India Moves To Patent Yoga and Stop 'Knowledge Piracy'

by Tanya Thomas on  February 24, 2009 at 10:11 AM Lifestyle News
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 India Moves To Patent Yoga and Stop 'Knowledge Piracy'
India, in a bid to stop all those blatant "patent pirates" from stealing its "traditional knowledge", has set up a team of Hindu gurus and 200 scientists to identify all ancient yoga positions or asanas. The next step - register and patent each one of them.

So far, they have added 600 asanas to India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library to stop so-called gurus in the United States and Europe patenting established poses as their own, reports The Telegraph.

Attempts by mostly American yoga teachers to patent yoga moves from their classes as their own originals has angered India.

Since its arrival in Britain and America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was popularised by Beatles guitarist George Harrison, among others, Yoga has become a 225 billion dollar industry.

In India, however, it remains collective knowledge - practiced in public parks where gurus often teach fast breathing exercises, like pranayam, and different 'sun-salutations,' free of charge.

But as the number of Western yoga teachers has grown, there has been a steady increase in patent applications claiming each pose in their class is not part of the ancient discipline of mind and body, but their own unique invention.

In the United States alone, there have been more than 130 yoga-related patents, 150 copyrights and 2,300 trademarks.

Now India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library is being made available to patents offices throughout the world so they can establish whether the claim is a genuine innovation or "prior art" from Indian systems of medicine.

So far a team of yoga gurus from nine schools have worked with government officials and 200 scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to scan 35 ancient texts including the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Bhagwad Gita, and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras to register each native pose.

Source: ANI

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3/17/09 - This is an interesting piece of news to me, as I am training to teach yoga here in the United States. Though there seem to be many, many teachers out there teaching various types of yoga that they may or may not have learned from a Guru (from India or US, etc) or book or training...And being taught in gyms and other places for a LOT of money...There are also a growing number of teachers (myself included) that have our sights set on the people who cannot afford to take classes the way the West has set it up...In Gyms or fancy yoga studios that cost a TON of money. We are teaching Yoga for free in shelters, and anywhere else people are in need. The US has done a lot of embarassing, horrifying things in the world lately, and I hope that people out there know that not everyone here is so selfish and full of dreams of tyranny...There are many of us who are full of love and the desire to serve wherever necessary. As far as copyrights on asanas go; that seems a little ridiculous to me. A lot of the postures in asana can happen spontaneously in a personal practice, and be brought to groups of people whether a teacher thinks they invented it or not. What does it matter who invented it? If it is being practiced and shared, then it is helping someone. If you teach it to 10 people and only 1 or 2 find it helpful, it is worth it. It doesnt matter who came up with it. This is my opinion of course, and I cannot say anything really for India's side, as I've have never been there, never learned or practiced there. I have friends and peers who have, but that's as close as I've gotten so far. One question before I stop rambling: If people teach for free in anywhere, how does copyrighting help anyone? So then we must formally ask permission to teach certain poses? Even if that person is living as far as Australia? This is absurd. Are we not teaching for the Love and sacredness of life itself???

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