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TONIGHT: Dahn Yoga “Cult” Gets CNN Special Investigation Treatment

in YD News, Yoga Crime

yogacultpromocnnWow, Campbell Brown’s blog is ablaze with yoga scandalocity! It’s not a new story per se, but now this Dahn Yoga cult mischief is finally stirring enough buzz to snag the big kids. And rightly so, really. There have been a multitude of allegations against potential miscreant Mr. Ilchi Lee, and his massive wellness, some say cultish corporation, Dahn Yoga (Forbes mag estimated $34 million profit in 2009). With all it’s “brain wave vibration” whosiwhatsits it sounds more like a psychiatric unit than yoga, and many of the alleged victims have cited brainwashing, along with abuse and sexual assault. Clearly this is a poignant topic: the two CNN blog posts already have over 30 comments going, and our very own post on the subject has over 30 as well (and they’re longwinded and extremely eye-opening). To top it off it all hit a little close to home when it was revealed last November that NYC school’s “Brain Education” program was washed with Ichi-isms! Our take? It’s kinda NOT yoga.

Anyways, if you’re watching the tube tonight turn on CNN at 8pm EST for part 1 of the Special Investigation unit series (!) on Dahn Yoga. A sure bet for frustration and utter irksville, besides a show of CNN cheesified graphics.

dahn-yoga-cnn

Want more? Check out Glamour magazine’s coverage on The Scary Yoga Obsession.

EarlierDahn Yoga Scandal Might Be Creepiest, Cultish Yet
Dahn Yoga’s ‘Brain Education’ Yanked from NYC Schools Amidst Cult Allegations
CNN: Yoga Good For Kids of All Ages, In Case You Hadn’t Heard

38 comments… add one
  • don

    Gee, I would watch it, but darn, I like millions of other people have canceled their cable. I don’t get CNN in my house. I am so bummed, NOT. When will the media get it- we don’t care about their stupid scandal stories of he’s bad, he’s good, she’s soo…… lol. We are voting with our dollars- duality does not turn us any anymore. doing yoga with peaceful music does.
    don
    peace out. (and Cable causes brain damage)
    fromnowtozen.com

  • i hadn’t really known it was a cult type of deal until i read an article about it the other month, but i will say that once when i went to check out the dahn studio in brooklyn heights, i got a distinctly creepy feel from it and didn’t take the free class they offered.

  • Kim Park

    Dear Miz Yogidorki,

    You are verri verri bad yogi person. Father Lee is good good man. CNN is also verri verri bad. No believie any that stoopid things. Dahn no cult. Verri verri bad yogi people here on yogadorki.

    Goodbi,

    Kim Park

  • Melissa

    I have had the pleasure of working for one of the wellness centers as a manager. I can honestly say that I was always treated with respect and concern for my health and family. Mr. Lee and other staff always provide positive input on how to improve myself both physically and mentaly . It is unfortunate that a select few have misinterpreted what Dahn Yoga really is all about.

  • sue

    I started Dahn Yoga 2 years ago in Vancouver when I had irregular very heavy menstoral bleeding. It changed my bleeding into a normal regular bleeding and helped me out of depration caused by lack of blood. since then I go to yaga classes whenever I am in vancouver and it does amazing help to my physichs and spirit. so I recommend it to all my friends and between the 3 different yoga methods I have experienced in my past I mostly recommend daun yoga. I don’t know how true is the news about Mr.Lee in US. However I started my Yoga with a man called Mr. Sangmonim and I am continuing with Mrs. Behnaz and I admit that they are spiritual people and great teachers and their method is wonderful. I feel a positive healthy energetic person after each class!

  • I took a class before I knew about all of this cult/lawsuit stuff. So I was going in with a pretty open mind. And the practice itself was non-threatening, very energetic. Some of the physical/asana stuff was a little too unfocused and light on alignment (have people do deep backbends without proper warm up or caution for low back). Overall it was a pleasant hour and a half. Not “my yoga” so to speak, but I didn’t hate it. The teacher was sweet. BUT: she kept trying to convince me to buy a class card even though I was only going to be in town for a week. And there were a number of other things that she did that were a little pushy/invasive.
    At any rate. All of that made it so that I wasn’t surprised to hear about this stuff. Kind of icky.

