Yoga Inc

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Yoga is a co mpetitive, commercialized, mega - industry. Can yoga survive with its good karma intact? Esak Garcia is a ‘competitive yogi’ whose ultimate goal is the Olympics, a dream instilled in him by his guru, Bikram Choudhury, the ‘Bad Boy of Yoga’. While fighting to have yoga recognized as an Olympic sport, Bikram has also copyrighted his yoga style, demanding teachers play by his rules or stop teaching. A court must now decide if someone can ‘own’ yoga. And with yoga chains (McYoga?) proliferating, everything is u p for grabs, from yoga shoes to chakra panties. Is nothing sacred

Yoga's history stretches back over centuries, 3,000 year old representations of what appear to be meditating yogis have been uncovered

Written accounts of yoga appear in Hindu spiritual texts recorded approximately 1,400 years before the birth of Christ, and through the ages, yoga practitioners have been dedicating their lives to attaining yoga's ultimate goal

The purpose of yoga is the development of self-awareness to the point of liberation

And that's for the hippies

Yoga is a certified, bona fide, worldwide phenomenon

There are booming yoga scenes in Asia, South America, across Europe, and even the Middle East

But the ancient yogis might have a hard time recognizing today's practice

Yoga has become the answer to everything

It's an alternative therapy, a meeting place for like-minded people

They're not professionals, they're not teachers, they just have an interest in the practice of yoga

And a way to get closer to more gods than the ancient yogis ever dreamed of

We're going to use the scripture today from Psalms 46 to just be still and know that he is God

Yet as the practice continues to thrive, yoga purists are wondering whether the essence of yoga can survive, especially in the United States, where an estimated 18 million practitioners a year are fueling the big business of yoga

18 million people in the United States doing yoga, a thousand dollars a year for classes and books and mats and clothes, etc

That becomes an 18 billion dollar business

That's more sales than Coca-Cola does in the United States or McDonald's does in the United States or Gillette does in the United States

Yoga is sort of caught in between two cultures and I look around and I see all the affluence and I see the affluence connected to yoga

That doesn't feel right to me

I think all of us are looking for answers

We're looking for the great truth

We want somebody to give us those answers instantly perhaps in Western culture where we're used to drive-throughs and microwaves and now we think we can get instant enlightenment

Each culture has become interwoven with the practice

Now yoga is becoming American

I'm hoping that it can remain genuine, remain authentic and still become, you know, part of our culture


Right? That

Everyone's doing that


Okay? I'm just going to talk to you while you're doing it even though we're talking

So at that moment

Knees down, shoulders up




You have beautiful, soft face

You just keep doing that

Bright eyes, soft face

Now, when the hands are loose like that, it looks soft

Seven milk, no sugar

Wheat sugar

Wheat sugar

Everybody sugar? Wheat sugar

I was doing sugar separate


Check, check

One, two, three, four

Good morning everybody

Welcome to the First World Yoga Competition

Thank you very much for coming and let's officially start the competition

Yogis from across the globe, including Japan, Thailand, Italy, the UK and Australia, have flocked to Los Angeles for this, the first world yoga championship to be held in the United States

Yoga championships do have a history

In India, there's evidence of competitions stretching back at least four decades

In countries such as Argentina and Italy, yoga competitions are popular events

Not so in the United States

And much of the criticism has been levelled at Bikram Chowdhury, the driving force behind the competitions

His supporters say Bikram is making yoga accessible to the masses

His detractors see him as the embodiment of everything that's wrong with modern yoga

So any idiot ask you how yoga could be competition, you better go back home and tell them, no, we didn't compete with anybody

We didn't compete in America or Germany or Japan or India

We compete our, my body, my mind, my spirit to improve it in the highest level in cosmic consciousness

That's it

My main actual goal was to be competing with myself and to show at least one part of my soul to the judges

That's how I knew that I'd be a winner

I was like, went home last night and I was like, well, I wonder how hard it is to do some of these things

