Yoga Alliance sends its lawyer attack dogs on Naked Yoga Alliance

Dearest Naked Yogis,

I received what was at first a startling email yesterday from a lawyer from a firm with way to many names in the title. Patrick Jennings of Pillsbury Winthrop, Shaw, Pitman LLP wrote to me informing me that the not-for-profit organization Yoga Alliance was very upset that I have used Naked Yoga Alliance in my blog leading or as they imply mis-leading people to believe I have affiliations with the organization. In their requests that I cease and desist any and all use of the phrase Yoga Alliance from my website, Peter also tells me that among other things I need to destroy anything I have printed with those words on them including articles of clothing.

Hello Patrick, we don’t wear clothing. We’re naked.

I was looking over the Yoga Alliance website and was reminded of their motto “Many Paths, One Yoga Alliance.” Many Paths. Strangely they exclude naked yoga as being a valid path. The letter says “Yoga Alliance does not wish to be associated with naked yoga…”

Hence our need for our own Alliance. Our own NAKED Yoga Alliance.

I presently have a team of naked yoga lawyers who have formed their own alliance who are drafting a response.

Read Peter’s letter to me here: Naked Yoga Alliance Letter

27 thoughts on “Yoga Alliance sends its lawyer attack dogs on Naked Yoga Alliance

  1. Scott

    I can’t wait to see the response to this prudish and foolish attempt to intimidate by a bunch of people who should certainly practice opening their minds a good deal more. Do not bend to these people, they simply can avoid any problems-by-association by changing their name to The Coalition of the Constricted Mind in Yoga, and more accurately reflect their thinking.

  2. clothesfreelife

    just looked at the trademark and there are so many legal loopholes there they are stupid to make an issue out of this.
    Seems like you could do naked yoga-alliance and circumvent the claim. If i were you I would share this as broadly as possible because i think there are other folks who might want to challenge their claim to exclusive use of yoga and alliance.

  3. Liam Cyfrin


    Famously, when Warner Brothers threatened the Marx Brothers “A Night in Casablanca” with legal action due to their owning a (rather better, it must be confessed) film named “Casablanca”, the magnificent Groucho responded, at length, as follows:

    Dear Warner Brothers:

    Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up to the time that we contemplated making this picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged exclusively to Warner Brothers. However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received your long, ominous legal document warning us not to use the name Casablanca.

    It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, your great-great-grandfather, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock (which he later turned in for a hundred shares of common), named it Casablanca.

    I just don’t understand your attitude. Even if you plan on [re-]releasing your picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn in time to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don’t know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.

    You claim that you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without permission. What about “Warner Brothers”? Do you own that too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about the name Brothers? Professionally, we were brothers long before you were. We were touring the sticks as the Marx Brothers when Vitaphone was still a gleam in the inventor’s eye, and even before there had been other brothers — the Smith Brothers; the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brothers, an outfielder with Detroit; and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (This was originally “Brothers, Can You Spare a Dime?” but this was spreading a dime pretty thin, so they threw out one brother, gave all the money to the other one, and whittled it down to “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”)

    Now Jack, how about you? Do you maintain that yours is an original name? Well it’s not. It was used long before you were born. Offhand, I can think of two Jacks — Jack of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and Jack the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day.

    As for you, Harry, you probably sign your checks sure in the belief that you are the first Harry of all time and that all other Harrys are impostors. I can think of two Harrys that preceded you. There was Lighthouse Harry of Revolutionary fame and a Harry Appelbaum who lived on the corner of 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue. Unfortunately, Appelbaum wasn’t too well-known. The last I heard of him, he was selling neckties at Weber and Heilbroner.

    Now about the Burbank studio. I believe this is what you brothers call your place. Old man Burbank is gone. Perhaps you remember him. He was a great man in a garden. His wife often said Luther had ten green thumbs. What a witty woman she must have been! Burbank was the wizard who crossed all those fruits and vegetables until he had the poor plants in such confused and jittery condition that they could never decide whether to enter the dining room on the meat platter or the dessert dish.

    This is pure conjecture, of course, but who knows — perhaps Burbank’s survivors aren’t too happy with the fact that a plant that grinds out pictures on a quota settled in their town, appropriated Burbank’s name and uses it as a front for their films. It is even possible that the Burbank family is prouder of the potato produced by the old man than they are of the fact that your studio emerged “Casablanca” or even “Gold Diggers of 1931.”

