After completing the LOAY 200 hour training, I felt strongly that the practice of chanting mantras was needed in the London Dharma yoga community. Kirtan and chanting had been taught in the Dharma Yoga Center in NYC regularly, yet people in London were not familiar with chanting at that time. Initially, I started chanting a few mantras without any musical instruments in my classes, but I wanted to bring the harmonium into our Dharma yoga practice to offer something similar to the experience of students in New York. In this way, not only can students experience what is taught in New York, but when they visit New York they will already be familiar with the chanting practice.
During my LOAY 500 hour training I asked Adam, the director of Dharma Yoga Teacher Training, as well as an amazing kirtan leader, to teach me how to use the harmonium. Very kindly he shared the codes of a few mantras. Coincidentally a couple days later, the lovely Dharma Yoga teacher Brittanie DeChino was practicing the Dedication song (Twameva) with a harmonium at lunchtime. I asked her about this mantra because I only knew it from the ceremonial occasions. I wanted to learn the words properly and to be able to sing and eventually play with harmonium, as well. Brittanie kindly taught me all the words. I wrote it down over and over and sang it many times that night in order to memorise it.
The next day Sri Dharma chanted the Dedication song in his master class. It was the first time I had seen him teach the Dedication song in his asana class. Brittanie told me with surprise that she had never seen him teaching the mantra in a class either. I have been practicing with him for years since then but that was the only time I saw him teach Twameva in his class.
Before that day I was unsure if I could really manage to learn and bring harmonium chanting to classes in London, as I didn’t have very much musical background nor did I know many mantras. But when Sri Dharma chanted the Dedication song in his class, it felt like a sign to make me take a step forward.
It has been 5 years now since I learned the harmonium and I still have much to improve, but I just want to offer practitioners in London opportunities to chant and learn the Bhakti element of Dharma yoga. So I’m offering chanting at the beginning of most of my classes and during my weekly chanting class.
In the beginning everyone was very shy and the chanting was very quiet. But my students are very kind and accept my imperfect harmonium skills, and now many people are really interested in chanting and enjoy it. Some are even trying to learn the harmonium themselves. I feel that Sri Dharma has always given us what is needed to spread spiritual teachings to many people.
Being a Dharma Yoga teacher and serving people around me is my service to my teacher Sri Dharma and this gives me enthusiasm to become like him and become one with him spiritually. This body and mind may not be qualified to teach ‘real yoga’ yet and I sometimes feel that I’m an imposter. But I still try to serve people with what I have given because Sri Dharma is behind me and I trust that he is guiding me to serve people around me. I’m trying to purify myself in many ways to make this body and mind clean and pure, so that Sri Dharma can use this body to help others.
We students of Sri Dharma are in many different bodies with different skills all over the world. He is guiding us to spread his teachings in the way that’s perfect for individuals and each area. I’m so grateful to my teacher Sri Dharma Mittra, a human body in which The Higher Consciousness is reflected so clearly. It is easiest for aspirants to learn spiritual practice from a human body in which God is shining through.
This post was written by Emi Takahashi Tull
Dharma Yoga 500 LOAY certified | London, England