Yoga Diary: Melody Maker

Once unsure about mantra, a yogini discovers the joy of chanting.

I was born with a cleft palate and a hearing impairment, which causes me to hear the world in a different way. I have a 30 percent loss in one ear and a 70 percent loss in the other. I went through years of speech therapy as a child and I wear hearing aids. But sound is still garbled. My dad used to wake me up on Sunday mornings by playing music so loudly that I could feel the beat—luckily, I can feel sound. As a kid, I loved going to air shows because I could feel the planes before I heard or saw them. When I began my yoga practice in college, a teacher arrived with a harmonium and asked us to chant “Sita Ram.” I sat patiently waiting for the physical exercise to begin. I had no idea chanting could be so powerful. I initially thought that chants such as Om and Sita Ram were just external sounds like those in the rest of the world. When Sita Ram wouldn’t leave my mind, I began to feel it inside me. I had found a practice that affected me on a level of vibration that I had experienced all my life but hadn’t understood. Through the continued practices of mantra and chanting, I found a way to focus my attention and work with my hidden patterns. My chanting and singing practice is even more powerful than my asana practice. I love it so much that I have written my own music, cut an album, and sing onstage regularly. I’m hoping that my musical experience will translate into good vibrations for those who listen.

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