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At the last Asia Yoga conference, I had the pleasure and honour to sit down and talk with Sienna Sherman and Masood Ali Khan.
Sianna Sherman is a passionate storyteller, yogini, priestess and earth lover – with a vision to help you awaken your Magic, embrace your Soul’s Calling and share your Authentic Gifts with the world.
Masood Ali Khan has a unique musical performance and voice that inspires a meditative experience with his mesmerizing combination of the 'Hang’ (drum), hand pans and sacred mantras. Masood’s soul spirit songs are infused with the power of the heart and mind to help humanity.
It is rare to come across a beautifully honest and touching story like theirs. Their gifts and skills complement each other perfectly making them a one of a kind duo.
YOGI TIMES: How did you meet?
Sianna Sherman: We both travel, Masood playing music, me teaching yoga, so we would meet at these big yoga festivals and conferences and sometimes we would be paired for yoga and music class. These events would bring us together or sometimes friends did. We knew of each other but we never really had a big, deep conversation or anything like this. Then about three years later we both had become separated from our lifelong partners in almost parallel time and we met at another yoga event where at the very end I was asked to give a green tara blessing, and Masood started to play hang drum.
After the event, he came up to me and we went to breakfast. There we had the longest conversation of our lives, up to that point, and from that moment it was about 2.5 weeks of whole, synchronistic series of events that would bring us together. In 3 weeks we were fully aligned and our path was clear. The universe kept flocking us together. All over the world we were simultaneously booked for different events.
YT: Is yoga the most important thing that brought you together?
Masood Ali Khan: Whoever is doing yoga is growing and evolving at their own pace and their understanding of living and experiencing life is on a different level. So you could be both in the yoga business or the yoga way of living but still on different paths of accepting reality and performing daily things. I learned so much from my previous relationships on how to communicate and how I can do things better.
The most important thing when meeting Sianna was meeting someone who knew how to communicate and all she has taught me about how to communicate better. That came about from the deep work that she was doing to understand her relationships. We were both going through this period of change. I was doing a lot of deep practice to regain my standing in my life and Sianna was doing the same so we were both going through a deep transformation. I was able to focus on calling in things that I wanted in my life, visualizing, chanting, doing breath work, my regular sadhana that allowed me to transform in the way I wanted to experience life and change from what I had before.
After this long conversation over breakfast at New Year's, we realized we were doing that exact same thing and that we have gone so far from our relationship to we find this pathway which was spectacular.
Sianna Sherman: One of the empowerments that we have between us is that we both consciously choose to show up, really fully and to look at our own shadow and look at our own places of fear, restriction and constriction and to meet each other in those places. We are very conscious and have a deep practice and sadhana. We are not reaching to the spiritual practice to bypass the deep work to avoid our pain. Rather, our emotional work and intimacy is enhanced by doing shadow work and integrating it. We make a real commitment to each other to embrace one another even in the midst of pain.
We commit not to walk away from each other in our pain but to be present and cultivate the deepest emotional intimacy. It can be hard for us, like in every relationship, so we just have to remind each other of the possibility of the true transformation and deep intimacy within ourselves and within each other. So many times relationships are attracted to woundedness, trying to feel whole and complete. We are committed to our individual work and wholeness so we can keep meeting each other from a place of affirmation and embrace as much as possible. That's what I'm really grateful for.
YT: How do you manage not to blur the lines between professional and personal life?
Masood Ali Khan: It's really nice how we integrate things together and we get to travel to festivals etc. Sianna is teaching and I get to support with music so it's always a 'dance'. It's fun to do that.
Sianna Sherman: We each have individual things that we do but it is our passion of being together that infuses the spirit of that offering together. We don't try to separate our love and our passion from our professional life. Our love and passion pour through us as a vessel to serve the greater whole. It's my experience that the alchemical love between us grows brighter in service to more than just ourselves.
