturing is inauthentic—it is hardly an act of surrendering to the good of all; it is just the opposite. These actions run counter to everything Patanjali codified within the Yamas of the Yoga Sutras.

Bikram come to mind. Now YogaGlo is proceeding likewise, it appears.

But yoga can’t be owned.

Making the pilgrimage to meet Bikram, after having practiced his “medicine,” for seven years, I witnessed the most greedy, egocentric yogi I’d even encountered. No judgment, just saying. You might know the teacher isn’t your teacher when he or she talks about how many Rolexes and classic cars she or he possesses, and about their having the biggest swimming pool in all of Hollywood.

This is not to say that Bikram and other McYoga Fitness studios didn’t create something powerful, even meaningful, but surely patenting yoga is kin to owning something that is not ours to own.

YogaGlo’s present work toward patenting the way they film and offer online classes would greatly affect the future of other teachers who don’t teach for YogaGlo. They would have to refrain from teaching in a classroom style setting, from filming for their own students.

I have had the pleasure of teaching yoga abroad for the past five years and have been asked every year if I would film my teachings so that when my students returned to their home states or countries, they could still practice with me through the videos.

I don’t feel called to film my teaching, but I also don’t feel called to completely shut myself off from it either if the future need arises. If YogaGlo succeeds with this patent, owning camera angles, and the traditional class structure, thus preventing me and others from filming our classes by virtue of their healthy bank account, and lawsuits, what does this say about YogaGlo, about their disregard for fellow teachers in the greater community?

And what about those who continue to dedicate their lives to the dissemination of yoga while honoring the ancient traditions?

Let’s not disregard the fundamental teachings. Let us remember asana; it is only one of the Eight Limbs Patanjali spoke of, and in this case, I feel  those Yamas and Niyamas are being violated, and at best, ignored by YogoGlo.

I remember watching videos before YogaGlo was a twinkle in the internet’s eye. We Mom n’Pops are already being driven out by the McYoga’s Fitness trend even as local bookstores have been diminished by conglomerates. Now we’re being pushed out online too. Yet, one more avenue on our yogic paths that are being barricaded.

If YogaGlo succeeds with their patent on how they offer yoga online, it’s the little guys, you and I, without all the lawyers, money, and fame who will suffer most.

Gandhi said, “There is enough for our need, but not enough for our greed,” and sadly this greedy monster exists where we deeply wish it didn’t, within our greater yoga sangha (community).

YogaGlo, you can go, and not on my screen, no matter how good your teachers are, because the patent you are working towards enacting would be at the expense of many others, and though I might only be a little yoga teacher, with a small voice, I say with all my breath that I stand in defiance of the greed you currently represent.

Join me in a Boycott of YogaGlo until they cease their penchant for greed, as they continue to subtract themselves from the heart-mind, and center rather on the moneymaking aspect of yoga.


Editor’s note: I’ve offered to interview or publish a statement in response from Yogaglo. We are not about taking sides, but about sharing truth and the greater good. ~ Waylon

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise

{photo: via Lauren Rudick}


About Krista Katrovas

Krista Katrovas has had over 27 articles published in nationally recognized magazines. She teaches Yoga in Prague, Czech Republic every July and calls Kalamazoo, Michigan Home, Sweet, Om, where she teaches and practices Yoga, Spirituality, Shamanism, and pursues writing. She can be reached at her website.


45 Responses to “YogaGlo aims to patent their style of filming a Yoga Class?”

  1. Yoga International would like to clarify one point in this story. While we have offered recorded yoga classes and teachings in many formats for decades, YogaGlo preceded us in delivering streaming yoga classes online. We would never want to take credit for their contribution to the community.

  2. Robin says:

    Aaaaand I want to cancel my membership to yogaglo

  3. lisalooleeli says:

    Wow this is just awful, I was just thinking of joining YogaGlo but I will be standing with you in this boycott.

  4. Jamie says:

    The way they shoot there videos is basic and should not be copied by anyone. It does not have a "feel" of being in a yoga class it feels like you are an outsider looking in. Anybody looking to film a yoga class or stream yoga classes should look at YogaGlo and AVOID copying their style!

  5. Renee says:

    I will join you in this boycott. Thank you for this information. How sad that making money means more than following the yogic path.

