He was a well-liked yoga trainer who accepted QAnon. NPR


Photograph prints of the late Guru Jagat at MA Santa Monica yoga studio on the market.

Emily Guerin / KPCC / LAist

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Emily Guerin / KPCC / LAist

Photograph prints of the late Guru Jagat at MA Santa Monica yoga studio on the market.

Emily Guerin / KPCC / LAist

QAnon, the baseless conspiracy concept that claims a bunch of Devil-worshipping, blood-drinking elites controls politics and the media, is intently recognized in political circles with some supporters of former President Donald Trump. But it surely additionally has a foothold in yoga and wellness circles.

Themes reminiscent of all the things is related, nothing occurs with out a objective, and nothing is what it appears are central to each yoga philosophy and conspiracy considering.

“When you’ve performed yoga, these are very acquainted concepts,” says Matthew Remsky, a former yoga trainer and journalist who hosts a podcast about conspiracies, well being and cults. Conspiracy.

Through the pandemic, many yoga academics grew to become extra open about their perception in conspiracies, to the purpose that there’s now a time period to explain the phenomenon:cheers to the QAnon pipeline!“.

To grasp what well being and conspiracy theories have in widespread, I made a decision to observe the radicalization journey of Los Angeles-based Kundalini yoga trainer Guru Jagat (for the total story, subscribe to the LAist Studios podcast. Imperfect paradise. Yoga’s Queen of Conspiracy Theories which is printed on January 3).

A Los Angeles yoga trainer with a celeb following

Guru Jagat was born Kathy Griggs, however used her “non secular identify” professionally.

She ran a Kundalini yoga studio within the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles referred to as The RA Grasp’s Utilized Yoga Scientific and Technical Institute, the place he taught celebrities reminiscent of Alicia Keys and Kate Hudson. He was so well-known that he was controversial. he wore white garments, wrapped his hair in a turban, and will sing Sanskrit, however he additionally swore profusely and talked about intercourse and trend at school.

Jacqueline Gelb first took a category with Guru Jagat in 2013 and was instantly hooked.

“The yoga trainer speaking like that, it was actual. It was strong,” he remembers. “I knew immediately, that is my trainer.”

Quickly, Gelb was training 4 to 6 hours a day, taking chilly showers (which is a Kundalini yoga follow), and making an attempt to attach with family and friends.

Gelbi all the time favored that Guru Jagat was an annoying one that was not afraid to talk his thoughts. Earlier than the epidemic, he generally talked about conspiracies, however this gave the impression to be a part of his plot. However after the pandemic started, Gelb seen that his trainer was turning into extra open at school and on his podcast. Actuality Riffing.

Guru Jagat shared his perception that the federal government needs everybody at house for causes aside from public well being. He speculated that the coronavirus was being sprayed in chemical compounds on planes. He mentioned synthetic intelligence is controlling our minds and prompt meditation as a technique to regain management.

“And he mentioned, “That is what you get for spending the weekend on YouTube, watching alien movies,” Gelb remembers. “It caught my consideration as a result of it was like: “Oh, he, he is falling down rabbit holes!”

Quickly, Guru Jagat was defying native stay-at-home orders to follow with out masks and in particular person. On his podcast, he started interviewing controversial folks with excessive beliefs, reminiscent of New Mexico-based author and activist Arthur Fristenberg, who believes 5G wi-fi web brought about the coronavirus pandemic.

Gelb mentioned it was exhausting for her to see the trainer change, however she additionally could not look away. He started to want that somebody near Guru Jagat would “discover a technique to wake him up, a technique to get him out.”

However in December 2020, Gelb reached his restrict. It was then that Guru Jagat invited David Icke to talk within the studio and on his podcast.

“It simply wasn’t one thing the lady I used to know would do,” Gelb mentioned. “It was so deeply offensive.”

