Sharon Gannon – Tripura Sundari
Yogini Sharon Gannon’s quest for independence began with her birth on July 4th, 1951
in Washington, DC. Her interest in mysticism was nourished by her Catholic upbringing. She is a 21st century Renaissance woman who excels in many artistic, spiritual and social mediums including yoga, music, dance, writing, poetry, painting, cooking and political activism.
In 1984 Sharon Gannon and David Life created the Jivamukti Yoga Method, which is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation. The Jivamukti Yoga Method emphasizes asana, scriptural study, devotion, prayer, music, chanting and meditation, as well as animal rights, veganism, environmentalism and political activism. Jivamukti’s passionate focus on the original meaning of the Sanskrit word “asana” as seat, connection, relationship to the earth is as practical as it is radical at this time of global crisis and consciousness shift. The Jivamukti Yoga Method is taught worldwide at Jivamukti Yoga Schools and affiliated centers, which are in NYC, Charleston, Washington, DC, Toronto, London, Munich, Berlin, Moscow, Russia, Stavanger, Norway, and Sydney. The Jivamukti practice is also available on DVDs.
Yoga Journal has recognized Gannon and Life as innovators in Yoga, and the
NY Times says, “Without Jivamukti, yoga in the US would still be the obscure practice of a few devotees.” Vanity Fair gives Gannon and Life credit for making yoga cool and hip. TIME magazine recognized Jivamukti Yoga as one of the nine methods of Hatha Yoga practiced in the world today.
Praise for Jivamukti Yoga:
“..holistic vision extending to strict vegetarianism and hard-core animal rights activism” –Vanity Fair USA
“David and Sharon have inspired and encouraged us to think of yoga not just as a system of exercises but also as a door to the infinite”. –Sting
“Jivamukti’s highly regarded Yoga Teacher Training Course is the Gold Standard” -Time Out NY, USA
“The pioneers of yoga in the United States, inspire us to appreciate life’s depth and breadth.” –25, Japan
“Jivamukti Yoga offers the tantalizing promise of not only a well-toned body, but salvation too.” –Hinduism Today, USA
“Es handelt sich dabei um eine kraftvolle Praxis, die Korper und intellect stimuliert und zu spirituelleum Bewusstsein fuhren mochte.” –Yoga Aktuell, Germany
“Meshing the spiritual and psychological elements of yoga with the physical ones, Jivamukti yoga forces students to confront both their bodily and emotional limitations.” –Harpers and Queens, UK
“Lean, flexible, vegetarian, poetry writing, theosophist, celestial American yogis–their salutes to the sun are done by the stars.” –Sunday Morning Post, Hong Kong
“These two pioneers, (Sharon Gannon and David Life) are consummate showmen as well as shamans,
injecting yoga with a healthy dose of New York Chutzpah along the way.” –Vanity Fair USA
“Meet the innovators, David Life and Sharon Gannon are American originals who are shaping yoga today. Looking for a highly meditative but physically challenging form of yoga? Try Jivamukti.”
—Yoga Journal, USA
“The shape of things to come.”
–London Observer, UK
“Lo yoga e uno stile di vita: fatto di meditazione, di posizione, di musica, canti, letture.” –Corriere Della Sera, Italy
“There’s a level of spiritual activism here. It’s not just what you do on the mat. You are surrounded by it the second you walk into the door, and it’s infectious.” –Yoga Journal USA
“Once you make Jivamukti yoga part of your life, you will look different to the world and the world will look different to you” -Yogi Times USA
“Jivamukti Yoga (which means “liberation while living”) fuses Dynamic vinyasa, music, chanting, and the embodied commitment to yoga’s ultimate goal–enlightenment.” -Fit YogaUSA
“Jivamukti Yoga may be synonymous with the glamour crowd, but what I discovered behind its door was anything but superficial— depth dwelled inside the walls.” -New York SpiritUSA
“Jivamukti .. means “liberation while living,” and the students of the method are taught to seek spiritual realization by being agents of change in the world.”
