Federal Ruling is a Win for evolation yoga and Students from Tampa to New York and Across the World
Tampa, Fla. (Dec. 19, 2012) – In a much-anticipated ruling that will affect the yoga community worldwide, a California federal court ruled Friday that a sequence of yoga postures cannot be copyrighted, dismissing infringement claims against evolation yoga, a collective of teachers and studios with a local studio in South Tampa at the corner of MacDill Avenue and Bay to Bay Boulevard.
For decades, Bikram Choudhury, the man behind Bikram Yoga, has claimed a specific sequence of 26 yoga postures as his own, using his alleged “copyright” as a threat against anyone who attempted to teach the sequence without his explicit permission.
In the suit against evolation, Choudhury argued that “anyone performing the sequence, as taught by Choudhury’s books and videos, commits copyright infringement.” In disposing of Choudhury’s claim, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright wrote, “this argument is tenuous – facts and ideas within a work are not protected; only an author’s expression of them is.”
This ruling is good news not only for evolation, but for countless yoga teachers and studios all over the world who wish to teach the popular sequence without submitting to the considerable restrictions that Choudhury imposes. For example, affiliated Bikram Yoga studios may not offer any classes other than a 90-minute class in a 105-degree room. Teachers may not veer from the sequence even slightly and must repeat a specific script during every class. Even the specific physical dimensions and characteristics of studios are mandated; for example, each yoga room must have carpeted floors, mirrors and podiums.
Evolation made a conscious decision to part ways with Bikram Yoga in 2009, because, as evolation co-Founder Mark Drost says, “we saw room for improvement in the sequence, the teaching method, and the philosophy.” Therefore, in addition to the “Hot 90”, in which the 26-posture sequence is taught with a few variations to increase safety and facilitate more attention to breath and meditation, evolation also offers a more beginner-friendly 60-minute class (the “Warm 60”) as well as meditation classes (“Chill 30”) and vinyasa-based Flow, Prenatal, and Gentle classes. Evolation also offers teacher training programs that teach the 26 postures from a decidedly different perspective, with greater emphasis on nuance, yoga philosophy, and individual mentoring.
“We were not looking for a fight,” Drost said. “But when we found ourselves defending against a stranglehold on a practice that has been handed down without restrictions throughout its history, we resolved to take it all the way in service to the greater community.”
Copyright cases against other studios and teachers remain pending, while several others have settled with
Choudhury. However, evolation’s attorney Eric Maier of Maier Schoch LLP calls this ruling “a total game changer.”
For more information, go to www.evolationyoga.com or to schedule an interview with Mark Drost or Summer Crawford, director of evolation yoga Tampa, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
evolation yoga is a collective of studios, teachers, students, and seekers offering yoga classes, teacher trainings, vacation retreats, and wellness services in an effort to create unity and serve your highest Self at every stage of your journey. www.evolationyoga.com.