Yoga Alliance is Awake, and it Roared.

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For all the people who said that Yoga Alliance was a toothless, meaningless, worthless organization, it is now time to get up from savasana and take notice.

This is unprecedented: Yoga Alliance has emailed its 10,000 members and is asking them to sign a petition against YogaGlo’s application for a patent on how they videotape their yoga classes.

What got Yoga Alliance riled up is that YogaGlo, the world’s largest and most successful provider of online yoga videos, threatened a pretty small competitor, Yoga International, with a “Cease and desist” order.

The offense? Yoga International was starting to film online yoga classes.

I’m simplifying, so to keep the lawyers from crawling up my ass-ana, I’ll be more specific. At issue is whether or not the camera is located at the back of the room in a live setting, with students facing forwards, which YogaGlo claims is proprietary.

Yoga Alliance noticed.  As the world’s foremost unified group of yoga teachers and schools in North America, Yoga Alliance felt obligated to issue an opinion.

From Yoga Alliance:  “Videotaping a yoga teacher in a live classroom setting is an obvious idea, not an invention. Therefore, YogaGlo's patent application can serve only one purpose: To manipulate the legal system in order to suppress competition by bullying other online yoga-instruction businesses and individual yoga teachers into submission when they use a similar method of recording and presenting online classes.”

If that was too much legal mumbo jumbo for you, here is their point: Bullying.

It turns out that this is the not the first time YogaGlo has used muscle. Christina Sell was recently given a choice to stop filming her series of “Yoga Tips” on YouTube and her webinars on asana, or leave YogaGlo. I would rather that you read her response here, than paraphrase it.

YogaGlo has responded to the hubbub. I don’t have a dog in this fight, and I don’t want to put one in there, so make up your own mind. A company can operate their business as they see fit, as long as it’s fair. I am a free market girl, and if yogis cancel their subscription to YogaGlo, I have a feeling YogaGlo will change their business strategy to be more, um, yogic.

I am however, very interested in Yoga Alliance’s new found backbone.

For years Yoga Alliance has been criticized as being a meaningless organization that did little to nothing for its members. I have been a member since 2007. I don’t believe it’s perfect. Half the time I didn’t even think it was working, and you ever tried to get them on the phone you’d know why.

But I am taking notice now. I applaud the new president, Richard Karpel, for taking this stand. It’s time that Yoga Alliance takes initiative in a $30 billion industry that is often running amok.

There are yoga studios that promise a solid teacher training, and deliver a worthless diploma. There are charlatans calling themselves teachers who have no credentials whatsoever. People are throwing money away and getting hurt. Eventually, this will hurt the yoga business.

After all, yoga is a business even if we are selling bliss. And right now, the bliss business could use some parenting. We have recklessly saturated the market, and now as markets contract and business gets tight, it has become a dog eat dog world. Or in this case, yogi eat yogi.

Yoga Alliance is not perfect. But like a sleeping lion, it just woke up and roared. I hope this is a wakeup call to the thousands of yogis who are still in savasana about their industry. Wake up yogis. There are a few really big players out there and if you don’t get on a team, you might get eaten in this jungle.

 Published September 27, 2013. (C) Michelle Marchildon. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of “Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga,” and “Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga.” She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and Origin Magazine, and a contributor to 90 Monkeys, Teachasana and My Yoga Online. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on or www.