RA MA Venice withKa
Katie Griggs leading a class at RA MA Venice. Photo by Kelly Tatham
Health

Inside the Dubious World of RA MA Yoga, and Its Girl Boss Guru to the Stars

According to sources, founder Katie Griggs aka Guru Jagat exploited her loyal followers under the guise of improving “wellness” and facilitating “healing.”
July 13, 2021, 2:00pm

When the RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology first opened in Venice Beach in 2013, LA’s New Age glitterati flocked to its doors. Every morning, from roughly 8:30 onward, a parade of mostly white women would stream into the studio on Lincoln Avenue, often with reishi cappuccinos from Erewhon in tow. At their teacher’s urging, the students wore all white outfits with head wraps or turbans. Hypnotic mantras by White Sun, a Grammy award winning band formed by RA MA teachers Harijiwan Khalsa and Gurujas Khalsa, blasted from the speakers. Beneath cascading rainbow prayer flags, they would sit on sheepskin rugs and wait patiently for their Kundalini yoga class to start. 

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Among the cross-legged disciples of Hollywood housewives and aspiring actresses were head-turning celebrities, like Alicia Keys, Kate Hudson, and Kelly Rutherford, as well as rising beauty entrepreneurs like the Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon and Shiva Rose, whose products were sold in RA MA’s artisanal boutique, near the studio’s entry. Here, students could browse through a treasure trove of spiritual nicknacks and clothing that aligned with RA MA’s Instagrammable aesthetic. Glittering crystals lay next to “sacred adornments” (otherwise known as jewelry) and “altar offerings.” The latter included items like palo santo, sage, printed photos of now-infamous yoga teacher Yogi Bhajan—who introduced Kundalini yoga to Americans in the late 60s—and, most importantly, Guru Jagat, RA MA Institute’s founder. 

In the early 2010s, Bhajan’s once esoteric practice, which combines Sikh mantras and tantric theories with various yoga poses and techniques, was peaking in popularity, thanks to A-list practitioners like Russell Brand, Demi Moore, and Jennifer Aniston. As kombucha began to appear in the fridges of 7-11s, meditation became mainstream, and influencers started making millions, Jagat emerged as a fashionable leader in LA’s glamorous Kundalini yoga scene. Before opening RA MA, she earned a loyal “fandom” at Yoga West (now closed), where she pitched herself as the millennial edition of the late Yogi Bhajan. RA MA was an ingenious amalgamation of trending people, products and concepts starting to boom in the wellness industry, and Jagat, who often arrived late to her signature 9 a.m. class, was its superstar. 

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Eventually, the white, blonde guru would take her place on an elevated stage at the front of the class, which was decorated with geodes, leafy green plants and a 60 inch gong that she told students was originally made for Van Halen. Jagat, who sat beside a giant portrait of Yogi Bhajan, had a glowing complexion, a funky sense of style that included oversized earrings and glasses, and a matter-of-fact manner of speaking. She captured the hearts of her followers with her sense of humor, and shamelessly millennial values. She spoke of enlightenment and transformation in terms digital natives understood, and peppered her speeches with repurposed internet speak; lessons and epiphanies were “downloads,” and Kundalini was an “ancient technology” that could “optimize your system.” Jagat often cracked a joke or two before launching into her opening spiritual talk, which sometimes lasted up to 45 minutes. 

Her students would nod along enthusiastically while she preached about topics that married the corporate feminism of the Lean In generation with the trending notion of #selfcare. Jagat told her students that there was nothing wrong with wanting to get rich and look good, and that practicing Kundalini could help them achieve it. She spoke about “deconstructing your inner patriarchy” and “the yogic science of sex,” before guiding “meditations to manifest money, prosperity, and wealth.” 

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Then she would lead the class in a series of physical exercises that Bhajan designed as a “way to get high without substances,” which combine repetitive motions with chanting and breathing techniques. Jagat’s “kriyas,” or cleansing exercises, ranged from silly (rolling like to a log) to torturous (holding your arms above your head for 30 minutes at a time). Six ex-devotees of RA MA told VICE they would leave classes feeling euphoric. “The high is very addicting,” said the musician Zolita, who joined the RA MA community in 2015. “I remember being warned by a teacher that it might not be safe to drive home after class, because I was so out of it.” A previous employee of RA MA Venice, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being ostracized by the yoga community, described the crowd: “If I were to see a room full of white women dressed in all white chanting and flapping their arms together now, I’d only think one thing: RUN.”