    This all seems to add up to a pretty bitter tirade, but I assure you it’s not meant to. I love Warners. Some of my best friends are Warner Brothers. It is even possible that I am doing you an injustice and that you, yourselves, know nothing about this dog-in-the-Wanger attitude. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover that the heads of your legal department are unaware of this absurd dispute, for I am acquainted with many of them and they are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits and a love of their fellow man that out-Saroyans Saroyan.

    I have a hunch that his attempt to prevent us from using the title is the brainchild of some ferret-faced shyster, serving a brief apprenticeship in your legal department. I know the type well — hot out of law school, hungry for success, and too ambitious to follow the natural laws of promotion. This bar sinister probably needled your attorneys, most of whom are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits, etc., into attempting to enjoin us. Well, he won’t get away with it! We’ll fight him to the highest court! No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes. We are all brothers under the skin, and we’ll remain friends till the last reel of “A Night in Casablanca” goes tumbling over the spool.


    Groucho Marx

  4. nurevealyoga

    I do not know how to feel about this. I am a member of Yoga Alliance. As a professional Yoga Instructor, I must be a member to be able to work and teach yoga in my town. I have not made it a secret what I teach. Anyone can find my profile on Yoga Alliance and read what I teach. I find it very hurtful that I must hold my membership with an organization that according to this letter wants NOTHING to do with me and what I teach or what I stand for. I am hurt. I am disgusted. I want someone to know about it. I want Yoga Alliance to hear my disgust and my concern but then I wonder would they understand that nudity is not a perversion but another way of liberating ourselves from the mayas as we teach yoga does for us. This is why I fight to change this mentality. It sickens me and makes me feel unwanted again and ashamed. When I was sexually assaulted, I promised myself I would not feel this way again. That is why I want to scream and tell them how I feel but I wouldn’t know where to start or if it would hurt, Naked Yoga Alliance or Isis Phoenix personally. I wish you all love and success. May serenity and love surround this situation.

    1. Isis Phoenix Post author

      Thank you for sharing so open and vulnerably. I think the next step is a broader proposal to actually include naked yoga in Yoga Alliance. When I was teaching I submitted my continuing education credits as building a naked yoga class and the teaching and support structure for naked yoga teachers in it. They had no trouble or rebuttal at the time taking my money and accepting these credits. The letter that was issued suggests that something has changed. It feels like the next step after this is resolved is reaching out to Yoga Alliance and asking for inclusivity via petition.


      nurevealyoga – Do you NEED Yoga Alliance? The best way to show your discontent is to dump them and tell them exactly why And then share that with your Alliance colleagues. If it would harm your business to do so, then It’s a matter of conscience and self-respect vs profit motive. Not an easy choice, but one which many businesses have to face at some time.

      What if Yoga Alliance made such a statement about gay yogis? Or Jewish? Or Black or Hispanic? Or Christians or Muslims, or other lifestyle choices?

      You need to ask yourself if you wish to be part of such an organization which, by your membership, defines you and your beliefs as conforming to theirs.

      Your choice, your conscience. Namaste…

  5. Liam Cyfrin


    Given that we live in a ridiculous world where human beings frequently legislate against the legality of the human body, the word “Naked” is a rather noticable one when discussing human activity in a way it isn’t when discussing the activities of, say, coyotes, wombats or stick insects.

    A “naked supermarket” is not going to be referred to by anyone as simply “the supermarket”.

    A “nude beach” is never referred to simply as “the beach” except by the cognoscenti who frequent it.

    And as is often quoted on naturist websites: “If a man ran naked down the street firing his Uzi, people would call the police to report a naked man.”

    So realistically, is anyone going to assume “Naked Yoga Alliance” and “Yoga Alliance” are synonymous or different aspects of a single entity? Sadly, not.

    In an ideal world, of course, that might be the case, but I’d like to see anyone stand up in court and offer definitive evidence that that’s the world we’re currently inhabiting.

    No reasonable person (in this unreasonable culture) would assume the two organizations are related. The word “Naked” is too strong a qualifier.

    What one might assume from the Yoga Alliance’s petty, bullying and bureaucratic attitude is that it agrees entirely with the power of that “N” word, and finds nakedness disturbing, degrading and somewhat sleazy. This from an organization one might expect a degree of respect for the human body. Your human body.

    Would the Yoga Alliance, one wonders, have responded with an equal lack of respect and courtesy to someone creating the Gay Yoga Alliance, the African American Yoga Alliance, the Left-Handed Yoga Alliance?

