In a world where kindness, compassion, and positivity are more important than ever, a Sydney-based initiative is spreading its special brand of joy and goodwill, by using the transformative power of both music and yoga to aid the spiritual, emotional and physical healing of those who need it most.
Started two years ago by Edo Kahn and his late wife Jo Kahn, A Sound Life provides free music and yoga classes to people in need.
Since its first program at Westmead Children’s Hospital, it has flourished to service 11 facilities across Sydney, Illawarra and in August, Byron Bay.
Its impact has had a global reach, running programs overseas, including the Sound Schools program which helped support a Gamelan orchestra for 40 children in North Bali from remote village areas. A Sound School for kids in Tanzania, is already in the works.
“Our yoga teacher volunteers are trained in therapeutic yoga which is a mix of physical yoga postures - light stretching, strengthening and balancing poses - breathing exercises, sound mantras, contemplation and meditation techniques,” says Edo.
“With the music programs, we offer interactive sessions - including drumming and song-writing - and concert-style performances which work really well for the hospitals and aged-care facilities. We also run ongoing weekly music sessions which have been great for our disabilities, youth and rehabilitation programs as it provides the participants with a creative outlet to express themselves.”
Edo’s music career started in university, when his band, Gelbison signed to Virgin. After releasing a few albums and touring internationally for a number of years, he had the opportunity to travel to India and experience the power of chanting mantras. Upon his return to Sydney he began to volunteer at a special needs school.
“It was this experience that brought me back to the essence of music making as a therapeutic tool for deep connection, joy and transformation,” he says. “I started to share music in a range of facilities and came to understand more about its healing power and the huge need to support people facing hardships.”
A Sound Life was the organic amalgamation of projects Edo and Jo had supported over the years, touring in Australia, India and South East Asia as mantra music group Edo & Jo, as well as running yoga retreats. Inspired by the teachings and charitable work of their spiritual teacher Sri Sakthi Amma in India, they discovered the joy of leading a purposeful life dedicated to serving humanity.
She faced her sudden illness and death with such humility, dignity and courage, and her spirit lives on in me and in everyone she continues to touch through her music, story and A Sound Life.
Edo says that the dream was to create a platform for volunteers to share their talents with vulnerable people, focusing on health, education and a community of kindness.
Pictures of Jo Kahn reveal a beautiful woman with an inner glow that hinted at her compassionate and beatific nature.
Last year, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer – and within a couple of months of her diagnosis, tragically passed away.
A Sound Life has become her legacy to all who benefit from it – a sound lesson in being authentic and living with purpose, fearlessness and devotion.
“She faced her sudden illness and death with such humility, dignity and courage, and her spirit lives on in me and in everyone she continues to touch through her music, story and A Sound Life,” says Edo.
One of the key philosophies of A Sound Life is unity – whether cultural, spiritual or physical – and as a pair, Edo and Jo represented a significant cross-section of the globe. Jo was born in Malaysia of Indian and Chinese descent and migrated at age nine to Melbourne.
Edo was born in Sydney but spent his childhood in Israel before returning to Australia, aged nine. His parents are South African – his mother Ronni Kahn is CEO and founder of the food rescue charity, Ozharvest. (“They rescue surplus food and we rescue the surplus talent of musicians and yogis!” says Edo).
In Australia, the aim is for the program to make as much of a positive impact on people as possible, and run nationally by 2020. They’re also creating the first ‘geodesic dome’ healing sanctuary in Sydney, which will be a hub for A Sound Life’s programs and support other good causes including inspirational talks, music and meditation events.
“Every session has so many wonderful moments. Something magical happens when volunteers share their talents out of the goodness of their hearts,” says Edo.
“And the participants, who are often facing hardships on a daily basis, come to feel that are part of a larger community that genuinely cares for their welfare. We try our best to make every step of the journey meaningful and do our bit to bring more peace, joy and kindness to our world.”