Tara Yoga Centre
Atman Yoga Federation as an organization was registered in UK 2004. The then address of Tara Yoga Centre, the UK branch, was used until March 2021 as the address of the federation: 25-31 Ironmonger Row, Lower Ground Floor, London.
To see all the branches in the Atman Yoga Federation, please see the map.
Among the active directors in the organization is Bogdan Radasnu, a yoga and tantra teacher in UK. Other UK teachers, Maria Porsfelt served as previous director in the organization, and Cathrine Dunworth, as previous secretary.
Gregorian Bivolaru, the founder of the organization, also known as MISA, is currently wanted for human trafficking in Finland. His connection to Tara Yoga Centre was still mentioned on its website until 2015, before it was removed. He is currently in hiding and is still very active in controlling the organization.
Libel and defamation laws are strong in the UK. The Atman Yoga Federation has a history of suing people who speak out against the school. Tara Yoga Centre issued an open letter in late 2021 where they stated that they are “intent on pursuing legal proceedings against individuals making these damaging allegations to hold them accountable for their actions”.
Women are sent from different branches all over Europe to have sex with the guru. They are required to not tell anyone where they are going. Their phones, passport and credit cards are confiscated while they live under prison-like conditions; able to leave once a week in a group, and allowed only to call close relatives on a ‘community cellphone’ in the presence of witnesses.
Ashleigh joined the school while in London year 2018. In an MamaMia article, she describes the following:
“They promised the whole world at your feet, if you go through with the initiation. And they say that if a woman gets the opportunity and she says no, then she is stubborn, stupid, superficial. She’s completely lacking any aspiration for spiritual evolution, and she’s destined for a life of suffering and negative karma”
Listen to her story here:
Yoni Shakti – The book
Preview above for the author’s commentary on Tara Yoga Centre in the section called Caution! Author’s Warning in the beginning of the book.
Uma Dinsmore, British author of Yoni Shakti – a woman’s guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra, has received 6 testimonials from women who have suffered sexual abuse at Atman Yoga Federation, one of the organisations investigated in the book.
She stated the following:
I begin with this organisation because in the space of six weeks, early in 2020, I received six testimonies of sexual abuses experienced by women studying at Atman International Federation of Yoga and Meditation schools around the world. These testimonies alerted me to abuses, including rape and trafficking in the Atman Yoga Schools, and I realised with dread that I had referred to the Natha Yoga School in the first edition of Yoni Shakti. I was horrified that I could have inadvertently encouraged my readers to attend this school. At the time of writing Yoni Shakti I had been ignorant of the abuses perpetrated in Atman Yoga school trainings and retreats, just as I had been ignorant of abuses within the Satyananda Yoga ashrams. In conversations with the ex-Atman Yoga women, I agreed to remove entirely and immediately any reference to the Natha Yoga School (a member of the Atman International Federation of Yoga and Meditation) in Yoni Shakti that could be construed as a recommendation.
The author, who wrote the first edition of her book in 2012, stated that she wanted to warn others about Atman Yoga Federation in the revised version of her book.
I needed to set the record straight, and to ensure that readers of Yoni Shakti could not in future be misled into believing that any of the schools of the Atman International Federation of Yoga were safe places to study yoga tantra. After receiving the testimonies of the ex-Atman Yoga retreat students describing many of the terrible experiences that they had endured, I felt that the best outcome from their brave sharing would be to help other young women void becoming caught up in such abusive organisations. The women who had testified worked together with me to create a set of practical warning signals to share with others, things that they wished they had known before they had entered the harmful environment of the Atman International Federation of Yoga.”
After the publication in July 2020, copies of the book were sold until the author was placed under a legal threat by Atman Yoga Federation and Tara Yoga over a year after the first date of publication. The initial legal claim against the author was made in May 2021 and Yoni Shakti has not been reprinted since then. The book is currently available in the digital version. In that, she mentions Tara Yoga Centre in UK.
The young woman who managed to escape from the ‘secret initiation’, aka rape, at the Atman Federation yoga retreat wrote to me some weeks after I first received the first testimony. Meanwhile, I also heard the experience of another young woman in the same yoga school. Soon afterwards I received further testimonies of a very similar encounter from a woman who had attended Tara Yoga – the UK branch of the Atman International Federation of Yoga. As each woman heard that I believed what had happened to them, and was willing to learn more, they found the courage to share. They wrote to tell me what had happened to them during the time they were students, and their sharing empowered others to speak also. I promised not to reveal their identities because they were terrified of retribution and violent reprisals from people who support Bivolaru, the leader of the cult. It is rare for women to escape from the powerful control networks of Bivolaru’s enablers.
