Sacred Sound by Alanna Kaivalya
Like beautiful songs that you want to play on an instrument, Alanna Kaivalya’s non-fiction book Sacred Sound: Discovering The Myth & Meaning of Mantra & Kirtan reminds me of why I (and everyone) loves sounds. She shares the why’s and ways of how sound resonates with us on a soul level. The instrument is your voice.
As a former musical instrument player, I enjoyed this book immensely. As a yoga teacher myself, I was inspired to read the book because I struggle to feel comfortable with kirtan. I have an unhealthy relationship with signing in a group setting. I can carry a tune, but because of my musical background I can only dream about a voice that creates an emotional connection with self and others. This deep yearning for connection is filled through yoga and I find that I have “hidden” well in a large space with many yogis and loved the experience. Because of this, I wanted to know more.
I found Alanna’s clear, conversational voice mixed with valuable amounts of the complex history of Nada Yoga (sound yoga) to be extremely useful and have bought the book for the yoga teachers that I am mentoring. I especially appreciated the mythology behind the words, helping the reader understand the “psychological and spiritual information” and how it is “conveyed through mythology.” I, too, am a big fan of Joseph Campbell but found this unique connection between yoga and the connection to mythology to be presented in a fresh and all together new way. You can feel the passion that she has for this work in her prose.
The practices included are fun and easily understood but equally impressive and importantly is her digital library of audio files with audible pronunciation for each of the mantras and kirtan chants. Priceless. I came to see how “these mantras are containers of yogic wisdom that enhance not only our practice but who we are as human beings” as she shares. This is a book that I will add to the list of “Yoga Books You Must Have In Your Yoga Library” list that I pass along to students and teachers all over the world.
Like using specific styles of yoga or specific yoga poses for healing, medicine-in-the-moment or an overall sense of wellbeing, this book makes chanting easy and accessible. Alanna shares that “You can do it any time, any place, and once you develop a relationship with the different mantra and how each of them interacts with you in your life, you can choose which one can help you during the day whenever you need a certain kind of recalibration or balance.” So I guess as I pull up next to you in my car with the top down, I’ll hear more of you chanting after pouring over this book again and again.