Dahn Yoga Voice

Author Archive

Dear Editor,

My name is John Thompson and I am a manager at a New Jersey Dahn Yoga center. I am writing now in response to your story about something which has great personal meaning for me–Dahn Yoga. I am disappointed that you did not do a balanced piece.  You missed out on many interesting and amazing stories about Dahn Yoga and its practitioners.

I would like to share about myself to Rolling Stone, as I have been a 30+ year reader of your magazine. Before working for Dahn, I was a professional symphonic double bassist for 25 years, the last 15 of which I spent as a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. When I began my path at the Dahn Yoga center, I was not a college-aged youngster looking for a job and career, but a seasoned professional in the prime of my career. I was an instructor at William Paterson University and worked alongside such renowned artist as the late James Williams and Mulgrew Miller. I was a bass and cello coach for the Greater Newark Youth Orchestra and also was a mentor to many of these young, talented musicians. And, I was an active recording engineer and collaborated in recording projects with musicians in New Jersey, North Carolina and Tennessee. Additionally, as member of the American Federation of Musicians for twenty-five years, I was a union activist who negotiated CBAs, and when necessary, represented and protected my colleagues before our employer. I love being a musician and I am very proud of the things which I have had the privilege to do as a musician.

As a young musician, I was very influenced by the work ethic and spirituality of players like Carlos Santana, John Coltrane and the Allman Brothers–people covered by RS and very influential in the late ’60s and early ’70s. However, I also copied the drug abusing lifestyle of many of these same musicians. As a young teenager, my constant companion was the RS Rock ‘n Roll Reader, edited by Ben Fong Torres. My aesthetic as a player and a person was set by these early musical role models.

By age 40, I was not in great shape physically and I recognized that my personal life was stagnant. This is when one of my bass students, Kermit Driscoll, ten-year member of the Bill Frisel Trio, introduced me to Dahn Yoga. I was very surprised that in my adulthood and well into my career, I actually found a spiritual practice which satisfies my deepest yearning and one which reflects the desire from my youth of bringing healing to myself, the society and the planet. I am now the most physically healthy that I have been in my whole life. I wake up every day happy and grateful for another chance to contribute to society and consciously engage in my personal growth. And, I am no longer plagued by the loneliness and emptiness which I tried to fill with outside stimulation. When applied sincerely and diligently, the Dahn Yoga practice can bring huge benefits to a person–this has been my experience and this is why I spend my time for my own practice and working for Dahn Yoga. I am just one among many thousands of Dahn Yoga practitioners worldwide who can share how much healing and positivity Dahn Yoga has brought to my life.

I do not see any useful or beneficial purpose in writing about a group of miscreant former employees. Among them, Lucie Vogel is known to have operated a ponzi scheme, which cost Dahn Yoga hundreds of thousands of dollars and negatively affected the lives of many people–including the lives of many of the plaintiffs in the now mostly-dismissed lawsuit against Dahn and Ilchi Lee. And among this group are some who embezzled money from Dahn–I have seen the evidence first-hand. Why would one wish to share their story when there is a much more compelling and positive stories to tell?

Of course, Rolling Stone Magazine is free to write about anything it chooses. And as a consumer who is seriously interested in the musical world, I will also exercise my choice when reading about the music industry and patronizing advertisers. I will choose that which is positive and which brings healing to our humanity and our planet.

Sincerely,

John Thompson

BR Holistic Healing
Wyckoff, NJ

Dear Will Dana,

I understand that you have the freedom to write whatever you want, but don’t you have any standards of journalism and fair reporting? The article entitled “Yoga Cult” in your February issue was not only severely biased against Dahn Yoga, it was filled with inaccuracies, slander, and outright lies. What kind of fact checking is required by your editorial team? Are you in the business of investigating issues or are you simply a puppet, repeating the story from only one side?

I’m not excited about bashing two former friends, but in your report you repeat word for word the stories from Amy and Ricardo. I’m writing to tell you that those stories are not true.

Amy Shipley and Ricardo Barba were not the victims of any mind-control or subversive indoctrination. They both chose to be active in Dahn Yoga in order to fix problems that already existed in their lives and ultimately to contribute positively to the world. Amy was a recovering drug addict who had self-esteem problems stemming from being abused by family members when she was a child. Amy was intelligent but tricky, and irresponsible. She abused herself and sought the same kind of treatment from others. Ricardo was unfocused and arrogant, failing to show up to work for regular shifts and talking instead of doing anything while on the job. He was involved with many different women at the same time he was supposedly with Amy. Amy was hurt by his cheating and many times she expressed the desire to move on without him.