  • lyla

    DHAN YOGA IS NO CULT… It s real. It helps, it heals, it balances your life, makes one happier, lighter, healthier…. BUT…big part of it is money thing. And master Lee is no criminal.. maniac may be LOL with healthy life stile lo, may be unhealthy tendencies, after all its no religion so no one is to question you morals, but he is no criminal.
    Dont you all see?! They came to US to make big bucks, they made a fortune, now its their time to pay. Isn’t it always like that?
    Whats my story? I wanted to be an instructor, but its so unaffordable!! Five days of training is like one year college tuition!
    Well Im not a rich housewife, but a common girl with passionate heart for dahn hak. That doesn’t pay for training. So say! With prices like that its a shame not to make a fortune lo lo lo. I will become an instructor any ways. And I will make Dahn Yoga acceptable and available , so we can enjoy the beauty and get all the benefits. I LOVE YOU ALL.

  • Nathan

    Dahn Yoga fits the definition of a cult. Check out the website http://www.freedomofmind.com for details as to why Dahn matches the definition of a cult. When you’re done their check out http://www.rickross.com for Dahn documents and personal stories by ex-members.
    Lee is not a spiritual soul, he’s a materialistic man. He has teachers working long hours, as he enjoys houses, a twin turboprop plane, horse ranch, a luxury spa and luxury cars at his various properties. People who defend this man haven’t taken a proper look at the lifestyle that contradicts what he preaches.
    Have a look in the Arizona land and corporate records, if you don’t believe what ex-members are saying. The truth will set you free and onto non-Dahn places for exercising.

  • Nancy

    I joined Dahn yoga in Seattle for a brief period a few years ago. I also got a very creepy feeling, and it is very money oriented. It was only a week or so into the yoga sessions, that they tried to “sell” me on various events that cost extra and they seemed very dissapointed when I did not buy. They were also into some very unusal touching. They seem to think they have healing power of some sort through these techniques. This type of wierd touching might be where the assault charges in the lawsuit are coming from. I quit going to the yoga classes after only a few weeks.

  • Susan

    Dear Campbell,
    Dahn yoga cult and Sri Nithyananda yoga cult of Oklahoma are similar in their teaching or enlightment gospel. Sri Nithyananda is a master from India where my daughter is dying to go. One of his books is ,’Guarantee Solution for Fear Worry.’ I am concerned about my daughter’s life and more so after reading the truth about the cult of Nithyananda online.
    Who is there to help the harm these yoga classes are doing to ignorant American people?

  • Unfortunately there are a number of signs that indicate cult behavior within this group.

    YOGA is not the issue here, as yoga was not invented by dahn yoga, that is just an offshoot

    Yoga is done by millions around the world just as millions believe in God around the world but you still get cults rising there heads every now and again

    Obviously aswell you will get those who defend cults and I have explained why on my blog

    The main thing here is to be aware that there are many groups that turn into cults by people placing other people on pedestals!

  • antidahn

    Look up the definition of a cult in the dictionary and decide for yourself if that is Dahn Yoga. For me I know that the classes can feel good but it is the employment side of things that the scary part. I lost a loved one to this organization. They pay near minimum wage, allow their hourly employees to work numerous hours without being paid for them, don’t give paid time off benefits, and list goes on and on. I witnessed it as my loved one got deeper how they turned to deception and threats to keep the “anti” people in her life from stopping her. Whatever it took to afford the next Dahn fix, beg/borrow/steal, is what they would do. Family and friends were put in a secondary position of importance as Dahn became the only thing that was important to them. Did I mention the picture of Ilchi Lee above their bed and the “book of scripture” written by Ilchi Lee that is read at night. So tell me, does this sound like a regular yoga class that you would find at a real gym or yoga studio?? How many times have you heard of those places allowing paying members to volunteer and teach a class for them?? How many times have you been asked to give up deep personal secrets to your yoga instructor at other places?? This place is a scam and I hope justice finds them soon.