By leveraging the power of social media and her Hollywood connections, Jagat quickly ascended the ranks of the wellness world, and transformed hype for a fringe yoga practice into a small empire. In addition to hosting numerous workshops and retreats around the world, she launched RA MA TV, a digital library of Kundalini videos, which allowed anyone to virtually attend her classes for just $18 a month. She opened studios in Boulder (now closed), New York and Mallorca, started a label called RA MA Records and a podcast called Reality Riffing, and launched two clothing lines. The RA MA umbrella also includes a business school, non-profit foundation and a feminist group called the Aquarian Women’s Leadership Society. According to a pitch deck created by RA MA staff in December of 2019, RA MA claimed to have 150,000 social media followers, 50,000 email subscribers and 500,000 podcast streams. That year, they offered 300 events, four retreats, and a festival.

But in the past year and a half, Jagat’s reputation has rapidly transformed. The spiritual leader has been accused by ex-employees and devotees of spiritual abuse, workplace harassment and mismanagement of funds. Most of these grievances were first made public by an Instagram account called @ramawrong; the account’s founder told VICE they created it in July of 2020 to provide a safe space for Jagat’s alleged victims to share their stories and connect with one another. 

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VICE spoke with 15 sources who have since left the RA MA community who feel that RA MA is cult, arguing that, for those most devoted, it facilitates a culture of extreme devotion, where practitioners are constantly encouraged to donate increasing amounts of time, energy, labor, and money to the community. Sources allege they were indoctrinated with a sense of spiritual superiority and an “us vs. them” mentality, which created an echo chamber effect that further radicalized and insulated followers. They say that RA MA is operated not only by Jagat, but also by her spiritual teacher and employee, Harijiwan, a convicted felon who spent 18 months in federal prison in 2000 for his involvement in one of Yogi Bhajan’s telemarketing schemes. They claim that Jagat regularly consults Harijiwan before making any business decisions and that he holds an elevated position in the company, despite taking a less public role. “When Harijiwan was released from prison, he was a convicted felon in his 40s with no education or work experience. All he had were the lessons he learned as a scammer in Yogi Bhajan’s cult,” said Rony Corcos, who worked as a videographer for RA MA from 2018 to 2020. According to Corcos, Guru Jagat was the ideal partner in RA MA, as she could act as “the ‘modern’ face of it. She was perfect because she was young, white, blonde, seemingly secular, and lip syncs to rap videos online.” 

VICE sent various interview and comment requests to Harijiwan, as well as a list of allegations that appear in this story; he did not respond. When VICE reached out to Jagat for an interview, a member of her staff specifically asked if the piece would be “friendly.” After that, Jagat and her team stopped responding to all emails and texts, including a request for comment on a list of allegations in this piece. 

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@Ramawrong’s account founder, who requested anonymity for fear of being doxxed, stalked, and harassed, said that Jagat has gotten away with questionable practices for so long in part due to her fashionable, white feminist facade and withstanding celebrity endorsements—but also because RA MA’s transgressions are so multitudinous. “With cults like Nexium, you have one big thing that people can point to, like branding people, and say ‘that’s wrong,’” they said. “Here, you have all of these little things. That’s their superpower.”  

In the meantime, Jagat has taken to attacking Yogi Bhajan’s alleged rape victims on social media, and has also become increasingly vocal about her controversial belief systems, hosting talks with notorious conspiracy theorists on her podcast, like the holocaust and AIDS denier David Icke, and the Trump loving, QAnon promoter Kerry Cassidy. Jagat has also pivoted towards right-wing audiences by releasing a conspiracy theory themed music video, selling clothing emblazoned with the mantra “cancel cancel culture,” and sharing numerous posts which fixate on how little she cares about her “haters, trolls and critics.” In her broadcasted conversation with Icke—in which he spouts transphobic rhetoric, claims the Coronavirus is a hoax, the vaccine is a bioweapon, that “racism is ridiculous,” and that “identity politics is the work of the cult”—Jagat states her own position, saying: “This spiritual or wellness scene as it stands has been hijacked by the woke agenda.” 