Amy was the kind of person who would say or do anything to get by. Before Amy or I had even become involved with Dahn Yoga, I happened to share an apartment with her as a temporary roommate in Chicago. At the time Amy was working part-time jobs and deciding what to do with her life. She was dating an older man and getting money from him. At the same time she was seeing another man. She was not doing drugs heavily when I knew her, but she told me about almost dying from an overdose a few years before when she was in high school. At the end of our time as roommates she decided to travel to Central America and she left without paying her rent. I didn’t hear from her for a few years after that, I expected never to see her again.

But then one night she showed up at a Halloween party we were having, dressed as Marilyn Monroe. I was shocked, but pleasantly surprised to see her. We ended up hanging out and she became a regular member at the Dahn Center.

To make a long story short, Amy spoke intelligently and passionately about her desire to become a Dahn master and continued taking trainings. When she started teaching class I could feel the bottled up emotions and self-doubt inside her. But she kept saying “This is what I want, I can do it!” So she kept teaching, taking trainings, taking more responsibility. She would guide other people with such intense passion. Sometimes I wanted to tell her ‘slow down’ but that was Amy, always going 100 mph. And she did well, becoming more confident and sincere, teaching class better, until finally she became a Master instructor.

Being a Dahn Yoga instructor is not the easiest job in the world, but it’s also not the hardest. I would routinely take breaks during the day or on weekends, see friends, go on dates. Amy did too, but she harbored such intense guilt and self-criticism. Guilt and self-criticism are not the kinds of feelings promoted by Dahn Yoga, contrary to what the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit. Those are the kinds of feelings that one may get after being sexually abused by your relatives and verbally abused by your father, as Amy was. Wherever she went, she brought that kind of self-abuse with her.

Suddenly one day I heard that Amy left and went with some obsessive anti-Dahn guy named Andrew. Amy told me all about Andrew before she left, how he was attracted to her, called her, even planned to come take her away, and kept harassing her with stories of Dahn Yoga being a cult. Amy told me that she knew it was all bullshit and he just wanted to have her. But then she left, and soon enough she was saying the same things. I know Ricardo was hurt by Amy’s decision to leave with another man.

I can’t blame Amy too much even though she betrayed those of us who she worked with. I don’t think she ever really understood why she felt so guilty, and if she did it’s long since been obscured by a philosophy of victimization instilled by Lucie Vogel, Steve Hassan and other anti-Dahn organizers. The repeating of her twisted story in your magazine seems downright malicious. I’m not sure what the reporter’s motivation was, but I think your magazine should be more responsible about what actually gets put in print.

Sincerely,

David Driscoll
Chicago, IL

To: Will Dana, Managing Editor of Rolling Stone Magazine

My name is Danielle Gaudette and I am an employee of Dahn Yoga. I have been reading Rolling Stone Magazine since I was young, as my father is a bass player and always had me involved in the music world. We also always appreciated your articles that explored more than just music, and generally held the image and reputation of Rolling Stone Magazine in high regard.

However, you have published a negative article on Dahn Yoga and that is very upsetting to me. In fairness to all the readers, I had expected that you would provide a balanced story.

It’s all very sad and difficult for me to address. I have been working for Dahn Yoga for 7 years and practicing it myself for 10, and for 6 of those years Lucie Vogel herself was a friend with whom I worked very closely. For a long period of time she was even my roommate. It was the most painful period of my entire life when she turned her back on our friendship and began to gather all of my fellow co-workers and students and turn them all against me. It may sound dramatic, but it was the biggest shock of my life to find out that she was spreading a lot of false rumors and negativity behind my back about me and actively turning others against me and Dahn Yoga. And as I watched her do it, I could see she really had lost the picture of reality. She had twisted and manipulated everything she had once known, including other people, and she was just drunk with power.

Lucie always had a strong and domineering character. However, she never had a good sense of responsibility. She often told me “My mind is so corrupt – I could never be as pure as you.” And all of it culminated into a day in our apartment when I literally begged her to stop turning everyone against us and to please work together to help each other when she said, “I’m sorry. My middle name is James – it means ‘to destroyusurp’ – and that’s what I do. I like to destroy things.” And that was one of the last times I ever spoke with her. She had always told me she was very jealous of my position as an assistant regional manager and she wanted to have that position, but I never thought those feelings would lead her to cause such hurt.

