Jai Ganesh

Yogic chanting is a profound and sacred act. It is a chance for me to let go of the need to perform–the need to prove myself vocally–and to just enjoy the bliss of letting loose my soul through song. 

During my Junior year at USC, my artist roommate dragged me along to her yoga studio in Hollywood in the hopes of alleviating my vocal stress-induced anxiety attacks. At the end of that first candlelight evening yoga class, we were asked to join our voices in the sound of an OM. I opened my mouth, inhaled, and let out a sound that reverberated around room and shook me to my core. I honestly did not know that I could produce such a sound. It was such a change from the thin and strangled sound that I was producing in my voice lessons. Free from tension, free from the need to “try,” my voice bellowed like an uncaged beast. As all the other voices in the class faded away, my own continued on as I could not stop the amazing sensation of freedom in my voice. As my breath finally ran out, two giant tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt such gratitude for this brief glimpse into vocal and physical freedom. Though, at that time, I was unable to replicate this freedom in the practice room or in my lessons due to my uncontrollable perfectionism, I knew that freedom was possible and that yoga studio became my sanctuary from the stresses of a vocal arts degree. 

Years later during my immersive yoga teacher training program at Frog Lotus Yoga, I rekindled my love affair with yogic chant. After our daily meditation sessions, we would join together to sing a chant, taught by the head instructor. It was 6AM and there we were croaking through the daily chant, many of my fellow yogis very out of tune. Even with the pitchy singing and early morning voices, there was so much joy in our chants. We felt connected, free, and easy. We sang love. I created a special kinship to this particular chant “Jai Ganesh” as it praises the remover of obstacles who often puts obstacles in our path to force us to make changes in our lives. This reminds us that every hardship is a blessing which we can learn and grow from. By reframing our major life challenges (failed auditions, memory slips, vocal troubles, and the like) as opportunities to learn and make changes, we lessen the toll such experiences have on our psyche. Everything happens for a reason, but it is up to each of us to find that reason and learn from it. 

Tuneful Tuesday Week 27: Jai Ganesh

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Solid as a Plank, Soft as a Feather

Four years ago, I began my yoga path in ernest. My vocal career had hit a wall; I completed my graduate degree and moved back to California with no job prospects and nowhere to live; I didn’t know what to do with my life. On January 1st, 2011, I was floundering and grasping for something to ground me and bring me back to life. I remembered finding solace in previous yoga classes during my undergrad career, so I sought out a local yoga studio in San Luis Obispo and found myself once again on the mat. I ended up coming back every day that week. The instructor that evening, Jeff Porter, ended up becoming my mentor through my yoga teacher training and throughout the beginning of my career. 6 months later, I attended a month-long immersion program with Frog Lotus Yoga. At that point, I had thrown in the towel and given up completely on the chance for an operatic career and I was searching for something to bring me joy. Over the course of that month, music returned to me in the form of Sanskrit chant and I found my voice once again. With my body and my mind now open and free, I remembered the simple joys that singing can bring. I went to my yoga training to create a career in teaching, and I found myself returning to performing once again.
Now, on a daily basis, when I find myself putting too much pressure on my voice and on my vocal career, I stop, take a breath, and connect back to my body.
I have a major performance coming up at the end of the month with one of the most difficult arias I have yet learned. In situations like this, the mounting worry and fear of making mistakes still takes its toll on my voice and my mindset, but I now have the tools to return to my center and unlock my voice. After taking days off for the holidays, I returned to practicing today and my voice just did not want to cooperate. As per usual, I began running through a basic yoga practice while singing and suddenly my voice returned to its energy and resonance. It’s amazing what can happen when you step outside of the box and do the unusual. Here is a clip of my yoga play while practicing Come Scoglio.

What will you do to step outside of the box today?

#bestrongin2015 challenge day 1: plank pose. 🎉🎊Happy New Year!!! ❤️ the singing yogi. May this new year bring new adventures, love, joy, and peace to each and every one of you!
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