But according to sources, Jagat is one of many leaders in the yoga world who have manipulated and exploited the minds of their loyal followers under the guise of improving “wellness” and facilitating “healing.” Eight women told VICE they discovered Jagat’s teachings during a moment of transition, uncertainty, or vulnerability in their lives, when they were attempting to recover from trauma, improve their mental health, or make sense of the world. Sources described feeling disarmed by Jagat’s feminist discourse and fashionable social media persona, which they claim she uses to mask her mal-intent. They say Jagat has used her position of influence to indoctrinate audiences with harmful ideologies that advance her own agenda, and that her recent turn to facilitating the spread of right-wing propaganda could even have potentially violent consequences. 

altar offerings at RA MA Venice

Photo by Kelly Tatham

Before adopting her spiritual name, which means “bringer of light to the universe” in Sanskrit, Guru Jagat was Katie Griggs, a woman born in Fort Collins, Colorado and raised in the D.C. suburbs, who always dreamt of becoming a rock star. “She always wanted to be famous,” said Corcos. “And the spiritual world is a great place for people who want to be adored, but didn’t ‘make it’ elsewhere.” 

After a bout of time in the Osho cult and brief but intense Ashtanga phase, Griggs eventually found fame in the subculture of Kundalini. Soon after discovering the practice in 2000, she began teaching. In the press and in her classes, she represented herself as an “heir” to Yogi Bhajan and suggested that she moved to Los Angeles and started teaching at Yoga West at his urging. “She spoke about how Yogi Bhajan was her mentor and told her she needed to become an equivalent teacher,” said Jaclyn Gelb, a certified Kundalini instructor and previous devotee of Griggs, who stopped practicing in 2020. But in a Business of Fashion article published in January of this year, Griggs renounced her origin story, claiming she and Bhajan never met. “I was under the false pretense that she was summoned by the master,” Gelb said.

The legacy of the Kundalini master Yogi Bhajan has been fraught with controversy for decades. Before his death in 2004, Bhajan founded the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, which includes Yogi Tea (Bhajan’s portrait is on every box), Akal Security (a private security firm which has earned over $1 billion in federal contracts since its formation in 1980), and 3HO (his own religious community called the Happy Healthy Holy Organization). But he also oversaw numerous criminal operations, and fabricated Kundalini’s “ancient” lineage. In January of 2020, Bhajan’s legacy was fully shattered by a posthumous Me Too moment, spawned by the publication of Pamela Dyson’s memoir, Premka: White Bird in a Golden Cage, in which she accuses Bhajan of rape, battery, and imprisonment. 

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Griggs, who markets herself as an intersectional feminist, sparked outrage by coming to Bhajan’s defense. On February 22 of that year, she Instagrammed a clip from a 55 minute propaganda film narrated by Harijiwan, and directed by his wife, Mandev, that attacks Dyson. Over the next six months, dozens more allegations against Bhajan came to the fore in a private Facebook group called Beyond the Cage, where he was accused of a laundry list of abuses that include rape and child abuse. To investigate the allegations, 3HO hired An Olive Branch, an organization that specializes in helping spiritual communities respond to ethical misconduct. In August of 2020, they released a 72 page report that concluded the abuse “more likely than not” occurred.

Given Bhajan’s new status as, in the words of the historian Philip Deslippe, “the Harvey Weinstein of yoga,” numerous influential figures in the Kundalini sphere renounced his teachings. Even Bhajan’s own organization, 3HO, released a statement on their website that condemned his conduct and expressed solidarity with the victims. RA MA’s position remained unchanged. On August 22, @ramawrong shared a clip of Harijiwan in a class saying, “I don’t believe the ‘victims.’ That’s our simple position.” RA MA’s decision to discredit the survivors galvanized many of Griggs’ alleged victims—who claim they previously remained silent out of fear of retaliation or because they signed NDAs—to profess their own allegations in the Beyond the Cage group, and later, on @ramawrong. Though none of the complaints against Griggs or Harijiwan were sexual in nature, they painted a troubling portrait of life in RA MA. 

In 2020, the American yoga industry’s revenue was estimated at a staggering $11.85 billion, nearly doubling in its valuation since its estimation of $6.9 billion in 2012. As long as the profitable practice sustains its reputation as a healthy, holy and healing practice, it will continue to attract spiritual seekers eager to improve their happiness, and seemingly benevolent figures like Griggs. According to her former followers, several of whom said that they are currently in therapy and reported increased feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as symptoms of PTSD, due to the time they spent under her tutelage, Griggs is merely modifying an age-old cycle of abuse, this time, for the Instagram generation. Under the veil of her fashionable facade and feminist discourse, she’s repackaged Bhajan’s tactics for spiritual indoctrination in a cloud of millennial pink. 

Jagat at Camp Grace

Griggs at Camp Grace. Photo by Kelly Tatham

Though most of Griggs’ students over the years came for classes alone, those who dedicated themselves completely to her teachings described an all encompassing lifestyle. “If you are a devout student of Guru Jagat, every minute of every day is prescribed, including what to eat, how to eat, when to sleep, who to see and so on,” said Gelb.

