Under the Yoga Mat

The Dark History of Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
314 Pages
Reviewed on 07/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Gitel Hesselberg for Readers' Favorite

In the 1970s, Yogi Bhajan popularized Kundalini Yoga in the United States and the West. In Under the Yoga Mat, Els Coenen reveals what was happening behind closed doors. Yogi Bhajan formed the 3HO (Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization) Kundalini Yoga community. The truth is that 3HO was a cult, and Yogi Bhajan was an abusive leader. The dedication (to Kirn Jot and all Yogi Bhajan’s rape victims) clues us into what we will find as we learn about a cult leader who abused his followers emotionally, physically, and sexually. He ran every aspect of his followers’ lives. He told them when and whom to marry and when to divorce. He separated children from their parents and sent them to a foreign country where they were starved and neglected. The book is well-researched, with copious notes.

This book was difficult to read but so worth it. Some of the personal stories are horrifying. The Yoga Mat shows us how easily people can be manipulated. Els Coenen describes so many red flags his followers missed or ignored. It’s impossible not to shed a tear when reading about the children, some as young as four, who had to do hard, physical labor while undernourished. For the more sensitive readers, there are trigger warnings for the explicitly sexual portions of the book. A book like this can serve as a warning. Reading this book will help us recognize any red flags we encounter so that we, too, don’t fall prey to a leader such as Yogi Bhajan, a man who can truly be called evil.

Suzanne Beth Jordan

Under the Yoga Mat is a painful, comprehensive & sobering assessment that tells some of the stories of Yogi Bhajan's horrific abuses. This unfolds in a "spiritual community", in what has become an all too familiar scenario– A charismatic male in a revered position of power uses his position to ruin people, to ruin lives.

Regardless of the shiny public face of the Happy, Healthy, Holy organization: (3HO) (no words were ever so misapplied) that Bhajan started, or the rah-rah enthusiasm of kundalini yogis, or the cognitively challenged participants of White Tantric Yoga (a wholly fabricated load of crap) none of these "lifestyle brands" have properly and satisfactorily responded to the many accounts of abuse that have come forward since 2020.

Through the many podcasts conducted by Mina Bahadori and GuruNischan as well as hundreds of conversations where abuse has been shared one on one or on Zoom calls, Els Coenen was inspired to structure and organize (a colossal undertaking) the decades of abuses that include rape, child abuse, fraudulent boiler rooms, drug smuggling, lottery schemes to rob the elderly and more.

The wellness/new age circles have reached new heights of commodification. Selling snake oil is still viable and many who are susceptible to abuse, those who are searching for wholeness, these are the people who can benefit from this book.

It is a wake up call that encourages critical thinking amid the many examples in the book where thinking was forsaken altogether.

Please don't be influenced by the naysayers of this book. Tragically, there are many that are so indoctrinated into the cult of yogi bhajan that they simply cannot take in the truth. You will see them here, posting negative reviews.

I was sexually abused by Bhajan when I was 24 years old.

It's all true.

It happened.

I am so happy this book is now available so that others can realize what a sociopathic monster Bhajan was.