I am concerned about any misunderstanding that Lucie may have experienced while we worked together. But I wish I could resolve that with her once and for all, instead of witnessing her continuous attacks against me and so many others with this media game that she is playing. Lucie always wants to win something – and as she said herself, her way of winning is to destroy. If you, Rolling Stone Magazine, participate in this young woman’s game, it is a loss for hundreds and thousands of people who are receiving benefit from Dahn Yoga all over the country and even the world. Furthermore, it is a big loss of respect for you because it shows that you too have fallen into her manipulative trap.

For this reason, it is a real tragedy that you did not consider and present the other side, allow Dahn Yoga and Ilchi Lee to really present themselves, and let the public decide for themselves. I was willing and happy to share my experiences with your reporter, because I believed that Rolling Stone was brave enough to expose the truth, and uphold the admirable reputation that my father and I have had for it since I was a young girl. Sadly, I was mistaken in my belief.

Thank you,

Danielle Gaudette,
Regional Director of Boston- Area Dahn Yoga Centers

Hi, my name is Arthur Babakhanov. I know Rolling Stone to be a well known and widely read magazine. I myself read it often, so when I noticed that you had published a negative article about Dahn Yoga that could be based on false information, I felt compelled to write to you.

I have been practicing Dahn Yoga for 8 years, and I am currently the instructor and manager at the Brookline location in Boston. Dahn Yoga has truly transformed my life. I have tried many other practices and found that the benefits I experienced from Dahn Yoga, I couldn’t get anywhere else.

I knew Lucie Vogel for a long time when she was a member, before she became an instructor employed by Dahn Yoga. As a good friend, I knew that she always wanted to control and manipulate people, and that’s exactly what she’s doing now. People like Lucie or Liza Miller used to be so devoted to the practice; and to see them spreading so much false and negative information in various public arenas makes me really angry.

When Liza left the company, she wrote a letter to all the instructors in Boston explaining that she was not leaving in anger and that she felt good about her choices. But not long after she left, I could see that she had been approached by Lucie. I was saddened to see how Lucie manipulated her. They have been telling so many lies, it’s impossible to count them.

I love Dahn Yoga. It has made me a better person. The growth that I have experienced through Dahn Yoga motivates me to improve my relationships with my family and friends and enables me to help them.

Lucie Vogel, in her own form of madness, might say that Dahn Yoga is a cult. It’s not a cult at all. I feel more freedom in my life now than I ever have before. I do not consider myself to be some “brainwashed” lunatic incapable of making my own decisions or without other opportunities. In fact, before my employment with Dahn Yoga, I had a great job as a professional computer consultant. But I feel no regret about changing my career, because I feel so much more satisfied with the job I have now.

Dahn Yoga and its affiliates actually have around 3,000 employees worldwide, but it’s basically just one person, Lucie Vogel, who got angry, embroiled 26 other people in a lawsuit with unrealistic promises of money, and made a huge mess.

With your readership, I know that many people will be reading the article about Dahn Yoga, and it might be their first exposure to it. It is highly unfair for them to have a negative perception of Dahn Yoga as a result of your publishing a biased article based on false information. I am disappointed that it appears you made no attempt to investigate and get to the truth.

You could have gotten the full story about these people and what happened from some of the instructors in Boston who knew them well, but no one contacted us. When we offered we were told the reporter was not interested in our stories. I am surprised that you did not want to give the American public a fair and balanced story. I hope this letter will be reprinted so that the public can begin to hear what your reporter left out.

Thank you.

Arthur Babakhanov
Waltham, MA

Based on our records and witnesses, we have additional detailed information about the lawsuit that was recently filed against Dahn Yoga and its affiliates by Andrew Myers. He was a member and part-time employee at the Alexandria, Virginia location.  Andrew was a “Dahn Center Intern” when he left and did not achieve the status of full instructor.  His claims principally relate to money he paid for trainings and consultations during a ten month period. His claims are not only similar, but also related to those of the plaintiffs in the Arizona lawsuit. In particular, our sources tell us that there was a romantic connection between Andrew Myers and Amy Shipley and that Amy quit her job with Dahn Yoga because of Andrew’s urgings. This connection was disregarded by the Rolling Stone reporter when she told Amy’s story.

An additional point of connection between Andrew and the other plaintiffs is their common use of so-called “cult expert” Cathleen A. Mann. Dr. Mann’s writings include an article denouncing the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program as a “cult.” In addition to providing a statement for the Press Release from Andrew Myers’ law firm, Dr. Mann also provided a Declaration supporting several plaintiffs in the Arizona lawsuit, including the claims of Jessica “Jade” Harrelson. That statement by Jade was later shown to contain false information and was repudiatedwhen the plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint with the Arizona court.

