My journey as a musician and yogi began in suburban Seattle in the green and rainy Pacific Northwest. My parents were strong, independent sorts who seemed to make their own way in the world. I delighted in and was comforted by their approach. With their beautiful example and support, I felt a quiet permission to discover my own path and take risks to find truthful answers.
A child of the 60s and 70s, the social landscape around me was rapidly changing. At times a hearty Lutheran, an honorary Catholic, a dabbler in Buddhism and other life philosophies—as well a pretty solid partier—I knew there was more to life than what I was experiencing. Whatever lay ahead, I deeply loved music and longed to live a life that was first and foremost spiritual.
As a young musician, I started piano lessons at five years old and continued to study and play classical and jazz piano into my twenties. For me, music was deeply personal. When things were tough, I hit the piano, played for hours, and lost myself in rhythm, sound, and the notes on the page, the more the better.
My true musical love, however, is the voice. My singing journey began in my late teens. I was incredibly shy and struggled with singing in front of people, projecting my voice, and holding a space on a stage. But I loved to sing and found an even deeper personal satisfaction in creating music and sound from a core place within me, unassisted by any other instrument. This, to me, is the genesis of my passion for Naad Yoga—the yogic practice of sound, mantra, and communication.
In my early vocal exploration, I learned how to sing tight harmonies in madrigal and other ‘a cappella’ groups, poured through old folk tunes, learned to growl it out in rock-and-roll garage bands, belted out songs in the shower, and sang along with my favorite artists of all sorts of genres. I wanted to sing and play music as much as possible – and to do so from a place of depth and healing.
A passion for yoga was brewing at the same time. I first caught the ‘yoga bug’ in 1976 during my high school years when I studied Hatha Yoga with Margaret McAndrew at the Experimental College of the University of Washington in Seattle. At sixteen, and finding my way through the challenges of teenage life, it was a huge relief to enter the yoga space in the U District and feel a new way to approach life. That time marked the activation of my yogic life and I continued to explore, practice, and study in various classes and through the few manuals that were available at the time. There were definitely a lot of starts and stops along the way before I really locked into a yogic lifestyle, but I was clearly on my way.
In 1983 while living in Fairbanks, Alaska, I discovered Kundalini Yoga, and was deeply moved by the depth and breadth of Kundalini Yoga, as well as its strong emphasis on Naad Yoga. Soon thereafter, I met my spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, when he came to Anchorage to teach White Tantric Yoga. I recognized that my journey was coalescing into what I had imagined – a rich life of spirit, music, devotion, and depth.
From that point on, I deeply immersed myself in the practice of Kundalini and Naad Yoga by teaching, recording music, becoming a KRI Certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainer, and applying the yogic teachings in all aspects of my life. As only a true teacher can, Yogi Bhajan recognized the penetrating and healing power of my voice and music, and encouraged and inspired me to use them in service to people. Softly, subtly, and over time, Yogi Bhajan trained me in Naad Yoga techniques, in how to more deeply access the power and depth of my voice, and in how to teach that to others. He also directly and frequently guided me in my work as a business executive, always demanding that I settle for nothing less than excellence. This direct training through my professional and music endeavors started in 1983, continued until his passing in 2004, and has endured in a more subtle, but perhaps even more powerful, way since that time.
Through Kundalini Yoga and Naad Yoga, I have learned that the practice of yoga, or ‘union’, is not simply physical postures, meditation, and breath work, but that yoga is in all things – work, relationships, communication, living, and dying.