Bikram Yoga vs. Yoga to the People: Is this pose worth $1M?

Students attend a “Traditional Hot Yoga” class last night at Yoga to the People.

These dueling yogis have their practices tied up in knots.

Bikram Choudhury, famed creator of Bikram Yoga, is suing Yoga to the People in the East Village for stealing his signature sequence of yoga poses.

Choudhury is demanding $1 million from Gregory Gumucio, a former student and the owner of Yoga to the People, for profiting off of what he says are his copyrighted yoga moves.

Choudhury claims he has copyright protection of his sequence of 26 poses and 105-degree temperature environment, and says Gumucio’s “Traditional Hot Yoga” classes are a ripoff of his idea.

“The use of the copyrighted material is limited to certified Bikram yoga studios,” Robert Gilchrest, Choudhury’s attorney said. 

In order to become a Bikram-certified studio, Gilchrest said, instructors must pay $10,000 to study under Choudhury and get explicit permission from Choudhury to teach Bikram.

“It’s crazy that [Choudhury] can think he owns yoga,” Gumucio responded. “If he owns the sequence, it opens a floodgate for lots of people to start trying to copyright, trademark and patent this traditional, sacred knowledge.”

Gumucio, in addition to his legal defense, has started an online petition on YogaTruth.Org to protect what he says is the public’s right to yoga.

Can you copyright a class?

Metro spoke with intellectual property lawyer Douglas Wyatt about the legality of the lawsuit.

“It is possible for yoga poses to be protected,” Wyatt said. “The copyright statutes allow for the protection of expression, which includes things like dance.”

He also said that the whopping $1 million price tag may not even be out of bounds.

“The valuation of copyright and copyrighted material depends on the market. There might not be an established rate,” he said, referring to the range of how much people pay for a yoga class. Yoga to the People charges $8 per class; Bikram demands $20.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn girl's death ruled a homicide

The New York City Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a Brooklyn toddler a homicide. Jeida Torres, 3, was found bruised and unresponsive Saturday…

Local

New York City continues to prepare for Ebola…

New York City continues to prepare for the possibility of Ebola. There have been numerous scares, but no confirmed cases. Representatives from about 150 unions…

Local

NYPD nabs alleged serial bank robber

  The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for multiple Manhattan bank robberies this month. Police have arrested a Brooklyn man they…

National

A look into the minds of Tsarnaev's fan…

While thousands of supporters insist their loyalty is due to a steadfast belief that Dzhokhar "Jahar" Tsarnaev's is innocent, others, mainly young women, come dangerously close to an unhealthy infatuation…

Entertainment

We the Economy: Morgan Spurlock's new crusade

If Morgan Spurlock gets his way, you won't be able to avoid We the Economy, the series of 20 shorts films curated by the "Super…

Arts

3 Parody plays lampoon your childhood, adulthood and…

Whether you loved the source material or you're going in blind, these parody plays have something for every audience member. We rate three of NYC's hottest satirical shows.

Gossip

Who has more power: Harry Styles or Amal…

Amal Clooney comes in fourth on The Evening Standard's Most Influential Londoners list.

Music

#AskPaul McCartney reveals his love of American pop…

For an Englishman, Paul McCartney's pop culture tastes would fit right in stateside. The former Beatle (@PaulMcCartney) revealed that he has a real thing for…

NFL

Breno Giacomini: Media blowing up Golden Tate-Percy Harvin…

According to Breno Giacomini, the fight between Golden Tate and Percy Harvin during Super Bowl week was over by the time the lineman turned around.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

Education

Is a 'gap year' after high school for…

It’s a familiar script that millions of students follow each year: Graduate high school and then immediately start college. But more and more students are…

Parenting

New news about Kate Middleton's pregnancy

The Palace released a statement about Kate Middleton's pregnancy.

Parenting

Cool book for kids: 'The Princess In Black'

"The Princess In Black" will change the way girls view princesses.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…