Monday, May 07, 2007

Patenting Yoga

The US Government has decided to tap into Indian culture by patenting Yoga. According to Suketu Mehta's OP-ED in The New York Times today, "The United States patent and Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories, and 2,315 yoga trademarks," producing "$3 billion a year in America alone."

The issue of who owns what regarding Yoga has also been brought in question in India with regards to Bikram Chowdhury's Bikram Yoga. The Indian government is creating a library of the asanas in order to prevent people from patenting different aspects of the ancient practice, and this library would be available to the US. Apparently, that's not enough for the US Government though. We'd rather own it because then we can make money off of it.

When will we, as Americans, learn that all of life is not about money? Sometimes life is about feeding your soul and helping better the universe. Instead, e have managed to strip the soul right out of Yoga by turning it into a commercialized profit-industry, just like everything else in America.


YogaDawg said...

Then the parody "Om Trademarked" should come as no surprise if it becomes true.

Susan said...

While I agree that a negligent few (OK, maybe 2,315 negligent few) may be "taking the soul out of yoga," the growth of yoga as a personal and group practice in the US is overall a really great thing. I like to think of yoga as making the world a more peaceful place, one mind at a time. I assume that some of that copyrighted material includes yoga books and DVD's, which are hard to publish without a copyright. In India traditionally, yogis were wandering ascethics, who were supported by the community giving alms. In the US, yoga teachers and authors do deserve to make enough money to support a yoga career. Many of these teachers, like Seane Corne and David Gannon, then go on to educate their students about issues that really matter (Youth AIDS and animal compassion, respectively). I urge yoga practicitioners to keep the faith, and find a teacher who lives the practice by embodying the wisdom of the traditional yogic texts in the modern world.