  6. hya says:

    They want to patent a camera at the back of the class? And presumably sue everyone who had filmed from the back? What greed!
    Is it even possible to patent something as mundane and standard as placing the camera at the back facing the teacher?…

  7. Krista says:

    Of course you wouldn't take credit where it doesn't belong, that would be stealing, and you deeply honor the 8 Limbed Path. Thank you for reading, posting, and for all you continue to contribute to the community. It doesn't change the fact they shouldn't patent. (my opinion obviously).
    Keep Shining the Light! Infinite Blessings. Krista

  8. Krista says:

    YAY!!!!! Until they end their greediness and choose to not patent. Otherwise, Greed got the best of them. (all my opinion of course) Thanks for reading and posting. Infinite Blessings. Krista

  9. Om Shanti says:

    That's mighty generous of you Yoga International, but the placement of actors in a video frame for pre-recorded or live streaming videos cannot be patented. Imagine a Hollywood director being sent a cease and desist letter for doing a close up on two people kissing.

  10. Parah Mitra says:

    Beautifully written Krista! Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to YogaGlo's absurdity!

  11. Erin says:

    Consider them boycotted!

  12. energyyogaschool says:

    We film like that already and have been for years, i too will join you, thank you for bringing it to our attention. ridiculousnuss !!

  13. JaniceC says:

    Yoga does not belong to anybody
    Yoga belongs to everybody

  14. Brittney says:

    I quit YogaGlo a while ago and I am so glad I did! It saddens me that we cheapen everything in the west and ruin everything because of greed. I saw that Yoga Journal had a "Style Issue" recently and threw up in my mouth, and a week later went to Victoria's Secret and saw hanging on the wall the "Yoga Bra". I couldn't believe it and walked out!

    I am honestly almost embarrassed to admit that I practice yoga at all anymore.

    It is awesome that you wrote this!

  15. Lisa says:

    Very well written, thank you for posting this. I heartily agree. What yogi wouldn't?

  16. Krista says:

    Thanks! Blessings to you and Thanks for reading and posting!

  17. Krista says:

    Thanks for all your support in reading and posting, please share to help get the word out, if you haven't already, and if you have, MUCH Thanks! Blessings, Everyone!

  18. stephanie says:

    Boycotted also! (and sorry to have to have done it)

  19. lucij0271 says:

    This is a frivolous patent request as Yogaglo did not "invent" this style of filming a yoga class or any type of class that might be similar such as an aerobic class. The public comment period is still open on this patent request and you can go t o to place your comment.

  20. Krista says:

    Thanks for all your support in reading and posting! Please keep sharing. Word out. Infinite Blessings.

  21. camella nair says:

    Streaming yoga or anything on line is a technology breakthrough. The subject matter is something else. This technology is still in its infancy. In time we will have holograms of teachers probably demonstrating poses on our coffee table in our living room as well as teaching us how to repair a car etc…,. The teacher and the transmission from the teacher is the important factor not the media in which it is transmitted. Would National Geographic state that no-one other than its photographers can take shots of animals from a certain angle? Greed and self interest are dangerous.

  22. Abby F. says:

    I feel like this has broader implications that just a yoga class online– couldn't YogaGlo eventually contest any online class that has a similar setup? Other fitness enterprises, educational institutions and the like should ban together and stop this nonsense!

  23. amphibi1yogini says:

    Well, that's also because they run a studio/tourist trap out there in Santa Monica. It is free to go to live classes there … for now …

    So, yeah, this style is patented because it is a marketing tool for a commercial quasi-communitarian model that prefers live students … I'm a happy customer of one such venue … but THEIR method is to actually attract those in the community with holding satsangs; and, like the overwhelming majority of those studios affiliated with the Himalayan Masters, they are a non-profit group..; the target that came forward (only one of many) against the infringement suit brought by YogaGlo was the actual Himalyan Institute itself …

    So it's similar communitarian yoga institutions with opposing motivations …

  24. Krista says:

    I agree. Abby. Thanks for reading and for taking time to post. Share the news, the more we let YogaGlo how wrong this is, the better. Blessings.

  25. cld says:

    thanks for posting this essay and offering yogaglo an opportunity to respond. so, would you take an ad from yogaglo for their videos?

  26. Jen says:

    Thanks for the informative article. Online Yoga isnt really my thing anyway (unless its the awe – inspiring Meghan currie or Kino) for informative purposes as opposed to taking a class.
    I will most certainly join you in boycotting YogaGlo.
    I cant stand the greedy corporate side to anything let alone Yoga.

  27. jen2 says:

    It would be nice to hear from YogaGlo on this matter – perhaps an article interviewing the founders to provide a balanced viewpoint before this op-ed style article, which seems, well, quite un-yogic, would have been useful.