So I started hitting it

I think I might have to put my clothes back on

Primarily my interest for the readership of FHM, the magazine I'm writing for, is the paradoxical nature to the man on the street of there being a yoga competition

Because almost everyone's perception is that yoga is a non-competitive pursuit

It's quote unquote spiritual, whatever the fuck that means

And it seems all the resistance is coming from Johnny come lately, yogas and yoginis who don't really know that much about the history of yoga

The popular perception is that yoga arrived in the West pure and fully formed sometime in the 1960s

But the struggle for the soul of yoga, this war between spiritualism and secularism has been raging much longer than that

The biggest misconception is that yoga really became popular or known or practiced in any significant way in the 60s in the United States

And it basically, you have to kind of back that up by a century

Vivekananda was the first Indian to come here and teach yoga

He addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893

The irony, of course, is that he did not come to America to teach yoga

He came to raise money for India

He wanted to help impoverished Indians because he had seen how much his country was suffering

By the turn of the century, people were actually practicing yoga

People from really wealthy, prominent families, names you would recognize, Vanderbilt, Rutherford, Goodrich

In general, it drew a more open-minded kind of American because there was still a lot of anti-Hindu sentiment

It was kind of easy to target Hindus

You also have a change in the immigration law in 1924

Indians are banned from immigrating here

Indians could come, but they couldn't legally settle here

Indra Devi was the first to really succeed in presenting yoga in this sort of more mass way

The way she did that was to kind of further pull it apart from Hinduism

She opens a studio up on Sunset Boulevard in the late 40s, and she starts teaching starlets, saying, you know, you don't have to worry about the spiritual practice

You can just do this, and it'll keep you fit, it'll keep you healthy, it'll keep you looking young

It was accommodating the national temper in many ways

And so they joined the stream of family life in the suburbs, soon to become part of its familiar sights

When I was a child, people didn't really understand yoga

It was, even in San Francisco, it was considered to be an oddity, a weird thing

My parents had a really popular and abundant yoga center back in the 50s

It was unusual

I was often referred to as Hare Krishna

I was teased a lot by different kids

This was post-war years, so America was a somewhat conservative place

We were not kind of so interested in the mystical dimension as a culture

I mean, it was kind of, get things done, get things moving

I was only four years old the day that President Kennedy was assassinated

It was like the first right in my face that this death thing is a reality for all of us

My mother gave me a variety of different answers that included yogas

They had the answers to the mysteries

Then you think, I want to be a yogi

We were in Ohio at the time, I mean, I'm the only kid that practiced yoga, the only vegetarian

There was a big divide between middle America and people doing things that were alternative

I don't know anything about yoga

Who does? When the counterculture starts to happen, people see this yoga thing and they kind of see, oh, if you just turn it a little, there's this whole dimension that actually really fits in with our whole idea of challenging Western materialism and rationalism, all the sacred cows of bourgeois middle class society

Also, from the mid-20s to the mid-60s, Indians couldn't legally settle here, and that changes as the mid-60s

So in 1965, Indians can come to America and settle here again

As soon as I came to America in 1960, February 5th, 1960, in one month and a half, I started teaching yoga

People were getting into marijuana and LSD

This is the now generation

And that was the hippies who were really disenchanted with the society and with the culture and focus on the money and power

They are a part of the wave of the future

When the Beatles went to India and became fans of Trans-Mental Meditation, I mean, that just had a huge ripple effect

In the early 70s in Southern California, it's all right there

So I was, you know, intrigued by the Eastern religions, and all of those things were taught at my crazy college

Some of the advanced students, they said, we would like to continue to study with you and maybe live near you

Everywhere I went, people said, we want to be in your ashram

There was so much happening here, it really offered a way to think about the world and what was important in life that was meaningful and resonated with a whole range of people

Years of yoga training have led up to this moment

It's now practiced by all kinds of people, lawyers, construction workers, housewives, people, people

If Debbie panics or freezes on the top of the platform, the yogi could easily be killed

When we come back, we'll see if the yogi's concentration can keep him from being crushed to death

