Here’s three and a half minutes of Manju Jois teaching in Athens

New video for your enjoyment:

Posted by Steve

Apparently someone broke his thigh in Marichyasana B

Here’s a story that could get the “yoga can hurt you” drumbeat going again.

According to the uniquely unreliable Mail in the UK, a guy practicing in a Mysore room tried to do Marichyasana B and broke his thigh:

A man suffered a painful break to his thigh bone while carrying out a yoga pose.

The 39-year-old man, who remains unidentified, had been practising yoga for two years, and had recently begun exploring Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga.

[snip]

In the emergency department, doctors found the man’s lower limb was shorter than usual and had rotated due to the injury.

X-rays showed he had a fracture in his ‘femoral shaft’, the long, straight part of the thigh bone.

Doctors said they believed this is the first documented case of a healthy person developing such a fracture while following a yoga stance. 

Here’s a link to the report on this that is the impetus for the Mail story. (Warning: X-rays that may make you think twice about doing Marichy B.) What strikes me is the description of this as a “low-energy” break. The report also concludes in part with this: “Yoga-related injuries are becoming more commonplace.”

(And note, we’ve now “broken” our taking Moon days off from posting twice today.)

Posted by Steve

Here’s someone who thinks Bikram should have won his copyright lawsuit

Here’s a counter to what seems the prevailing idea that the Bikram sequence of yoga poses should not be able to be copyrighted:

Yet the emphasis on the science of yoga doesn’t demonstrate that Bikram yoga isn’t also a highly specific form of coordinated bodily motions arranged in a particular way to produce an aesthetic reaction — in other words, choreography.

Congress specifically gave copyright protection to choreography in 1976, without defining the term. (Apparently, you know it when you see it.) Remarkably, the 9th Circuit thought that it could deny choreography protection to the Bikram sequence without defining the term itself. The court said that the Bikram sequence can’t be copyrighted because “it is an idea, process, or system,” and those are legally unprotectable — even if they are also choreography.

This can’t be right. Consider the ballets of George Balanchine, whose copyrights are carefully guarded by the George Balanchine Trust. Each and every one of those ballets unquestionably incorporates an idea, or rather many ideas: of modernism, of classicism, of the relationship of movement to music, and so on.

What’s more, many people do ballet as a form of exercise and as an aesthetic-spiritual meditative experience, just as they do yoga.

I think that’s the crux of the argument from this BloombergView piece. Something about the choreography = yoga (really, asanas) doesn’t quite pass muster for me. Perhaps I don’t quite agree that an established dance move is the same thing as a particular asana. But I get why someone would want to argue that.

Maybe Bikram will appeal higher.

Posted by Steve

Quit meditating, already

It’s been a while since the New York Times published something seemingly intent on irritating yogis, meditators and other alternatively bent thinkers.

If you’ve missed those NYT pieces, fear not! It’s got one in the paper this weekend:

I AM being stalked by meditation evangelists.

They approach with the fervor of a football fan attacking a keg at a tailgate party. “Which method of meditation do you use?”

I admit that I don’t meditate, and they are incredulous. It’s as if I’ve just announced that the Earth is flat. “How could you not meditate?!”

I have nothing against it. I just happen to find it dreadfully boring.

“But Steve Jobs meditated!”

Yeah, and he also did L.S.D. — do you want me to try that, too?

“L.S.D. is dangerous. Science shows that meditation is good for you. It will change your life.”

Will it?

You can get a pretty good sense where it goes from that. It is by a contributing opinion writer for the paper, Adam Grant, who is a professor of management and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

My main problem with the piece is that it doesn’t really feel like he provides much support for his argument that other activities can do as much good as meditating. And he makes some thinly veiled references to what I assume are the occasional lost soul who tries some Eastern or alternative path and dies (for any number of reasons). But he doesn’t provide any actual examples.

It also seems the whole point of the piece is he’s annoyed by those evangelists he addresses in the first line. But, as with so many piece in the Times, there’s no evidence to support a claim the writer makes.

Really? You’re being stalked? Maybe rather than writing an Op-Ed you should either call the police or find out what it is about meditating that turns people into sociopaths.

Posted by Steve

Bikram on wrong end of major court ruling

A three-person panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Bikram Choudhury in a case involving his attempt to copyright his yoga sequence.

The news is out there at various outlets. Here’s Time:

Bikram Choudhury, the self-styled creator of Bikram yoga, has for years threatened to sue practitioners that he feels are copying his signature yoga poses. However, a court ruled on Thursday that he has no legal right to do so.

[snip]

Choudhury’s most recent legal case involved Evolation Yoga, a Florida-based studio that the magnate accused of copyright violations.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now disagreed with him after he appealed a district judge’s ruling in favor of Evolation. The judges clearly stated that his sequence cannot be protected by copyright law, the Times reports.

“Copyright protects only the expression of this idea — the words and pictures used to describe the sequence — and not the idea of the sequence itself,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, one of the judges on the panel, wrote.

Radio coverage I heard here in Los Angeles of the ruling — Bikram’s based here — reported that the judges also determined yoga is meant to improve people’s health and well-being and that copyrighting such a thing would be akin to giving a doctor exclusive rights to using a certain medical procedure.

He could appeal up… but I’m not sure given the substance of the ruling that he has a good chance. But you never know.

Posted by Steve

‘An unusual sight’ in Venezuela

At about 90 seconds long, this report from Caracas, Venezuela by the BBC is absolutely worth a look:

A yoga scheme has been set up in the slums of Caracas to improve the quality of life for the people living there.

In this part of the Venezuelan capital, hundreds of thousands of people live on top of each other in a sprawling maze of homes and shacks.

Full video at the link. Definitely an example of the good efforts to bring yoga to those who need it.

Posted by Steve

What should a description of a Mysore class include?

I came across this description of a Mysore class/program at Ashtanga Montauk, which admittedly is a spot more on my radar for surfing than yoga:

Mysore Style Classes

are Ashtanga Yoga classes, as traditionally practiced in Mysore, India, the home of the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The Mysore class is a group class where students have a self-paced practice, with verbal instruction and hands-on adjustments from the teacher. Because the instruction in a Mysore class is highly individualized, it is appropriate for both new students as well as more advanced practitioners. This unique combination of individualized pace and instruction within a group class gives each student the ability to work at his/her own level, while enjoying the inspiration and energy of a group. Each student is taught and supported by the teacher as he/she memorizes the sequence and develops a personal rhythm to the practice. This class is appropriate for students of all levels and is an excellent opportunity to develop a practice that can slowly build over a lifetime. Knowing the sequence of postures is not required, just being open-minded, curious, and receptive to learning.

We’ve got housed on our site a link to Yoga Workshop’s briefing on Mysore. It has a nice mix of irreverence and information. This one seems to do a pretty solid job, as well. But I wonder: Is there anything you think is missing? Anything that ought to be included in any Mysore description? Something more on the asanas and how they are likely to be approached? Maybe the one thing that seems to be missing, as opposed to most, is a semi-requirement that a student commit to the first month and a certain number of days per week.

Anything else?

Posted by Steve