Meditating through music


Yoga is a practice in which one learns permanent peace in order to know one’s true self.

It certainly worked for Vicki Rickard, a musician and instructor at Jiva Yoga Center on Hilton Head Island.

It was yoga and a love of music that prompted her to sing in her yoga classes and later teach herself how to use a harmonium to accompany her vocals.

It was yoga that brought her in contact with Greg Critchley, who later founded The Sound music studio on Hilton Head Island. It is yoga that will enable Vicki to go on a “friendship tour” around to yoga centers around the country to promote her new age CDs produced and recorded at The Sound.

Here‘s how it all came together:

“I got into yoga in 2000 and around 2005 I started tinkering with a harmonium. My mom sang in barbershop quartet so I was always around music,” Vicki said.

She bought a harmonium online and since it has been well used. “It’s duct taped,” she said, laughing.

In 2007 she founded a chanting group that performed around the community and “people started coming to my classes to hear my music,” she said.

Then, in 2012, Greg Critchley came to one of her classes and kept coming back, eventually singing and accompanying her on the guitar and piano.

“He coached me and helped me enrich my voice,” Vicki said. When Critchley decided to open The Sound, Vicki’s was one of his first projects.

She recorded two versions of “Gayatri Mantra,” which calls out the three worlds: terrestrial, celestial and the world connecting the two.

“I hope it brings more exposure to this music, especially that there is someone here in this community. There are people who have a fear of yoga and the language. It gives us a break from thinking all the time. You’re just listening to the music without determining if it’s right or wrong. It’s how I can honor the tradition of kirtan,” Vicki said.

Critchley said it was Vicki’s energy that led to the CD.

“She found a way to access something she’s been dreaming Music about. it seems very destined that the meeting was meant to happen. Vicki said, ‘this is tugging at me. I have to do it,’”he said.

Her second CD, called ”Friends,” has six songs on it, including“Hey Nataraja,” featuring Greg Critchley, Cory Bodsky and Trevor Harden. “I co-wrote it with Greg. I wouldn’t have done it without Greg. It was placed in front of us,” Vicki said.

The second CD expands into more world music that is accessible to a wider audience and enlisted a wide segment of the community.

“I like that it’s bereft of the usual rules,” Critchley said. “Kirtan borrows from all types of music. That’s why I put a rap in one of them and sitar and harmonium in them. I work a lot in pop and blues and rock. Those all have kind of a box. Kirtan doesn’t.”

Vicki said it was a community effort.

“I called it ‘Friends’ because I wanted my friends to sing with me as part of the chanting choir.”

Also in that choir are Vicki’s brother and his wife, Ken and Jean Rioux, co-owners of Jiva, bringing full circle her musical path.

Jean Rioux agreed that Vicki’s music has helped the yoga center. “It has brought people to classes who come specifically to listen to the music,” Vicki said.

“It’s brought in a lot of community and added love and devotion to the practice,” Jean Rioux said. “When there is the yoga music and chanting it touches you in a really nice place in your hearts.”

Vicki plans to go on the road, making a circuit of visiting friends around the country.

Even that plan hints of a larger force at work.

“I want to do a friendship tour. A friend plotted my route. The tour would be in a shape of a heart.”