What happened is these hippies, they became yuppies

You have this large cohort of baby boomers who are reaching middle-aged, and we live an increasingly fast-paced life, and so they were seeking stress relief as well

And then you had another large group that I think was attracted to yoga because celebrities publicized the more athleticized forms

Let's begin with a deep breathing exercise

Welcome to fat-burning yoga

In the early 90s, there was a great boom that happened in interest in yoga, the no pain, no gain kind of, if you don't sweat, it's not good for you

That really rapid rise in participation occurred in late 2001

Yoga went public, TV, movie stars, shows about yoga

The last time it was so secularized was probably the post-war period, when it was harder to use yoga to sell other products

Now yoga is sort of available to market other things that have nothing to do with yoga

And you're seeing that spiritual aspects are being drawn on even by advertisers right now, that other inner dimension of yoga

One of the ones that kind of crosses the line for me is chakra panties

My question is, what next? Where will they take it next? It's a common denominator among many spiritual movements where you can't have anyone emerge as someone interested in making money off of it or someone with a very strong point of view because it somehow brings down the community or the collective

In this instance, we have Bikram, who is a very aggressive capitalist

Bikram is kind of a caricature of himself, I think

That's the impression people get of him in the media

People have like a vehement reaction against what Bikram is doing

I'm the smartest man in the world you've ever met in your entire life

I make a package

Twenty-six posture, two breathing exercise, it works

Of the literally hundreds of yoga styles that have emerged, Bikram's brand of yoga is one of the most popular

The Bikram organization says it's endorsed over 750 studios worldwide to teach his yoga

A Bikram class is the same from Calcutta to California

Ninety minutes of stretching, bending and balancing performed in a heated room

Adherents swear by Bikram yoga, whether they're trying to lose weight or regain the use of paralyzed limbs

I broke the C2 and C6 vertebrae in my neck and I fractured the left temple part of my skull

Every class it seems like I just keep making more progress

Previously in the United States, you could take a Bikram class at many studios that weren't affiliated with Bikram's franchise

Not anymore

In 2003, in a move that cemented his bad boy of yoga reputation, Bikram sought copyright and trademark protection for his yoga style

He now demands that teachers offering unauthorized Bikram yoga or using the Bikram name either join his franchise and follow his operating guidelines or face copyright infringement fees

I think that's why the mafia is so successful because they've mastered the art of working with family and if you can master that art you can pretty much accomplish anything

All of a sudden there's this person telling you, you can't practice that yoga pose or you can't teach somebody else or practice with somebody else that yoga pose or that series of postures because they're mine

All yoga is good yoga

The only bad yoga is saying that your yoga is the best or the only

We're certainly not against Bikram

We love the yoga

We paid a good penny to take the training

I just don't want to give it up

There are many, many people who are interested in being part of a franchise or who are interested in being a yoga college of India but to attempt to require people who don't want to be part of his organization to be part of it is kind of ridiculous

Pivot on your right heel, bend the right knee and sit down into warrior two

Because I'm now not playing the franchise game that Bikram wants everyone to play, then what? I should stop teaching yoga all together, just stop helping people, no more, no more helping people, sorry

The postures that are in Bikram's sequence are not Bikram's postures

They're postures that have been passed down from his teacher and his teacher and Bikram passed it on to me and now I pass it to my teachers

It's not anyone's property to own, let alone to steal

This is our business

This is our livelihood and we don't want to see it destroyed by anybody, especially by somebody who we feel is acting in an unlawful way

I had never gotten a letter from an attorney before

It's not something that you can ignore and hope that it goes away

It's something that you're apparently required by law to respond within a certain number of days and we, you know, had to find a lawyer

Sandy McCauley comes to me holding this letter saying, what do I do? Bikram is sending out these cease and desist letters all over the place

He's telling people, you are violating my copyright if you teach my yoga or you're violating my trademark if you use my name

He's threatening to sue everybody for statutory damages of $150,000 per violation