  • Amy

    Ugh…I feed violated! Just Friday, I went for an Introductory Session, in Crystal City, Virginia, thinking I would be taking a “yoga” class… I was taken into a “Healing Room”, laid on the floor while energy work was performed. Much massage on both my sternum and abdomen that was a bit painful. I was informed that I had experienced a lot of “emotional stress”, which was an understatement, due to life events the past year. Anyway, at the end of the session, I felt much better. In this relaxed state, I was immediately pressured into an $1,800 program, that included 6 months of classes, 2 workshops and 3 more healing sessions. She already had the book there to sign me up, before I had even put my glasses back on! Part of my stress is financial! I finally did cave into signing up for a 6-month contract at $120 a month + a $80 registration that includes a $15.00 book, and some kind of uniform that I am to get next week. I never had a chance to discuss this with my husband before I signed up, and spent $200 that I didn’t have… Now, I’m feeling creepy and financially violated. Yoga never made me feel that way…. I don’t know what this is – definately not yoga, and I don’t particuarly mind they call it that – I have practiced for 11 years. However, the way this incident made me feel is not right… I’m starting a new job next week, and just wanted to find a lunch-time yoga class in the immediate area. I’m always willing to try new things, but this seems to be unethical….

  • antidahn

    Amy, Read the fine print of your agreement, you should have a few days to change your mind and cancel. Do it today though!!

  • jim ra

    Hi Fellow Seekers: I have stomach problems and have tried several outlets for coping in the last few years including Hypnotherapy, Hydrotherapy and Homeopathy (only the first of these helped at all). Dahn attracted me because it sounded like a less strenuous Yoga school. I did the demo a few days ago and got hustled into a contract; before my first class, I hit the ‘net, read of the controversey and man, that wasn’t good for my intestines! I called the recruiter immediately to see if I could get a refund; she said she had to talk to the mgr. but it should be okay. If it isn’t, fellow seekers, what course of action would you recommend?

  • donjo

    @ jim ra
    You have a certain time in which you can cancel a contract. This varies from state to state, so I would check. Act quickly and force the issue with Dahn, since most states are around 72 hours. If they do not refund your money file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and possibly a consumer protection division or the Attorney General office in your state

  • jim ra

    Donjo: Thank you…I did call them only 48 hrs after signing up and mentioned the controversy. My ck wasn’t even deposited and I’m picking it up tonight.
    Somewhat ironically I sense divine intervention in helping me out of the mess quickly. A close call.
    Also, I’m moved by the way other victims or potential victims help each other out on blogs.like this one.
    I shld mention that I remained polite when I called them….I used the word “controversy” and that clicked. Dahn is so under fire now I think even folks who are in deeper can get out.

  • donjo

    @ jim ra
    I am glad that you were able to get out of the situation without losing any money or your health. I feel Dahn Hak is an unethical organization, since they take advantage of people while they are in a relaxed and vulnerable state. Dahn does not use any proprietary or unique exercise routines. You can search for meridian stretching, ki-gong, or tai-chi classes at the Y or other places where they truly believe in helping a person to develop.

  • jim ra

    donjo: Thanks again. I have some familiarity with Eastern exercise/meditation and got the impression that Dahn borrows freely from many of them. Now you’re confirming that.
    This is what makes Dahn harder to nail than say Unification Church: they use legitimate helpful techniques to con people, not just “love bombing”.
    I’m currently reading on the ‘net an autobio “Soul Rush” by Sophia Collier, who at age 17 was a key organizer for Guru Maharaji. A strange saga: basically Guru’s brother jinxed Astrodome gathering by declaring Apopcalyptic/supernatural prophecies around it. Seems innocent at least in contrast to Moon, Ilchy, etc.

  • I just read about this in The Rolling Stone. I am so unhappy to hear that they associate themselves with yoga. Go to their website and watch the crazy video. They do bouncing in their lunges and all kinds of things that I would never associate with yoga. The bouncing in stretches looks like the kind of thing elementary school students in China do during their morning exercises (and I bet they do the same in Korea). I teach yoga and I have met so many people who actually think that normal beautiful yoga is a cult. I’m sure, within the organization, that there are some really wonderful people and talented teachers. But the man who started this thing is evil.

