Dahn Yoga Centers, a national chain based in Mesa, Arizona, is facing lawsuits from 27 former practitioners who claim they were psychologically manipulated into spending thousands of dollars at retreats in Sedona, Arizona, and were also subjected to irregular punishing techniques. Some members were allegedly forced to stick their head in a toilet, to lick other members’ feet, and to remain awake late into the night bowing up to three thousand times. There are also allegations of sexual misconduct involving the company’s founder. The plaintiffs describe Dahn Yoga as a dangerous cult that indoctrinates and exploits its members. Company founder Ilchi Lee denies any direct involvement in the incidents while Dahn Yoga dismisses the accusations as frivolous. Similar allegations were previously filed in 2002.
Dahn Yoga began as Dahn World, founded in 1985 in Seoul, Korea, as a blend of yoga, tai chi, and martial arts. The company and affiliates currently have over a thousand centers in nine countries, employ over 5,000, and claim 1.9 million practitioners. Dahn, meaning “energy” in Korean, also includes “yoga for the brain,” which uses brain wave vibrations to reduce stress by balancing the mind through rhythmic motion. Lee claims it was a lost ancient art until he rediscovered it while engaged in a 21-day fast in the mountains of Korea in 1980. He brought the practice to the U.S. in 1991 and it faced its first legal troubles in 1993. Lee, now 57 years old, is apparently no longer directly involved in the company. See full story at Forbes.com.
By Sean McCloud, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
(Vol. 1, August 2006)
By Doris Jakobsh , University of Waterloo
(Vol. 3, April 2008)