He's telling people, stop what you're doing

Don't teach Bikram yoga anymore

Tell me how much money you've made and I'll tell you what you owe me

An analogy would be if somebody in the Yankees pitching staff pitched a new pitch and said, it's mine, you have to pay me

Generally Americans applaud these kinds of things

However, within the yoga community, we have a lot of people complaining about a guy who's basically a classic entrepreneurial up by the bootstraps American success story

And what angers them is that their precious misconstrued view of India and yoga and all of these things that are other and foreign to them are being brought back to them in a very like McDonald's American kind of form

You'll see the term use muck yoga as in McDonald's a lot now in all the journalists writing about the Bikram case

And then by the way, there is going to be a new chain of yoga studios called Yoga Works

There are two businessmen who have bought several studios in Los Angeles

They've bought several studios in New York

We knew it was just a matter of time before you would begin to see chains of yoga studios in addition to Bikram in this country

We worked together for about three years at a prior company, Ask Jeeves

And then after Jeeves, we were thinking about what could become next

We had this year where we were trying to come up with a business idea and we said, let's do something where we think there's an important contribution we could make

Rob started doing yoga up where he was living and I was doing yoga where I was living

But we weren't sharing this

We finally had this confessional that we were both doing yoga

So we said, let's create a business where we could make great yoga accessible to many more people

We bristle at the word chain and every time from the moment we wrote the first description of this as a business idea, we edited that word out every time we saw it and people would say, you're a chain

We said, no, we are a family of yoga schools

The cynicism is, my gosh, if we're not careful, this will turn into the way, you know, Starbucks or Walmart has come in and sort of changed the landscape of America

It's a key question

How do you take the advantages of scale, but keep the essential rightness of individual empowerment? How do you blend that together? How do you manage those two tensions? Yoga has an incredible, varied, creative expression of itself that evolves constantly, continues to adapt itself to not just regions, but to the personalities who's leading it, to the insights that they have as human beings and their direct experiences

I think that's one of the beauties of yoga

I built my website so that people can find out about me with the hopes of getting a sponsorship

If a sports apparel company wanted to support me in training, I would go for it for sure

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Nike Corporation as far as the way their workers are treated in third world countries

But at the same time, Nike Corporation has so much money and if they wanted to put it into something like promoting yoga, I would accept that

When competitive yogi Isak Garcia comes to Chicago to demonstrate Bikram yoga, a friend suggests he should try his luck at getting on a local morning chat show

I don't really know how to approach somebody and say, I want to sponsor me

I don't really have connections, but I'm making connections every day and I think that it's just a matter of time before yoga athletes start to get sponsorships

Yeah, he'll talk about it

I gave him those press releases you gave me

Hey kids, I want you all right over here

Coming up in a moment, we'll update the top stories

And we have a yoga practitioner outside

Look at that

I don't know why

He just happened to visit us here at Studio 5

Now, I didn't realize that there was competition for yoga

Well, it's a new thing in the United States, but it's been going on for a long time in India

It's an ancient tradition in India and it happens in other countries all over the world

He does have goosebumps because it is cool out here

We're leaning into the wind this morning because we do have a pretty brisk headwind coming in out of the north, bringing in some much cooler air

Oh, geez


Oh, he's moving

You're messing him up

There we go

Right there, guys

Holy cow

Is there an alternative to this bullshit? I mean, everybody's marching around with a yoga mat and they think it's the goddamn Torah

It happens to be available to every single person on earth now

At every level, they have it for a fucking dog, they have it for a child, they have it for a parrot

It's a business formula, like anything else

Nothing is safe, you know? So fuck it

The whole thing started by accident

I walk into the house and my wife was going to yoga

Yoga before dinner, yoga before this, yoga before that, is like, fuck yoga

I made her this shirt as a birthday gift

I believe her exact quote was, not on your life am I going to wear that? And so I wore mine around a lot

Next thing you know, I was selling shirts in Johannesburg, Vienna, San Diego, Oregon

It's kind of the shit happens of the new millennium, you know? The kicker is this, here it is

