Book Review — Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth & Meaning of Mantra & Kirtan by Alanna Kaivalya
My first significant Kirtan experience was in 2005 at the Yoga Journal Conference in Wisconsin. Dave Stringer (who wrote the foreword to Alanna’s book) and his band (which included with local, master musicians) were outstanding as yoga students and teachers (including Seane Corn, Shiva Rae, Rodney Yee) were singing and dancing along. It was a magical night.
Speaking of magical – Alanna Kaivalya has a very special way of sharing yoga stories that educate us about asana (posture) via her book Myth of the Asanas and her latest book, Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth & Meaning of Mantra & Kirtan. Sacred Sound is great for new students who want to learn more about mantra and kirtan and it is perfect for students looking to deepen their knowledge. As a Yoga Teacher Trainer, it is my intention to include it in the Yoga NH 500-hour Teacher Training Program next year.
The book has two main sections: Part One – the Classic Mantras and Part Two – Traditional Kirtan. Each chant that Alanna writes about is a chapter and each chapter includes ‘advice for chanting’ and the story behind the chant. As I was reading this book I realized two things right away: 1) this book is one you will return to again and again and learn something new each time, and 2) what I learned from the lovely stories Alanna wove into the information will stay with me in my personal practice and when I teach.
Here is an excerpt from Sacred Sound:
I encourage you to simply begin a mantra practice in whatever way that feels right, using my book Sacred Sound. and/or the mantra library on my website (www.bit.ly/mantralibrary), as a guide . Start simple, such as with om, and incorporate other, longer, or more complex mantras as they resonate with you. Some mantras may appeal to you because of their sound, while others may become attractive as you understand their context, underlying mythology, and intention. Over time, as you use each mantra in your life and practice, it will become like a friend whom you come to know more and more deeply. The mantra may start out as a little gem that lightens your day, but after years of saying it, it may also become a bright light that guides you through the darkest of times. Through practice, we make these mantras our own so they help us on our spiritual journey.
To learn more about Alanna and to order the book, check out her website: www.alannak.com. Alanna’s Kaivalya Yoga Method melds mythology, philosophy, and yoga and her podcasts have been heard by more than one million people worldwide. If you have heard of Alanna and love her already – you’ll want to purchase this new book right away. If you are not aware of who she is and are just learning about who she is from reading this review – you’re welcome.
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