The author founded a campaign in March 2020, called Yoni Shakti: The movement, aiming to educate, raise awareness and end the abuse of women in Yoga and Tantra.
Imagine a world where all women and girls are free from shame, oppression and abuse, able to live in resonance with the power of their natural rhythmic cycles and in connection with their inner wisdom.
We want a world where everybody’s sisters and daughters are safe to pursue their spiritual journeys of reconnection, free from abuse. With your help and the help of a global web of yoginis and yogis, we have been ensuring women are aware of how to uphold their safety and sovereignty within the often oppressive and disempowering orthodoxy of yoga environments, and to give women the courage to speak out. The campaign, and the ongoing offerings from the Yoga Nidra Network, intends to dismantle harmful structures and beliefs that create conditions for the abuse of power in yoga teacher-student dynamics.
This is the central message of Yoni Shakti: A Woman’s Guide to Yoga and Freedom through Yoga and Tantra
The open letter
In the open letter from Tara Yoga Centre dated October 2021, the school denies the allegations with the following:
These accusations range from us being a cult whose purpose is to groom women as sex slaves for senior male teachers, to our yoga practices being forms of torture that slowly break down our members, who are then subsequently brainwashed by an environment that is friendly and loving – to mention a few. Considering that we seek to empower women and support them to discover their own innate power in a friendly and warm environment, and we teach different, traditional techniques that can be found practiced also in other traditions and schools of yoga, these allegations seem completely outrageous
“So what they’ve actually done is warped the allegations into something that is for the most part and on a technicality not true. So they haven’t actually addressed any of the allegations made against them, they’ve just changed them and then denied those false claims that they’ve made.”
- To groom women as sex slaves for senior male teachers
“The women aren’t groomed to be sex slaves per se for senior male teachers, they’re actually groomed to be sexually exploited and abused by the master or the Guru or the spiritual guide whichever term you want to use to refer to them, not senior male teachers as they say.”
- Our yoga practices being forms of torture that slowly break down our members
“The yoga practices are not forms of torture, not by any stretch of the word. The yoga practices themselves are pretty awesome. If you engage in things like yoga, meditation, eye gazing rituals, ecstatic dance, you are gonna have physiological, biological responses in your body, they’re gonna make you feel pretty good, so the yoga practices themselves are not torture. Locking someone away from society and psychologically abusing them is torture. Two very different things.”
- We seek to empower women and support them to discover their own innate power in a friendly and warm environment
“I also wanted to touch on the comment that they seek to empower women. Absolutely, that is what they seek to do, but they, in the process of that, are also perpetuating a system of abuse that is not in the least empowering for women. It’s just masking it that way. You know, you tell me, how telling a woman that she’s manipulated by demons, completely riddled with them which is what I was told, that I’m a stupid, superficial, fluctuating woman, destined for a life of suffering and negative karma, because I didn’t want to surrender my body to the Guru. Tell me how that’s empowering. They’re giving a false dichotomy, I was given a false dichotomy. I was told that, you do this, and you have the world at your feet; You don’t do it, essentially everything in the world is wrong with you and everything is gonna go wrong. It’s not empowering.”
- The allegations made against us at Tara are greatly misleading, false and unsubstantiated.. No significant evidence is provided by the perpetrators, but the resulting damage is nevertheless substantial
“Consider this evidence: testimony is evidence. They know that, because they tried to refute everything that’s been said against them by putting their own testimonies at the bottom, which you see, testimony is evidence.
So consider this your evidence, and on that note, nobody from the school has ever tried to contact me to find out what I had to say or to substantiate my claims in any way, they simply denied it or the guru simply denied it.
He, and I quote, said that my claims were lies as big as the Milky Way galaxy, very poetic I thought. They also make the claim that the allegations are coming from a limited number of individuals. Limited or not, they are still coming, the claims are still coming, and abuse ignored is abuse perpetuated. So listen up.”
- We are intent on pursuing legal proceedings against individuals making these damaging allegations to hold them accountable for their actions.
“I wonder why people are afraid to speak up, I wonder why people are afraid to speak out against abuse or against the school. Can you think of any other reasons? There are a lot. There is a shame. There is guilt for a lot of the women who’ve been subjected to this abuse. There is the pain that you will bring to a lot of really kind and loving people, very close friendships that you’ve made with people that are still in the school. There is the fear of legal proceedings. There so many reasons why people don’t come forward and this is just a part.”