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on May 10, 2005
I was required to buy this book for a class I was taking at the university entitled "Religion and Music". My professor was Dr. Don Beck who is an expert on this topic and has produced both a published book and a cd of Hindu devotional music. The book came highly recommended from him, and now that I have read it I would wholeheartedly agree! This is a wonderful book regardless of what spiritual path you are on, and in particular if you are looking for a way to re-entergize your own practice. The book explains how one can use the power of mantra as a spiritual practice, and it is written by an author who has both a Christian and Hindu background. He thoughtfully incorporates aspects of many religious traditions to accomodate all readers, and he is thoroughly knowledgable on this subject. He writes clearly and simply, and at the same time he gets you excited about the subject matter.

Honestly, I thought this book was going to be filled with New Age fluff, but it offers genuine advice on how to practically get started with this wonderful practice of reciting mantras. I was pleasantly surprised, and I think anyone with an interest in deep religion or music will greatly enjoy this book.
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on October 9, 2004
I had the privilege of taking a workshop with Russill in the summer of 2004, which is how I was introduced to his work. His excellent book "The Yoga of Sound" has proved highly complementary to that experience, but it is also a powerful work with no trouble standing on its own.
Yoga has become extremely popular in the Western world, but the aspect of yoga that focuses on the power of sound - the power of mantra and chant - has not transfered as well from the realms of Hindu mysticism. The book explores the reasons for this and sets the practice of mantra in a wider context, adaptable not only to those from any religious and spiritual background but to the hectic pace of modern life. Mantra is brought further into a 21st-century setting through the accessible and fascinating discussions of quantum physics as they apply to sound. The book is also a practical manual, teaching the reader how to use yogic mantra with the help of an included CD.
Russill Paul is a truly gifted teacher, and his spirit of devotion and eagerness to share the joy of the power of mantra shine through in this beautifully written book.
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on May 9, 2006
Chanting is an art - and for those of us from a Western background, it can feel a bit otherworldy or "foreign". I have always been interested in chanting and mantras but too intimidated to try it.

Russill Paul has put together a book and CD set that helps to demystify chanting and make it more accessible for all audiences - no matter what your spiritual or ethnic background. This well written book clearly explains the basics and theories behind chanting - and it provides exercises to get you started immediately.

These exercises help anyone to begin chanting in a confident manner. I am tone deaf and have no musical talent whatsoever - yet I am able now to practice mantras with a keener ear. I am already feeling the effects! (Hindu mantras are believed to help with many issues from removing obstacles, spiritual advancement and even mundane problems.)

The Yoga of Sound is a practical book which can get you on your way to a daily mantra practice. I would also recommend the books by Thomas Ashley Farrand as a supplement to this book. That being said, Paul's book seems to be more complete and I felt more inspired by it.
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on September 9, 2007
While looking for another book on chanting mantras, I came across this one. This is a wonderful book - well researched and well written. Paul grew up in India and spent 5 years in an ashram so he not only knows the facts and the culture and beliefs but has a real feel for presenting his subject in an easy to understand manner. You don't have to know Hatha Yoga to do yoga chanting but you might want to after reading this book. And you don't have to understand every single thing he writes about before you start your own chanting. Included with the book is an instructional CD which is helpful if you're unfamiliar with the pronunciations of the hindu/sanskrit words.
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on January 27, 2012
Russill Paul has put together a comprehensive volume on how to use sound, primarily mantras, based largely on traditional Hindu usage. I am sure it took him many hours of research and devotion to the topic to bring it all together. The end product provides a very usable tomb with many specific practices to follow. It is highly doubtful that one would adopt all of those proscribed, but his thoroughness gives the reader many choices.

I have two issues with the material presented. The first is a minor one. I found his recommendations a bit over the top. I am afraid that recommending such an extensive devotion of time and energy to learning how to do all of the practices and then maintaining them would prevent many people from taking that first step. If it's going to be that hard, why should I bother? That is, as I indicated, a minor issue. Most people will be like me and take (what I see as) a sensible approach and adopt those things that enhance their use of sound and not overwhelm themselves by trying to reach some unobtainable level of sound yoga mastery. He may well have reached that fabled level, but I don't see it realistic to expect all of his reader to do so.

