We’re seeing a little bit of hysteria over a story going around today about YogaGlo — arguably the most successful provider of online yoga classes — sending a cease and desist order to a competitor, Yoga International (apparently the former magazine by the same name, now an online-only outfit), because YogaGlo has applied for a patent on how it films and demonstrates the classes.
Following the route of Bikram, YogaGlo has applied for a PATENT on their “specific” setup for online Yoga classes as of May 23.
The system and method place the instructor at the head of the classroom with live-participants arranged between the instructor and the camera with a direct line of sight between the camera and the instructor allowing for the viewer participant to have unobstructed views while simultaneously allowing for the viewer participant to have live participants in the periphery, as if the viewer was attending a live class.
This is not someone trying to patent yoga, or even a form of yoga (ala Bikram). The Yoga Blog makes this clear in an update — via a response from YogaGlo:
First, we want to make it very clear that YogaGlo has no intention to trademark, copyright or patent yoga itself or how yoga classes are set up and taught. That is not what we believe in and it is not what yoga is about.
We are simply protecting the proprietary filming perspective which makes YogaGlo’s online classes distinct. YogaGlo’s filming perspective was developed to help online users feel like they’re participating in the class from a remote location. People have independently acknowledged and recognized the look and feel of YogaGlo’s videos, including commenting on the unique setup of the classroom. This acknowledgement happened today, in fact, on the very post we link to above. With just a few short descriptors, many commenters immediately identified YogaGlo.
In this sense, the story isn’t quite as far-reaching as it first looks. But it still raises the always combative topic of yoga as a business, yoga as a commercial enterprise, etc.
My thinking — always subject to change because I’m not a politician — is that a lot of yoga, as I understand it, has had a air of business and commercialization about it, going back those thousands of years we all enjoy claiming. Traveling yogis needed to eat and be supported, after all — and I think we all can guess that the more charismatic, the more dramatic, the more theatric, aka the charlatans, probably got the nicest meals and softest beds.
The “real yogis,” then and now, probably toiled mostly in anonymity.
I’m also not a lawyer, but I’m initially skeptical that YogaGlo can patent a way of filming. If there is a technology involved (aka 3D), maybe, but a technique seems to me to be a little tougher. It feels akin to Hitchcock patenting his style or J.J. Abrams patenting his lens flares.
Posted by Steve