Dahn Yoga: What You Should Know

centerPhoto2(FqC-5146).jpgA Brooklyn Life has a story about taking a free class at Dahn Yoga on Clinton Street —  "The flier tacked to the tree on Clinton Street was promising: Free class at Dahn Yoga. As one who shamelessly exploits the various community classes offered throughout this great neighborhood, I was in."

After reading the post and comments, we did a little research. Seems that Dahn Yoga is considered a cult by many and has been accused of brainwashing.  Julia Siverls, a NYC college professor died while training to become a "Dahn Master". 

The Village Voice wrote about the the circumstances around the professor's death: From another set of documents, a different picture of Dahn emerges. In a 109-point civil complaint, nine of Julia's brothers and sisters allege that Dahn masters "forced and coerced" her to practice their brand of yoga, ultimately compelling her to attend the deadly yoga retreat. They charge that members of Dahn laced her food with drugs before leading her on a grueling mountain hike, during which, despite indications she was struggling, they denied her medical care. And along with various former group members and experts on the topic, they believe that Dahn is a cult. (A Dahn spokesperson denies all allegations.)

Like Scientology and other cults, Dahn has its financial aspects as well:

An annual membership in New York City runs almost $2,000; in its Brooklyn Heights center, Dahn charges $29 for an initial consultation. The hour is capped by an aggressive sales pitch to become a member, complete with instructions to "feel" the decision to join, rather than think about it, and a warning that choosing the gym over Dahn will lead to the buildup of toxins in the body. The session ends with a hug.

Former Dahn masters say the pressure to buy Dahn membership pales in comparison to the pressure to sell it. The masters at each center determine their "vision" for the month—a target amount of money and members—and an internal website details their failures and successes. Tales also abound of masters who are convinced to practice celibacy and separate from family and friends. One former master offers that because "Dahn doesn't really want people to live with non-Dahn people," he finally gave up his Manhattan apartment, sleeping instead at the center where he worked. Finding fault with Dahn is verboten, former masters say, explained away as "bad energy."

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  • http://bccy.blogspot.com frelkins

    i first ran into this cult while looking for a yoga space after 9-11. i went into the manhattan space and talked to them. it was a mega-creepy vibe. mega. http://bccy.blogspot.com/2001/10/working-now-on-yoga.html

  • Anon

    I’m not so sure that the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE is an unbiased information source.

  • Homer Fink

    Didn’t say CRI was an unbiased source. We encourage everyone to do their own research and make an informed decision.

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Qfwfq
  • brooklynfriend

    i took a class there not knowing what it was and had the creepiest experience ever. they tried to get me to join up with them, go to a sedona retreat, etc. it was scary. it is VERY MUCH a cult and whenever i see their ads or flyers in the neighborhood i throw them away. (the actual yoga sucked as well.) AVOID THESE GUYS.

  • deni

    I joined a dahn center in Boston, and for me it has been a very positive experience. I enjoy the exercise format, I enjoy the staff and their excitement and the perspective on holistic health. I haven’t experienced any “cult” talk. I’ve been told about new programs, but never felt pressure. I think it is probably a health program that appeals to certain people and not others. I continue to have a job, family, social life and enjoy my workouts at the center.

  • Nicole

    I have been in Dahn for seven years, since long before all this anti-Dahn internet balogna started. I can tell you that it is really a sad indication of the kind of mindset that pervades the internet. I would really encourage anyone who is suseptable to this sort of boogey-man talk to really consider the sources. There is not a single source that offers a balanced viewpoint, and few are based in real experience of Dahn. The original sources, if you trace them back, are self-proclaimed “cult experts” who have few credentials and have made a carreer out of smearing any organization outside of the mainstream (Hassan and Ross), and other yoga and/ or spiritual organizations who are directly competative with Dahn and therefore can benefit from destroying it (yoga.com, yogabasics.com, and CRI). These sites (except yoga.com) refuse to allow any posts that refute the accusations or present Dahn in a positive light. Much of what is posted is totally false and mind-bogglingly slanderous. About the only thing that is true is the pushiness with money, but by that standard every car dealership in America is also a “dangerous cult.” People like you have decided to take unproven accusations from the prosectution’s complaint document in Siverl’s case and treat them like fact. For Dahn, it seems to be “guilty with no possiblity of being proven innocent.” It is reall a shame that you have decided to participate in this sad display of rumor mongering. Brooklynfriend, please offer some real evidence. What exactly did they do to harm you?

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Truth Williams

    If it walks like a cult and talks like a cult, it’s a cult.

  • Philip Nolan

    It is not slanderous to ask Dahn Yoga for proof of what it claims to be able to do. The founder, Seung Heun Lee claims to have found enlightenment through 21 days without sleep, food and water. Prove it. HSP is suppose to bring out special powers. Prove it!
    Nor is it not slanderous to require Dahn to back up its claims to improving people’s health in a safe and healing environment.

  • http://www.yogoer.com Yogoer

    An update — the rep on Dahn Yoga has gotten so bad that they’re renaming studios “Tao Yoga”. So look (or look out) for those, too. There’s one in Union Square. I tried a class a while ago when I was looking for a nearby yoga studio, and actually joined up… managed to cancel my membership after two classes too full of Chinese energy medicine talk. (I ended up building a map of all the yoga studios in New York City — there are other options out there! ;)

  • Joshua

    Appreciate all the advice out there. In my opinion Dahn Yoga is one of the most powerful kinds of mind-body training out there, and all kinds of people do it–including many top NYC yoga instructors, dancers etc. It is based on the study of energy (Dahn), and it is based on a Taoist tradition of mind-body training. As I understand it the Manhattan locations are called Tao Yoga because they focus more on the spiritual dimension of training and want to emphasize it. Regardless, hope you all can give it a shout and you might just like it!