-Yoga Journal USA
“Jivamukti Classes are addictive because they transform you from the inside out” -Gaia USA
“Sharon and David…charismatic yoga teachers for not only New Yorkers but for all citizens of the world…” -Yogini Japan
“All the spirituality of traditional yoga, but with a modern twist.” –Red Magazine, UK
“Gannon and Life work hard to show that yoga is not just about health and fitness, and that spirituality can
be congruent with a high-energy, vibrant lifestyle…” –Yoga Journal USA
“It’s this dedication to promoting an integrated practice that makes Jivamukti the absolute antithesis of
‘McYoga’. Without Life and Gannon and their rigorously ‘pure’ teaching, the West’s yoga scene would have been left wide open to ‘disco yoga’ and ‘yogalates.’ ” –Harpers & QueenUK
“I always learn something at Jivamukti; they really educate the students.” –Christy Turlington in TIME Magazine
“It’s a very liberating concept and, suddenly, I don’t quite feel so self-conscious. All I can hear are
Gannon’s peaceful words: ‘Let go. Let go Let go.’ Then a funny thing happens: I let go and manage to stretch quite a bit further, and it feels great.” —The Independent UK
“The hottest and best yoga in town is performed at the unapologetically spiritual Jivamukti Yoga School.”
–New York Magazine USA
Jivamukti Yoga is featured in the acclaimed documentary film What is Yoga?, as well as ten instructional yoga classes on CD/DVDs. Sharon is a featured yogini in various books:Yoga by Linda Sparrowe, American Yoga by Carrie Schneider, Yogini by Janice Gates and Women to Women by Christina Lessa.
Sharon has studied yoga and meditation since 1969. Her gurus are Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Swami Nirmalananda, and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She started teaching in 1984. Sharon brings a rare blend of scholarly study, innovative activism, artistic pursuits and a highly disciplined asana and meditation practice to her offerings as a teacher. Sharon is a renowned teacher around the globe. She has taught yoga and meditation throughout the United States as well as in Argentina, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, China, England, Egypt, France, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Norway, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
Her high profile students include Sting, Trudie Styler, Christy Turlington, Russell Simmons, Gabriela Bozic, Mike D., Donna Karan, Michael Franti, Geshe Michael Roach and Christy McNally.
Since 1993 she has presented annually at various national and international conferences in American, Europe, China, Australia, Mexico and South America, hosted by The Omega Institute, Yoga Journal, Asian Conferences and others. Each year, along with David Life, she teaches a one-month intensive Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training course which is offered in the US at the Omega Institute, Rhinebeck NY www.eomega.org and in Europe at various locations.
Sharon is an animal-rights activist and outspoken advocate of ethical vegetarianism (veganism). She was nominated for the “Gutsiest Woman of the Year 1999” by Jane Magazine. In all of her writing and teachings she always finds a way to include a vegan message as well as a call to abolish our species’ exploitive treatment of animals. She is the author ofYoga and Vegetarianism,an exploration into the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to discover why and how a vegan diet is the enlightenment diet. She is the author of Cats and Dogs are People, Too!, an investigation of the corporate, profit-driven, insensitive attitudes that result in commercial “pet food” and the health risks to companion animals who are fed it.
In 1999, together with David Life and Janet Rienstra (of META Records), she established the Animal Mukti Free Spay & Neuter Clinic , which was the first free spay and neuter clinic in New York City, at the Humane Society of NYC. The clinic continues to operate on monetary donations largely raised by yearly fundraisers by Jivamukti Teachers. The clinic to this date has reduced the number of pets who would normally be euthanized in the New York Area by 37%.
In 2004 along with David Life, she was recognized as “Friend of Ferals” by the Humane Society of New York and Neighborhood Cats. THE FARM SANCTUARY awarded Sharon and David Life the 2008 compassionate living award. She is a long time vanguard member of PETA , working with them on various projects and campaigns to help make this world a kinder place. In 2003 she appeared on a video screen in Times Square behind the New Years Ball advocating Yoga and Vegetarianism as a step toward world Peace.
Along with Life, she has established The Wild Woodstock Forest Sanctuary, a 125 acre Wildlife Refuge in upstate New York, to provide protection for the diverse species of animals and plants who reside in the Northeast area of the United States, which include white tail deer, black bear, turkeys, foxes, raccoons, as well as a large variety of birds, snakes, amphibians and other reptiles.
As an artist who is comfortable in a variety of mediums including dance, painting, poetry, and music, Sharon views art as a means for uplifting the soul, and her artistic pursuits seek to enrich the greater community by being inspirational, educational as well as political.
Sharon is a talented painter and illustrator whose work has appeared in many publications: Instant Litter— concert posters from Seattle Punk Vulture compiled by Art Chantry -Real Comet – 1985.
