SO many people ask me how to learn traditional nāda yoga in India! There are a lot of confusing nada and mantra trainings out there, so I'll try to help you sort out what to look for. I went looking myself way back in 1997 and have gone down A LOT of unfruitful (even scary) roads before I found teachers I could trust, who led me on the mystical inner path of nada yoga!*
Unfortunately sexual misconduct by gurus is also all-too-common... almost every Western female who has gone to India to study nada yoga and mantra has a story (including me! several!)
So first of all, let me zoom out to some basic facts, then I'll get to how to tell if your "guru" is a fraud (at worst) or sexually frustrated and confused (also not cool, if they try to get that from you).
1. Some people use Nada Yoga School as a brand name, not necessarily to indicate that their primary focus is on the traditional yogic techniques of nada yoga (mantra, Sanskrit, voice lessons, vocal toning, Indian classical music, etc.) In the same way, you could have a business called Prema Yoga, and Prema is the brand name. The art of love (prema) may or may not be the primary focus of that school.
There is a business in Rishikesh called Nada Yoga School, run by a lovely gentleman named Bhuvan, that many of my students studied with prior to landing at the 200hr Nada and Mantra Yoga Teacher Training with Heart of Sound. They had attended one of our Nada and Mantra Yoga Retreat Trainings in Rishikesh India.
A few years ago someone interested in our sound yoga teacher training (which DOES focus 100% on the traditional Indian music and mantra techniques) was asking for a comparison between the two, and a student who has taken both YTTs (our 200hr Sound Healing Yoga Teacher Training through Heart of Sound, and the 200hr Yoga Teacher Training offered by Nada Yoga School in Rishikesh) was kind enough to oblige.
Our email exchange was as follows (with names changed for privacy):
On Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 1:09 PM, Anandra George wrote (to Bhavani, who took both nada yoga trainings in Rishikesh):
Namaste! Bhavani dear, would you be willing to answer some of James's questions about the comparison between Bhuvan's Nada Yoga School in Rishikesh and the Heart of Sound Module 1 ~ Sanskrit * Mantra * Kīrtan * Bhakti Yoga Teacher Training?
He is not sure which one will suit him best, and I thought your honest review of both experiences (though you only had 1/2 of my training thus far) might be useful for him to find a match. He is interested in Nada yoga, but also may want some asana sequencing training. Thanks for your help! Aloha, Anandra
On Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 10:48 PM, Bhavani wrote this reply:
I am happy to offer my own experience, if it will help. James, what are the questions that you have, or do you want me to just give my subjective comments?
Comparing the two courses may be misleading as they have a different focus. Bhuwan offers several different yoga teacher training courses with different names, but they are essentially one and the same under different names to attract different students eg. musicians are attracted to "Nada training" and yoga students are attracted to the "Yoga Training", but in all his courses both music and yoga are offered, as well as meditation and other topics. [As his business name is Nada Yoga School on Google, it's a bit confusing and misleading to people looking specifically for deep nada yoga and mantra training in India.]
We enjoyed great nightly kirtan sessions there with the addition of other local musicians (3-4 times a week alternating with meditation sessions), but we only spent another 60-90 mins daily on the nada yoga practice, compared with the 3 hours of yoga practices and 2 hours of philosophy and anatomy. Things may have changed since, as I saw that he has made some modifications to the course content since then (I attended last July).
There were several complaints from my group. Main problem as I experienced it, is that the group was large and diverse, some were new to yoga, others has years of experience, while some were interested more in Naad practice and others in Asana practice. That can produce unsatisfied students (though the beginners were much happier than the ones with previous experience!).
I felt that the so-called meditations (mostly lying down) were not useful as these were targeting young students with no background in meditation. As you can imagine, to put it in all into a one month framework, means that it has to remain superficial, therefore it is not possible for the Nada yoga to be handled in much depth, plus we were given NO instruction on how to lead kirtan or nada yoga sessions.
For this you would be better to attend a teacher training course that is held over a longer period with time to practise and deepen the work between group sessions, and/or attend a course specifically offered for that purpose, which is what Anandra has created with the Heart of Sound.
Anandra's Heart of Sound training is much more attractive and beneficial for musicians/singers/music lovers to develop on what they already know, and go deeper into the meaning and experience of Nada Yoga through sanskrit, mantra, meditation and kirtan practices. As Anandra mentioned I have only completed the first module which was focused on personal experiencing, the final module being aimed at teaching and leading others.
I can honestly say that attending Anandra's first course has given me the boost I needed to go further with my Sanskrit chanting. Before that I had put it in the "too hard basket" (even though I now live in India), so this course was fabulous for breaking the barrier/resistance and moving forward.
Even though Bhuwan is himself Indian and possibly has a longer history with Sanskrit, he didn't even try to teach any techniques to us and used purely a call and response method which left most students behind (he is softly spoken and somewhat introverted in nature and it was a challenge to pick up any nuances). Does that answers any of your questions?
All the best, Bhavani
I hope that helps!
Please note that Heart of Sound is doing a teacher training retreat in India in February/March 2023, but we mostly offer our trainings online now to be more inclusive and thorough for each student's learning experience.
See the next blog post on Learning Nada Yoga in India: How to Avoid Gross Guru Abuse like a PRO