Yoga has become a popular form of exercise and something of a sensational craze in recent years.

Many Westerners are enthralled with the practice and hope that yoga will help them to shed pounds and firm up. Some say it may also lead to a sense of inner calm and tranquility.

Numerous yoga studios have opened up almost everywhere, from major metropolitan areas to large towns.

But how can a hopeful student find a reputable studio with a good teacher?

Most seem to rely on word-of-mouth endorsements from friends, but there are some organizations that register schools and teachers.

One such body is called the “Yoga Alliance” (YA), its mailing address is in Reading, Pennsylvania. YA was officially established just a few years ago in 1999.

But the background history of some YA board members is rather disturbing. It seems nearly half at one time or another have been involved with groups called “cults.” And some of the schools registered at YA are associated with “cults.”

For example, the alliance includes on its list of schools the 3HO ashram in Espanola, New Mexico, the Integral Yoga Center of Richmond, Virginia and Ananda Yoga of Nevada City, California.

All three of these groups have less than laudable histories and they have also often been called “cults.”

A close look at the resumes of YA board members reveals some interesting connections.

Kartar Singh Khalsa, Co-head of Teachers Outreach, is a devotee of Yogi Bhajan the founder of 3HO.

The group Ananda Marga first initiated Steven Landau, Chairman of the YA Newsletter Committee.

Carol A. Stefanelli, head of the group’s Networking Committee, once studied with Swami Muktananda the founder of Siddha.

Mary Lynn Tucker, Co-chair of the Outreach Committee, studied yoga with Swami Satchidananda and lives near the ashram the guru created named “Yogaville.”

Rich McCord, Chairman of YA’s pivotal Standards Committee, actually teaches at the Ananda Church of Self-Realization, which has been labeled a “cult” in court.

Ananda’s founder J. Donald Walters was found guilty of sexual misconduct and plaintiffs were awarded a staggering multi-million dollar judgment.

Interestingly, the last “face-to-face” meeting of the YA board was actually held at the so-called “Ananda Village,” in California.

Isn’t this a bit like the “foxes guarding the hen house”?

Anyone considering yoga classes with teachers and/or schools registered by the Yoga Alliance might want to exercise a bit of caution, before beginning any of their exercises.


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