Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Dahn Yoga Experience

Dahn Yoga was a type of yoga I hadn't ever heard of, so I decided to give it a chance. After my experience, however, I'll never go back.

Chakra Displeasure by Claire L. Evans
There are mixed reviews when it comes to individuals' experiences with Dahn Yoga. Some claim the practice is the best thing to ever happen to them, many scoff at the claim it's even yoga at all, and others liken the program to a dangerous cult. The organization has even been sued for wrongful death and brainwashing by former members and their families (Falkenberg, 2009). However, I didn't read about these things until after my private session. Before attending my first and only class, I looked only at online reviews for the specific center I would be attending. What follows is an account of my personal experience.

Before my Dahn Yoga Appointment

While purchasing some shampoo recently, I noticed the store where I was shopping had flyers posted in the store advertising a free aura reading for later in the week. I hadn't ever had an aura reading before, so I thought it could at least be an interesting lunch-break diversion.

I arrived back to the store at my appointed time and was greeted with a hug by a very friendly Dahn Yoga instructor. He asked a few questions about my health and wellness, and he used a piece of electronic equipment to "read" my aura. When the results came up on his laptop screen, he was very complimentary about the uniqueness of my aura, pointing out that he could help me reach my potential by providing instruction that would "brighten" the areas of my aura that were literally darker in my results. He spoke to a great extent about chakra healing and meditation, both of which I believe can help a person lead a balanced life.

After five minutes or so, he presented the opportunity for me to have a private session at a Dahn Yoga center for the low introductory price of $20.00 (€ 15.0800). I took the opportunity with an open mind. I wanted to form my own opinion of the center and practice, and he seemed like a sincere, friendly person. The problem areas he had identified resonated with me. He told me he would call the day before my session to confirm.

Before the session I read reviews about the particular center I would be attending. Although most of the reviews were glowingly positive, there was one review that warned readers that Dahn Yoga is a cult and a scam. Thus warned, I promised myself I wouldn't sign up for any additional sessions until after I had mulled it over the week following the session.

Not having heard from the practitioner as promised, I did call to confirm my appointment before I left the office and headed to my appointment.

During the Session

I was slightly wary of what was happening throughout the session to the extent that when I looked at myself in the mirrored wall, I realized I was visibly uncomfortable. I was talking a lot, I could not relax, and even though I am normally able to clear my mind while meditating, my body and mind seemed to be on high alert.

I was noticing everything, both positive and negative.  I noticed the music was a bit loud and distracting, and the practitioner fiddled with the laptop that was playing the music a few times during the session.  Although he did ask for permission before touching me, I noticed that when it was time to breathe while he pressed or tapped on my body, I was feeling more ticklish than normal because my body was very tense. This, in turn, made me hold my breath. I noticed he seemed very knowledgeable about chakra healing and meridians.  I noticed that although I was too warm in my sweatshirt, I was not willing to take off my sweatshirt. I continued to think about that distractedly for the entire hour.  I noticed I felt no different when we were finished than when we began.

What I noticed the most, however, was the extremely obvious hard sell that followed the session.

When I explained I did not have a work schedule that would allow me to come during class times, the practitioner "reminded" me that this was a very important journey I was about to undertake and "suggested" $1200.00 worth of private sessions would solve my scheduling difficulties. When I explained my financial situation would not allow for that, he suggested a plan in the $900.00 range. Every time I said "no," he offered a plan $100.00 to $250.00 less than the previous suggestion until we got all the way down to a $93.00 plan with a 3% discount. Knowing I was probably his worst nightmare, I told him I would think about it. He gave me his number and told me to call no later than 9:00 p.m. so that the 3% discount could still be applied.

Following the Sales Pitch

Unlike positive experiences I've had at other yoga or meditation centers, this seemed very phony, from the tacky music to having to call to confirm my appointment when I had been told I would receive a call to the hard sell that followed the session.

As someone who strives to avoid the consumer-mindset in my daily life, I never respond well to a hard sell. The longer I thought about my session and attempted to keep my open mind about it and how it ended, the angrier I got. Just as I had promised myself, I thought about my session and whether or not I would subscribe to a plan. "No way," I thought, and that was before I researched the company and its various legal challenges.

I did not call the practitioner to subscribe to any plan, regardless of the very arbitrary 9:00 p.m. discount expiration. Instead, I realized what I should do more of is take advantage of the wonderful and easy-going yoga center located only a few miles from me where people can drop in for sessions at only $15.00 for an hour - with no sales pitch, only fresh fruit, to follow.


Falkenberg, K. (2009). Dahn yoga: Body, brain and wallet. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
Original publication May 1, 2012.


