Copyright or no copyright, over the years different forms of yoga have by default come to be known after their founders. Thus in a way, the ancient science stands institutionalised globally.
In fact, yoga schools have begun using these innovated techniques as their Unique Selling Proposition to attract followers for their respective gurus. Examples of this are plenty from Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yoga to Vethathiri Maharishi’s ‘SKY’ concept. The latter includes simplified physical exercises, kayakalpa and simplified Kundalini yoga.
“Maharishi introduced simplified physical exercises after years of intense practice and meditation. All rights of the system belong to him as he proved that this technique was unique from the traditional system of yoga,” contended his disciple and industrialist S K M Maeilanandhan. However, he added that the aim of such systems is to benefit the masses rather than thinking of institutionalising it.
Similarly, pranayama is believed to have got worldwide attention when Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar introduced an innovative version of it. The Sudarshan Kriya, a registered trademark of the foundation, is a breathing technique based on pranayama. Its other components such as Sri Sri Yoga and Sahaj Samadhi Meditation are also based on pranayama.
Asana Andiappan of the Chennai-based Asana Andiappan College of Yoga and Research Centre, said he has raised concerns about this in his capacity has vice-president of the Central Research Council for Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN).
“I have raised my concerns of unreasonable copyright and patent applications of yoga both in India and in the west many times. My recommendation would be for the government to form an expert committee on yoga, to give advice on matters related to yoga and to fight against the copyright and patenting of yoga around the world, especially in the US,” he said.
According to him, the country should be proud of its yoga heritage, benefits and its popularity. “The Government should take strong measures to protect this heritage and not let self-proclaimed yoga masters find ways to patent this very heritage in different ways with threats of law suits as it should be enjoyed by all,” he insisted.
His son Yogananth Andiappan pointed out that the US-based “Yogaglo” was recently given a patent. This company offered online yoga classes using recorded videos and obtained the patent despite a mass campaign against it.
However, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar justified institutionalisation arguing that once upon a time, anyone could have been an Ayurvedic doctor. “Thanks to the government’s institutionalisation of Ayurveda today, a certain standard is being maintained,” he said adding if similar steps are adopted and a central body is established to accredit yoga practitioners and techniques copyrighting could be eliminated. “Spurious mushrooming of self-styled teachers of yoga can misrepresent the ancient wisdom,” he said.