Yoga has gone unopposed for thousands of years

You know what I mean? And so that is really the thrust of it

It's like, come on already

I'm sure there was some sucker 4,000 years ago standing in the back of some stone temple doing yoga with all those people thinking, what the fuck am I doing here? But didn't speak up, because he would have got his head cut off or his arms chopped off or incinerated or whatever they did

I heard that there was another t-shirt that you might have considered which was about Sting

Fuck Sting is, that is a brilliant shirt, but he's incorporated in the yoga shirt

And fuck yoga means fuck Sting

By the way, we have all sorts of, this is, we have fuck yoga water

Oh really? Yeah

This is for you

Thanks for coming

Thanks for coming to fuck yoga

Good afternoon and welcome to the second regional Northern California Yoga Championship

Give it up, give it up, give it hot

A yoga competition you say, isn't yoga spiritual you say, how can you compete in yoga you say? Well we say you can

And here we are today to present that

Life is a competition and yoga teaches you emotion in action

This competition is judged on the yoga postures, poise and gracefulness, but the competition is within yourself, taking you to a new level of self-improvement

Now let's get into that for a minute

Each year it gets better and better because when people see it, they want to do it the next year and then their friends want to do it and I think next year it'll probably be sponsored by Mercedes-Benz

We are going to announce the winners of our second annual North California Yoga Championship

First place, Isaac Garcia

You know I don't feel like I beat anybody because all these people, you know, they're my inspiration, they're my peers, they're my teachers and we can call it a competition, we can call it other things, but it doesn't, I don't think that that really embraces completely what's going on

We're just going out there to demonstrate what it is that we put our hearts into and what it is that we focus on

And what if I told you these championships are part of a move to get yoga in the Olympics, which is what Bikram's people are saying? That I would just laugh

I have definite questions about that

If we enshrine the physical part of the practice, we're condoning an understanding of yoga which falls far short of yoga's potential

It would really diminish and demean the whole beautiful and to me a very sacred practice

Whoever can do the most contortionist-like position wins

That isn't yoga for me

There always has to be a winner and I don't know how you deem that someone has reached enlightenment faster than the person in lane three

It seems almost comedic

Yeah, you can't really measure somebody's spiritual practice, but I think that a person's level of self-esteem and self-control is on display

Now there's the argument

Is this yogic? Is this what it's supposed to be about? Isn't it not about competition? Isn't it about personal practice? Of course it is

Then the other side of the coin is, yeah, but isn't it silly? At the end of the day, really what's the harm of it? They're practicing yoga, they hopefully get peace of mind out of it, and they're making some money

Big deal

If you live in the Olympics and that's someone's view of doing yoga, so be it

And maybe they will stumble onto the quote-unquote spiritual side or they'll find some kind of soothing or psychological calm through doing it, which would be beneficial

These are cease and desist letters sent to other studios and other clubs

Who's that sent to? Las Vegas

Is that Las Vegas? Yeah

In the yoga copyright and trademark case, Sandy and Bill McCauley and their daughter Vanessa band together with other studio owners who've been targeted by Bikram's lawyers

We had all these people that were scared to death and they didn't have the money to fight individually

My advice was to put together an organization to provide a common voice and a pooling of resources

The group calls itself Open Source Yoga Unity after the open source software movement, which rejects intellectual property and ownership restrictions, allowing anyone to design and market new computer code

I saw a parallel between open source software and yoga

Yoga's been around thousands of years

If somebody controls a part of it, then its development in other directions could possibly be hampered

It's not so much the issue of whether it's unique, it's whether or not you can control a style of yoga

The editors here at eWEEK

com, they were intrigued by open source yoga unities taking on the mantle of open source software as their cry of liberty

They felt that since it's such an ancient practice, it can't be copyrighted, it can't be controlled by any one person or any one practitioner

It's in the public domain

It's clear that business is business and competition is competition and it doesn't matter whether you're selling software or you're selling philosophy

