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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dahn Yoga's Good Business Practice: Storytelling

No matter what you say about Dahn Yoga's business practices, you've got to admit that they know how to market business quite effectively. I remember when I first signed up and cancelled immediately after my "trial period" ended (no pun intended), I was so intrigued by the health benefits that I asked about other people's stories.

After my initial "healing session" I felt refreshed and released, in spite being told I had many "blockages" in my heart and beating my sternum to a bruised pulp. I asked my healer, let's call him "Ishmael," how he came to know and work with Dahn Yoga. He told me an earnest story about his lifelong depression and how it was debilitating in his home and work life. Even though I didn't have an earth shattering impression of the guy either way, I connected with his story. I have experienced my own long seasons of depression and anxiety throughout my life.

That Dahn Yoga could be a panacea of ailments of the mind and body helped reel me in. The other students shared their own stories during tea time. Some came for the overall health benefits of traditional yoga (even though Dahn "Yoga" is far from that practice) while others had ACL tears, insomnia, chemical addictions, and standard physical discomforts, including pinched nerves and chronic aches and pains.

Any good business follows a standard model to get it off the ground and keep it running. A great business knows how to sell a story to their product and service. Dahn Yoga knows how to capitalize on this not only by encouraging their employees to have stories, facts, and case studies handy (ie, sales pitches, testimonials, etc.) but also by eliciting the stories of members during tea time.

Storytelling is a good thing. It brings people together by showing webs of commonality and empathy among otherwise total strangers. I think most businesses, including Dahn Yoga, use this tactic to be effective both financially and (hopefully) with the best intentions for self and collective improvement. It is up to the individual, of course, to determine how they are impacted by this information.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dahn Yoga in Rolling Stone Magazine and on the WWW

Here's a link to "The Yoga Cult," an excellent article by Rolling Stone Magazine (March 28, 2010) about the cult of Dahn Yoga. The article follows the lives of a few students who were die-hards; do-or-die followers of the dangerous group, who ultimately succumbed to loss of their financial livelihood, self-identity, sexual innocence, and, for one young lady, Julia Siverls, their life.

Please don't take my word for it. Sure, I was part of Dahn and yes, I was manipulated. Sure, I have friends AND family who have either participated or continue to attend classes knowing full well that this is a cult. Why do people still do it? It's addictive. You feel like you're a part of something, and you feel welcomed. When the Dahn center managers start pricking at your emotional weaknesses and dangle promises of healing and enlightenment at the low investment of $XYZ, you don't want to upset the same people who showed you (feigned) kindness.

Please, educate yourselves on the dangers and history of Dahn Yoga. Look around the WWW, and read for yourselves the tragedies that follow customers. Check out all the sources available out there, including Dahn's very own Dahn Yoga Voice website, which chronicles and tracks their many lawsuits. Beware, that some of their articles are written without regard for humanity, even so far as trivializing Ms. Siverls' case by insensitively stating, "This story should not be news, but it seems that the plaintiffs’ lawyer did not get the payoff he expected and has become a sour grapes critic of Dahn Yoga."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dahn Yoga Centers - A Business Wrought with Conflict of Interest

Merry Christmas All! I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed holiday celebration.

A couple weeks ago, I shared my opinions based on personal observations and stories shared by others why I believe the business Dahn Yoga is not ideal for center managers. As promised, I will begin here where I left off last, that is: "I will focus on the aspect of conflict of interest. ie., studio managers are supposed to promote health, healing, and happiness through their services, but just how genuine can these intentions be when the machine is run by a money-hungry monster?"

Note: All links in this post link back to my previous articles. Don't worry - you're not leaving the site or server. The links just give greater context based on my own experiences.

Conflict of Interest
It is a sad state that in any business, and I mean ANY, there will be a degree of conflict of interest. Particularly in the field of healthcare and alternative medicine, business owners, practitioners, and employees will have to "sell out" at some point. Why? Because that's the nature of business - it doesn't make us "bad," per se, unless we know we are not operating under a higher power of ethics and morality.