Dear Will Dana,

I would first like to express my long time admiration of Rolling Stone Magazine. I feel the work you all do at Rolling Stone is so rich in preserving a part of our culture and history.  I can remember being a child and always seeing that magazine sticking out of my sisters’ beach bag and yearning for the day I could acquire the reading skills to read it myself.

Well, I am 27 years old now and am certainly capable of doing that. However, I am sorry that I am not writing to Rolling Stone Magazine only in admiration. I have read a story on the recent lawsuit filed against Dahn Yoga and its affiliates. I found it very biased and I am disappointed by Rolling Stone’s decision to publish such an article.

I, myself have been an employee of Dahn Yoga in Boston, MA since April 2007. Two months after beginning practicing I also read negative articles about Dahn Yoga online.  I was so shocked to see these and almost stopped practicing.  However, the benefits I was gaining for my health were so profound that I had to trust my own experience and not that of disgruntled ex-employees and former members.  I had been an athlete at the collegiate level and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, high honors, with a BS in Community Health Education.  During the time I began Dahn Yoga I was working at the Children’s Hospital in Boston and also researching the countless careers available in my line of study. However, I had yet to find one that really incorporated ‘practicing what you preach’.  What I saw from the instructors at Dahn Yoga (and what I am doing in my current life now) is that being an instructor is not just teaching others to be healthy but it is constantly improving and finding new ways to improve your own health as well.

What I saw from many of the plaintiffs while they were instructors here in Boston is that they simply just didn’t do that.  From my experience with them I was shocked to see how unstable they were.  I saw how Liza and Nina Miller were manipulated by Lucie Vogel. Hearing stories from Nina that Lucie would pressure her to make more money in order to do better than her sister Liza. She spoke to me for countless hours about how much Lucie had hurt her and how she doesn’t know if she could ever recover from that.

To me this lawsuit is just Lucie’s continued manipulation. She will manipulate people whether she works for Dahn Yoga or tries to sue Dahn Yoga. In my opinion, these plaintiffs are suing Dahn Yoga for the things they did while they were here.

The people I work with currently are wonderful, kind hearted people. I can assure you that we are not a cult or simply out for money.  In fact, we really are just hoping that the next media report will be a fair one so that the public can hear our side to and make their own decision.  The plaintiffs claim the Dahn Yoga brainwashed them. This is not the case; but isn’t biased reporting essentially brainwashing the general public. Feeding them only one side and making them think this is the truth is not truly informing the public.

I am sorry that Rolling Stone Magazine did not take a stand here and give the general public a chance to really make their own decisions.  In eight pages you had plenty of room to provide balance and fairness. You have wasted an opportunity to tell a full story, to differentiate yourselves from other publications.  You have even stooped below the level of thatextremely poor article by Glamour.  Unfortunately, Rolling Stone will always mean something different to me now.

Sincerely,

Marielle Christofi,
Assistant Manager
Andover Dahn Yoga Center

Dear Will:

I’m currently a student and teaching assistant on full scholarship at the University of Southern California completing my doctoral degree in music composition. I’m also a working musician and record producer in Los Angeles, so my schedule is incredibly active these days. I’ve been a longtime reader of Rolling Stone and value the no nonsense investigative approach always championed by your writers and editors, but I did not see it in your article on Dahn Yoga.

I have been a member of Dahn Yoga for a year now, and I’m writing to let you know that my experience there has been positive and supportive in every way. After two years working as a full-time student, teacher, and record producer my health was beginning to suffer. I was fortunate enough to discover Dahn Yoga last February and began attending early morning classes immediately. The positive effects of the yoga training I received quickly turned my health condition around–I lost weight, improved my energy, and generally felt better.

Having also trained in the martial arts for years, I can tell you that Dahn yoga is beautiful blend of Eastern and Western thought and technologies. The people I have met who run the Pasadena center have been nothing short of loving, caring, respectful and well-mannered at all times. As for the organization being a cult, nothing could be farther from the truth! There are no pictures of Illchi Lee or any other figurehead in the center, no altars, no tithing–just highly effective yoga training. If this were a cult or anything close to it, I would most certainly have nothing to do with it. I felt compelled to express my support for Dahn Yoga because of the clean, gentle and loving way they do business. I had hoped that you would maintain your excellent track record for great reporting by seeing how people like me enjoy the practice and by doing a thorough investigation of the facts concerning the unfortunate legal matter that has brought Dahn Yoga to your attention.  Instead, it seems that you simply focused on the sensational accusations contained in the lawsuit and added even more sensational charges. You would be doing a great service to all of us who have benefited from Dahn Yoga as well as the reputation of your magazine if you had provided a balanced representation of the organization.

Thank you so much,
Ivor Francis