Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I Still Subscribe to YogaGlo: Patents and All

About four years ago Yogaglo saved my yoga practice.

No I am not exaggerating. At that time I was experiencing some serious Halifax yoga disenfranchise/disillusionment. I was out of patience for the (at the time very broken) yoga community and my studio practice took a standstill. Add a new budget and I couldn't find ways to justify spending 10-16$ per yoga class.

Then a friend mentioned that I should try Yogaglo... and after the two week free trial I was sold. Oh, I continued (although it has been months now) to go to yoga classes in studios- I am a firm believer of kinaesthetic learning in a safe environment with a knowledgeable teacher. But I gladly turned to Yogaglo as my main yoga squeeze.

I had been searching for an online yoga compliment for my home practice for years at that point. Unfortunately, nothing fit. I hated the "Yogi practicing near the beach on the sand, hair flowing in the wind with strange voice-over". I equally despised the "Three yoga teachers all practicing together in a weirdly intimate room and zooming cameras". I just wanted to feel like I was in a yoga studio, have ridiculous amounts of choice when it came to length and style of practice with an easy to use interface.

Enter Yogaglo: it fits all the above. I chose Yogaglo over other online yoga streaming sites for all the reasons they have put forth in their (wildly contested) video patent.

When I first read about the video patent at Yoga International I was disappointed. How uncool is that? (Honestly, "How American" was my first reaction). That said, I was a bit uncomfortable with the "We are so yogic and you are not" very public reaction of Yoga International. I decided to wait and see how Yogaglo would respond.

Yogaglo's (albeit late) response on December 19th 2013 made me glad I waited. Go on over and read it then come back. Ok? Ready?

Beyond the "they said, they said" aspect of Yoga International crying "wronged" and Yogaglo responding  with "we've been open and communicative with you" AND whether or not Yogaglo was the first to spearhead their online class "look"- let's just take a step back for a minute and be real.

Both Yoga International and Yogaglo are businesses. They are in the business to make money and protect their merchandise. Which is yoga videos. I pay them money and they give me yoga videos. Yes being connected to yoga kinda lends itself to their clientele holding them to this weird moral-business higher standard. That said, unlike other yoga business, I don't hold online streaming in the same category as a highly polluting, questionable factory practices, non sustainable fabric, hurtful comments to women company like Lululemon.

Yogaglo films videos of yoga classes in a very specific way (arguably THE reason why I chose them in the first place) and streams them for a price. The end.

Do I think that they needed to file (and be approved, although supposedly Yoga Alliance is contesting it's enforceability) a patent? Meh. I wish they hadn't. But... I did choose them for the exact reasons they are filing for a patent. so...

Maybe this makes me selfish, or cynical, but truly I only have so much fire left in my belly and I decide to spend it wisely. I really can't get all worked up about a yoga business acting like a, well, business.

Why haven't we had the same outcry, petitions and rise in arms about other, more shocking yoga news? Like the Bikram (alleged) sexual assault and rape charges? (covered more by regular media than the yoga blogosphere). It is shameful that a yoga business patent case, not even closely approaching patenting actual yoga (which let me say, Bikram has basically done), gets more ire and yoga media attention than the news that (yet another) founding leader in American yoga is being charged with sexual assault and rape.

So. I have made my decision to stick with Yogaglo and reserve the right to change my mind. I also respect and understand why others may have chosen to leave Yogaglo behind. I get it- I just have other things (like the oil sands) to focus my inner "take a stand" self.


  1. Agreed! I wrote about it a few months ago (
    I remember YA launching a petition but not commenting at all on yoga teachers being proud to sleep with their students, for one, and that bothered me more than the patent issue.

  2. I'm so glad to read this post! These are my thoughts exactly.

  3. Oh boy. This is so disheartening. And I do love Yogaglo (though haven't been able to renew my subscription in a while, due to financial issues). I'm so disheartened by this patenting and trademarking insanity. I am seeing it everywhere now. In the herbal community with the whole fire cider issue and Candy Crush Saga trademarking the word "candy" in relation to video games. I mean, come on! This is getting ridiculous. (Though I can't say I wouldn't still be using Yogaglo if I could afford it right now...I really do love it!)

  4. I honestly don't see anything wrong with it. I read through the comments on yogaglo's post and have been floored with the amount of negativity it has created in the community. Yes this company wants to spread yoga to the masses and yoga itself is unselfish and such, but at the end of the day it is a business. It has to do what it has to do to protect itself as a business. What about all of the yoga studios in North America charging $20-$25 PER CLASS? Does that not seem like gouging? Is that yogic of them? And to your point, there have been much MUCH bigger scandals in the yoga world that aren't getting as much headlining as this patent thing. People need to get their heads on straight and open their eyes, there are bigger and badder fish that need to be fried IMO. < /rant >

  5. The patent is problematic because:
    a) filming a yoga class at that angle, while a good technique to focus a website around, was not an invention of Yogaglo and existed before they filed their patent
    b) it is too vague, and overbroad. It affects those not aware of Yogaglo at all
    c) It disproportionately affects "up and comers" (it is more economical to have a single, stationary camera filming in a yoga studio, then it is to have multiple cameras/angles in beautiful landscapes with sound editing)
    d) it sets a dangerous precedent that allows others to patent the way they film their yoga class- making the industry a lot more restrictive

    The patent was unnecessary. Yogaglow was great without it and for me to it changed my practice. I loved the usability of their web design, and the quality of their teachers. I think that is what made them successful, and patenting a camera angle demonstrates an incredible insecurity on their part. It seems like an anti-competitive measure- especially given how they have been contacting other yoga sites to remove videos they uploaded long before the patent even existed.

    It's a good angle, but it is not "their" angle. They did not invent, they do not own, and they should not be using a patent to restrict others from offering yoga classes online. I have spoken to many people in film and this type of patent is unprecedented and considered by all to be inappropriate/problematic. This is not about yoga and being a good yogi, but t intellectual freedom and market economics. I cried like a baby unsubscribing but I couldn't with good conscious give money to a company that practices such deplorable business practices.

    For now I subscribe to youtube channels with lots of talented folk that offer yoga to the world for free! Sure it does not have the aesthetic sharpness of Yogaglo, but it is hell of a lot more ethical. Some of them film in yoga studios too, with a camera at eye level, with an unrestricted view of the teacher (those rebels).

  6. You do know that Canada has a patent system? And other countries as well? How American? Blackberry was involved in a number of lawsuits over ITS patents as well as others. There are certainly flaws in many patent systems, but those who invent generally want to protect their intellectual property.

  7. Great article. Thank you.

  8. I think Jodi got it right. Patents are complicated, but they are truly for inventions. "They did not invent, they do not own, and they should not be using a patent to restrict others from offering yoga classes online." There are videos that are 20 years old of Patthabi Jois using the same classroom setup for his DVDs. So the claim of invention is very dubious and the failure of the patent office, well documented. I would also note that YogaGlo is a for-profit entity while Yoga Alliance and a number of others (including Yoga International I believe) are non-profit entities. This is an important distinction when you are assessing who is really on your side as a student and a teacher and where you want to spend your money.


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.