Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dahn Yoga Classmates - No Weirdos to Report of

I was completely unaware that Dahn Yoga was a cult when I signed up. In the beginnings of the practice, I enjoyed their funky and quirky exercises because they really seemed to be helping my neck and shoulder pains.

The other members who exercised alongside me always looked to be in good spirits, too. There was no particular profile of Dahn Yoga members. In my class, the members' ages ranged from 30-60 and represented Hispanics, Caucasians, and African-Americans. Not only was I the only Korean member, but I was also the only Asian.

As I reflect on those fellow members now, I realize that everyone was quite friendly and participated with their own physical/emotional goals in mind. There were no "weirdos," which makes me believe that they were also oblivious to the dark side of Dahn Yoga. I think I would have had a much harder time processing and getting over the PTSD had I met a bunch of overly zealous Ilchi-lovers.

I didn't even sense anything unusual or strange during tea time when we went around to share any insights or observances during our practice. It was always a calm and friendly time. I would see the  instructors going around and asking members to sign up for the upcoming $300-$1,000 retreats, seminars, and lectures but the members would respond in stride, unlike me, who was always suspicious and felt pressured by these aggressive sales tactics.

On a side note, I always thought it was ironic that these instructors were inviting non-Korean members to these Korean-language events. How awkward for the non-Korean speakers! Granted, we were advised that there would be an English translator at the events, but if you know anything about the Korean language and culture, you know that everything would be lost in translation and there would be a whole lot of charismatic cult chaos.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dahn Yoga Name Change= Body & Brain

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 
- William Shakespeare

As of late 2015ish, I began noticing a shift in Ilchi Lee's marketing agenda. I've been seeing more and more that they've changed their name from Dahn Yoga to "Body & Brain." A few things I'd like to note:

(1) I don't know if this is a formal change (probably not) or if they're just a DBA (doing business as), which is likely. Either way, it's probably no surprise that the Dahn branding and image have caught up to the cult franchise. 

(2) I don't know where the name change is instituted. I live in Los Angeles, and it looks like the "Body & Brain" name is scattered throughout So. Cal. I even found a Dahn Yoga place in Orange County renamed to "Zen & Fit Yoga." I doubt the name would've changed globally, especially in its country of origin, S. Korea.

(3) I don't know if the name name is on printed material (company letterhead, brochures, contracts, pamphlets, fliers, mailers, etc.).

(4) I don't know anything about the name change roll out or timeline. I began seeing the name change in 2015 but maybe it's been in the works years before. One of my readers commented that she saw the change in her neighborhood studio on April 2016.

What is it about the name "Dahn Yoga" that could've caused such a shift? Who was responsible for making the change and when was it effected? Had all the bad press and negative personal accounts caught up the business? What will the impact be on their SEO efforts? Haha, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself on that one!

If they were looking for a fresh start (ie, rebranding), I agree that "Dahn Yoga" isn't very telling or catchy. I mean, what is Dahn? Is it Don's Yoga? Or his wife Dawn's Yoga? All jokes aside, I don't believe that "Body & Brain" is a better name. I don't understand it. What would you think if you were passing by a "Body & Brain" business front? Maybe it's a medical surgery center? It sounds a little creepy in a New Age way. It gives a cultish vibe of mysticism. Maybe that was their whole motive? Maybe it was just another awful Korean phrasing that got lost in translation. 

Either way, as our own President would say, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Residual Impact of Cult Life

I often wonder if there are other former cult members who have been permanently injured from their prior participation.

When I first got involved with Dahn Yoga I had no idea it was a cult or what the business was all about. I was primarily concerned with the exercise and healing component of the classes. Within the first couple weeks, I found out what Dahn Yoga and the Ilchi Lee machine was all about and quit as soon as my pre-paid 3-month membership expired. This was nearly 10 years ago in January 2006. And yet, to this day, my short involvement impacts the way I see and behave in my Christian life and in my relationships...which is pretty synonymous, wouldn't you say?

Whenever I meet new people, particular those who claim they are also Christian, I become grossly suspicious of their motivations and interest in me. I don't act or speak about these suspicions because that would come off as paranoid but I am always skeptical in the back of my mind. This has caused me to create an even larger barrier or wall of defense in my relationships.

After spending and serving over 3 years in a Christian church I moved on and began attending another church. The respective denominations, only for those interested, were Free Methodist and Evangelical-Free. At this new EV-Free church, I was immediately accepted with open arms. I was invited to join all the activities and was even given the opportunity to help with the hospitality team within the first month of my attendance. By the 3rd month, the pastor even asked me to take a greater leadership role in the weekly Bible Study meetings.

This was all good and well, but I always felt a lingering suspicion and even contempt (I'm still working on this) at this new, welcoming, friendly, and loving church. Contempt because how can they be so accepting of me, a newbie, without properly vetting me or observing that my walk in faith is in line with my talk? Well, that, and the fact that the members of my previous churches took THREE MONTHS before anyone even said "hi" to me.

