Holly Husler is a sound healer, musician and yoga teacher that has joined our panel of a+ Experts – friends of anatomē who have come on board to further support your wellbeing journey. She says that she’s been a singer since before she can remember, and everything she does is under the umbrella of wellness and wellbeing and positive mental health.
We had the chance to catch up with Holly and chat about her practice, journey, and routine.
Where did you discover your love of music and passion for music?
I can’t remember the exact moment, but I just remember always singing at every given opportunity. I went to a dance and drama school in my childhood up to my teens and ended up being in a musical theatre society in university, where I studied English. Still, I wanted to nurture the singing side of me while I was there as well.
After university, I thought I had to go down the sensible route and get a practical job. Still, I always felt music calling me back and saying, “What are you doing? Why are you not choosing me?” It’s so weaved within my soul, but I guess I think that you have a fear of the things that you’re supposed to do. Eventually, I decided against teaching, and I travelled around the world for a little bit.
Where on those travels was a particularly memorable time spent?
We went to a really amazing part of Australia that I didn’t expect to love and was quite magical, called Uluru. I remember we stayed nearby, and a man said, “We’re going to be staying on a ranch tonight. Seven people live in this place, and it’s bigger than Holland.” The scale of Australia and how big it is was just so mind-blowing. I did a bit of South America as well. Patagonia is stunning and magical and beautiful. We did some walking over a glacier there. Anything close to nature, I find magical and amazing.
I was supposed to go to New Zealand for a ski season with my then-boyfriend. We’d booked everything, all the flights. I was only 22 at the time, and I was having a little bit of a 22-year-old crisis worrying about what I was doing with my life and thinking, “I’m just escaping, and I need to put some roots down and actually think about what I want to do.” I dared to dream at that moment, and I sat in front of my computer, and I thought, “What would be my absolute dream job?” And I just typed into Google, “girl band auditions”, not thinking that anything would really come up.
Lo and behold, the first thing that came up was an audition that said, “Looking for the last member of an up-and-coming London-based girl band, preferably blonde, 19 to 24.” At the time, I just thought everything was random and coincidental. But there was real knowledge in me that I was going to get that part in the band, and I thought, “Oh God, how am I going to tell my boyfriend. I’m not going to go to New Zealand.” So I went to the audition and, long story short, I really got on well with the girls, and I got the part in the band, and it was an absolute dream come true.
It was a cheesy pop girl band called Vanquish. We had the best time, and I made really, really good friends for life out of the band. But even then, I felt that we were very much a product. We were told what to wear, what to sing, how to dance. I had the best time ever, and it’s still in my heart, but I felt like this isn’t really me. It’s not an expression of my soul.
A couple of girls wanted to go their own way, so we decided to call it a day leave on a high. After that, I lost myself a little bit. I broke up with a long-term boyfriend. I gave up on music because I felt like a bit of a failure. I felt like people expected so much of me in the band, and it didn’t happen. Now I’m back to square one with no money, no job living at my parents’ house, had broken up with a boyfriend. I didn’t really know who I was. I had no belief in myself, and I had to start from the beginning again. At that point, I found yoga, and that was a real lifesaver. It was a bit of a pause button the way from all the chaos. And it really just brought me home to this sort of foundation of peace and balance and harmony over time.
I wasn’t in a good place at the time, really – I was getting better but still not feeling the best. I impulsively booked a yoga teacher training in Thailand.
That was a real pivotal point because I thought, “I’m going on this training to help other people.” Still, actually, I was really starting to learn how to heal myself and go on this inward journey that I’d never given time to before. Yoga helped me to take that deep dive, and it gradually led me back towards music. It led me to a sound healing bath one day at Triyoga in Camden in London.
I was transported somewhere else, and the next day I felt like this layer of anxiety and stress had just lifted away from me. I was left with all the good stuff underneath – calmness, peace, tranquillity, clarity. I thought, “I need to bring this to my classes.” I ended up investing in some bowls, and one day I just ended up singing. In my head, it sounded terrible, but people came up to me at the end, and they said, “That was so healing. That was wonderful.” That was the start of my new path back into music but in a really more healing capacity. I call them sound journeys because I feel like you journey with sound, but many people call them sound baths.