In her talks, Griggs promotes the rigorous prescriptions outlined in Yogi Bhajan’s teachings, which include adopting a vegetarian diet and doing periodic cleanses. These include the melon mono-diet or “p-fruit set,” where devotees are encouraged only to eat fruits starting with the letter P for up to seven weeks at a time, and starting your day between 3 and 4 a.m. with a cold shower and a chanting practice called sadhana. Sources allege that Griggs’ teachings “trap” students in a physically and mentally exhaustion routine, which they claim depleted critical thinking skills and made them more susceptible to manipulation. “If you’re doing it the way it’s meant to be done, you’re in a constant state of sleep deprivation, overwork and overwhelm, so that the practice itself becomes your saving grace,” explained Gelb. “It’s a system perfectly designed to pull you all the way in and block out the rest of the world.” 

“We were all in a meeting and she looked at us and said, ‘enough with this I’m mad at mommy’ BS. Don’t take it out on me because you’re mad that your mom used to fuck right in front of you.’”

“In Bhajanism, you don’t go see doctors and, just like in Scientology, psychiatry is evil,” said actress Jules Hartley, who was a devoted student of Harijiwan from 2011 to 2016. “If you’re unwell or in doubt, you’re constantly told to do more meditation and yoga, or do more seva.” At the peak of Hartley’s involvement, she claims to have done up to 18 hours a day of Kundalini practice and “seva,” or devotional volunteer work. 

In addition to allegedly advising them against seeking professional help, Griggs regularly warns students in her spiritual lectures, particularly those which take place near holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, that spending more than 72 hours with their families will cause them to spiritually “regress.” “It’s a culture of fear mongering,” said Charlotte Medlock, who worked as RA MA’s Director of Marketing from 2016 to 2020. “Even after I quit, I practiced every day because I was afraid to stop. I was told that if I did, all of my progress would be erased.” Zolita, who made a viral TikTok series about her experience with RA MA, told VICE that she was conditioned to feel guilt, shame, and worry if she ceased daily practice. 

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In addition to changing how they eat, the amount of time they sleep, how they spend their money, what they wear and who to distance themselves from, Griggs’ most devoted students also adopt spiritual names, which anyone can buy on the 3HO website for $40. The former employee of RA MA Venice said they felt pressured to abandon their past identity. “I was told ‘when you get really serious, you’ll take on your name because you’ll eventually realize how much you need that new energy.’ You put in your birth date on a website and boom, within a week, you’re a new person.” 

Elizabeth Grignon, who worked as RA MA’s bookkeeper and studio manager from 2015 to 2016, said that sleep deprivation and low-calorie dietary regimens followed by the most devout staff members left RA MA employees in a “trance-like state” that helped foster a toxic work culture. Five of Griggs’ previous employees told VICE that they worked 50 to 80 hour work weeks for minimum wage, but were legally classified as 1099 contractors, which made them ineligible for benefits and health care. Grignon claimed that she spent the majority of her time as a bookkeeper constantly chasing delayed checks for employees, which often bounced, and trying to remedy debts to vendors, who also went unpaid for months. 

Previous RA MA employees also allege they were routinely subject to verbal harassment from Griggs, which are referred to among staff as “adjustments” (a term borrowed from yogic practice, when instructors physically correct a student’s posture). “You’re supposed to feel grateful for receiving an adjustment because you’re getting individual attention and a direct transmission from a ‘high teacher,” Medlock said. Nicole Norton, who worked as Griggs’ personal assistant from 2017 to 2019, said, “There was a lot of screaming, blaming, a lot of pitting people against each other within the company, and lots of all caps messages at all hours of the day, often threatening people’s jobs and livelihood.” Screenshots of the company group that were posted by @ramawrong and seen independently by VICE show Griggs threatening to “WRING [their] FIGURATIVE NECKS” for not putting photos in a Dropbox folder. Others depict Griggs bombarding her staff with Whatsapp messages in all caps, saying things like “I can’t do FUCKING EVERYTHING,” “Fuck you all,” and “when you see job listings for the things you do at my company, just know I am exploring new options.” 

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According to Norton, “You’re constantly told you’re useless, worthless and that you’ve failed.” 

