Yoga: On Sacred Ground

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Dunster’s plaintive violin, guitar and flute bring to life music that ranges from relaxing to invigorating as each successive track corresponds to a different chakra.

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Product Description

In Yoga: On Sacred Ground, Chinmaya Dunster’s plaintive violin, guitar and flute bring to life music that ranges from relaxing to invigorating as each successive track corresponds to a different chakra. Excellent not only for yoga practice, this is music anyone can enjoy!

“Yoga is like an art form, with the asanas and the chakras as its poetic expressions. This one hour of music is my personal illustration of those poetic expressions. I have composed it with two complimentary aims. Firstly, to provide music to accompany the practice of Hatha Yoga. Recognizing that each person has their own unique routines for this, I have included both music that is invigorating for more dynamic moments, and relaxing for the stiller ones (and for those who include pranayama and/or a form of meditation in their practice). Secondly, the seven tracks aim to evoke and stimulate the subtle energies of the seven chakras, details of which are given in the sleeve notes for each of the tracks.

If I can be judged to have even modestly succeeded in this aim it is because of my overwhelming debt to the enlightened mystic Osho in helping me to my (limited!) understanding of the chakra system, and more importantly, for having provided — in the form of Osho Commune International in Pune, India — a place for the practical exploration of music as an energy for transformation.

My own experience of Yoga dates back to the 1970s in Kent, England when, under the guidance of an exceptional instructor (whose class I took over as a teacher under her encouragement when she returned after three years to India). I acquired both a basic knowledge of the asanas and a physical flexibility which, I am grateful to say, has lasted me to this day. In the years since, while continuing to practice the asanas intermittently (people who know me well will recognize the irresistible attraction a fresh green lawn has to make me stand on my head). I have explored other forms of movement-based meditation such as Osho’s dynamic meditations, Tai Chi, landscape gardening…Reconnecting with Yoga philosophy in the making of this CD has been a great pleasure for me, one that I hope you will find reflected in the music.” ~Chinmaya Dunster

Track 1: NATRANI (Queen of the Dance) – First or Root Chakra

In Hindu mythology the god Shiva Natraj (King of the Dance) is shown creating the universe through his cosmic dance. Ancient traditions of Tantric Yoga, however, portray the goddess Kali dancing on the inert body of Shiva, asserting that it is actually the feminine principle which is the creative dynamic at the root of existence. I composed this track in a feminine Indian Raga (scale), blending the softness of Indian bamboo flute with driving Western rhythms, to invoke the dynamic energy of this chakra at the base of the spine.

Track 2: GRATITUDE – Second Chakra

The water inner world of feelings emanates from this chakra just above the genitals. To me gratitude is the most precious feeling and it is this quality that I have tried to depict on this track, using haunting bagpipes, violin and the human voice.

Track 3: BREATHING – PRANA – Third Chakra or Hara

The Hara at the navel is the source of our individual life-energy. Yoga calls this energy ‘prana’ and associates it with breath. A young child breathes naturally from this point, its belly collapsing gently with each out breath. The sarod and tables, around which I based this track, are Indian instruments that naturally stimulate this “belly energy.”

Track 4: ON SACRED GROUND – Fourth or Heart Chakra

There is a Buddhist saying “This very body the Buddha, this very earth the Lotus Paradise,” that perfectly encapsulates Yoga philosophy. A person with a healthy, perfectly-tuned body cannot fail also to be attuned to a way of seeing the whole world around as holy. This track is pure improvisation, a musical meeting between myself (on sarod) and Prasad (on slide guitar) in which we both felt joined together by a connection of the heart.

Track 5: THE WATCH – Fifth or Throat Chakra

A uniquely human  quality first appears in this chakra — the ability to express ourselves through words or the arts. Expression can open the door to the ability to stand aside from our thoughts and feelings as a watcher or witness. Practitioners of Yoga will be familiar with how the mind moves restlessly from one thought or sensation to another during practice. This track moves like that through several stages, from rhythmic to a-rhythmic and back. I have used a mysterious-sounding Indian scale to try to evoke the detached quality of the watcher which is the key to remaining undisturbed by the chatter of the mind.

Track 6: HA-THA (Sun Meets Moon) – Sixth Chakra or Third Eye

Two channels of subtle energy, originating at the root chakra, meet again at this chakra. Yoga practice aims to purify and stimulate these until they merge and open the Third Eye of wisdom. I see this as a peaceful meeting of complimentaries, hence the tranquility of this track which merges the very easter sound of sarod with a purely western backing of drums and guitars.

Track 7: PURNIMA NAMASHKAR (Homage to the Full Moon) – Crown Chakra or Thousand Petalled Lotus

Many traditional Yoga practices begin with the dynamic asana ’Surya Namashkar’ (Homage to the Sun). I have chosen to end this CD with a playful homage to the full moon, in the East a symbol of enlightenment (Buddha attained Nirvana on the full moon in May). To me this track is a reminder that Yoga practice (like everything!) should not be taken too seriously leaving the practitioner feeling light and joyful, like a tiny baby.

Serious is a sickness… Existence is pure playfulness.” ~Osho

The body is just like a musical instrument. It has to be rightly tuned; only then will the higher music arise out of it. If the very instrument is somehow not in right shape and order, then how can you imagine, hope, that the great harmony will arise out of it? Body is a veena, a musical instrument.” ~Osho from “Yoga the Alpha and Omega”


  1. “The British-born Chinmaya (formerly Stephen) Dunster is a master of the Indian lute known as the sarod and is renowned for mixing Indian classical raga with the Celtic styles of his native land. For his stunning Yoga: On Sacred Ground, Dunster keeps the Celtic flavor while going full force into the Indian mystic, creating seven tracks that are linked to one of the body‚s seven charkas. Whether or not this music is suitable for deep meditation or yoga practice is something each listener must decide for him or herself, but no doubt the album will soothe the ear and soul in many hard-to-reach places. The tracks differ from one another just enough so that the music is also great for simply listening to, playing for friends, or, best of all, discovering beautiful outdoor vistas via the miracle of the iPod.