From 1981-1989, starting in Seattle and then relocating to NYC, Sharon organized The Salon Apocalypse, which were monthly gatherings of artists, activists, writers, performers and yogis, which Sharon called meetings of the Tribal council. Each Salon had a theme, which acted as a focus, for instance: War, Famine, Greed, etc. Each participant had to present something that related to the theme; there were no spectators. It caused people from different backgrounds to come together. The magazines Group 28 and Patio Tablecame out of these salons. Ultimately, the Jivamukti Yoga School had its roots in these “community get togethers.”
Sharon holds a BA in Dance and has studied ballet, modern, classical and various forms of Indian and African Dance. During the 1980s she directed and choreographed for her Seattle, Washington based dance company, Moon-Food, as well as dancing with/for her long-time dance collaborator Kathleen Hunt on many occasions, most noteworthy being a world premier of Polish composer Krzyszt Penderecki’s multi media concert Marzena performed in Seattle in October 1988 with Penderecki himself.
Her choreography is featured in the Video Asana: Sacred Dance of the Yogi. Most recently she presented Guruji, an asana dance for 4 dancers at the Omega Conference in NYC in October 2008, which can be viewed on YouTube, along with several other archival dances by Sharon; which are posted there.
Praises for Sharon Gannon’s dance/choreography:
“Sharon Gannon produced the best choreography of the post modern era.” – Art Express NYC 1984
“Sharon Gannon’s dance experiments sought to crack through the theatrical mask that obscures life movement–to get at the heart of human motivation. Working largely outside the formal dance scene (in music clubs and galleries), Gannon improvised her danceworks into existence like alchemy. Performing alone, in duo with Kathleen Hunt or in trio with Lisa Ravenholt and Paul Loper, she developed techniques to unearth deep places in her audience in order to transform them. Bypassing all cultivated filters, the naked effect of her movement would shoot straight to the viewer’s core. Gannon left town in 1983….and the dance scene went into a recession after.”
—Jae Carlsson, Dance Net Magazine Seattle December 1994
“Seattle Performers …such as Gannon are able to show us their bodies, faces, (masks), voices, scents, tastes and images which evoke discontinuities in our everyday codes of behavior. This throws response- ability (Gannon’s phrase) onto the audience to reconcile themselves to the action, to conceptually participate in its spectacle. The disruptive power of the work lures us out of ourselves. Moved beyond idiosyncratic interiority we are given the spectacle of the work itself. ”
–Gary Reel, High Performance Magazine NYC Fall 1981
Sharon is a vocalist, violinist and founding member of the Pacific Northwest-born art rock collective Audio Letter, whose debut album It Is This It Is Not This was praised by Ann Powers of Rolling Stone Magazine, as a “philosophical and musical stew different than any other aural communication in Seattle.” Gary Reel, writing for Art Express Magazine(1981), commented, “Audio Letter brings to a ritualized tavern experience a level of self-consciousness usually reserved for art galleries, museums, and “fine” art. It is not really an art band but an “anti-rock” performance group. It is not for entertainment, enjoyment, or background for drinking or sexual rites. Audio Letter’s mesmerizing internal sounds and action serve as a sophisticated intellectual statement concerning American mass culture…presenting a strange electronic dream which moves counter to our modern urban nightmares.”
While Sharon is accomplished in many disciplines, her first medium was music and she continues to shine as a musician. In 1979, long before Seattle was known for Cobain and Cornell, vocalist/violinist Sharon Gannon and guitarist Sue Ann Harkey formed, as Gannon describes it, “a stream-of-consciousness experiment” which they dubbed Audio Letter. Although other musicians would drift in and out of their orbit, the duo remained a constant as their experimental nature allowed Gannon to incorporate her interests in alchemy, meditation, and Eastern philosophy into their work.
Relocating to New York in 1983, Gannon and Harkey became fixtures in the downtown experimental and world music scene, finding fellow musicians such as John Zorn, Fred Firth and Ikue More to be kindred spirits. Audio Letter’s wholly improvised gigs in East Village venues like Life Cafe and 8BC attracted a growing number of fans, including legendary jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, drummer Denis Charles, and artist/musician David Life. Collaborations with Cherry, Charles, and Life resulted in Audio Letter’s first album, released in 1987.