Sources claim Griggs would weaponize vulnerable information that employees confided to her in private and air their trauma in front of the rest of the staff to humiliate them. Gringon said Griggs once attacked an assistant for forgetting to add sour cream to her burrito bowl from Whole Foods. “We were all in a meeting and she looked at us and said, ‘enough with this I’m mad at mommy’ BS. Don’t take it out on me because you’re mad that your mom used to fuck right in front of you.’” 

Jagat on a retreat in front of a mountain

One of RA MA's many retreats. Photo by Rony Corcos

Griggs, who charges up to $499 for her RA MA Business School courses, where she advises students on topics like “how to build a highly profitable business” and achieve “new levels of prosperity, fulfillment, and true success,” has allegedly had a history of mismanagement of funds and shady business practices. Sources who oversaw RA MA’s financials from as early as 2013 claim that Griggs regularly cannot pay the rent for her studios (which costs $10,000 a month at RA MA Venice alone) or her store vendors, yet she indulges in lavish personal expenses. These include designer clothes (Griggs tries to never wear the same thing twice), business class flights for herself and her husband, and expensive food orders from the delivery service, Postmates, which sources claim Griggs uses up to five times a day. “She spends money frivolously,” Medlock said.

Given all this, they believe that Griggs relies on large sums from investors to keep her business afloat. In 2016, she was sued by her business partners in RA MA Boulder for breach of contract, just a year after the studio opened its doors. The suit claimed that Griggs’ partners invested $200,000 into the studio under the pretense that Griggs would pay them 40 percent of its earnings. The suit went on to claim that during their few months of operation, Griggs earned thousands of dollars from classes and teacher training, but failed to remit any of the proceeds—and was caught wiring money from RA MA Boulder into her personal business account, as well as using the Boulder credit card to pay off debts at the Venice studio. The suit was settled out of court, Griggs denied all of the allegations made against her, and the Boulder studio promptly rebranded.

“RA MA preaches self actualization through cultural appropriation.”

A similar fiasco allegedly unfolded with Griggs’ business partner, Phillipa Hughes, who said she worked full time without pay for over 10 months to prepare for RA MA Mallorca’s opening. After receiving a foreboding call from the RA MA Boulder investors, Hughes abruptly severed ties with Griggs and also rebranded the studio. Griggs opened a new RA MA Mallorca down the street less than a year later. Hughes alleges she is still owed over $10,000 in wages and told VICE going into business with Griggs in 2016 was “the worst decision and year of my life.”

While all of this happened behind closed doors, Griggs’ role and influence in the wellness world grew. Keys and Hudson endorsed her in the press and she accrued glowing write-ups from publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Business of Fashion, the LA Times, LA Mag and Women’s Health, where she was deemed the “face of the [Kundalini] movement.” Griggs released a popular book called Invincible Living, and bolstered RA MA’s social media presence with aspirational depictions of #ramalife. She shared photos of her beautiful devotees in chic white clothing galavanting around Tibet and India on destination trips she leads, called “yatras.” While a recent yatra in Arkansas cost up to $3,699, former staff members said prices can reach up to $5,000 a head. For a cheaper option, devotees could find their communal bliss at RA MA’s domestic retreat, Camp Grace, which typically costs between $1,250 and $1,500. Griggs became the go-to authority on not only Kundalini, but also the “business of spirituality” (which she spoke about at Harvard Divinity School in 2019), amplifying her reputation as the “girl boss” guru to the stars.

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As Griggs’ platform expanded (she now has 63,000 Instagram followers), her brand of white spirituality, which borrows heavily from Sikhism, became more profitable. Like countless other New Age figures with colonialist mindsets, Griggs distorted and commodified various aspects of Eastern faith doctrines, while paying little to no respect or restitution to their culture or communities of origin. As she peddled a whitewashed and distorted version of “mock” Sikhism to uninformed, Western audiences, accusations of exploitation mounted against her. “RA MA preaches self actualization through cultural appropriation,” said Kelly Tatham, who was a member of the RA MA community from 2019 to 2020. 

In June of 2020, the Sikh activist Sundeep Morrison addressed a clip of Griggs “whitesplaining Sikhi” during an event the year prior, in which she dismissed the concerns of panelist Samia Khan-Bambrah, who was invited to speak about intersectional feminism. Khan-Bambrah had drawn attention to the disparity of experience between turban wearing Sikhs of color in America, who have been the victims of numerous hate crimes since 9/11 (four Sikhs were murdered as recently as April 15 in Indianapolis, when a gunman attacked a FedEx facility), and the white, RA MA community, who don them as fashionable accessories. In an Instagram post, Morrison wrote: “Guru Jagat has built her brand by distorting and misrepresenting Sikhi, an already misunderstood and misrepresented faith, by using Sikh prayers, mantras and iconography, along with articles of faith, such as the turban, and presented them as part of the commercialized yoga aesthetic.” Morrison claimed that Sikh activists who have attempted to engage in conversation with Griggs and RA MA were met with silence or retaliation. “They’ve demonized any activist that attempts to engage in a conversation with them,” Morrison told VICE. “We’ve been called terrorists, Sikh fundamentalists, and been doxxed by their followers—all because they fear we are going to hit their pocketbook.” 

