PHOENIX (CN) – Former employees and students say that Dahn Yoga and Health Centers is a cultlike group in which they are instructed to “wash away” any outside attachments. Two dozen plaintiffs claim in Federal Court that they were deprived of sleep, spent eight to nine hours doing 3,000 bows, chanting leader Ilchi Lee’s messages, cleaning toilets with their bare hands, and agreeing to divorce their spouses in order to complete training.
The plaintiffs, who come from across the United States, say the Dahn Yoga and Health Centers manipulate members to buy extended memberships, additional programs, workshops and training retreats to persuade them to dedicate themselves to Dahn Yoga.
To advance within the practice, plaintiffs say they were required to devote themselves to its founder Seung Huen Lee aka Ilchi Lee and his vision by participating in group programs that would “wash away” any attachments outside of Dahn Yoga. Lee and the organization called for members to dedicate all of their time, effort and money to the practice, to disconnect from friends and family and to live communally with other members, the lawsuit states
Plaintiffs claim the organization used training retreats and decreased caloric intake to place members in conditions that cause trance-like states to make them more susceptible to the program’s brainwashing. Plaintiffs say the manipulation was most intense during the master’s training retreat, which featured the abuses already described. In addition, they say, they were required to participate in “spiritual surgery” in which they revealed personal issues, often resulting in screaming,
Dahn Yoga, which runs more than 130 centers in the United States, solicits members into its “totalistic, high-demand group” through clubs on college campuses, advertisements and recruiting through existing members, the complaint states.
While the centers claim to promote peace and health through “dissemination and globalization,” the plaintiffs say the program subjects members to thought reform, indoctrination, and psychological manipulation.
Plaintiffs seek damages for emotional distress. Named as defendants are Seung Huen Lee, Dahn Yoga & Health Centers Inc., Tao Fellowship, BR Consulting, Mago Earth, Vortex Inc., and CGI Inc.
Plaintiffs are represented by Ryan A. Kent of San Rafael, Calif.