The album garnered enthusiastic critical acclaim in the underground music world. However, the world had not yet awakened from the Reagan years, and Audio Letter disbanded in 1988. Gannon and Harkey simply waited for the times to catch up to them.
When the Audio Letter album was remixed and re-released by Sharon as Neti Neti in 2003, Yoga Journal called the result “luminous and ethereal” whilst Billboard Magazinenoted its “flawless musicianship.” Rocker Girl called it “exotic, soothing and hypnotic…but might be a bit out there for some.”
Praise for Neti Neti, the Audio Letter Remix
“Exotic Rhythms, otherworldly soundscapes, and flawless musicianship make for an album that manages to challenge, yet irresistibly pulls the listener into its orbit…defying categorization” -Tom Demolan, Billboard
“This CD obliterates all false conceptions of ‘holiness’ and bursts the heart of compassion wide open!!!” -Krishna Das
“Neti-Neti… no words can describe the wonder of it.” -Music Obscura
“Neti Neti is a playful and refreshing turn on the Sanskrit language in a modern context.” Deepak Chopra, author of “How to Know God”
” ..seems to shimmer with the dust of ancient wisdom.” -All Music Guide
“The words that came to mind the first time I listened were “exotic,” “soothing,” and “hypnotic.”- Rocker Girl Magazine
“In a class all its own, Neti Neti playfully defies your sense of what is ‘sacred’. Translucent and joyous in its result, Neti Neti is chilled flavors, Sanskrit scat seamlessly stitched together by the likes of DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Mike D, and Bill Laswell amongst others.” -Donna DeCruz, Rasa Records
“–it’s wonderfully experimental music to begin with. This is one time when I knew I could go anywhere I wanted to with the sound, and it would be totally encouraged!” Sean Dinsmore, Dum Dum Project
“It’s like mantra; it just keeps getting better and better.” -Russell Simmons, DefJam Records
“It’s a reminder that broader ideas often require broader musical horizons, and that, with a balanced appetite for alternative genres, revelations can occur.”- Kurt Orzeck, The Big Takeover Magazine.
The daughter of an opera singer, Gannon is a John Zorn-influenced veteran of punk bands (Pyche-Run) and electronic collectives (Body Falling Downstairs and Sean Dinsmore’sDum Dum Project). She has collaborated with the Beastie Boy’s Mike D on both Neti Neti and Bill Laswell’s album Asana II , as well as with Run DMC’s Reverend Run, DJ Cheb I Sabbah and the late Don Cherry on Neti Neti . Other credits include work with Jai Uttal on MC Yogi’s album Elephant Power, backing vocals for Wynne Paris, Shyamdas and David Newman and a turn as featured singer with Sean Dinsmore’s Dum Dum Project. She collaborated with Raven Recordings to produce Sundari: music for a Jivamukti Yoga Class. Gannon produced the CD Jai Ma, for White Swan Records, a collection celebrating female singers, including Donna De Lory and Deva Premal, for the label’s acclaimed Yoga Masters series.
Released 2010 on the White Swan Music Label
Quickly became a #1 best selling album on Amazon and Billboard Music Charts
Amazon Best Seller (#4 on Amazon All-Music Chart)
Billboard Best Seller (#2 on Billboard New Age Music Chart)
Sharon Gannon is an enchanting chantress with a celestial operatic soprano voice imbued with the kinetic rock and roll grit of Siouxsie Sioux, as well as the elegance of Sarah McLachlan and Kate Bush with the experimentalism of Bjork.
Every decade or so an extraordinary artist comes along- someone who carries us to a new musical frontier. Sharon Gannon is such an artist. In 2010 Gannon released her first solo album, Sharanam, on the White Swan Record Label. Creatively and musically, Sharanam is a milestone-the crossroads of kirtan and mainstream Pop where so many have tried to go-this record of rapturous, dance-floor friendly tracks fueled with blessed-out beats and sultry, meditative grooves crosses the threshold appealing to both yoga practitioners and club DJs. Sharon sings passionately and beautifully, with a deep, profound resonance that cuts across myriad genres; rock, trance/dance, electronica, New Age, underground/alternative, classical, experimental/avant-garde, world music, even opera. Sting calls the album “inspired, daring and essential.”
