How Trevor Hall's Practice Inspires His Music

Yogi musician Trevor Hall is dedicated to making song a form of worship.
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Yogi musician Trevor Hall is dedicated to making song a form of worship.
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Yogi musician Trevor Hall is dedicated to making song a form of worship.

Having toured with Colbie Caillat, Ziggy Marley, Stevie Nicks, Steel Pulse, and Ben Harper, singer-guitarist Trevor Hall hopes to bring people together through music. After his recent pilgrimage to India, this 21-year-old yogi titled his latest album Elephant's Door as an offering to Lord Ganesha.

When were you first introduced to yoga? When I was a freshman in high school in Hilton Head, South Carolina, I knew a boy who was really into yoga. He took me to an Iyengar class. I remember feeling after my first Savasana that I had accessed something in myself without intoxicants. Everything was vibing and flowing. That was my first taste. I was hooked. I got high without getting high. The freedom was really something. So I went to Iyengar class every day after school. I opened up physically, emotionally, and mentally. In the 10th grade, I went to Idyllwild Arts Academy, a boarding school in California. To get a PE credit, I signed up for yoga. I thought, "I've done yoga before!" It was an Ashtanga class. After the first 15 minutes I was sweating profusely. It didn't break me down; it got me more interested. I learned about different types of physical yoga. I really like that when my body is open, so is my mind. I have more energy, sleep better, and feel balanced. I tried Kundalini too. The physical practice opened me to other aspects of yoga.

Which aspects?Meditation, chanting. My comparative religions teacher exposed me to new things. Together, we'd meditate for an hour before breakfast—that was another hit, to experience a quieter mind than I usually experience. I got into chanting, kirtan, mantra. My religions teacher invited me to a nearby Hindu temple for a weekend. I got permission to leave campus. I was stoked. I was so hungry for knowledge. I remember reading books, talking to the monks. That weekend was one of the most important of my life because Kali came up. I learned she was the Divine Mother and one of the forms of God. It blew my mind that people worship God as a woman. This was so new to me. I thought everyone worshipped God as a man. I was floored.

What happened after you graduated? I moved to LA. I did physical asanas with Anthony Williams but came back to Kali Mandir, a Kali temple in Laguna Beach. On New Year's Eve, I was at the temple chanting from 9 to midnight. It was the first time I didn't go to a party on New Year's Eve. I was like, "Is something wrong with me?" But I had a wonderful time. I stayed up until 4 a.m. talking to the monks about the Divine Mother and mantra. I was ready to be initiated. On January 1, 2006, I got a name, mantra, and certain instructions. I accepted Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati as my guru. I ended up moving to Laguna. I wanted to be near the temple and contribute.

How have your practices affected your art? Before, my music was all about external stuff—things going on with girls, where I was, relationships, people, whatever. With more practice came more learning. My creative life reflected my internal life. For me, music is now a puja, an offering. As Bob Marley says, give thanks and praises. I try to treat my music as karma yoga. I want to create music that helps other people in some way. We are in this life not only for our own selfish desires but to benefit mankind.

What's it like being on the road? I tour and am gone a lot. But when I'm not touring, I'm in a healthy environment. On January 1, 2007, I went to India for a month with Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati. After that, I felt clean from past habits of intoxication. And I'm comfortable being clean. It's funny. I turned 21 last November. Twenty-one is so overrated. Especially when, like me, you don't drink.

See Trevor Hall perform at a benefit concert for Youth AIDS at the 13th annual Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colorado, September 27. For more information, visit yjevents.com.