France dismantles international yoga cult, guru and 40 others arrested (2024)

  • France

French police on Tuesday took 41 people into custody, including the yoga cult's 'spiritual mentor,' Gregorian Bivolaru, on suspicions of kidnapping, rape and people trafficking.

Le Monde with AFP

Published on November 28, 2023, at 5:27 pm (Paris), updated on November 28, 2023, at 5:42 pm

Time to 2 min.

  • Share
    • Share on Facebook
    • Share by email
    • Share on Linkedin
France dismantles international yoga cult, guru and 40 others arrested (1)

French authorities on Tuesday, November 28, arrested 41 people in raids against a controversial yoga sect, including its leader, the guru Gregorian Bivolaru, a source close to the case told Agence France-Presse (AFP), confirming first reports by Libération and RFI.

The sect is accused of numerous abuses under Bivolaru, who has been repeatedly in the crosshairs of judicial authorities in Romania, Sweden and France in the last years, the source said. Bivolaru, 71, is a national of both Romania and Sweden.

The people were arrested in the Paris region and southern France and included other key members of the sect, the source added. Some 175 police officers were deployed for the operation, during which 26 women – several of whom were held against their will – were freed, the source said. They had been "kept in deplorable conditions" both in terms of space and hygiene, the source said.

'Spiritual mentor'

The network, called Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA), runs several yoga schools and related operations. On its official website, yogaesoteric, the group describes itself as the "largest yoga school in Romania and in Europe" and Bivolaru as its "spiritual mentor."

Its success "comes from a traditional rigorous approach of the yoga system, from a great number of both theoretical and practical aspects studied and the coherent integration of the yoga values and practices in the Western cultural environment." Its tantra yoga section meanwhile includes tips on "amorous energy control techniques", "erotic postures" and on "the way to ecstasy." The site also contains a page dedicated to "extraterrestrial civilizations."

Read more Subscribers only In France, a kundalini yoga master in in dire straits

A French judicial source said the sect had "several hundred" members, but no precise figure was available. The arrests follow a probe into the sect launched by Paris prosecutors in July, on suspicions of kidnapping, rape and people trafficking among others. A kidnapping charge can result in prison of up to 30 years under French law.

'Conditioning victims'

The investigation was sparked by France's Human Rights League, a human rights NGO, which contacted the prosecutor's office after receiving statements from 12 former MISA members, a judiciary source said.

MISA, which became known as ATMAN after its expansion beyond Romania, taught tantric yoga with the aim of "conditioning victims to accept sexual relations via mental manipulation techniques which sought to eliminate any notion of consent", the source said.

Several women, of different nationalities, said they had been victims of the MISA organization and its leader, the source said. Women were encouraged to accept sexual relations with the group's leader and "to agree to participate in fee-paying p*rnographic practices in France and abroad," the source said.

MISA was kicked out of the International Yoga Federation and the European Yoga Alliance in 2008 because its commercial practices were judged to be "illicit," the source said.

Partner service

Learn French with Gymglish Thanks to a daily lesson, an original story and a personalized correction, in 15 minutes per day. Try for free

The Libération daily newspaper, which first reported the arrests, said Bivolaru was apprehended in a house in Ivry-sur-Seine near Paris. According to witnesses, the paper said, he brought female followers to the house for "sexual initiation" into tantric yoga.

Le Monde with AFP

Lecture du Monde en cours sur un autre appareil.

Vous pouvez lire Le Monde sur un seul appareil à la fois

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil.

Découvrir les offres multicomptes
  • Parce qu’une autre personne (ou vous) est en train de lire Le Monde avec ce compte sur un autre appareil.

    Vous ne pouvez lire Le Monde que sur un seul appareil à la fois (ordinateur, téléphone ou tablette).

  • Comment ne plus voir ce message ?

    En cliquant sur «» et en vous assurant que vous êtes la seule personne à consulter Le Monde avec ce compte.

  • Que se passera-t-il si vous continuez à lire ici ?

    Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil. Ce dernier restera connecté avec ce compte.

  • Y a-t-il d’autres limites ?

    Non. Vous pouvez vous connecter avec votre compte sur autant d’appareils que vous le souhaitez, mais en les utilisant à des moments différents.

  • Vous ignorez qui est l’autre personne ?

    Nous vous conseillons de modifier votre mot de passe.

Lecture restreinte

Votre abonnement n’autorise pas la lecture de cet article

Pour plus d’informations, merci de contacter notre service commercial.

France dismantles international yoga cult, guru and 40 others arrested (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 6448

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.