I think that Beacon has worked very hard all his life to get where he is

I believe what he's trying to do is keep his yoga pure so that when you call something Beacon yoga, you know that you're teaching his yoga as it's meant to be taught

He teaches it to others and they're going to bring it out into the world and it's going to change and it's going to grow and that's the painful reality of the situation

Oh, you have a right to do whatever you want, but if you're going to call it Beacon yoga, then it should be Beacon yoga

I think it's a very painful case

A lot of these people were very close to Beacon at one time

Nobody had a connection with Bickram more than I did, so families were very, very close

I was Bickram's senior teacher, which he called me for 15 years

We used to call each other brothers and I still have a very, very warm place in my heart for Bickram even though we had political and business fallout

He's still family

I loved him and do, continue, always will because I deeply appreciate what I gained in the training

And the lawsuit wasn't about getting any money, we didn't sue him for any money, we just sued him so that we would have the right to do what we wanted to do, what we were trained to do

This is grassroots

These people just want to be able to continue their business

Positioning itself as the little guy taking on the big guy, OSYU asks the federal court to declare Bickram's claimed copyright and trademark as unenforceable

OSYU says yoga positions that existed in the public domain cannot be treated as intellectual property

Can someone copyright yoga? And if you can, what protections do you have under it? I don't like money, I don't like money, I don't like money, but I sure like what it is, but I sure like what it is, but I sure like what it is, but I sure like what it is

In America, it's naivete that present the ideas that yoga shouldn't make money or should be free

The tradition of yoga is that you pay all you have to the guru

That you scrape together every last cent that you can get and you put yourself at the mercy of the teacher

I don't see any problem with generating money if it's used wisely

The idea if you're a yogic you shouldn't be successful, I've been a big target for that

But I believe if you're a yogic, there's no choice, you will be successful

Hey, Barman, check this out

It wasn't our intention to have some large successful yoga center or a worldwide movement of any sort

All we did was try to share what we knew with people who were interested

Hello, I'm Evan

Hi, I'm Jojo

Hi, I'm Adesha

Hi, I'm Donna

Hi, I'm Rodney

Welcome to Family Yoga

You guys ready for one more? Okay

Why not make a living out of something that you're just really impassioned by? I love it

I love to share that knowledge

If I was less successful monetarily wise, I just don't think it would matter so much

I would still spend my hours a day trying to share this very special stuff

Yoga is more than a business

I remember Buddhist nun that I meditated with, Irina Sakhar, saying, what you need is right livelihood and yoga is a good livelihood

And so there's a lot of people who see yoga within its spiritual path and would probably be repulsed by some of these other fragmentations

One of the things that we found most startling and disappointing when we've come into yoga is how quickly we find yogis capable of claiming that other yogis aren't yogic

So all of a sudden everyone's going, well, that's not yoga

She's not, he's not, they aren't

And so everyone's kind of squabbling

I like two words, intention and desire

If your intention and desire is there, yeah, it can be very lucrative business

If your intention is to just make money and take advantage of people, then obviously it's a karmic thing that's going to work against you

You know, yoga traditionally is based on moral standards, moral disciplines and self restraints

Not rigid morals or religious morals, but just a natural morality that is, it makes a distinction between serving humanity and using or consuming

We like to skip over that part in America

We like to do what we like to do, morality is relative

I have my morality, you have yours

There's no hard and fast rules

But yoga industry watchers say the time may have come to create a single enforceable code of ethics for all yoga teachers in the United States to abide by

We need a moral code out there and ethics because we've lost our way that much as a yoga community

If we need it, then fine

I don't need a code of ethics personally, because I already have ethics

To say, okay, now we have to enforce a new code of ethics, it almost becomes a fascist like implication

It's hard to enforce a universal code when there's all these different camps, all these different styles

Yoga is so multi-dimensional and there may be people who only ever practice yoga as physical fitness, but for some people yoga is strictly a spiritual practice and how do you regulate that? Especially in the United States where the Constitution prohibits any regulation of religion

Over the years, this freedom has allowed some swamis, gurus and godmen to wreak unholy havoc, often dragging yoga's good name down with them