  • mary

    It’s so funny to read everyone’s comments. There are few people in coalition in writing negative comments all over blogs posing as instructors or what not. They make them seem ignorant and because some instructors don’t speak English well, they take advantage of that and write using poor grammar to try to suade people into thinking it’s real. That goes for other stories. The way they write on blogs sometimes it’s obivious that they know too much to be only doing an “introductory session.”

    It’s true that not everyone is going to enjoy everything in their lives. Some people more than others. A lot of people criticize Dahn isn’t a “yoga.” Well.. if you ask any indian person what yoga means they’ll tell you that yoga means union of body & mind.. it’s ironic that there are so many people arguing that Dahn isn’t a yoga, but at the center I go to half the time there are at least 3-4 Indian members and they love the classes.. see the irony? None of the Indian members I have come across that take the classes complain that this isn’t yoga. They say they love this type of yoga and brag to their friends that they are doing a Korean yoga. They all understand that every country has their own methods.. why only in America is it that people have such a hard time understanding that?

  • antidahn

    Mary,
    I don’t care whether Dahn is yoga or not, I lived through the nightmare that exists on the employee side the center. I don’t need to read posting on here or any other site because I saw and heard it firsthand. I watched a loved get sucked in and become a completely different person who turned on the people who loved her and Dahn become the only thing important in her life. She gave up her religion to worship Ilchi Lee, she gave up on wanting to spend time with family and friends and even cut out people who dared tell her she needed to get out of Dahn. We had to hire a therapist to attempt to try to get her out and had to have an intervention to show her what she was doing to everyone. I don’t care if Dahn is Indian, Korean, Chinese, or whatever. It can be a scary place.

  • donjo

    @Mary
    People are offended by DahnHak using the word “yoga” is because it truly does not reflect the services offered. If Dahn was truly interested in mind and body union, then most people would not object to the use of “yoga”. But instead, Dahn uses the word as a marketing gimmick, to get people into the studio. Once in the studio, the exploitation increases. Exploitation of practitioners while they are in a vulnerable state, in my opinion is completely vile and unethical. Would you call that mind and body union?

  • mary

    by services you mean the classes that teach people the principles about how mind & body work together??.. if it’s not yoga.. then why are the classes taught at fitness centers considred “yoga?” They don’t even teach the principles of the excerise.. they just do stretching… if you’re going to go into logistics about it.. it shouln’t be called yoga because they are holding similar postures..

  • liz

    Setting aside the argument of what is or isn’t “yoga” (because we can go around in circles on that one): the issue is not so much the content of the classes, it is the framework of the institution. They can teach whatever they want to teach, no argument there. But when they start pressuring people into spending vast sums of money, isolating themselves from loved ones, and generally cutting themselves off from everything but Dahn yoga: that makes this a cult. Plain and simple. I experienced pressure when I took a class, and apparently, so have many other people.

    If you have found solace in this, good for you. But news flash: cults prey on the vulnerable. You may not think that applies to you, and if it doesn’t, then so be it. But there are people out there who are being taken advantage of, in the name of “yoga.” That is deplorable.

  • To Susan who commented above – there is no doubt Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda is a big fraud and cult organization. I am a former member of that organization. I am thankful to grace for freeing me from this organization. Thanks to blogs such as these I could see what I was otherwise blinded to. Please read these blogs carefully as they are from former insiders who know the real Nithyananda – not just the public face with is all goody goody.

    Nithyananda Cult Blog

    Fairy Tales of Nithyananda

    Just don’t believe anything from a current member, because they are too brainwashed to see the real Nithyananda. I wish you good luck and I hope your daughter does not get mixed up in this mess.

  • jim ra

    Hello Fellow Seekers, A recent “Rolling Stone” issue (Lil Wayne on cover) had yet another expose piece on Dahn. Definitely mass media exposes will warn possible victims.

  • admin

    new post up on rolling stone article You Oughta Know: Rolling Stone On Dahn, the “Yoga Cult”

    here’s a link directly to the article rolling stone

  • Yikes, interesting video. This is something I haven’t seen yet.

