A Romanian Yoga Guru Was Just Arrested In Paris For Allegedly Coercing His Students To Have Sex With Him

Published December 5, 2023
Updated December 6, 2023

Gregorian Bivolaru founded the Movement for Spiritual Integration Toward the Absolute in 1990 — and has allegedly been sexually exploiting his students ever since.

Gregorian Bivolaru

X/@CNNEEGregorian Bivolaru was arrested along with 40 others after allegations arose that his yoga centers sexually exploited dozens of victims.

A Romanian yoga guru who founded an international network of yoga centers was just arrested in Paris for allegedly running a sect that trafficked and sexually abused women.

Gregorian Bivolaru, 71, is facing a long list of charges, including human trafficking, organized kidnapping, and rape. He was arrested in France on Nov. 28, 2023, after a six-year manhunt.

Bivolaru founded a network of yoga schools called the Movement for Spiritual Integration Toward the Absolute, or MISA, which has become known internationally as the Atman Yoga Federation. The schools advertised teachings of tantric yoga, which is a branch of yoga based in Hindu traditions that emphasizes “the awakening of spirituality via sexuality,” according to CNN.

MISA was founded in Romania in 1990 and has since expanded to 33 countries across five continents. According to MISA’s website, over 35,000 people have practiced at MISA schools.

“Numerous women of different nationalities claimed to have been victims of the activities of the MISA organization and its leader Gregorian B,” a source told CNN.

Allegedly, Bivolaru and other leaders at the schools would lure women in under the tantric yoga teaching before manipulating them into “sexual relations designed to suppress any notion of consent,” the source said. “[Alleged] victims were told that consent was a reflection of the ego preventing them from reaching a state of spiritual awakening.”

Young Gregorian Bivolaru

Facebook/Gregorian BivolaruGregorian Bivolaru started what would become his yoga sect in Romania in 1990.

Victims claimed they were coerced into having sex with each other and with Bivolaru. They also were allegedly forced to subscribe to pornographic websites and participate in explicit video chats.

More than 40 people were arrested in connection with MISA’s alleged trafficking and sexual exploitation scheme. The raids that resulted in the arrests also reportedly found 26 alleged victims living in “deplorable” conditions.

This is not the first time Bivolaru has been in legal trouble related to sexual abuse. In 2013, he was convicted in Romania of raping a minor. He was sentenced to six years in prison, but he only served a little over a year before fleeing the country in 2017 while on conditional release. He has been on Interpol’s wanted list since then, and Finland has also issued an international arrest warrant against him for aggravated human trafficking.

MISA has called the arrests and investigation “a slanderous witch-hunt against genuine spirituality.”

“Atman Federation is not responsible and not accountable for the private life of students and teachers of the member schools,” stated a press release from the Atman Federation. “This is another episode of an ongoing witch-hunt, and this fabricated campaign should raise a red flag for anyone who cares about spiritual and religious freedom.”

“Thousands of people who come to the courses of the member schools of the Atman Federation, some for decades, constantly attest the various excellent results they have attained in their health, well-being and success, not about trafficking, grooming, abuses, manipulations or brainwashing.”

Atman claims that MISA is just one of its subsets and only operates in Romania.

Gregorian Bivolaru Arrest In 2004

X/@TarcisoRenovaGregorian Bivolaru was arrested in 2004 on similar charges and was ultimately convicted of raping a minor.

“Gregorian Bivolaru has been the target of media campaigns, intended to discredit and slander, since the 1990s,” stated a press release from MISA.

The statement continued: “[T]hese campaigns constantly intoxicated, manipulated public opinion, inciting hatred and even public lynching. Those who know him, however, can testify that Gregorian Bivolaru has always been a model of verticality and has never deviated from his spiritual principles. The tenacity with which Gregorian Bivolaru has been demonized and the discreditation of MISA is pursued should, we believe, give cause for thought to those concerned with the truth.”

In 2004, a similar raid of MISA centers was carried out in Romania under the same charges of human trafficking, kidnapping, and rape, which MISA also decried as a witch hunt.

After reading about the arrest of yoga guru Gregorian Bivolaru on sexual exploitation charges, go inside the story of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese yoga group that turned into a terrorist cult. Then, learn about the Family Cult that was founded by Australian yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne.

Hannah Reilly Holtz
Hannah Reilly is an editorial fellow with All That's Interesting. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Texas Tech University and was named a Texas Press Association Scholar. Previously, she has worked for KCBD NewsChannel 11 and at Texas Tech University as a multimedia specialist.
Cara Johnson
A writer and editor based in Charleston, South Carolina and an assistant editor at All That's Interesting, Cara Johnson holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Washington & Lee University and an M.A. in English from College of Charleston and has written for various publications in her six-year career.
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Holtz, Hannah. "A Romanian Yoga Guru Was Just Arrested In Paris For Allegedly Coercing His Students To Have Sex With Him." AllThatsInteresting.com, December 5, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/gregorian-bivolaru. Accessed June 24, 2024.