I still struggle with this lingering suspicion in my church, which has proved to be nothing but honest and focused on Jesus and the Bible. I wonder how they can possibly love and trust me as a fellow believer. I wonder if they have any concern that I just may be a cult follower trying to poach and lure away God-fearing believers into another false belief system.

I struggle with giving and receiving trust in my lifelong Christian faith because of my short-lived but traumatic affiliation with Dahn Yoga. I wish I was not deceived. I wish I did not feel like a victim. I pray that God continues to deliver me from these unhealthy suspicions. Please feel free to share how you have overcome or continue to overcome your former cult experiences.

Friday, April 22, 2016

On Dahn Customers Needing to Take Responsibility

This is my open letter to one of the commenters of my blog.

Nata, good for you and glad you are keeping healthy. Many people are vulnerable and they just want to get better with healing. To a large extent, yes - we are mostly responsible for our choices. Cults like Dahn Yoga are also responsible for representing themselves (the employees, corporate mission) fairly and accurately. However, they have a hidden and dark agenda that starts with Ilchi Lee that needs to be brought to light.

If customers are fed darkness, it becomes that much more difficult to see the light behind hidden agendas. It seems that the more customers are seeing the truth about Dahn Yoga, the more the business tries to initiate some sort of cover up. Coincidentally, several Dahn Yoga businesses near my county are renaming their facilities so that "Dahn" is not shown anywhere in the signage or advertisements (leaflets, cards, coupons, etc.). Rather, the update names are more generic, like Tai Chi, Power Yoga, and some variation of healing stretching.

Why the cover up of the actual business name if there is nothing wrong with the business? If I opened a yogurt shop and called it "Dahn Yogurt" I would invest as much as I could to reinforce branding and build a reputation. I would probably only change the name (say, to Yummy Yogurt? Yogurt 4 You?) if there was a widespread media campaign smear about the questionable quality or business model of the enterprise. Maybe people started spreading the word that Dahn Yogurt uses expired ingredients, aggressively persuades yogurt upsells and cross-sells, or sells useless products. Maybe rather than fix these issues I decide I just want to conceal the ugliness with a new name.

Well guess what? It's just lipstick on a pig.

To point the problem as being the customer's responsibility in this hypothetical case is rather irresponsible. Yes, it's a capitalist society so they are free to take their yogurt or yoga business elsewhere. That is the beautiful thing about our economy. But you have missed the point of the necessity of accountability on the merchant's side.

If Dahn Yoga insists on operating the business under its current shady motives and dark cult history, customers will find it that much more difficult to "get out" of this contract system than they would had they enrolled in a business with a transparent mission from the get go.

Psalm 52: 2-4
2 You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.
3 You love evil rather than good,falsehood rather than speaking the truth.
4 You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dahn Yoga & the Role of Psychology

Here's the thing. EVERYONE has a story to share. Everyone has been through his or her own share of hurts: betrayal by a close friend, manipulation by a family member, lies by a lover, humiliation by an employer, or some form of variance or combination (maybe all) of the above.

Dahn Yoga practitioners know that we all have frailties and insecurities - obviously, they do, too. The difference is that they exploit our past or present pains for financial gain.

I started thinking about this more and more as I considered my last employer, a savvy businesswoman who was a manipulative psychopath. She knew exactly which buttons to push from most of her employees. The nicest and most soft-spoken workers got the most heat, and they would often leave her office with puffy red eyes from crying. The ones who had greater confidence and/or less to lose (ie, those who had college degrees, money in their bank accounts, or a firm religious background) received little to no harassment by this woman.

Dahn Yoga's 1:1 healing sessions are operated under the same framework. Disguised as healing and nurturing sessions, the masters talk you into spilling your guts as they literally beat your chest, stomach, and back repeatedly to remove "blockages" from your soul and your system. It is in this sort of vulnerable position confined in a small, poorly lit room reminiscent of a prison cell that you begin volunteering stories of grievances of years past.

In what seems like releasing the demons and thus inviting restoration to the soul, you end up feeding the Dahn predator with reasons why you need more help than you realize. After you've bared your soul to them, they suddenly have a class or series of healing sessions to sell. Can't afford a healing retreat or seminar? No problem - they offer payment plans that are reasonable and fit around your schedule.

Try as you might, they are relentless and will not back off. You start to feel uneasy with their aggressive sales tactics, but you're cornered, because now they know all your dirty little secrets and use all your stories as leverage to get you to commit. "You can't spend $300 to attend a Shim Sung lecture? No wonder you still suffer from your addiction to XYZ. No wonder you're still plagued by the child abuse from your youth - you're unwilling to let it go. Restoring your health is obviously not a priority to you."

I read somewhere that anxious people are the nicest people. In a way, being nice is a protection device - a defense mechanism. The nicer you are to people, the less likely they will attack you. When it comes to pyschopaths (ie, Dahn Yoga practitioners) you end up becoming their prey because they are here to hurt, rather than to heal clients.

Beware, especially those of you who are pure in heart and are particularly susceptible (to the point of being gullible) in readily trusting others. If you somehow get caught in the Dahn Yoga web, remember Jesus' Word from the Bible says: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:6