    The album opens with deep meditative chanting that segues into some cheery sarod melodies, gradually getting deeper into a state of trance as the tracks progress up the spine, chakra by chakra. The third chakra-track, „Breathing-Prana,‰ adds tablas, tamboura, and sitar underneath the enticing, courtly melody of the sarod. Each instrument is well tempered, creating a fusion of classical Indian flavor with Western music tonality, a Western lead floating over the inscrutable textures of the East. The fourth chakra, „On Sacred Ground,‰ gets, well, sexy; it‚s easy to see why he wanted to name the album after it. The spine tingling sound of the tamboura sets the boundaries for a slyly soloing sitar that crosses freely into Western jazz harmonics, suggesting a melody about to break through. The physical and the spiritual unite fully on this track, and the result is spine-tingling.

    The arrival of the final track, creating the mental third eye-opening chakra of a thousand-petalled lotus, finds the more traditional Indian musical syntax taking center stage in a deeply ethereal way. The sitar and tablas engage in a playful game of call-and-response, indicating that for Chinmaya Dunster, the joys of Indian-Celtic fusion are far too important to be taken seriously. To prove his point, the album ends with a laugh˜a high, feminine old woman cackle. Nothing could be more right for an album in which the sacred is rendered as it should be˜with a playful, merry spirit.”

  2. “The compositions on this CD are designed to attune and energize the seven chakra centers of the body in order to bring it into harmony with the rest of the universe. Thus we feel the effervescence of “Natrani” followed by the graceful strains of “gratitude”, then gradually we are enveloped by a series of different musical instruments and styles until the recording culminates in “Purnima Namashkar”, an upbeat and jovial ‘homage to the full moon.’ An interesting blend of Eastern and Western experience.”

  3. “Don’t let the title of this album fool you. While the scope and sensitivity of Dunster’s journey through the seven chakras will certainly appeal to yoga practitioners, Yoga on Sacred Ground travels much further than its name implies. This is not just music for practicing yoga. This is music you can live by in the fullest sense.
    Chinmaya Dunster is a magician on the sarod and as a composer. So often, we hear music that attempts to fuse the Eastern tradition with Western sensibilities and end up with something that lessens both. Dunster knows what he’s doing. He has gone inside the music of India, extracted its essence, and invested his work with spirit and passion in a way that touches the heart of our own experience.
    The music is by turns vibrant, plaintive, pulsing with energy, and contemplative. The first track, “Natrani (Queen of the Dance),” combines a feminine Indian raga, warmly performed on sarod, with the gypsy flair of Spanish lute. This track leaps up and dances, whirls, shouts, makes life happen. Sarod and guitar share a sublime and subtle musical dialogue in “On Sacred Ground,” a theme which is echoed in a major key in “Ha-Tha.” The mysterious “The Watcher” shimmers with rhythmic and tonal complexities, played in a minor-keyed Indian scale, and contrasts sweetly with the light-hearted joyfulness of the final track.
    This is Dunster’s third album on the New Earth label. If you’ve not yet experienced his musical genius, Yoga on Sacred Ground is a great place to start.”

  4. “While I am in no way qualified to preach on the cleansing aspects of this instrumental world CD, as far as psychology goes, I can say that the disc has been spinning in my player for several days now, and I’m just sorry I have to put an end to it by reviewing it and passing along to the next CD. Some hours should last all week, all Month – a lifetime.
    Yoga: On Sacred Ground is the third album for New Earth Records from Chinmaya Dunster, and though I do about as much yoga as brain surgeries, listen to the codirector of Yoga Center of Columbia, when he proclaims that ‘this is heartfelt music infused with the fragrance of joy.’ He should know.
    If music’s true purpose is to evoke a feeling of self-worth, healing, relaxation and continued interest in the surrounding audio that enfolds, then the current 58 minutes and 7 tracks are indeed Music of the first, and highest, order.
    Rather than single out individual cuts, let me just say that this Dunster journey is laced profusely with magical acoustic guitars, violins, sarod, sitar (perhaps?) and a host of other surprising cameos of other faithful friends. If there are electronics involved, they are well hidden. Oh, and the beautiful accordion on ‘The Watcher’ is pleasantly surreal against the East Indian mysticism that evolves.”
    More than mere delightful.”

  5. “Dunster is an Englishman who studied classical guitar before picking up a sarod, an Indian stringed instrument that he plays exceptionally well throughout this hypnotic, textured, classical Indian fusion recording. His disc has seven cuts, one for each chakra, and Dunster composed and arranged the songs to compliment the energy centers’ dynamic qualities. His Sarod’s percussive drone and the rhythmic fire of Manish Vyas’ tablas’ simulate the ‘belly energy’ of the third Chakra, while the final cut is a sweet, playful raga that emerges from the ethereal mystery of the previous tracks to inspire a childlike joy that comes from an open seventh or crown chakra. Dunster employed a dozen musicians, most notably Bikram Singh on bamboo flute and Prasad Mackenzie on a haunting slide guitar, to create a gorgeous record that also makes a lovely backdrop to a yoga practice.”

  6. “Here’s what Chinmaya says: ‘Yoga is like an art form, with the asanas and the chakras as it’s poetic expressions. This one hour of music is my personal illustration of those poetic expressions.’ (Here’s what I say: Inspired and inspirational – ed)”

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