Legend: BLUE-open, RED-closed, GREEN-by donation
Click here to view the accidental yogist's map of los angeles yoga studios in a full-size page

Monday, August 31, 2009

yoga for brain control

a few years back, i picked up a flyer for what looked like a style of yoga that i'd never practiced before: dahn yoga. there supposedly was a studio near my office that offered dahn yoga classes, but since i didn't know much about it, i turned to google to clue me in on what the practice was all about.

on the dahn yoga website, there were testimonials from students who claimed that dahn yoga reduced their stress and healed their physical ailments; in short, it changed their lives for the better. and who wouldn't want that?

there's was one catch, though. i had to sign up for a private one-on-one session. and if i wanted to take more classes, i'd have to sign up for the program and commit to some kind of membership. but since i don't do the yoga membership thing because i like the flexibility of taking classes anywhere, anytime with anyone, i never got around to taking that intro class.

i then started hearing rumors about how dahn yoga was actually a cult. a cult? you mean like one of those groups that'll brainwash me into doing everything they tell me to do, including handing over all my money? that was the last thing i wanted to get involved with, especially since i didn't have much money to hand over to anyone anyway.

fast forward to about a month ago. while riding my bike to a yoga class, i noticed a new sign on a building just up the street from the beach. it read: Yoga and Healing. could it be that there was yet ANOTHER new yoga studio in town? curious as to whom the person was behind this new venture, i pulled over and stuck my head in the door. there were some flyers on a table, so i picked one up, took a quick peek at it, and realized that i was standing in the doorway of a new dahn yoga studio. i was tempted to hang around and wait for someone to show up so i could ask him/her about their program, but at the same time, i was glad that no one was there to sweet-talk me into taking that intro class, because god only knows what would have happened after that...

once i got home, i scanned the flyer:

The quality of your life starts with self awareness

... ok, so far, we were on the same page...

Become a brain artist - Did you know that while you are doing yoga to develop your body, you are also developing your brain?

oh really -- how?

Our style of training called Dahn yoga, aims at developing the full potential of the brain through using the Brain Education System. With greater awareness of the brain-body connection, you will be able to develop a mastership of your thoughts and emotions which support your power to create anything you want with your life.

Brain Wave Vibration is the simplest form of Brain Education, and it focuses on the brain stem. The brain stem is critical to your health because it is the area of your brain that controls breathing, heart rate, stress response and all the other many automatic functions of the body.

By stimulating the brain stem using gentle vibration throughout your body you will release any bodily tension and bring your mind toward a calm meditative state. This will bring feelings of renewed energy and youthful vitality.

this definitely didn't sound like any kind of yoga i'd ever done before. instead of working with the body to improve mental focus and maybe indirectly improve the health of my brain, it sounded like they wanted to work directly with my brain to control the functions of my body.

hmmm... truthfully, if anyone's going to mess with my brain, i'd first want to see his/her medical license. and a bunch of glowing references from people i trust.

needless to say, i never went back.

then just the other day, i received this email from someone at WE tv (formerly the Women's Entertainment channel):

Just wanted to let you know about an interesting discussion of cults on WE tv's upcoming "Secret Lives of Women – Cults” episode on Tuesday, September 1 at 10 PM ET/PT.

This episode profiles four women who have been affected by cults. From a mother who has lost her daughter to a young woman trying to rebuild her life after losing everything to a controlling yoga organization, viewers get taken inside cult life.

This particular clip profiles Amy who’s trying to get back to real life after dedicating her time and passions to the cult of Dahn Yoga -- Cults: Cult Rehab

perfect timing, don't you think?

in fact, this is the same amy who was featured in a recent forbes magazine article, Dahn Yoga: Body, Brain and Wallet:

... 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. On top of those charges, the suit alleges that Ilchi Lee, the 57-year-old Korean founder of Dahn and its spiritual leader, sexually preyed on young female disciples...

The explosive charges threaten what appears to be a highly lucrative enterprise. The charismatic Ilchi Lee (born Seung Heun Lee) founded the parent company, Dahn World, in 1985 in Seoul. Dahn ("energy" in Korean) is derived from an ancient Korean form of training that aims to maximize the health of body, mind and spirit through a combination of yoga, tai chi and martial arts.

so now that i'm REALLY curious about this whole issue, i'm going to make sure i rush home after yoga class tomorrow so i can catch the entire episode! you might want to do the same; please feel free to post comments here after you watch it...


