September 24, 2013

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

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}

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