I was painfully shy as a young child growing up.  In time, as an adult, I became confident  with my family and friends, but would still never speak up in a group or a class. The catalyst for me to express myself more fully was learning to chant. I am now able do things that I previously never thought I could. Although I still feel that shy self inside me worrying about how to say something, I can now speak up. I love to teach and have let myself off the hook for having to get everything right. Now, I prepare as best as I can and then know it will be okay.

An important part of the process of learning to chant is the relationship between the teacher and the student. I experienced this first hand as I was taught to chant in the traditional way by call and response by my teacher, Radha Sundararajan, a world renowned Yoga and Vedic Chant Teacher. Radha was a student in the direct lineage of T. Krishnamacharya, the father of Modern Yoga. I met Radha in Melbourne at a Chanting Seminar in 2011 and she became my teacher when I trained to become a Vedic Chant Teacher in India.

She guided me, with a firm voice, always encouraging me. I listened carefully while she chanted and then she listened while I repeated what I heard. Listening and being listened to creates a shift, a change that flows over into everyday life. It doesn’t seem to matter that the exchange is in Sanskrit and it’s chanting. The impact on me, the student, of giving and receiving undivided attention, changed something in my brain, allowing my inner wisdom to shine. During this process my confidence grew.

This personal way of teaching and learning creates a caring relationship, and builds a positive connection of trust between teacher and student. Trust is fundamental in relationships and relationships are fundamental in life. The sense of responsibility to oneself and one’s teacher in such a learning environment encourages mutual respect. This is the relationship I now seek to have with my students as I teach them to chant. I have a fit healthy 92 year old father who has continued to learn throughout his life. He inspires me and as he says “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Please tune in next week where I’ll explore the place that chanting fits into yoga.