Bikram is pissed. And when Bikram is pissy, you can bet he’s suey! The beef between B-Don and Yoga to the People went public a few months ago with the closure of a Penn Station Bikram Yoga location and the subsequent slinging of blame in the direction of YTTP in public letter form. The story’s been on the DL for a while, but it’s finally making the news as Bikram lawyers ramp up their case. Sweaty Daddy Bikram is not happy with his sweaty counterparts making a hot biz over sweaty yoga. In fact, he’s accused Yoga to the People of “directly copying” the Bikram sequence. And so, he’s suing, for a million dollars.
Whoa. What’s the case, you ask?
“The particular class identified in the case is a virtual mirror image of Bikram Yoga and it used virtually verbatim the Bikram Yoga dialogue,” Choudhury’s lawyer, Robert Gilchrest, told DNAinfo, adding that they sent an undercover investigator into a YTTP “Traditional Hot Yoga” class to inspect it prior to filing the lawsuit in California on Sept. 27.
The lawsuit accuses [YTTP founder Gregory] Gumucio of “nam[ing] the class ‘Traditional Hot Yoga’ in order to conceal the fact that the class incorporates and infringes upon, among other things, Bikram’s copyrighted Asana Sequence and Dialogue” — including a strict 90-minute regimen that follows a rigid format of 26 poses performed in a 105-degree room.
So Bikram camp is suing for one million smackers in damages. That’s like 250,000 bottles of mat cleaner spray! YTTP’s Gumucio says the lawsuit is “ridiculous” and maintains that “yoga should be made available to everybody. It should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of a few.”
Still, a million bucks is a lot to fork over and Gumucio isn’t going down without a fight, or at least a fight for signatures. He’s started a petition over at Change.org asking the question: Can Yoga Be Owned? The petition letter simply states:
Support all yoga being available to all people
I just signed the following petition in support of all yoga being available for all to utilize and share.
Signing this petition says I agree that yoga should be available to all people regardless of economic status. Yoga should not be privatized or owned by individuals or businesses. Yoga asanas and the combinations of those asanas belong in the public domain, available for all to practice and teach.
An interesting tactic that could prove positive in the public eye and yoga community, but we’ll have to wait and see how it holds up in court. (oof. kind of a bummer we had to spew out that sentence). It shall be noted that Bikram has a history of suing studios over hot yoga ganking accusations and while he hasn’t so much won everything per se (aside from receiving substantial monetary settlements), he’s succeeded in at least damaging or aiding in the closure of a few yoga businesses. It shall also be noted that Gumucio was Bikram’s “right-hand man” back when he did the training in 1996, before they had a falling out 5 years later. Stay tuned.
More from YTTP POV at www.yogatruth.org - a blog by Mr. Gumucio.
Is this a worthy case? Is it a bid to “own” yoga?