So who owns yoga anyway?

Yoga, as we know has hit the mainstream, and its mental and physical benefits have propelled it into a multibillion dollar business around the world. With this comes attempts by some to claim ownership over something which essentially belongs in the public domain. As a result, a concerted effort is being made by the Indian Government to reclaim what it considers to be its traditional ownership over yoga.

Over the past decade, it has been collating yogic poses and other forms of traditional knowledge such as the medicinal Ayurveda, into a repository known as the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), and has sought to have this included under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patent Cooperation Treaty. This allows a patent examiner to consider applications relating to yoga against the TKDL, and to refuse a patent on the basis of it being a copy of traditional knowledge (as opposed to a novel ‘invention’).

Another measure being explored is the possibility of obtaining a geographical indication, which would specifically identify yoga as having originated in India. The trouble with geographical indications however, is that they normally apply to products and a particular region rather than an entire country. Famous examples include Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which originates from specific regions within Italy, and Champagne, which comes from the Champagne region of France.

Unlike cheese and wine however, yoga is an experience rather than a tangible product, and after about 4000 years, it’s going to be difficult to identify a specific geographic location within India which can be attributed as being its original place of ‘production’. It’s also going to be just as difficult to police, as this would need to be done at the ground level on a country by country basis.

Perhaps the intention behind seeking proprietary rights is to preserve the essence of yoga, by exerting some control over what can authentically be called ‘yoga’.

Practitioners will tell you that physical benefits aside, what is truly special about yoga is the stillness it brings to the mind. In fact the physical part of yoga, as wonderful as it is, is merely preparing the body for the hours of meditation which are meant to follow. The typical mass produced yoga class at the gym however, is normally about 97% physical poses with a 5 minute rest at the end. Then of course there’s the dogis and doginis and tantrum chuckers, who must really be making the Indian Minister for Yoga scratch his head in confusion.

Whatever the true intention behind these steps, instructors and practitioners alike are watching this space with interest. In the meantime, the following sums up some of the current sentiment rather well.

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A taste of the Hipster Business Model

We recently had lunch at the coolest place in Sydney. It was clearly the coolest place to be, based on the number of beautiful, bearded, beanied, skinny jeaned and tattooed people in there. Being so cool, the place was naturally very popular, with people lining up to wait over an hour for a sit down meal. Having our three year old with us and me being very pregnant at the time, we chose the takeaway option which meant having to eat standing up along the outdoor tables provided in the garden. Now we’ve all had an interesting dining experience at some stage, but what I found unusual here was the sheer scale of the mayhem which confronted us. There were people milling around waiting for food, people milling around eating, people milling around patting the fluffy animals, people just randomly milling around to add to the crowd scene like extras in a movie. The end result was utter and absolute chaos. Now you don’t need to be a Henry Ford, or even a Ronald Macdonald to realise that a great product needs just as effective a delivery for optimal success. The Hipster Business Model (HBM) however, appears to operate on the premise that you the customer are paying not for a dining experience, but for the opportunity to immerse yourself in the uber cool organic vibe (chaos) of the universe..

While the stuffy old ‘conventionals’ tell you where to sit, and gang up to ban cell phones, at an HBM establishment, tables don’t need numbers- patrons are left to roam free and sit wherever they please. Fluffy animals frolic in chic little hutches for your amusement. The staff are super busy and super friendly, and their main purpose appears to be for fist bumping and taking photos – because you’ll be wanting to tell your friends and your friends friends when you’re at the coolest place in town.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a fan of organic free ranged clean eating as the next person, and am totally concerned for the welfare of the various creatures which we affectionately call food, but the urban consumer of today appears to want more than just wholesome food and great service. They want to go somewhere that they can tell everyone about while they’re there, not afterwards.

It was also clear from the hordes waiting to throw their money at this place that HBM, despite its unconventional approach is a hit.

But will it last? Is it possible that HBM could one day rule the world??

Life under a rock

Peruvian rock art

As this is my very first post ever, I wanted to make it deep, meaningful and personal by confessing that I have been living under a rock these past few years. While people  around me have been tweeting and instagramming and pinning their hearts out, I haven’t updated my Facebook status since 2010.

But all that is about to change.

I’m a blogger now!

And as an important contributor to the online conversation, I promise that I will only make the type of significant contributions which will enrich your day, make you lose weight, whiten your teeth, and inspire your pet to collect its own poop.