Anandra And The Transformational Power Of Sound
By Deidre Norman
SF Yoga learned about Anandra though the International Yoga Festival, where she will be leading classes this March 1-7, 2019. Anandra is a pioneer in the global yoga community, re-introducing the ancient practice of sound as a fundamental practice. She created the world’s first registered yoga teacher training based entirely on the transformational power of sound called Heart of Sound (including Sanskrit, mantra, Indian classical vocal meditation, and non-violent communication for everyday life). American by birth, Indian by soul, and global citizen by expression, she helps people transform their limiting belief systems and cultivate their most fulfilling contribution to the world.
We had the opportunity to ask Anandra a few questions, before seeing her live at IYF!
We love that you have been teaching and on ‘the path’ of serving for 20 years! What continues to inspire you, and keeps you on this path?
Truly, it is the stories of deep and systemic transformation that I hear from my students that keeps me motivated! If I can make a powerful and positive difference in just one person’s life, that is enough satisfaction for me to last a lifetime. I feel enormously, outrageously blessed that I have had the chance to help thousands of individuals, and now through the Heart of Sound teacher training, my students are carrying the power of love through sound forward at an exponential level. It’s awesomely humbling.
What is your definition of the yoga of sound?
That’s simple: Union through vibration.
Sound, being the most subtle of the elements, has an impact on all levels of our being. In Ayurveda, it is considered that we have five sheaths or veils over our infinite awareness. Sound directly impacts all five, so working consciously with sound and vibration is a very effective method of holistic transformation.
What led you to the yoga of sound?
To truly get the answer to that, you’d have to dig much deeper than merely the events of this lifetime! Since I was a child, sound was my lifeline to interconnection, and my touch point with the divine. I have been a musician since I was 10, and had a series of mystical experiences lead me to India when I was in my late teens. As soon as I heard the mantras, I knew I was home in a way I had never felt before. The first time I heard an Indian classical music concert, I cried through the entire hour with a mix of recognition and longing to live again in the heavenly musical world. Is it destiny? It seems so.
My heart has guided me one step at a time along my path of learning, as well as sharing through teaching. I am certain that it is wholly the blessing of my elders, my teachers, and the divine herself that I am blessed to do what I do. The only part I can take a bit of credit for is for the wisdom to listen in to my heart’s voice daily, and the courage to obey the guidance.
What are a few benefits of adding mantra into a daily practice?
For people who regularly practice the yogāsana, I think it is helpful to think of mantra as yoga for the mind. Regular mantra repetition makes your mind more flexible, strong, spacious, and resilient to the innumerable challenges of life. At the beginner level of practice, it is often more useful to repeat a mantra rather than to repeat your “junk” thoughts.
If you had a script of all the thoughts you think in a 24 hour period, how much would you edit if you could? Start repeating mantra regularly, and you’ll exercise your empowerment muscle to get real traction for changing your mind.
Do you have one mantra that use in your daily practice, or do you use different mantras?
Personally, I go through phases of working with a particular primary mantra for months or years at a time. I know many mantras as intimately as beloved friends, and I think of them all as special signature vibrations that I enjoy connecting with at different times for different reasons. Much like our growing friends lists on social media, however, it’s clear that even though we might enjoy loose ties with many, we are only able to sustain a close circle of dee friendships with a few people who are in our daily lives. For me, less is more with mantras too!
Can you tell us a little bit about the Leadership Resonance Program and how this came about?
After coaching individuals for 20 years, it became clear to me that I’d like to spend my available time and energy for one on one mentorships with leaders who are poised to make an exponential impact in their fields. A lot of people who are at the top of their game professionally suffer from spiritual depletion, relationship life tension, and chronic stress which can all be effectively alleviated through the sound based meditation practices that I specialize in. My job is to help people feel the power of love through sound, and it thrills me to help the next generation of leaders tune their hearts, minds, words, and deeds in service to humanity and mother Earth.
What will you be teaching at IYF?
I will be leading sunrise rāga and mantra sound meditation on the river Ganges, and I will also be teaching a workshop on the living vibrations of the Sanskrit alphabet.
A team of my students from previous Heart of Sound trainings are coming to support the unique offerings of the Sacred Sound Stage, and we will be doing an all night chant offering for Mahā Śivarātri, the great night of Śiva. I get goosebumps every time I think about it, so I’m really excited about leading kīrtan with a band of incredible Indian classical musicians from all over the world. We will start off the musical celebration at around 10 PM and go all the way until sunrise!
If you could leave our readers with just one message, what would that be?
Make time to listen to the voice which springs alive from your heart. Whenever it floods you with truth and the feeling is one of undeniable love, do what it tells you to do without hesitation. You might not understand it in the moment, but you won’t regret it in the end.