Appeals Court rules against copyright for hot yoga poses

October 15, 2015, 7:12 PM UTC
Bikram Yoga At Crosswoods Plaza
SALISBURY, MA - DECEMBER 5: The atmosphere was red hot as the participants were sweating as the temperature is near 100 degrees at a class at the Bikram Yoga location in the Crossroads Plaza. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Photograph by Boston Globe via Getty Images

Hot yoga teachers across the country can now let out a collective “om” of relief.

According to a decision last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a popular Los Angeles yoga teacher named Bikram Choudhury cannot claim copyright protection on the sequence of 26 poses during hot yoga sessions that he teaches.

Choudhury has long threatened other yoga instructors with legal action for teaching the same series of poses—such as the half-moon and eagle poses—in their hot yoga classes without his permission. Over the past decade, some instructors have settled out of court with Choudhury to avoid a legal battle, according to The New York Times.

But the ruling last week put Choudhury’s intimidations to an end, handing victory to a Florida-based yoga studio that taught the same sequence of poses in a heated studio.

“Consumers would have little reason to buy Choudhury’s book if Choudhury held a monopoly on the practice of the very activity he sought to popularize,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote in the decision for the three-judge panel.

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