Suit against Dahn Yoga alleges 'psychological manipulation'

ABC 15, Arizona/June 3, 2009

Dahn Yoga claims it can ease your stress, even heal your ailments. Dahn Yoga operates more than 130 centers across the U.S.

A new lawsuit filed on behalf of 26 former Dahn members alleges the organization subjects its members to "psychological manipulation".

Experts say this organization fits the definition of a cult, adding that the accusations made in the 53-page lawsuit are not new.

Steve Hassan [Warning: Steve Hassan is not recommended by this Web site. Read the detailed disclaimer to understand why.] is a cult expert with more than 30 years of experience. The ABC15 Investigators spoke with him on camera in 2007.

"It's a destructive, deceptive, mind control cult," Hassan said.

He said he's counseled more than 15 former Dahn followers.

"There are a wealth of psychological problems that this group has generated," Hassan told ABC15 in 2007. In the lawsuit, former Dahn members allege, "members were required to acknowledge... absolute devotion" to its leader, Ilchi Lee, and his "Vision".

According to the lawsuit, "Absolute devotion to Defendant Ilchi Lee and his 'Vision' required that members dedicate all of their available cash and credit to the Dahn organization" and "...disconnect from their previous life, including friends and family and any personal interests outside of Dahn".

"They're basically taking people's minds and substituting the Dahn mind in its place," Hassan told ABC15 in 2007.

The lawsuit also alleges, "Defendants recruit new members into the Dahn organization through the use of solicitation by existing members, operation of Dahn Yoga 'Body and Brain' clubs on college campuses, as well as by advertising in fliers posted on college campuses and nearby businesses and street corners".

The connection between Body and Brain clubs and Dahn Yoga is something the ABC15 Investigators uncovered in 2007. According to the Body and Brain web site, there are 22 Body and Brain clubs located across the country including Arizona State University.

The ABC15 Investigators went undercover at the Body and Brain club at ASU in 2007. 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."

Monica, a former follower of Dahn Yoga and a student at the University of New Mexico, told ABC15 in 2007 that she was recruited into Dahn Yoga on campus.

"They advertise it as being something to help you de-stress from school," Monica told ABC15 in 2007.

But instead of finding relaxation, she described bizarre rituals.

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

She also described intimate group massages.

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

Though Monica is not a plaintiff, similar claims are echoed in the latest lawsuit.

Former members call these rituals "spiritual surgery" in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, it happened at Dahn's Sedona, Arizona Center. Retreats there also included "competitive events where losers were punished by sticking their heads in the toilet, drinking toilet water, licking and kissing the other members' feet on the floor of the men's bathroom".

Dahn Yoga sent ABC15 the following statement:

Dahn Yoga Official Statement Regarding May 22, 2009 Lawsuit by Former Employees:

Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc. and its affiliates appreciate the contributions of over 2000 employees and franchise holders worldwide. Their happiness and well being are key to our success. We have reviewed the lawsuit and consider its claims frivolous. We are confident that the truth will be revealed in court.

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