for The Guardian on June 10, 2010
Are you power, nude, laughing, Christian or contemporary? Or perhaps you are pure ashtanga vinyasa? If your preferred yoga style is among the former you could find yourself on the wrong side of an effort to define what constitutes the millennia-old physical and mental discipline.
An Indian government body tasked with protecting the country's rich heritage of medicinal and medical philosophy and practice has started filming hundreds of asanas – yoga poses – in an attempt to make a rigid system out of this most flexible of meditative practices.
The "videographs" are intended to provide irrefutable evidence for anyone hoping to patent a new style of yoga that the Indians got there first. A previous effort to define yoga, based simply on translations of ancient texts circulated to the relevant authorities, had mixed results, so now they are trying again.
"It's like soccer and Britain," said Suneel Singh, one of India's leading yoga gurus. "You have given it to the world which is wonderful and generous. But imagine that people started saying they had invented the sport. That would be annoying."
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/08/yoga-heritage-india-filming-asanas