Yoga Podcast Episode 47: Meghan Powell

Chanting as a Practice in Developing Your Own Voice

Meet Meghan Powell, the other half of Ashtanga Dispatch and hear about her ongoing journey towards discovering and even learning to love, her own distinct voice.

In this episode, Meghan talks about her experience in Mysore and how she would choose instead to pursue a relationship with her teacher, Dena Kingsburg in Byron Bay. Meghan also speaks to the struggle it is to be a 26 year-old who values a morning practice over late nights and drinking – and how chanting has helped her open parts of herself that were otherwise closed off.

I fell in love with my practice when it became my practice.

Meghan Powell


PODCAST EXCERPTS

Chanting

Sanskrit in itself is, I think, a beautiful language because it has so many more sounds and it’s also very vibrational – something that English doesn’t really have. Unless … which is why I really love poetry because you’re using words with sound.

But Sanskrit – even if you don’t really know what you’re saying – it tonifies a part of you with that vibration and I would say that starting point would be chanting the opening and closing chant with the Ashtanga practice.  Especially out loud.  Out loud, being the important part because you need to feel it in your chest, and in your throat and in your palette, in your lips and in your nose.

There’s an important part of that where you can feel it you are focusing on the way that feels … when you feel that ‘mmmmm’ sound and the lips close and there’s that vibration and the way that feels – and it’s a great meditation as well. 

I would say, it’s helped me become more comfortable with myself. And feeling the freedom to open up in a devotional sense, in an emotional sense. I think it’s really released a part of me that I kept tightly hidden – and I’ve become more comfortable with that.

And that’s what we’re trying to do, become comfortable with ourselves, with who we are, and get closer to that.

“My chanting practice has released a part of me that I kept tightly hidden – and feeling the freedom to open up in a devotional sense.” -Meghan Powell

Mysore

I was 22 when we went to Mysore. I loved Mysore and my time in Mysore – I say that because I did. I very much enjoyed that. I met a lot of people that I though were beautiful humans there. But the thing is, I also went there during a time I was searching …

The thing about the Ashtanga practice, when you’re young, is you do tend to lose friends your age in some ways.

I wanted people who were like-minded. I mean, you want community. You want support, to feel like you belong somewhere and I didn’t have that. I wanted friends. I want friends! I was at a point in my life when I wanted people who felt the same. Who were interested in a little bit more. Not saying that other things were less or whatever – but a little bit interested in who they are at the core of it. 

So we went to Mysore for many reasons, one of those reasons being that for me. And I met a community that was a little too big, a little too much. I’m really quite and reserved. Like I said, I only have a few people that I’m close to and that’s ok with me.

Having 300 plus people is beautiful … I mean, the energy in the room is amazing, it’s beautiful and it has so much vitality. It also wasn’t the right situation for me to foster my growth. That’s ok.

For some people it’s Mysore. For me, it’s a little Shala in Byron Bay where I have the beach and I have a really beautiful community now, that’s small and it’s done that way by design. And I love it. 

Dena

I think the most beautiful part about (Dena Kingsburg) is that she’s human. And she’s honest about being human and she’s honest about to putting her up on a pedestal. She’s on a slight pedestal with me – no I’m just joking. But I do admire her just like I admire you – but I admire her in the way she lives her life and how she lives it, and that to me is the important part.

She’s someone that I can look up to and she’s also someone that empowers me. She’s not trying to change me to be like her, she’s not trying to fit me in some mold. She wants me to be me. But she’s helping me be me.

Practice

It was important to me to find a teacher that wasn’t my mother. The reason that I think it was hard for me to dedicate myself to the practice was that I couldn’t see the practice as separate from my mother.

She practiced – we would go places and everyone would know her. She would take me to her teacher – which was beautiful and fun and amazing to do this – but it was her thing, her/your practice that you are doing and you had all these other endeavors that revolved around it like the beginnings of this podcast and all sorts of stuff, which is amazing … But at that time, keep in mind, I’m 19 at this point? And I’m trying to figure out who I am. And part of that means not having my mom’s thing be my thing.

I want my own thing. I want to be ME! I wanna find out who I am.

I don’t want everyone coming up to me and saying, “Oh you’re Peg’s daughter?” Actually it’s Meghan. But yes, I’m Peg’s daughter. 

In that sense, I really needed to find how this practice related to me. It couldn’t just be a practice that my mom practiced. It had to be, I practice because I practice. I practice because I love it. I practice because I want to. I make those choices. Not my mom makes those choices. And I just needed that. And she’s, in some ways, very much like you. And in some ways, not. A major way is she’s not my mother. And that’s important.

I fell in love with my practice when it became my practice. 


 

This episode was edited and produced by Peg Mulqueen.
Music by Marc Pilley.

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