  1. Dahn yoga is a Korean form of physical exercise developed by Ilchi Lee in 1985. The practice was originally established under the name, Dahnhak wherein “dahn” means vital energy, while “hak” means study of a particular philosophy.

    1. Thank you for the history of Dahn Yoga and the breakdown of the name. I've wondered, since my experience, how far removed from its original intent this practice has strayed. One would certainly think that the study of vital energy would be absolutely fascinating (my original impetus for heading to the class).

    2. Hi Amy. I am Amy too and it's July 2017 in Vegas. NOTHING has changed in Dahn. Wow. Amazingly creepy but I love the exersice classes. Just say NO to privates or workshops. See ya!

  2. Dahn Yoga is an amazing opportunity to grow your Soul, your mental abilities and your physical abilities. I am grateful for Dahn Yoga and those who help and serve others to make "it a better world."

    1. Thank you. Yes, I agree that a Practice that helps grow your soul, mental abilities, and physical abilities is something we should all strive to find, whether that 's an artistic Practice, physical Practice, spiritual Practice, or intellectual Practice. Of course, the best Practice in my opinion would cross all areas. : )

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience Amy.

  4. Well, I certainly agree about the hard sell and your description of private lessons (and discounting them when you say that's too much) resonates. I did sign up to take classes anytime for 2 years and I've learned to say no to the barrage of $$$ workshops my instructor offers me. Yes, I find the constant workshop pitches annoying and the glassy eyed look of my instructor when she mentions Ilchi Lee makes me squirm (though I feel she is sincere in the practice and in my well-being). But I also find areas of the practice that really help me become more grounded and techniques to call upon during stressful situations (something I have not found in regular yoga classes). When I don't practice these techniques on a regular basis, I really feel the difference. Of course, I would LOVE to find a mind-body practice that doesn't include the hard sell and the slight ick factor of placing Ilchi Lee on a pedestal. Will I renew after two years? Probably not. Boy, I'm not looking forward to THAT hard sell when renewal time comes 'round!

    I know someone well who was a Master for several years but quit a few years ago. He validated almost all of what was said in the lawsuit (^ that is original link), just based on his own experience, but he admits he doesn't quit know for sure about the sexual allegations from the founder. He says his experience of joining dahn yoga was like being the lobster in warm water, where the temperature keeps increasing but you don't realize it until its so hot, your boiling/changing/losing yourself, and you can't get out. He said the vision and its ideas is on beautiful grounds but what actually was happening, what masters would do and guilt they would feel to do things was so unethical and extreme "for the vision" But truly when you're in it he says it seems so normal, need to"save humanity" and the founder is the way. They really do idolize the founder as the messiah, father of the soul. At first, its all through the yeha programs for young people, 'love bombing' is what Ive seen it called. But my friend said they dont even realize thats what they are doing, they genuinely think they are saving the world. But its so narrow-minded; saving the world within the structure of dahnhak. In Korea its literally "Dahn-World". They genuinely feel you will have despair if you leave. They feared for his soul when he quit. It took him a long time to recover. It was so strongly engrained in him "use all your time for humanity" that he struggled with finding meaningful work because he lived in a state "this is not enough, you are not enough" for so long he had to seek cult exiting counseling. Steve Hassan a cult expert who helped many of those in the lawsuit has been really helpful to him. He wishes there was a community for those who leave it, especially for the masters or and perhaps for very involved members. Sorry to hear about your experience. For me, I did a little when my friend joined but I don't know I didn't get that much from it. Its interesting how thats the case for some. I wish more people could see all sides.

    1. The cult mentality certainly seems to be seriously dangerous, the more I read about it. It's unfortunate, since yoga in and of itself, is such a positive activity.

  6. Wow. You all sound fearful of trying something different. I just past psychology 101 with an A, and I stand by Dahn Yoga. If you seek to get out of a conditioned mindset ( learned behavior since childhood; bad habits etc.) Please join Dahn. Law suits, complaints about money, fear of the word cult; these are negative feedbacks from negative perspectives. I am only sharing my point of view because I stumbled on this blog. Trust me, happy, loving people, only pity those who live in negativity, and we only want to help you because it is painful to watch. The only skill Dahn wants to give you, is: Master your own Mind. But because this is the key to have full control over your life, opposing forces are strong. Be brave, don't step one foot in the door then run away because you have fear of a word or a particular sound of music. If these people who have super strong bodies, strong minds, and loving hearts scare you, lean in and find out how they do that.

    1. Dear readers, I am allowing the previous post by Anonymous simply to point out the flawed logic many will use to try to blame "the victim." I recommend to all of my readers to follow their gut instincts. If something doesn't feel quite right, it probably isn't quite right.