Produced by Ferenz Kallos, (Gypsy Kings) who handles the bulk of the instrumentation and arrangements along with guest artists David Life on vocals and theramin, cellist Noah Hoffeld (Bebel Gilberto, Mark Ribot) and trance DJ Fabian Alsultany on bass, the album features eight epic tracks that swathe timeless, powerful Sanskrit mantras in sweeping widescreen settings. By eschewing traditional Indian instrumentation for a layered, ancient-to-the-future sound, the album crosses electric guitars, strings, electronics, flutes, woodwinds, Theremin, and exotic percussion with hip-hop beats. Sharanam offers three interpretations of the beloved mantra “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” including a propulsive remix courtesy of the Dum Dum Project’s Sean Dinsmore. Sharanam is a Sanskrit word meaning refuge, a safe place. With Sharanam, Sharon Gannon shows that such a place is indeed real, that it exists within us all in the ever-present sanctuary within one’s own heart. And it sounds absolutely divine.
Praises for the Album Sharanam
“Of all human endeavors, music is perhaps closest to representing the world of the spirit. In music we attempt to render into form what is essentially formless, we attempt to describe what is beyond description, to frame silence, to measure infinity. This work has been Sharon’s mission not only in her practice of Yoga but also in the practice of music, where she applies the same dedication to the pursuit of the ineffable as she brings to her yoga practice, inspired, daring and essential.” – Sting
“..a rare and fragile bird of delicate beauty and exotic grace..sonic landscapes masterfully wrought from spectral electronic tones.-Yoga Journal US
“Sharanam will elevate the listener into a higher state of consciousness.” -Yoga Journal Australia
“Sharon breathes new life into ancient Sanskrit mantras.” – Deva Premal & Miten
“Sharon heals the world every moment of every day through her life and her music.” -John Zorn
“When I listen to her music–a door to a world of endless light is opened.” – Donna De Lory
“Sharon Gannon transports us to a world where all beings are safe, happy & free.” — MC Yogi
“A stunning collection of devotional songs effulgent with joy, spirit, and shakti,”— Jai Uttal
“Sharanam is the passionate cry of a true leader, an inspiration for millions.” -Paul McMahon
“Sharon is a visionary, who embodies insightful wisdom with a deep understanding of music and sound.” -Rob Frabone
Sharon is a prolific writer, mostly focusing on non-fiction, essays and poetry. She is sought after for interviews because of her skill at answering questions in both an informative as well as engaging and often humorous manner. Several of those interviews are posted on www.jivamuktiyoga.com for public viewing.
She has co-authored two books on Yoga with David Life: Jivamukti Yoga, Practices for Liberating Body & Soul, (2002) which includes a foreword by Sting and has been translated into the Italian, German and Russian languages, and The Art of Yoga (2002) which includes a foreword by Ravi and Anoushka Shankar.
She is the author of Freedom is a Pycho-Kinetic Skill (1981), Cats and Dogs are People, Too! (1999), Yoga and Vegetarianism(2008) which includes a foreword by Ingrid Newkirk and has been translated into the German language, and the Jivamukti Chant Book (2003) for which she is the complier and translator, which has been translated into the Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese languages.
She contributes the Focus of the Month, a monthly essay, focusing on yogic topics, which provides monthly guidance for Jivamukti Yoga teachers worldwide and can be read onwww.jivamuktiyoga.com. She is a past editor of Patio Table Magazine, published in Seattle, WA by Cityzens for a non-linear future. She is also a member of the Woodstock Poetry Society.
Her essays and short stories have appeared in many publications including:
Yoga Journal Magazine
Semiotext(e) USA edited by Jim Fleming & Peter Lamborn Wilson(1987)
Semiotext(e)SF edited by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Robert Anton Wilson & Rudy Rucker (1989)
Toward 2012 edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan (2008),
The Future of Money, edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan (2011),
The Vegan Cook Book (published in German language) by Sandra Forester (2009)
Arcana V music, magic and mysticism edited by John Zorn (2010)
She is currently working on several soon to be published books including:
Magic is a Shift in Perception-a collection of poems 1973-2012
The Jivamukti Vegan Cookbook
The Yogic Art of Assists with David Life, Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christy McNally
www.jivamuktiyoga.com Jivamukti Yoga School 841 Broadway 2nd floor, NY, NY 10003
For more information contact managing director Carlos Ganeshdas Menjivar firstname.lastname@example.org
tel: 212-353-0214 ext 208