Dahn Yoga is a good example of a business wrought with conflict of interest. On one hand, these people are supposedly in the business of helping and healing customers, or at least advocating better health. Every day, new and existing members come into the centers with all sorts of ailments, big and small, ranging from MS, herniated discs, depression, and high blood pressure, to arthritis, psoriasis, and insomnia.  They experience a biochemical high (a surge of endorphins) from their Dahn Yoga sessions, and some continue to experience healing or alleviation.

This certainly was my case. If you recall, I had suffered for years (I'm now going on year #7, BTW) with extreme neck and shoulder pain. And, Dahn was the only modality that seemed to give me relief. It is during this time, however, that the Dahn masters and employees peel off their serene exteriors and reveal who they really are: sales sharks who will pull no stops to guilting you into buying your way to freedom.

Wait. What? "Buying your way to freedom?" I'll explain. Dahn Yoga works, at least it did for me. But, as in any business, the proprietor can't rely on his bread and butter to grow the business. He has to cross-sell and up-sell. The fast food industry has "Super Size" options, the auto industry offer baseline vehicles with myriad upgrades, and Dahn has its own package (upon package) of services.

So what's the problem? "Everyone else is doing it, why can't Dahn?" And there's the rub. Many people who have physical pain come in with emotional pain. When they begin to experience physical healing, they become more open and vulnerable to emotional and mental manipulation. They have some relief in the arthritis in their hand and now they want to see if their arm, shoulder, and back will improve. They become desperate for more.

It's a hook line and sinker opportunity to Dahn businesses to reel in these types of customers and guilting them into buying exorbitantly expensive packages including seminars and workshops to continue their journey to wellness. Often, the customer feels indebted and therefore obligated to spend the extra $500 for a weekend workshop...even though their native language is English and they won't be able to understand a lick of the Korean that the lecturer will speak. Never mind the Korean-to-English translator, who can barely translate 10% of the entire lecture to the non-Korean attendees.  And did I mention? A standard 3-month membership costs $400-$500 total, the same cost of a single weekend seminar (which does not include lodging, meals, or parking).

Who knows if Dahn Yoga employees really care about their customers' well-being. Honestly, I'm sure they are pleased to see that their product and services really work. But, at what point do they stop seeing members as people and start seeing them as vulnerable cash cows? At what point do the daily hugs stop becoming warm gestures of welcome and start becoming love bomb techniques? It's a dangerous and slippery slope, and I can't help but think that Dahn employees are in some ways greater victims than the actual paying members.

What do you think and what have your experiences been? I'd like to hear both sides of the story. If you would like to share how you were helped or duped by your Dahn Yoga practice, please share your story. I allow anonymous comments on my blog so long as they're not from blatant trolls, especially from those from the unintelligible Dahn camp.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dahn Yoga Franchise: A Horrible Business Framework

I was having lunch at a local Korean-owned sushi spot this afternoon when I saw a little shelf of Dahn Yoga pamphlets displayed next to the cash register. I thought it was a good reminder to write another blog post; it has been a couple months, after all.

This particular post, as with all the content on my blog for that matter, is entirely from my own observations and/or experience. And, while today I'll be sharing my opinions about Dahn Yoga from a business/operations standpoint, I will say that I have absolutely no firsthand knowledge of how things are actually run.

Disclaimer aside, I think that the Dahn Yoga franchise is an absolutely horrible trap for the studio managers. I've taken the following into consideration (again, just my own personal observations):

The Good:
1. Dahn Yoga center managers are their own bosses. They run their studio as a full turn-key business, planning and managing every single aspect of a whole corporate body.

2. The managers get to "work out" every day and literally practice what they teach and preach. Sound body, sound mind (at least in the beginning in the honeymoon stage, before the reality and nightmares ensue).

3. Relatively safe and pleasant environment. Unless the managers are blatantly taking advantage of their clients, they get to work in a serene studio with like-minded, health-conscious yogis and yoginis.

The Bad:
1. Dahn Yoga is a $$$$$ trap for business owners. I don't know what what buy-in costs are to own a franchise, but I can almost guarantee that anyone who sets up shop is already coming in with MASSIVE DEBT. Read the stories for yourselves. Dahn Yoga "master" training is expensive. We're talking about $50,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars in classes, workshops, certification courses, and whatever other hurdles and hoops to jump through to get "accredited" to become an instructor. And again, we aren't even talking about (because I really don't know) the actual terms, conditions, and start-up capital and personal investments required to open shop.