  • search4

    “Don’t all companies try to get more money from you?” Come on… the short list is; product/service commercials on radio/television, insurance companies (OMG healthcare costs,) department stores, food stores, lawn service, cleaning products, auto dealers, and stockbrokers.

    The Body & Brain yoga has changed my life in a VERY POSITIVE way, but you have to really hold onto your wallet here. The yoga people seem so nice and caring until you stop parting with cash. The most moving part of this story is with regard to the company employees. They should be paid higher right wages and be provided with health insurance in light of the company profit numbers mentioned in the article.

  • Kay

    I have been going to a Dahn Yoga center since February and have had only great benefits. As a pastor and an African-American I feel no threat to my Christianity at all. I receive physical and health benefits – in fact my high blood pressure is down and the doctor is thinking about removing me from the medication. Other ailments are being dealt with slowly but surely. I am more energetic and limber than I have been in years.

    I have been asked to attend the many retreats and have never felt threatened or put out in any way to spend money I don’t have. When I say no the instructor respects it.

    Dahn Yoga has some of the very same concepts as the Emotional Freedom Technique and children around the world are using the Body and Brain technique in their classrooms which is having an amazing result in the lives of both students and staff alike. You tube it. It’s phenomenal.

    I don’t deny anyone else’s experience but can only give them my thumbs up!

  • tweetie

    I attended Dahn classes for a few weeks, and as a yoga practitioner for many years I can say this is in fact not yoga, not tai chi and definitely not healthy for mind, body, soul or pocketbook. What they do is push you past the point of pain with repetitive motions or holding poses for up to 20 minutes until your endorphins kick in big time, then they put you into alpha waves for “energy accumulation”, and the combination of endorphins and alphas are, let’s face it, a drug. The day after a session like this I felt like I’d been hit with a Mack truck. They compound this with “love bombing” and intense pressure to fork over cash, and if you can’t they tell you you need to “visualize” wealth in a chiding tone. They absolutely idolize Ilchi Lee, and have likened him to Jesus Christ. It is a dangerous cult, we can receive the same benefits through deep breathing, hatha yoga and mindfulness, without the harmful high/crash or the assault on our wallets. Walk away folks, walk away.

  • Crystal

    @everyone’s responses:

    For those people who say Dahn Yoga is not “yoga” need to rethink what the sanskrit meaning of “yoga” is. Yoga means union of body & mind. Yoga doesn’t mean exercise as many of the yoga studios in the western world have come to define it.

    To feel “pressured” to sign up for a membership = cult? Really? C’mon, really? Calling yourself “victims” to make it seem like real issues. The vocabulary that’s used sometimes is ridiculous.

    With CNN, Rolling stone, etc., these are all mass media outlets. As a practitioner of any yoga “real yoga” not exercise form of yoga, I hope you will know the difference between mass media “facts” vs. reality.

    As an American, it saddens me to see how mass media influence has taken place in the judgements of the Dahn Yoga practice. But I suppose that is the obvious. Everyone’s believing everything they read and see in the media. And yet, those are the same people who claim themselves “spiritual paths” that aren’t influenced by the media.

    Anyone who has a brain knows that the mass media is a cult itself brain washing consumers into buying their brands. And yet, those of you who claim you are free from the binds of mass media believe those words of hate.

    With any company that grows larger, there will ALWAYS be an anti-parallel/critics. Not even just a company, but for anyone who’s looking to go against the “norm” will always face criticism.

    In my eyes and in many it’s amazing that Dahn Yoga has managed to survive the many years of criticism and threats it’s received. If none of what it was doing is considered “real,” I don’t think it would have been able to survive till now.

    For example take Bikram Yoga. It’s a multi-million making industry in it’s own. They’ve created Yoga competitions. Really? Yoga shouldn’t be categorized as a contest. The founder has also been accused of an incredible amount of sexual assault claims. Yet, it doesn’t get the mass media’s attention of being a cult.

    Please take into consideration what Dahn Yoga is doing as a non-profit organization. (For example http://www.ibrea.org) Recently they have been providing education classes for the teachers and students of El Savador who are living in traumatized areas through the funding they receive from Dahn Yoga.