Masood Ali Khan: We have been studying for so many years and from my teachers I learned how we can help humanity. All the energy work that I've been doing, connecting to the source, using energy for creativity in a way to express yourself so that you can help humanity. I chose the music to do that. Coming together, having the same focus of what we can do to gain as many tools as possible to be able to teach and share, has been great. There is no conflict in that, we both want to help as much as we can. In the last couple of years, I realized more about supporting the sacred masculine and sacred feminine bringing those together which flowered into a beautiful experience together. Last year we did the first retreat together, Alchemy of Avalon, which was about the combination of masculine and feminine.
YT: How important is music in a yoga class?
MAK: Very and not at all.
Sianna Sherman: I think the playlist can be the breath. If the body is the instrument and the breath is pouring through the instrument of the body, then the breath is the music. To celebrate life in the fullest capacity that we can, in a full creative flow with the power of music, when it's done well, and in attunement, energy and synergy between the musician and the person giving voice and instructions, when that is in high alignment then the whole room is held in the most sacred space and lifted to the whole new place of possibility. Sometimes if the music isn't synced up with what's happening, it can be a distraction, that's why the attunement has to be there. When I teach, Masood is following, and I listen to mantras he is chanting, it's a woven tapestry.
Masood Ali Khan: There is an amazing number of musicians who are incredible at lifting the spirit or calming, softening, opening etc. My musical background has been with classical music, I love classical, jazz, trans, and electronic music so when I started playing the hang drum I didn't come to the instrument with a set of techniques, I really wanted to see what would come out. All the influences came into the first 2 albums 'Hang With Angeles' and 'The Yoga Sessions', it's purely channelled music. The goal is that you eventually get that trans sound so you stop listening to me and you go inside and focus on your breath.
YT: Why is yoga so important for the times we are living in?
Masood Ali Khan: Because the times we are living in are getting crazy and any kind of practice or tool that we can have is a good tool. Yoga is a tool and to me the biggest tool is breathing. Yoga is learning how to breathe and connect to spirit. If we can find a connection to the spirit then we can find a connection to each other and that connection will stop fighting, wars and dehumanization of people, living creatures and plants.
Sianna Sherman: I think because of the intensity of our times on every level, politically, socially, environmentally, it's very easy to push people into the states of reactivity because the challenge and the intensity are so high. Yoga helps us to bare witness to the reactive, get centred, anchored, get plugged in, remember that we are all a family, that we are all connected with our brothers and sisters, future generations and all human beings. If we start to connect with ourselves we can connect with each other, we don't see each other as separate and we can take care of each other. We are able to be the eye in the middle of the storm rather than creating more and more storm through our aggressiveness, fear,or hostility. Yoga means to yoke so yoke ourselves inside so we become a collective force.
YT: What is the biggest issue the global community faces?
Sianna Sherman: Yoga is such a big business, a commodity and it's been highly commercialized, which helped to open yoga to the world, however, if we get trapped in the commercialization and we start competing with each other rather than collaborate, that can be a big trap. We have to navigate with a lot of skill through the business of yoga with a lot of heart to be the collaborative force, not to try to win over each other or recreate a top-down ladder up model like a corporate world. When I started yoga it was so obscure and cultish and no one made any money teaching yoga, you did it purely because it was your passion. We have to keep remembering to keep our hearts fully awake and our minds really clear and we have to grow together, as a force.
Masood Ali Khan: Spiritual bypassing and shadow work – those are two things that are really needed for a deeper understanding of yoga. Very easily everyone could spiritually bypass by not doing an introspection into their life, we don't ask ourselves why we even do yoga. Is that doing good or is that separating you from healing and opening up and seeing pain and grief, understanding the grief? Eventually, it will catch up on.
Sianna Sherman: Because we ended up indoor there has been a disconnect from nature and from rhythm and seasons, the cycle of nature. Yoga is in sync with nature. Important is to go outside, we don't turn away from what's happening with the Earth. Actively aware in the world all around us. Not practice hiding inside to shake us up and wake us up.