The Mudroom

Yogi vs. Yogi

Reading the aura of a cosmic trademark battle

By Ali Moran August 24, 2012 Published in the February 2011 issue of Portland Monthly

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What’s in a beard? Golden Temple, the Eugene-based manufacturer of the Yogi Tea brand, drew inspiration from Yogi Bhajan, a one-time Indian customs officer who gathered a New Age flock by homebrewing a blend of Kundalini yoga and Sikhism (not to mention a great cup of tea). Now, Bhajan’s widow, Bibiji, claims the Yogi Tea company owes royalties to Bhajan’s trust, and wants control of the Yogi name—a decidedly earthly potential loss for Golden Temple’s 150 or so employees. As a Portland arbitrator weighs the trademark case, meditate upon a brief look at this yogi-on-Yogi duel.


Yogi Bhajan — The original Yogi founded his first ashram in an LA garage. 
Yogi Tea — Bhajan followers loved the master’s blend of cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, clove bud, ginger root, and black pepper, and started selling it in SoCal natural-foods stores in 1984.


Yogi Bhajan — The leader asserted that as an incarnation of a deceased Tibetan lama, he could observe auras and prophesize the future. (Skeptics called him “Bogi Yogi.”) 
Yogi Tea — Golden Temple’s St. John’s Wort Blues Away “settles emotional imbalance” and “alleviates nervous unrest."


Yogi Bhajan — The 3HO Foundation, which Bhajan founded, operates spiritual centers on every continent. Its website allows visitors to fill out a form to request a “spiritual name.”
Yogi Tea — The Eugene company now makes nearly 60 tea blends; deploying its expertise in “sensual well-being,” it recently launched a breakfast cereal line.


Yogi Bhajan — Kundilini stresses a Sattvic diet (fruits and vegetables, which uphold “clarity”) and cautions that garlic, eggs, and meats lead to heaviness and dull minds.
Yogi Tea — Anise seed, dandelion root, nettle leaf, and cherry bark may sound like a fat rabbit’s diet, but Yogi Tea was founded upon the idea that “tasting great is essential, but isn’t enough.”


Yogi Bhajan — Bhajan reportedly employed a troupe of 15 women to serve him spiced drinks, attend to his baths, and perform group massages. Now that’s what we call a tea party!
Yogi Tea — Yogi produces teas formulated to address women’s health issues: balancing hormones, encouraging a healthy pregnancy, and promoting sufficient breast-milk supply. Delicious! (We mean the tea, of course.)

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