Ever popular for its philosophy of affordability, if not for the crowding that can happen in its free-yoga-love studios, Yoga to the People is being sued by a powerful enemy, yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, the man behind — obviously — Bikram yoga. Bikram, if you don’t know yoga, is a 90-minute program featuring 26 poses done in a 105-degree room (tagline: “authentic hot yoga that’s changing lives all over the world.”) Certainly, it is making people sweat a lot more than they would otherwise. The trouble, according to Choudhury’s lawyer, Robert Gilchrest, is that Yoga to the People’s founder Gregory Gumucio ripped off Choudhury’s yoga moves which, in fact, Choudhury has copyrighted, for a Yoga to the People class called “Traditional Hot Yoga.” YOGA BEEF!
According to DNAinfo, Choudhury and Gilchrest sent an undercover yogi into the Yoga to the People class to verify that it is a “virtual mirror image of Bikram Yoga and it used virtually verbatim the Bikram Yoga dialogue.” We would like this character to be played by Matt Damon.
Some further background: This is not Choudhury’s first lawsuit. After copyrighting Bikram in 2002, he sued a Miami studio, which settled. Now he wants $1 million and an injunction on hot yoga classes at Yoga to the People. This is also not Choudhury’s first beef with Gumucio: The two used to be friends, or at least colleagues — “Gumucio said he was first introduced to yoga at a Bikram Yoga training program in 1996, and considered himself Choudhury’s right-hand man for five years, before the pair fell out of favor.”
Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, maybe? Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford? Discuss amongst yourselves!
Echoing what we imagine is the voice of the people, Gumucio said, “I think that yoga should be made available to everybody. It should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of a few.”
Of course, at the end of the day, yoga is also a lucrative business. And lucrative businesses are not known for being particularly yoga-like.
Are any aspiring screenwriters listening? Free Bikram. We’ll take a cut, thanks.
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