Blogger Han2013 said...

Dahn yoga is based on an ancient Korean Taoist practice called Kouk Sun Do, known in the U.S. as Sundo. Like Kundalini yoga and Sundo, Dahn yoga uses Chi/ Ki/ Pranic breathing techniques to stimulate brain and body. Il Chi Lee took some of Sundo's basic principles and created Dahn yoga, adding the 'brain technology' and other modernizations. A friend practiced Dahn for years and it cost her a great deal of money, and it seemed that she was being strongly encouraged to attend more and more expensive workshops and retreats. I took a class and my feeling was that the practice is genuine and efficacious. I also feel that there are upselling pressures, as well as a cult of personality surrounding Mr. Lee. Perhaps he has found a way to utilize the brain transformations that take place to insert suggestions.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Eco Yogini said...

Hmm. very interesting post! I agree with you= sounds an awful hokey to me. Kinda like Scientology... spend more money to advance.
Also, knowing something about the 'brain stem' myself, I would be surprised if there were ANY research to support claims that vibrations did anything more than VIBRATE the nerves and structures in that area... Now, electrical impulses, that most certainly may affect 'brain' chemistry- as we are made up of zillions of tiny electrical signals.
Thanks for posting about this :)

12:25 PM  
Blogger the little travelers said...

the bummer about dahn yoga is that it is extremely effective! i get more of a meditation result from one workout than an hour of meditation. however, the whole constant pressure for more $$ can be somewhat of an irritant. i just say no. but i need to say no to $5000 lifetime membership nearly every day. after class i'm so centered though- it doesn't really bug me. i just smile and say, 'nope, same as yesterday and same as tomorrow- no lifetime membership for me.' no one can 'make' you sign up! it's silly to sign up and then be mad at them for your own mistake. we all have a choice what to think and what to do with our credit cards. there's no brain washing- only people too weak to say no. the same people who likely buy time shares and kerby vacuum cleaners because they feel bad for the sales person, i imagine.

3:21 PM  
Blogger joni said...

maybe dahn yoga is contraindicated for people who can't say no? i'm glad a dahn practitioner has offered to share a view from the other side :)

3:31 PM  
Blogger Fabulous Freckles said...

I just joined a Dahn yoga studio last week. A friend of mine joined about a month ago, and she looks fabulous (she has lost some weight and seems genuinely calm) I did the initial private session, poked around at the literature, and decided to join for 1 year. The cost is comparable to other yoga studios and includes additional trainings (atleast the package I bought does). There are pros and cons to being a "joiner" in any situation. I'm sure we have all been urged to take or add more perks to our gym, club, or other organized memberships. I haven't been urged to do anything I don't want to do, and I feel that the staff are involved and invested in the health and happiness of the yoga students. They may prove me wrong later, but at this point I think they are legit.

2:12 PM  
Blogger joni said...

hi angie -- i'm glad that it seems to be working for you so far! although i would be curious to see what they do if and when you decide to stop going there...

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks to the person who posted the truth about the Self-realization Temple, etc. I was born and raised in a Mormon Fundamentalist Cult, escaped it at age 21, and have spent the rest of my 65 years trying to become normal, find a life, fit in and to "unruin" my life legacy left me by the foolish joiners of cults.

My therapist suggested I check into the self-realization Temple in Pacific Palisades, Ca., after I told him I had never been able to find a church or community I could really believe in and fit into, since leaving the cult I was raised in. Long story. But to make it shorter, thanks to those who post on Google. I know enough about cults to recognize what they smell and think like.Unfortunately many people don't, so they trustingly join these groups -- for lack of the horrible experiences of those who have had the sense to get out and to try to become normal and happy, once out: Cults warp -- especially the children born into and raised in them, who never had the outside-world experiences and choices their parents had to help them muddle through the teachings and effects of the cult upbringing.

The more you read about cults and the stories of those who have left, the wiser and safer from brainwashing and a ruined life you will be. Otherwise, be ware: The blind lead the blind, in cult organizations, and they all fall in the ditch of lost money, life and a fair chance for the kids brought into such a fanatic, true-believing life-world.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Electrician the woodlands said...

I just joined a yoga studio last week. A friend of mine joined about a month ago, and she looks fabulous. I did the initial private session, poked around at the literature, and decided to join for 1 year.

10:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Back to My Most Recent Post