Yoga positions and breathing exercises are not protectable expression, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

Yoga positions and breathing exercises are not protectable expression, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

Last week, I praised some lawyers who are bringing yoga and other wellness tools to the masses.

But in case you wondered how legal that topic was, I share a blog post that examines a court fight over yoga—for reals. The article, which is here, explains a lawsuit regarding how intellectually protectible a yoga method and position is. Turns out, not very.

(Adding to my pleasure is that the author, Teri H.P. Nguyen, is an attorney at McDermott, Will & Emery—where I once worked, in Chicago—and that she is a graduate of UC–Hastings Law—where I went. I am feeling the resonant vortexes of the yoga world already!)

Here is the summary of the Ninth Circuit decision:

Affirming the district court’s grant of partial summary judgment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that a sequence of yoga poses and breathing exercises was directed to the idea or process of improving health, not to a protectable expression and therefore not entitled to copyright protection. Bikram’s Yoga College of India v. Evolation Yoga, LLC, Case No. 13-55763, (9th Cir., Oct. 8, 2015) (Wardlaw, J.).

Among those readers who partake of yoga, as a student or an instructor, was that a good decision? Was the lawsuit doomed from the start, or should the court have gone another way?

Let me know how the court did: Sun salutation or downward dog?