2. Studio managers don't make money. I don't see how it's possible for any manager or instructor to make any money. Not only are they likely drowning in debt, but they are responsible for putting money in Ilchi Lee's pockets with ongoing franchise, advertising, royalty fees, etc. It's really no wonder that the instructors try so hard to cross-sell and up-sell seminars, conferences, books, and miscellaneous Dahn Yoga accessories (clothes, books, grip socks, etc.). They don't get salaries. These poor instructors/managers are working off of commissions of membership dues and seminar sales. Sad.

3. It's a never-ending, multi-hat wearing toilsome job. Most Dahn Yoga studios offer 3 classes a day. That means the manager/instructor is leading 3 hours of classes, preparing and cleaning up the mini tea ceremonies, signing up new members, upselling current members, working on customer retention, reporting sales activities and sign-ups to the corporate office, all while imagining how they will afford to pay the utilities for their center after all expenses are paid. These managers are stuck in their studios from early morning to late night running their day-to-day tasks as a one-man or one-woman show. One minute you're promoting Ilchi Lee's latest book or showing a prospective member some promotional YouTube videos. And then you're cleaning the toilets and mopping the sweat off the floor after each class. It never ends.

I will write more in my next post. I will focus on the aspect of conflict of interest. ie., studio managers are supposed to promote health, healing, and happiness through their services, but just how genuine can these intentions be when the machine is run by a money-hungry monster? After all, as much as you may desire for others to find relief from physical and emotional pain and wounds, at the end of the day, it is a business, and what matters most from that standpoint is the bottom line.

To be continued.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Transferable Spirits - Why do I reminisce on my Dahn days?

It's been nearly a year since I last wrote on this blog, but I wanted to share a bit about the title "Transferable Spirits" and how it applies to my experiences with Dahn Yoga.

It's not that I dwell, obsess, or reminisce daily on the days I attended Dahn Yoga classes back in 2010, but I admit that on days that my neck/shoulder pains especially flair up (i.e., today), Dahn crosses my mind.

As I've mentioned countless times before, I do believe that practicing Dahn yields positive health benefits. However, the cost to achieve temporary relief is too great. Sometimes, the path in which you seek a solution is not optimal on a holistic level. In the case of Dahn Yoga, yes, the exercises were alleviating my arthritis and inflammation (physical pain), but the stress of confronting the instructors' near daily mind-control and cult-recruitment practices took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. 

So yes, even though I know that Dahn is a cult, I can't help but think about them on this day - as my neck is so stiff that I can barely stretch it out in either direction, that my right shoulder is so tender and stiff that I can barely raise my arm.

When I used to take classes, I believe that the "spirit" of Dahn Yoga, the philosophy, the propaganda of Ilchi Lee and his followers were flowing through the classroom, and, for better or worse, into the students. Maybe this sounds hokey, but consider the concept of synergy, teamwork, and the collective conscious.

All of us either believe or acknowledge that we have a 6th sense - call it intuition, ESP, whatever. Think about a time when you walked into a meeting and the energy was tense. It just so happened that you walked in on an event that changed the atmosphere/mood of the people in the room (ie, maybe the boss humiliated or berated one of the employees, maybe someone announced that a family member had passed away). The same applies to positive events. Attend any social event, a party, a get together, and immediately you'll pick up on a vibe and it will mold your perspective on the situation and attendees.

Sometimes I wonder if the spirit or energy of Dahn is still attached to me somehow. How and why else do I keep reminiscing on the "good ole days" when I'm simultaneously repulsed by the "love bombing" from my creepy instructors?

I don't think I am being unreasonable. Maybe this is also akin to:
- The high rate recidivism among freed prisoners.
- Thinking about past, abusive relationships. No, you will NOT go back, but they do cross your mind from time to time.

I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have also left an abusive organization, environment, or relationship, do you find yourself reflecting on the past? Have you ever gone back after vowing you wouldn't return? How was it the "second time around?"