The second issue is a bit more problematic. Although I liked his global approach of breaking down the yoga of sound into four sub-components, and found the overall theme of each of these four areas of sound quite reasonable, thought provoking, and beneficial to a greater understanding of the use of sound, many details in each section were either so vague that they were meaningless or else outright incorrect. For example, he writes that one of the principles of Shabda Yoga is that there is "an irrefutable sense of truth in the word and the sound." All I can say to that is "Huh?" And to his claim that words and sounds of Vedic mantras "awaken memory - knowledge that is already encoded in our cell, genes, and DNA" I can only shake my head in disbelief.

Many of his specific references to science are incorrect. For example, in his chapter on consciousness he writes about delta brain waves and says these appear when a "person is in a coma or suffering from a drug overdose." He says the "delta state simulates a near-death experience." I can assure you, as one with a Ph.D. in electrophysiology of the brain, that is not the case. Delta waves appear in normal deep sleep. His comment on oscilloscope on page 197 is equally off the mark. Numerous other false or pseudo scientific statements abound. In fact, these kind of non-informative and/or false claims appear not just as a trickle throughout the book, but as a constant rushing stream. This gushing bath of unintelligible metaphors and fake science detracted from a very useful work. He would have had a much better book if would have just stuck to what he himself knows based on his vast amount of experiences.
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Russill Paul is a famed meditation/New Age musician (e.g., Yoga of Sound,Bhava: Ecstatic Heart,Shakti: Tantric Embrace, etc.)

He writes in the Introduction to this 2004 book, "I wrote this book to introduce an ancient yet almost unknown practice to those who want to broaden and deepen the spiritual dimensions of their lives... With this book, I hope to educate and motivate Western yoga practitioners (yogis) to also incorporate sacred sound into their practice... My vision of this work is to help you, first and foremost, grasp the scope of this sonic mysticism."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"The Yoga of Sound counteracts noise pollution; it helps us establish and maintain the natural harmony of our bodies. It is a spiritual practice that shows us how to work with all the sound in our lives, giving us the discernment to separate the good from the bad and empowering us to weave it all into one harmonious fabric." (Pg. xvii-xviii)
"The key difference between Hatha Yoga and Sound Yoga is that, while Hatha Yoga primarily develops the infrastructure of the physical body and its nervous system, the Yoga of Sound primarily strengthens the soul and its spiritual energy channels, called 'nadis.'" (Pg. 24)
"Because sound and memory are so inextricably linked, sound can awaken us to the ultimate presence of God---a memory just waiting to be recalled. Our spiritual journey through time has been metaphorically described as a fall from primeval harmony and a forgetting of our true nature. Spiritual practice is meant to help us find our way back home." (Pg. 73)
"I am not a purist. I do believe in the evolution of art and spirituality. But I also believe that the process should not sacrifice power, depth, and function, as you will discover in any of my yoga music albums." (Pg. 107)
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on June 27, 2009
Wow! Russill Paul makes this esoteric science of Nada Yoga accessible and blissful.This book is filled with explanations that make sense, and useful tools for bringing an ancient eastern science into one's daily life. The book is accompanied by a CD that has detailed instructions for the chants so you can practice using them. There are also chants with physical motions that enhance one's awareness and bring about states of peaceful, alert presence. I use this book in my personal practice, and share it with students and clients. So glad there is a Russill Paul in this world, and that he is sharing his knowledge with us.
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on November 23, 2008
I loved the idea presented in this book. It's great to be presented with the notions that everything is energy in motion and sound, chants, certain arrangement of words/sound have the ability to activate specific vibrations in our environment.

Very enlightening!
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on May 29, 2013
I am loving this book. The topics are well organized and well explained, making the complexity of Vedas and Hindu tradition easy to assimilate. It works also as a review and clarification if you are already familiar with yoga tradition.
I have tried only one of the exercises so far but it has been inspiring and easy to execute. My yoga and meditation practice has already gained an extra dimension thanks to it. Ultimately, I am learning that mantras can be practiced even without a master, with genuine results, especially for those who seek to deepen the relation with their consciousness.
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on March 14, 2013
I am reading it for the second time. It has much powerful guidance for the serious student. Yoga far beyond the pretzel contortions that some understand as yoga. Music as a doorway to the feminine aspects of the divine.
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