    And if so, is the response “WTF” adequate?

    One might also wonder if this is a battle worth fighting, given the Naked Yoga Alliance might not want to risk the vaguest association with an entity which is, at best, very confused about its attitude to the human body and spirit and, at worst. a voice of hypocrisy, puritanism and body-shaming.

    Of course, it is worth responding to, primarily because bullying tactics from those hiding behind a (probably perfectly harmless and professional) lawyer’s letter are always insidious pollutants of the human spirit.

    Silly, silly people.

    Liam Cyfrin

  6. hontouniheart

    I am troubled and disappointed by this. I am glad there are Naked Yoga Alliance Lawyers and others here with skills, experience, guidance and thoughts to support NYA in resolving this specific issue. I don’t have expertise in all that, but I know this: NYA has my support, and here’s why…

    Because my experience so far has been extremely positive. That yoga challenge Isis Phoenix offered up in Jan-Feb was, to me, the real deal. No extras, nothing forced on others, just straight up practice and reflection. It is one of the rare moments where, I felt, the yoga was unbranded, unscented, unflavored, and, therefore, more fully available for each individual practitioner to allow whatever needed to come up to, in fact, come up organically for them. And it showed in those shares that were showcased, the outtakes from the challenge, all those different perspectives participants had. The yoga wasn’t tied to anything else but the pose and the moment of breath in the pose. It’s hard to find that kind of spacious authenticity in both clothed and naked yoga. In my experience both naked and clothed, it seems folks often feel the need to impose something else on it, offer singular interpretations, or conflate it with other beliefs and practices. Not so with that yoga challenge. It was straight clothes free yoga for me. So, I have the utmost respect for Isis Phoenix and how she treats yoga.

    If they actually took the time to look at the posts and have a conversation with NYA about clothes free yoga and how NYA treats yoga, I wonder if they too, might see value in it and/or respect for it and, therefore, approach whatever concerns they have differently… perhaps more conversation and coming to whatever agreements rather than chucking tomatoes and grenades. The language of the letter, right from the introductory paragraph, seems to be written with the intent to intimidate and shut down. How about actually acting like humans and having a conversation?

  7. Mark Diorio

    Sadly, in many cases yoga in the U.S. has been watered down to nothing more than a form of exercise with studios promoting a business mentality. That’s why it is important for true practitioners to band together in a form of strength and unity.

  8. Robert Shelby Blasidell

    What about the long and I mean long-centuries old- of Naked Yogi Sadus in India. This is traditional Yogic path directly from the home of Yoga –India!! If Yoga Alliance refuses to recognize naked Yoga they are refusing to recognize valid Yoga and to only endorse Americanized Yoga that is not the real thing!!

  9. Frank

    Dear ‘Naked Yoga Alliance’, since the CEO Richard Karpel resigned from Yoga Alliance USA in 2014, the oligarchic management of Yoga Alliance (USA) has devoted time and conspicuous financial resources on expensive lawyers to threaten yoga organizations across the globe from using the name ‘Yoga Alliance’ and/or request to put a disclaimer on their Web site indicating that Yoga Alliance (USA) is not affiliated with ‘this or that’ Yoga Alliance.
    Unfortunately, Yoga Alliance (USA) refuses to acknowledge that with so many legal loopholes within the trademark and common law system in the USA and in other countries, their expensive endeavour to stop organisations across the globe from using their name is just a mere ‘flex muscles exercise’ that place Yoga Alliance USA in pool position as a mediocre organization fearful of competitors.

    Furthermore, Yoga Alliance is very cautious to mention anywhere publicly that years back, in the spirit of yoga, they were very helpful and encouraged a group of yogis to set up a Yoga Alliance somewhere outside the US and offered help if needed. Nonetheless, as the CEO of Yoga Alliance USA, with whom the group was in discussion, was removed from office, Yoga Alliance USA’s former warmth became distinctly cold, to the point of threatening the group with legal action if they did not stop calling themselves Yoga Alliance. The threat was withdrawn because the group had managed to register the trademarks Yoga Alliance, RYT and RYS in the country were they planned to operate.

    Yoga Alliance USA rather than ‘daydreaming’ and spend money fighting other organisations that do an excellent work for the yoga community, should let go of their ferocious, pointless, nonsense competitiveness and let other Yoga Alliances be…… in the true spirit of unity and integrity.


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