Down in Southern California, there's a guru that is guru in there

There are some groups that have kind of hitched a ride in the yoga craze

They see yoga as a means of recruitment

Within the yoga universe, some people are wrestling, I think, with the idea of purification

Can I purify my mind, my body, my heart, my breath? You can start to become obsessive

It's all about the leader as opposed to spirituality or yoga or some other practice

So the voluntary enslavement to the desires of the guru becomes a way to enlightenment

People are not brainwashed or hypnotized into this, but they are seduced

When the Beatles became involved with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi was able to use their endorsements to grow his financial empire

The empire is now far bigger and contains more wealth than all the Beatles' fortunes combined

It's estimated at between five and nine billion dollars

There is no such thing in any part of the world anywhere that has ever been such a thing as perfect guru who will never make any mistakes whatsoever

Is it dangerous? It depends on you and the teacher

Things and gurus have certainly changed

Popular yogi Rodney Yee once called yoga the backbone of his marriage

Now Rodney has left his wife of 14 years for another yoga teacher

In the past this might have caused an uproar, but today's yoga community is accustomed to yoga teachers acting like rock stars

Sometimes the guru relationship gets in the way

I make mistakes, you make mistakes, hopefully we get up, we get back up, we learn from them and we move on

And it's no surprise today's most successful gurus are part spiritual teacher and part showman

Do these people express a slightly strange kind of reverence for Bikram? Yes, they do

However Bikram quite correctly perceives that any publicity is good publicity, because how many other gurus can the average American reel off? He has like a brand name and he does what he can to promote himself, good for him

How did you meet each other? This was like a safe haven for them

They feel really bad for us and for themselves because they won't have us here

Is there room for me? I haven't been in a room this full in a long time

Thank you everyone

We were the first hot studio in the city

All of a sudden it just took off

We grew really rapidly and then other studios started opening, but that was still good because it was still getting the word out there to more and more people and everybody was really busy

In fact there were times when we cut our classes off because the room was too full

At the same time the yoga teacher training programs were just popping up everywhere

After that followed gyms being able to offer more yoga because they see people want yoga

There's too many choices for people and it diluted the number of people that everybody could see

When the big gym down the street opened our income went to half, like that

Lower Manhattan below Canal Street has 30,000 residents

If you get 1% of that market, that's 300 people

300 people in my opinion can barely support a yoga studio

Now we're splitting it across every gym and like five yoga studios

How can that make sense? Nowadays with the rents here in New York and then without having the numbers of the people, the classes be full, it's like it's very hard to make ends meet

But it's not really about us, is it? Like our students will find other places to study yoga and those teachings will survive anything that happens in business

Marilyn's students soon found a new yoga studio and they didn't have to look very far

Soon after Marilyn cleared out a new yoga studio went up in her space

It's run by one of Marilyn's former employees

Yeah, I mean good luck

I did everything I could to make the business go and so it's like good luck, you know

How can we help you? Yoga for a side dish of jelly, how can we help you? Oh, yeah

Every instructor is encouraged to put her or his soul and mind into the practice and so there's no interest in standardizing

The McYoga is out there, that's what Bikram represents, that is a franchise

That's a prepackaged form of yoga where the script is the same, every word, every experience is the same

The yoga community is kind of realizing that everything's changing, but given our commitment to yoga this looks like a pretty good result

Okay, here's the form if you've never been to YogaWorks, just fill in these out and then once you fill those out sign into the class

Come on, it's so exciting

How are you? I'm good

It's been wonderful to see you

I would never have joined this if the principals weren't there

To have these two guys come in and bring all of their expertise and the financial end of it into it, really allows us as yogis to teach well and do what my vision was all along

So I'm really happy about it

Opening the heart, the head is centered

It's really hard to be in business and then switch over and try and be yogis

It doesn't really match each other

It's very hard for me to sit there and really just worry about this individual and their spiritual growth and not have to think about money

