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Inside The Shady Yoga Gurus Beloved By Kate Hudson, Will Smith And Even The British Prime Minister

Photo: Maks Ershov, Featureflash Photo Agency, Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com; @gurujagat, @sadhguru/Instagram; Wikimedia Commons    
Hollywood sign background with Will Smith, Kate Hudson, and three celebrity yoga gurus

Celebrities and dubious spiritual leaders have always gone hand-in-hand—Hollywood and cults practically grew up together.

"Faith healer" Aimee Semple McPherson's LA church, founded just as the film industry was moving West, lured silent-era figures like Charlie Chaplin and the star who invented the phrase "It Girl," Clara Bow.

Since then, Hollywood's list of bizarre spiritual groups has grown along with it, from NXIVM to the Kabbalah Center and, of course, a certain church beloved by Tom Cruise.

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Now, it seems there’s a whole new genre of deeply weird, possibly nefarious Hollywood spiritual cliques that has arisen in recent years—celebrity yoga cults.

Let's delve into the shady world of celebrity yoga cults

These gurus have attracted everyone from Russell Brand and Kate Hudson to Will Smith and Tony Robbins, often just before being unmasked as frauds or criminals.

In their wake, another guru is on the rise, even being included at a party for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak—despite being wanted by Interpol on horrifying criminal charges.

Katie Griggs, aka, Guru Jagat, who lured A-listers like Alicia Keys and Kate Hudson.

The turban-wearing, QAnon-following, COVID-denying Griggs, a white woman, is said to have claimed a mixed Indian ancestry and was a devotee of Yogi Bhajan, the guru at the center of dozens of sexual assault allegations.

Bhajan's devotees included Russell Brand, Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston, a pedigree Griggs leveraged to create her own Los Angeles hotspot RA MA Yoga with her spiritual advisor Harijiwan, a convicted felon.

RA MA Yoga lured Kate Hudson, Alicia Keys and influencers Shiva Rose and Amanda Chantal Bacon with claims about "wellness" and "healing"—as well as claims yoga originates from the Bible.

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Former devotees and employees say RA MA is a cult that operated on Griggs' demands of "extreme devotion" and an "us vs them" mentality of yogic superiority.

They say she also urged followers to avoid medical treatments and warned against spending too much time with family, lest they "spiritually regress."

They've also accused her of spiritual and verbal abuse and refusing to pay employees, and her investors sued her in 2016 for mishandling funds.

In 2020, Griggs began expressing public support for QAnon conspiracy theories and claimed COVID-19 was a hoax, among other far-right alignments.

She died in 2021. Neither Hudson nor Keys, who publicly endorsed Griggs in the press, have made any comment about the allegations against her.

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Yoga guru Sadhguru, beloved by celebs like Will Smith and Tom Brady, also has shocking allegations against him.

Sadhguru, the environmentalist, ashram-owning yogi beloved by Tom Brady and Will Smith, has come under fire for claiming "human suffering" like COVID-19 comes from a lack of spiritual development. 

He has also expressed support for violent political extremism in India and is even suspected by some to have murdered his wife, whom he claims chose to die during her yoga practice.

And in 2018, he advocated against harsher penalties for rapists in 2018, claiming they would result in more victims being murdered.

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And then there's "godman" Paramhansa Nithyananda, the yoga guru beloved by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Nithyananda, who claims to be the physical embodiment of the Hindu god Shiva, doesn't have quite the celebrity pedigree as the others—yet, anyway. And thank God for that.

Nithyananda, who also says he can teach Sanskrit to cows and see through walls, is currently on the run from charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, including against underage girls.

This did not stop UK politicians from inviting his representative to a 2022 Diwali party in the British House of Lords, however.

The party included brochures with words of support for Nithyananda from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Hopefully, the allegations against Nithyananda will keep him out of celebrities' good graces.

But given Hollywood's track record with problematic yoga gurus? Let's not count our eggs before their hatched—or our namastes before they're chanted, as it were.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.

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