artist spotlight anoushka shankar
“I have found women, and their artistic strength and
depth, to be a great influence on my work.”
<< AS: My father began teaching me sitar at the
age of nine and I began touring at thirteen. I was
very inspired by seeing my father’s love of music and I wanted to be a part of that. There was
never any pressure on me to play the sitar, but I
was encouraged to explore my creativity and the
sitar soon became my favourite medium through
which to do so.
LAYoga: Can you talk a bit about the lineage of
women sitar players? How have other female musicians influenced your own musical travels?
AS: There aren’t many female sitarists at all. My
father’s first wife, Annapurna Devi, is a legendary
surbahar player, but hasn’t performed publicly in
decades. I didn’t grow up seeing female instrumentalists in my own field and therefore didn’t
have a lot to draw from as far as female inspiration went. However I draw influence and inspiration from vocalists, dancers, and artists from all
genres; and in this way I have found women, and
their artistic strength and depth, to be a great influence on my work.
LAYoga: What has been the greatest gift you have
received through music?
AS: The greatest gift I have received through music is the music itself. Music has provided me with
a fulfilling career and has kept me grounded and
creatively challenged throughout my life so far.
Also, through music I have learnt a sense of dedication and discipline, plus a connection to my
self, which I then went on to recognize in my yoga
and meditation practice. Having that instilled in
me through music from an early age has hugely
influenced who I am.
LAYoga: For some people, music is a sacred practice, and within the Yoga community, your music
is beloved. Do you have a regular yoga and/or
meditation practice and can you tell us something
about that practice?
AS: Life in California opened me up to Yoga. Living
in Encinitas was an amazing way to be exposed to
various forms of Yoga. Yoga helps me on all levels,
the most important one obviously being spiritual.
I find stillness hard to come by and Yoga helps. I
feel my breathing changes greatly after practicing
Yoga. I also consciously use Yoga to counter the effects of the cross-legged position I sit in to play, and
to alleviate stress in my arms and back.