The outside of RA MA New York

RA MA New York. Photo by Kelly Tatham

In the wake of calls for more cultural sensitivity amid the onset of COVID-19, Griggs has amplified RA MA’s conflation with right wing extremism by promoting QAnon rhetoric, both publicly and privately, according to ex-staff. Also in June, @Ramawrong posted screenshots that depict Griggs circulating internet posts in the company group chat, claiming masking orders were unconstitutional and demanding “EVERYONE MUST WATCH” the 2020 film Plandemic, which claimed that government scientists are responsible for COVID-19, and that the virus is “DEF NOT CONTAGIOUS.” Medlock, who still worked for RA MA at the time, said that conspiracy theories and buzzwords from QAnon’s “New World Order” theory, which claims that the world’s elite is comprised of reptilian shapeshifters who manipulate and dominate the populous, were always a part of the company’s work culture. According to Medlock, the right wing undertones of Griggs’ beliefs became more pronounced in 2020. “She would regularly call politicians and celebrities reptilians and MKUltra pawns. But when she started sending us MAGA talks and anti-BLM stuff, it went against all of my values.” 

Though Griggs has dropped hints about reptilians, adrenochrome, and alien race wars in her spiritual lectures for years, conspiracy oriented rhetoric is now central to RA MA’s brand. People who struggle to understand how affluent and educated white women came to endorse QAnon—particularly in the LA yoga community—need look no further than Griggs herself: a woman whose spiritual teachings hinge on the rejection of traditional knowledge, science, reason, and society structures, and has bred devotion among her followers by encouraging them to mistrust the government, Western medicine, the mainstream media, and factual evidence

COVID 19 inflamed the fraternization between the alt right and New Age communities, who became allies over the course of the pandemic. RA MA, who had long attracted members of the anti-vax community, shifted its target demographic to the right. With her studios closed, Griggs spent the pandemic doubling down on content production and traveling to red states for intermittent events. In 2020, she led yatras in Arkansas and Montana, and in January of this year, while the U.S. was seeing record-highs in COVID-19 cases, hosted Camp Grace in Florida. 

In addition to reopening her studios and assuming business as usual, Griggs plans to release a new book this year. She is also developing a new entity, RA MA University, which she says will work by “bridging the Western academic tradition with our yogic science methodology.” She claims to have purchased a property outside of Los Angeles, which will become the “RA MA Ranch.” The RA MA website proudly bears Griggs’ “prayer,” which reads: “May you not take no for an answer, question or statement” and “seriously discipline yourself NOT TO CARE about what the spectators, critics and pundits think, say, troll and gossip about you.” 

It’s been years since Griggs has shared a new photo with Keys or Hudson, who have neither promoted nor denounced her since RA MA started to unravel. (VICE reached out to the two, as well as wellness influencers Amanda Chantal-Bacon and Shiva Rose for comment. None responded.) In October of 2020, Griggs was slated to speak at one of Keys’ Soulcare Lounge events, but was removed from the panel after Sikh activists and @ramawrong community members protested her inclusion. With Griggs’ Hollywood “yogalebrity” status upheld online by a barrage of articles, her former employees and devotees worry she will continue exploiting the labor and loyalty of people who are looking for a sense of belonging and purpose. “There’s nothing spiritual or noble about it,” said Medlock, who feels she “lost three years of her life” by dedicating her life to Griggs. RA MA “is purely for Guru Jagat’s self-aggrandizement—and the guilt and shame that I felt after realizing this has brought me to my knees.” 

Griggs is hardly a unique figure in the New Age world, which is shaped by leaders who, by claiming to increase the wealth, health, and freedom of their followers, often rob them of it. Western capitalism has transformed yoga and its accompanying belief systems into a commodity, leaving its faith based consumers—and laborers—ripe for exploitation. “If you find someone at their most vulnerable, you can indoctrinate them with anything,” said Morrison. “And if you can get to their heart and their pocketbook, you have a customer for life.” 

Follow Cassidy George on Instagram.