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Title Dahn Yoga - Body, Brain and Wallet
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Dahn Yoga - Body, Brain and Wallet January 10th, 2010 - As published in Forbes Magazine dated August 03, 2009: The Dahn Yoga Centers dont sell ordinary yoga lessons. They captivate their customers. [...] Shipley, now 25, is one of 27 former Dahn practitioners who filed suit in Arizona in May claiming the group subjected them to psychological manipulation and fraudulently induced them to spend thousands of dollars on Dahn yoga classes and retreats in Sedona, Ariz. and other places. The punishing techniques, they say, included forced isolation from friends and families, exercises like bowing 3,000 times all night long without breaks, disciplining members by sticking their heads in the toilet and making them lick other members feet, and having them hold certain poses, like the push-up position, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. [...] Dahn Yoga calls the suit frivolous and has filed a motion to dismiss on various grounds, including prior settlements with three of the plaintiffs. Two of those settlements included unusual provisions forbidding the former members from complaining about Dahn Yoga to any government agencies. [...] The explosive charges threaten what appears to be a highly lucrative enterprise. [...] Dahn, a.k.a. Dahn Hak, has 1,221 centers in nine countries. The company and its affiliates employ 5,053 people and claim 1.9 million people have practiced Dahn yoga. [...] Some internal documents seen by forbes suggest Dahn will take in an estimated $34 million this year in the U.S. The lawsuits allegations echo what many cult experts like Steven Hassan, Rick A. Ross and Cathleen Mann have been saying for years about Dahn. Hassan, a Somerville, Mass. mental health counselor who has helped scores of former Dahn members, says the group uses deceptive recruitment and mind-control techniques to create a dissociative disorder among followers, splitting them off from their families and value systems. Dahns spokesperson says these unfounded rumors and innuendoes are simply efforts to hurt a large and visible brand in yoga training. The current suit isnt the first against the group. In 2002 former Dahn devotee and manager Sun Hee Park filed suit in California state court, alleging that Dahn brainwashed her and its other members for profit and that she was coerced into having sexual intercourse with Lee. The defendants settled the case for an undisclosed sum. Three years later the siblings of Julia Margaret Siverls, a ccny professor, filed a wrongful death action in New York state court, charging that their 41-year-old sister was drugged and killed by the Dahn Hak cult during a training retreat in Sedona. The siblings claimed Siverls died of heat exhaustion during an endurance hike up a mountain in 90-degree weather with virtually no food or water and wearing a backpack filled with 40 pounds of rocks. [...] The litigation hasnt seemed to dent Ilchi Lees reputation as a spiritual leader. Twelve U.S. cities have proclaimed Ilchi Lee days in recognition, Dahn says, [...] Dahn practitioners pay fees ranging from $89 to $180 per month. But the plaintiffs allege that the organization pressures members to take intensive training courses, enabling them to become paid Dahn Masters who work for one of the Dahn centers or affiliated companies. The workshops, anywhere from a day to three weeks, cost up to $10,000 each. Plaintiffs say Dahn induces students to take out loans and max out their credit cards to pay for the classes. Marjory Gargosh, 61, took out a home equity loan to pay for training; she says she ultimately sold her house to pay for $69,000 in Dahn classes. On average the non-Korean plaintiffs owe $30,000 as a result of their Dahn experience. Dahns spokesperson says the organization doesnt encourage members to take loans and that the plaintiffs are hurting because they didnt manage their money well. Shipley says she spent some $45,000 on Dahn-related programs (including the $32,000 in loans still unpaid). Obtaining these funds, Shipley says, was part of her money training, a means of showing her commitment to Dahn. Shipley says her Dahn mentor spent countless hours helping her research potential sources of funding and accompanying her to banks. [...] Dahn also has dozens of Body & Brain clubs on college campuses scattered across the country, including at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Oregon, Harvard and Columbia. Its moving into the nations school systems as well. [...]