Patents Power Up Yoga – Part I

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The International Yoga Day has set the stage for a new era of fitness, creating a buzz in the world of patents too. There are at least 1,000 patents filed across the world for accessories that aid yoga practices. Some of these patents have powered up intelligent yoga mats and accessories, while some others are likely to see the light of day in the coming months. Our blogger discusses interesting patented inventions and their future in a two-part series.

Yoga has become a billion dollar industry from the time it was popularized by celebrities in UK and the US in the 1960s and 70s. Around 1,000 patents and applications have been filed worldwide on different yoga accessories such as yoga mats, yoga balls, yoga towels, yoga bricks and straps, footwear, clothing, etc. Many patents are filed on different yoga accessories and devices which enable and support a user to do different yoga exercises. Major research and progress has happened on yoga mats to make them multi-functional and Intelligent.

Yoga mats that think

Smartmat, the intelligent yoga mat, is all set to provide an experience of having a personalized yoga teacher from this month. Showcased at the Cosumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015, this mat has grabbed eyeballs across the world. Powered by Siri, the Smartmat is designed with layers of intelligence below an upper layer of soft foam to provide instant feedback to correct poses. Designed on the lines of a pending patent, the Smartmat  has advanced pressure sensor technology to detect pressure exerted at various points that calls out to you when your body if out of alignment.

Smartmat is just one of several similar patented inventions – some that have seen the light of day, and others that are likely to hit the shelves soon. Among them is one interesting patent – US8192330 – that makes yoga lessons more accessible to the visually impaired. Titled “Yoga Mat With Intuitive Tactile Feedback For Visually Impaired”, this invention by Tracy Lynn Curley describes a technology that enables visually impaired users to determine location and direction on the mat. The yoga mat has discerning markers for hand and feet placement, and is fitted with sensors that guide a user on accurate hand and foot placement through a yoga posture sequence, an exercise program or even a dance routine!

Source: Patent US8192330 describes a technology to help the visually impaired perform yoga exercises accurately.

Source: Patent US8192330 describes a technology to help the visually impaired perform yoga exercises accurately.

These are just few of the several multifunctional yoga mats that are gracing the patent and market shelves today. Many come with a variety of functions such as an in-built music player, yoga towel, electric heating to maintain body temperature in cold environments, skid-proof surface to ensure proper grip and perfect poses, etc. These features are quite a unified and combined patented lot that can be viewed in a plethora of patents such as CN202909364, CN202459942, CN202682646, CN202207427, CN202154974, CN2915181, CN201782379 and CN202128846.

Yoga chairs for yoga balls

Yoga chairs caught the attention of several practitioners for the comfort that they offer to perform asanas while sitting. Taking exercising comfort a notch higher are chairs designed to support yoga balls. Designed on the lines of patents such as CN202354890, CN203987033 these chairs come with features such as a ring surface to hold the yoga ball in place that doubles up as a seating cushion.

Sources: Patents CN202354890 and CN203987033 describing yoga chairs that can support yoga balls

Sources: Patents CN202354890 and CN203987033 describing yoga chairs that can support yoga balls.

And that’s not all. An accessory that you may want to pick along with a yoga chair is a yoga cushion. Replete with temperature control features and other personalized requirements, these cushions are designed to provide the best support to your body during exercise.

Source: Patent CN202427090 describes temperature control of a yoga cushion.

Source: Patent CN202427090 describes temperature control of a yoga cushion.

Wearable technology for that perfect yoga pose

There are at least 10-15 patents that have been filed for technology inventions related to wearable sensors. Strap on these sensors, connect it to a smartphone, and your personal technology-powered yoga trainer comes to life, correcting your moves and taking you through the perfect yoga lessons.

A device called Yoga Yantra patented by Ashim Ghosh (US2012065024, IN1350/DEL/2007) in India enables users to practice breathing exercises without using their hands. Strap the device to your nose, power it up with a battery and relax while the machine exerts pressure on the nostrils in programmable cycles and duration that mimic pranayam.

Source: Patents US2012065024 & IN1350/DEL/2007 describe a device that is programmed to regulate breathing during pranayama practice.

Source: Patents US2012065024 & IN1350/DEL/2007 describe a device that is programmed to regulate breathing during pranayama practice.

With the practice of yoga gaining popularity world over, such patents are likely to get that perfect boost to turn into invented products. In the second part of this series, I showcase the patent landscape in yoga accessories and a couple of interesting litigation that are likely to gain momentum in the coming years.

(Feature image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robnas/5612169394)

Divyateja Adapala
Divyateja Adapala

A marathoner who enjoys biking along the LA coastline, Divyateja's observant eye shows her what gives a miss to the common spectator. And you get to read about those interesting insights in her blog.


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