EAST VILLAGE — Yoga to the People has been forced into a painful pose.
Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, creator of the worldwide yoga craze known at Bikram Yoga, has sued the East Village-based yoga studio, claiming its founder Gregory Gumucio ripped off his style by illegally using Bikram’s copyrighted poses and super-heated rooms inside Yoga to the People classes.
“The particular class identified in the case is a virtual mirror image of Bikram Yoga and it used virtually verbatim the Bikram Yoga dialogue,” Choudhury’s lawyer, Robert Gilchrest, told DNAinfo, adding that they sent an undercover investigator into a YTTP “Traditional Hot Yoga” class to inspect it prior to filing the lawsuit in California on Sept. 27.
The lawsuit accuses Gumucio of “nam[ing] the class ‘Traditional Hot Yoga’ in order to conceal the fact that the class incorporates and infringes upon, among other things, Bikram’s copyrighted Asana Sequence and Dialogue” — including a strict 90-minute regimen that follows a rigid format of 26 poses performed in a 105-degree room.
Choudhury founded Bikram — also known as “hot yoga” —in the 1970s and copyrighted it in 2002, as it skyrocketed to success and began being practiced by a host of celebrities, including Lady Gaga.
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $1 million, as well as an injunction stopping Yoga to the People from conducting hot yoga classes.
It’s the latest in a series of lawsuits by Choudhury, who also sued Prana Yoga in Los Angeles in 2003, claiming copyright infringement similar to the YTTP lawsuit. Prana Yoga settled, agreeing to pay out “substantial monetary compensation,” according to a Bikram Yoga press release.