    We always look for the negative things in life to exemplify, yet we shrug off the greater good that’s being created around us.

    Before you go and judge Dahn Yoga, anything else, or anyone else for that matter, please take into consideration all the facts and not all the rumors that float around.

  • antidahn

    @ Crystal
    You are free to express your opinions based on your experience, and I am glad you haven’t experienced what I did. I saw Dahn Yoga take someone I knew and change them. She attended early morning and late night special sessions. She gave up on her real job and went to work for Dahn for minimum wage and worked hundreds of hours that my State’s labor department said should be paid but she refused to file a complaint. She went into debt to the tuen of nearly $20k beacuse of this place. She paid for her own travel and “training” costs for Dahn classes that were meant to make her a better instructor (don’t most businesses pay for their employee’s training?). She damaged or destroyed relationships with friends and family when they dared challenge her involvement with Dahn Yoga. She lied, cheated, and stole in order to feed her Dahn Yoga habit, all with the knowledge of her masters who only cared about her continuing her training and paying them more money. She gave up her life long religious beliefts in favor of reading books of scripture by Ilchi Lee where he compares himself to Jesus and says he will lead his followers to heaven. I ended up having to spend hundreds of dollars on a therapist who specialized in cults and mind control in order to get a strategy to get her out and we ended up having an intervention before she finally ended her time there. But everything was in ruins after that, all her relationships, she was broke, and suffering from the things Dahn’s teachings did to her. Support that all you want Crystal but that is a real life example of Dahn Yoga.

  • donjo

    @ Crystal

    Your “arguments” seem the same as Naysayer on squidoo.com and and healthyhappyheart on yogabasics.com. You are either the same person or using a script used by Dahn. If you are the same person why not post using the same name?

    This is quoted from happyhealthyheart from yogabasics.com:

    The Definition of Yoga

    Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In Hinduism, it also refers to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy, and to the goal toward which that school directs its practices. In Jainism it refers to the sum total of all activities—mental, verbal and physical.

    Dahnhak is none of those. Did it originate in India? Is it associated in Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism? No! So it should not be called yoga. Dahn started out in the U.S. being called Dahnhak and changed their name to Dahn Yoga. Why was that?

    Mass media is not a cult. They do not try to isolate you from family and relatives. Dahn will try to get you to sign up to their retreat where you are miles away any civilization and feed you a low protein diet while keeping you up until early hours of the morning….well until the City of Cottonwood got involved and Tao Fellowship (front company for Dahn, look at who owns the so called non-profit) agreed to limit their hours. Why not do BMC in the same city in which you normally attend classes? Wouldn’t that be better for the Earth, than burning a ton of carbon, flying to the desert in Arizona?

    Have you actually been to El Salvador to witness yourself the job IBREA is doing? Or are you just believing what you see on the internet? Do you know that IBREA’s President is Ilchi Lee?

    Feel free to research my facts, no rumors here.

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  • julie

    Dahn Yoga is a cult and that is that. I was brain-washed into spending $200,000 to save my soul. I was also asked to lie to others to spend the same. I said no, I wouldn’t do this. This is when it really hit me, when I was asked by the regional manager to lie to others so that they would pay big money for a big training that I had also been lied to. I had to get out. And here’s the deal. I had already paid for some trainings, almost $10,000 worth and I wanted it back. Dahn Yoga has a LOT of bad press. When they claimed I had no legal reason to get my money back I simply threatened to Facebook, Twitter, and use ALL social media to spread the word about what they had done to me “and I have a LOT of friends.” With that I had my money back within a week. I kept my promise and said nothing, but I am speaking up now as the Chicago area of Dahn is crumbling, as it should. They ask you to take loans from your credit card, from family members, in order to pay for high-priced trainings in order to save your soul. And if you don’t they yell and scream at you, shaming you that material things are more important than your very soul. In the end I started screaming right back at them that money was more important to THEM, etc. But most members find themselves “needing” Dahn Yoga and whenver you feel that you NEED anyone, anything you are in danger.

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