British conspiracy theorist David Icke at an anti-lockdown protest in Birmingham in 2020.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Pictures

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Christopher Furlong/Getty Pictures

British conspiracy theorist David Icke at an anti-lockdown protest in Birmingham in 2020.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Pictures

Ike is a well-known conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite who claims that reptilian aliens rule the world. By the point Guru Jagat interviewed him in January 2021, he had already been banned from twitter For spreading falsehoods about COVID.

Their dialog ranged from lockpicking to different far-right speaking factors.

“The well being sector, it has been hijacked by this, this sort of woke agenda,” he mentioned.

Guru Jagat wasn’t the one yoga trainer to knock a conspiracy concept down the rabbit gap in the course of the pandemic.

From Yoga Philosophy to Conspiracy Pondering

Remsky, host Conspiracy, noticed quite a few yoga academics flirting with QAnon within the early months of the pandemic. At first, he suspected it was a advertising ploy. As yoga studios throughout the nation abruptly closed, academics have been compelled to compete for a similar on-line viewers. However because the epidemic progressed, some academics, like Guru Jagat, didn’t maintain again on their rhetoric.

In fact, many individuals follow yoga with out believing in conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, yoga philosophy and conspiracy considering have rather a lot in widespread, Remsky mentioned, making it simple to slip from the previous to the latter.

Each frameworks emphasize “doing your personal analysis” and “discovering your personal reality.” And many individuals who follow and train yoga are distrustful of Western drugs, preferring to seek out various options or attempt to let their our bodies heal.

“The relativism across the reality that has been a part of the well being tradition for therefore lengthy has actually reared its head within the epidemic,” he mentioned. Natalya Petzela, creator and historian of The New College. “This concept that ‘reality is simply within the eye of the beholder’ is one thing that may really feel sort of empowering whenever you’re sitting in a yoga class, however when it is an epidemic and that sort of language is getting used it is sort of inflammatory. For instance, vaccine denialism or COVID denialism, it has the identical energy as a result of we’re all steeped on this tradition … it may be used for actual hurt.”

QAnon, particularly, might have explicit resonance for yoga practitioners, in line with Ben Lorber, a researcher at Political Analysis Associates, a assume tank that screens right-wing actions, as a result of each communities share the concept of ​​the next reality out there to a choose few. : little.

The key reality that QAnon followers consider is that the world is managed by the Deep State, an evil cabal of elites who worship Devil and sexually assault youngsters. In yoga, it’s extra nuanced, however can embrace concepts reminiscent of enlightenment or non secular awakening.

One follower leaves, however others keep

Jacqueline Gelb discontinued classes with Guru Jagat; he was indignant along with his former trainer.

“He was so sensible. He had a lot power,” she mentioned. “He may achieve this a lot good.”

However when Guru Jagat grew to become radicalized, he stored a lot of his followers.

Nancy Lucas is one in all Guru Jagat’s longtime college students who mentioned she enjoys listening to what she calls “each facet of the story” in her class and on her podcast.

“I feel he was giving folks from all walks of life that chance to come back up there and discuss and make their level,” he mentioned. “I feel he felt the press was biased, and I feel I did too. I imply, in the event you ban folks’s feedback from Twitter and Fb, we do not have an open discussion board for dialogue.”

The story of Guru Jagat got here abruptly. surprising ending On August 1, 2021, when he’s useless pulmonary embolism. He was 41 years previous.

Since her loss of life, her yoga studio, RA Institute of Masters, has initiated an elaborate interval of mourning, together with two weeks of consecutive chanting, a gong ceremony and a 13-day Mayan Ceremony for Readability and Path.

Since then, Guru Jagat has grow to be a a saint-like determine to a lot of his followers.

In YouTube tributeScholar Angela Sumner described him like this. “Even in the event you assume he is a rip-off artist, even in the event you assume he is a conspiracy theorist, you may’t have a look at his eloquence and his teachings and deny that he is one of many biggest academics. that ever lived in our time.”

Hearken to the total story Imperfect paradise. Yoga’s Queen of Conspiracy Theories beginning January 3 from LAist Studios.


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