Bikram yoga, a vigorous form of yoga practiced in heated studios, has sparked a legal battle over copyright. Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, has faced challenges to his ownership of the series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises that make up the practice.

Ruling Against Choudhury

In a landmark ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled that a series of yoga postures cannot be copyrighted. The court held that while a particular expression of an idea can be protected by copyright, the idea itself cannot. This decision undermines Choudhury’s claim to exclusive ownership of the Bikram yoga series.

Yoga Alliance Perspective

The Yoga Alliance, a trade association representing yoga practitioners and instructors, has welcomed the court’s ruling. The organization sees it as a victory for yoga instructors’ freedom to create and teach yoga sequences without fear of copyright infringement.

Bikram Yoga’s Commercial Success

Choudhury has built a lucrative business around Bikram yoga. He charges franchise fees and collects royalties from yoga studios that operate under the Bikram name. However, the court’s ruling could potentially impact the financial success of his yoga empire.

Controversy and Litigation

Choudhury has also faced legal challenges unrelated to copyright. Several former students have accused him of sexual assault, which he has denied. These allegations have further tarnished his reputation and drawn scrutiny to his yoga practice.


The copyright dispute over Bikram yoga highlights the complex interplay between intellectual property rights and the freedom of expression in the realm of yoga. The court’s ruling has opened the door for other yoga practitioners to develop and teach their own variations on the Bikram series, promoting greater diversity and innovation within the yoga community.

  • Author: Emily Jones
  • Credit and Rights: OMG I Yoga