New Questions About a Controversial Yoga Group

KNXV-TV, Phoenix/November 26, 2007

They say they can ease your stress, even heal your ailments.

With more than 130 centers across the country, Dahn Yoga claims to promote health and empowerment.

But experts said that beneath the calm lies a cult.

"A destructive, deceptive, mind control cult," said cult expert Steve Hassan [Warning: Steve Hassan is not recommended by this Web site. Read the detailed disclaimer to understand why.]

The ABC15 Investigators uncovered a link to a younger population operating on college campuses.

Monica is a former follower of Dahn Yoga and a student at the University of New Mexico. She said she was recruited into Dahn Yoga on campus.

"They advertise it as being something to help you de-stress from school," Monica said.

Monica came to Dahn Yoga's Sedona, Arizona center for a retreat geared towards spiritual enlightenment.

But instead she described bizarre rituals.

"People were crying," Monica said. "People were hitting the floor with their fists."

She also described intimate group massages, and the pressure to give money as a symbol of devotion.

"They were asking for a lot of money," Monica said.

Steve Hassan is a cult expert with more than 30 years of experience. Hassan said that he has counseled more than 15 former Dahn Yoga followers.

"They are basically taking people's minds and substituting the Dahn mind in its place," Hassan said.

Hassan said Dahn starts with the power of suggestion.

Our producer went undercover at one of Dahn Yoga's seven valley locations.

The initial meeting was an energy check, which seemed more like a health diagnosis.

The Dahn Yoga instructor told our undercover producer that her spine was crooked, and that her kidneys were tight.

"That means you're not circulating," the instructor said.

The instructor suggested treatment for our ailments.

The instructor told our undercover producer she needed at least one year of Dahn Yoga, at a cost of more than $1600. The instructor said it was the only way to get rid of all our ailments.

"I do not believe people in Dahn are qualified to make medical evaluations," Hassan said. "There is a wealth of psychological problems that this group has generated."

In California, a former Dahn follower and center operator is sued Dahn Yoga and associates. The plaintiff alleged that the group "indoctrinated and brainwashed the members for profit" and "coercively induced plaintiff to divorce her husband".

In New York, the estate of Julia Siverls is suing Dahn Yoga. The lawsuit alleges that Siverls was forced on a "Master" hike in Sedona where she collapsed and died.

Dahn Yoga's spokesperson, Charlotte Connors, said she could not speak to the specifics of the Siverls case.

"But it was a tragedy for everyone involved," Connors said.

Connors denied that Dahn Yoga is a cult. She said there are thousands of satisfied customers.

"Dahn Yoga is a practice that empowers individuals," Connors said.

But former members, like Monica, have raised new questions about Dahn Yoga's expanding influence at the college level, through the Body and Brain Clubs.

Monica said the Body and Brain Club recruited her into Dahn Yoga.

The ABC15 Investigators found 22 Body and Brain Clubs at college campuses across the U.S., including Arizona State University.

Members of the Body and Brain Club at ASU told our undercover producer why they practice Dahn Yoga.

"It's good for you," a Body and Brain club member said. "It's a different kind of thinking."

We asked Connors if Dahn Yoga is recruiting on college campuses, through the Body and Brain clubs.

"No, there is almost no connection," Connors said.

But members at the Body and Brain club at ASU said that there is a connection.

"Body and Brain is like in conjunction with Dahn Yoga," a member told our undercover producer.

"They want young talented people to recruit their family and recruit other students," Hassan said.

Students like Monica.

"They exploit people for their pain," Monica said.

Statement from Arizona State University

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