  28. elephantjournal says:

    Hi, Jen! There's an editor's note at the top of this piece addressing this very issue; Waylon offered to interview or publish a statement from Yogaglo’s POV, but there is yet to be such content available to us. Our aim is not to take sides, but create a safe-space to have healthy and open dialogue about important issues (and we agree that this is one).

  29. Om Shanti says:

    Abby, I agree. I think the implications can stretch even beyond the fitness industry. If a patent such as this is allowed, it opens up the potential for other parts of the creative process to be monopolized too. This could affect the film, art, marketing industries etc. We must keep pushing back on this issue.

  30. Om Shanti says:

    Jen, YogaGlo did issue a statement:

    It appears that they have made a very deliberate choice to not respond directly to the public challenging the ethical implications of their pending patent. Inside sources say that they are drawing a hard line on this and will most likely not comment until the patent is awarded or denied.

  31. Lisa says:

    Wow, I wish that they would see that this is not helping them at all! It's a good site, and has done a lot for people, as are some of the newer high quality video sites like Movement for Modern Life and Grokker… but getting proprietary doesn't solve anything. They already have early-to-the pitch advantage, and the market- the yogis at home- will always develop relationships with the teachers. Not the camera angles or the class setup.

  32. Veena says:

    Worth doing – comment was still open when I looked. Don't know if it will do any good but have your say where it counts – with the Patent office!!

  33. Krista says:

    Thanks for posting and reading everyone. Jen2, YogaGlo is not commenting anymore than they already have at this time. Not fully sure why. But, Thanks for all your support. Greediness does not belong in the yoga world, violates the code of ethics, and well, it's also fear based thinking. I like what a few have said, "next thing you know someone will want to patent what we meditate upon." Infinite Blessings.

  34. jane fryer says:

    this is a really important point!!!

  35. jane fryer says:

    wow… this is really disturbing!! I live in Costa Rica and YogaGlo has been a lifeline to practice and i just love the range of options and choice of teachers, styles, etc. However, to try to patent camera angles, format, etc. is so spiritual materialism at it's very worst. Come on!!! get a grip, YG people and withdraw your case pronto

  36. Christy says:

    I just canceled. I really enjoyed the tutorials. Not cool at all.

  37. Krista says:

    Absolutely Jane F. Keep Shining! Maybe the more we speak out against it YG will withdraw the whole patent idea. Blessings.

  38. mike says:

    GOOD NEWS! You can oppose the Patent directly with the Patents Office here

  39. Leslie says:

    I believe they (YogaGlo) may have just shot themselves in the foot — not only will they lose subscribers, but imagine the fun they'll have (and money they will spend) monitoring such a patent — if it is approved. Thank you, Krista, for a well-written piece.

  40. Rebecca says:

    This really bothers me, however, in reference to the small businesses suffering, I think it will be okay. For those of us who take yoga for what it really is, we want nothing to do with situations such as this. I feel a lot of us will avoid YG because of these actions. There is business everywhere, even for greedy corporations. But they can have those people who are more into material things, they may or may not fully benefit from what a yoga practice is really about, but that is their choice.
    The one major downfall is those people who come into contact with YG first, and miss the opportunity for a deep spiritual practice because they were seduced by big flashy companies claiming to be real and innovative. But hopefully they do reach something deep inside and realize they are supporting the opposite of what yoga is about and switch back. We have to have faith in the practice itself to bring this realization to its students.

  41. Clare says:

    Hi Krista — thanks for posting this. I just foud out about the yogaglo patent and was pretty horrified that they'd even consider this. By all means, make a living from yoga but patenting anything to do with yoga is a step too far.

  42. Dave says:

    Have you seen this? A yogaglo business plan chart

  43. Dave says:

    I would say YouTube probably preceded YogaGlo in delivering streaming yoga classes online. And PBS preceded YouTube by 40 years in streaming yoga classes on-television. A fundamentally similar technology. As we move to a streaming entertainment culture, it's amazing to see how un-revolutionary it is, and in how many ways it's just TV, on the internet.

  44. Sharita says:

    I live in a small town in South Africa and was on the verge of signing up due to a lack and variety of classes available here. However I am quite disturbed by this "Patent" It's just downright wrong. This was part of my new years resolution, need to sleep on it

  45. Kelly Randall says:

    Yogaglo is STILL up to no good! Now they are attacking smaller companies who tangentially share yoga OR fitness information with "glo" or "glow" in their name, claiming rights they are not entitled to, while suppressing free speech and free use! Please sign the new petition against Yogaglo's business tactics here:&nbsp ;