In fact, it's adding stability to the yoga because it's very hard to have stability if there's no financial stability

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't open right downstairs from me

That would be a drag, you know

Let's face it

Small independent yoga studios will have a more difficult time surviving because these large chain studios will be able to offer more kinds of classes probably at a somewhat cheaper rate than the little local mom and pop yoga studio can afford to do

Is that a development that would please you or displease you? It makes me cry

Thank you for running such a good school

Well, thank you

All this time

It's been a pleasure

See you soon


Thank you, Ashley

Keep up your yoga

You did great

It is what it is and there's just a time sometimes that things come to an end

Thank you

Trisha Lam has quit her job at the Yoga Research and Education Center to begin an extended silent retreat under the guidance of a Buddhist guru

So this will be home for? Three years

A little over three years actually

In a three-year retreat you essentially work up to meditating 24 hours a day

The purpose of yoga is growth and self-awareness to the point of becoming completely awake

And that's the purpose of Buddhist practice, that's the purpose of Hindu yoga practice, it's the purpose of any true spiritual practice

OSYU, the yoga studio owners doing battle with Bikram, have gotten bad news

In a pre-trial ruling, a federal judge in San Francisco declares Bikram's yoga series has been designed in a manner creative enough to warrant copyright and trademark protection

Before the case gets to court, OSYU instigates a settlement

Studio owners like the McCauley's agree to stop using the Bikram name

Bikram drops his lawsuit

The McCauley's are no longer discussing the case, citing a confidentiality clause in the settlement

It seemed that the open source yoga unity people were going to defend a principle, but then it seemed that they settled their own particular dispute with the Bikram yoga organization and both sides went on their way

It was just really a betrayal of what I thought the goals of their position were

And I can't comment on what the terms of settlement, because it was confidential and that's part of the agreement, but as I said before, our purpose was not to protect ourselves

The reason why we got together in the first place was to protect everybody else

Yet the settlement only protects OSYU members

Studio owners outside the case are still wondering what to do

The basic copyright issues remain unresolved as to whether anyone can copyright a yoga routine

It would have been good to see whether a court upheld Bikram yoga's copyrights

I think that there was a strong argument to be made that they could not be enforced

The only reason I would prefer to have gone to a court case is so that we wouldn't have to talk around the issue, so people know exactly what it is they could or couldn't do

At the same time, it was getting very expensive, very costly, extremely stressful for everyone involved

So just let this thing be done with

The ball is in Bikram yoga's court

If they want to pursue it against other practitioners, they're free to press their copyright claims against them

We'll get you situated

I'll just have you twist that chair around the other way for me

This way? Yeah, good

Before the third Bikram yoga championship, Bikram finally sits down for a hastily convened formal interview

But when it's reiterated to him what issues the film will cover, he withdraws his permission to use this interview and any others we'd done

The next day, as we're setting up our cameras to film the event, Bikram orders our crew to leave the premises

Any further contact with him, he says, will have to be through his agent

As you know, I've been barred from the event, and I just wondered, have you ever found yourself on the outs with Bikram? Um, no, and I've definitely

You know, he's definitely told me to do things that I wasn't happy about

I choose to stay on good terms with Bikram because I believe in what he's doing and I want to be a part of it

We live in a world where we're taken apart, where as individuals we no longer feel connected to the generation before us, the generation after us, to our colleagues who are made to fight in corporate environments, to compete

Everything is just processed through and then spit back out to us

There is a yearning for meaning

Job stress, job loss, family problems, money problems

They need some sanctuary for their soul, and yoga provides that

Can yoga survive all of this commercialization, industrialization and so on? Yes, absolutely

I mean, it's been around for 5,000 years

It teaches the truth

The truth never goes away, it just becomes difficult to access in certain times

People who have spiritual awakening and who are real seekers, they'll find the right path out of it anyway

I'm just excited that right people will find something very beautiful that yoga has to offer

I really think it's all as it should be

The universe is behind this, not us

And so yoga will go exactly where it needs to go

Thank you

Audio and subtitles


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