As was reported last week, free yoga studio chain Yoga to the People is being sued by Bikram Choudhury, the inventor of Bikram yoga, for “stealing” poses. Choudhury, who is very litigious, and his lawyer sent in an undercover yogi into the YTTP hot yoga class to confirm Choudhury’s suspicion that his poses were being used. Bikram yoga involves a specific 90-minute-long series of 26 poses performed in a 105-degree room. Choudhury has trademarked the phrase “Bikram Yoga” and the poses along with it.
YTTP’s owner Gregory Gumucio used to be close with Choudhury and “considered himself Choudhury’s right-hand man for five years, before the pair fell out of favor,” according to DNA Info. Now Gumucio is discussing the situation with Choudhury on YTTP’s Facebook page and not mincing words.
From last week:
Question: “if u honestly and truly feel this way then why do u hang a photo of bikram in your schools?”
Answer: “you know, i appreciate this question. it is a fair and good question not an accusation.
first, there aren’t photos in every school. there is a photo in the one school you must be referring to on 27th street.
i hung that when we first opened. i trained and i am a certified bikram teacher. i ran his training for 4 plus years. bikram rarely would be found in a “regular” class he often preferred the advance series class. however, bikram and i were very close and he loved taking my class. we were dear friends actually. i would stay at his home, he would come and stay at my home. the photo is one of endearment for me. he was my worst student, drinking water, telling jokes, we had fun.
i have no problem with bikram the person. i still have a tremendous amount of affection for him. however, as the site states, i don’t believe anyone should own a sequence of yoga. not even bikram. most almost all people have no idea who bikram is, or what he looks like. you obviously do. that photo is heartfelt. it isn’t meant as some subversive statement. if it in someway offended you. it wasn’t intended to do so.
for the record. i hate this lawsuit. i don’t relish or take an ounce of pleasure in it. i reached out to bikram personally to speak with him before letting matters get carried away. his lawyers advised him against it.
i haven’t thought of that photo for awhile. it saddens me to think of it in this moment.
From this morning:
During the years I spent with Bikram, he had a series of sayings and Indian idioms. They were often thought provoking and over time the moral, truth or meaning behind the idiom or saying would come to light. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a group of students that there was one story I never really understood. For 14 years I never understood it, until the lawsuit… and now it’s meaning is “crystal clear”.
Bikram would say, “In your country you have a saying: ‘You can lead the horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.’ No…NO!…you got it all wrong! I say I lead the horse to water, if he does not drink, I cut his f**king head off!” And then he would laugh and laugh, and say, “That is MY way!”
Yikes. The studio has also put out a petition called “Can Yoga be Owned?” regarding the lawsuit that so far has over 6,500 signatures; go here if you want to sign it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2011