What do you want your community to experience, and what does that sound journey feel like?
Calm. Sound healing is really lovely and relaxing, and peaceful. It absolutely can be that, but it’s also called sound healing for a reason. The worst thing you can do is come in expecting something from a sound bath because then often, the opposite will happen. The best advice I always give people is to go in and lay down and just really be open to receiving healing and just surrender as much as you can because sound healing is a form of meditation.
We start believing that we are these thoughts and these stories and these patterns. Sound healing is a beautiful way of helping us drop beneath the choppy waves in the mind and down into a deeper state of awareness into the subconscious, into the body, where real healing can occur. Sometimes people will feel really relaxed and they’ll bliss out. Often, a lot of people will go to a space in between awake and asleep. What happens with sound healing is that they emit these beautiful sound waves that resonate with the frequency of balance, peace, and harmony that help train the sound waves in your brain to match that frequency. It’s called harmonic resonance. It will gradually help your brain waste move into this state of relaxation to the theta and delta states.
It can be super relaxing, but then I’ve also had people say to me, “Oh, when you played that ball, it was actually quite uncomfortable, and it brought up a specific emotion for me.” I think a lot of the time, people want to run away from the uncomfortable emotions and the things that don’t quite feel nice for us because it’s painful and we want to feel good. But sound healing will have this way of bringing things up to the surface that actually needs to be looked at. Often, a lot of us walk around unconscious of the things that we need to heal. Maybe we’ve suppressed certain things that may have happened in our childhood or happened that we haven’t entirely dealt with.
Often, these energetic blockages or these emotions that we haven’t dealt with and get suppressed. They’ll manifest themselves as something physical in the body. Your body’s always giving you these clues, and it’s our job to pay attention and listen to them. When you are stable and receiving the healing vibrations and the frequencies and the bowls that give you that opportunity to pay attention to your body, notice the aches and pains that come up for you. Rather than run away, which is what we tend to do a lot of in our everyday life, we’re faced with this opportunity to actually grow, to look a little bit deeper and see what’s going on within, and have that courage to look at it in the face and say, “Okay, this is something that’s come up for me. Am I going to run away from it forever, or I’m actually going to have a look at it and face it head-on and allow myself to heal and move on from this story that’s keeping me stuck or depressed or down or stressed.”
People can have a profound connection with their intuition. I really believe that there’s an inner voice and an inner guidance system that is always available for us if we take that time to slow down and pay attention and listen. Listening doesn’t always mean hearing words, but it can be really feeling into this deep knowing of your next step on your journey. It’s really powerful to ask a question before sound healing.
Other times people won’t be able to get out of their heads, and that’s fine too. I always say every experience you have will be different every time because it’s a journey and it’s life. Sometimes, it’s really lovely and relaxing; other times, it’s not. You just got to be really open to receiving that healing. I say it’s science-based because it works with frequencies, vibrations, and energy to tune us back to our natural state of being. But it’s also mixed with a little bit of magic in the unknown, and the best explanation is in the experience for me.
When you’re holding your class, do you feel like you’re receiving energy?
One of the first things that they’ll teach you if you do sound healing training is that it’s so much about your energy management. It’s just about the language you use because energy is science. I will always have to do some grounding work before I do the session. I make sure my energy is protected before I do the session because you can really take on someone else’s energy and emotions. I only found this out about myself in the last few years. If I came away from meeting a friend and felt different, I’d realise this doesn’t even belong to me. You have to make sure that you’re protecting your energy first, and you’re doing things to ground yourself. It’s not saying, “I want to be a positive energy person.” It’s about being neutral and being a clean, clear channel through which healing energy can flow.
It really does make a big difference. The most important thing that you can do for other people is to help them feel safe. If they don’t feel safe and held and supported in the space, they won’t completely let go and let themselves receive the healing energy that comes through the bowls. So much of that is the intention as well.
What do you feel post-pandemic? What shifts are you seeing?
Obviously, it’s been a really challenging year for so many people. But looking at the bigger picture, which is what I always try to do, I think this has been such a valuable time for people to really have fewer distractions and come back to what’s really important in life. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to really do the inner work, to go within. Although so much not-so-great stuff has happened, you could also see it as a gift in a sense because it’s been able to help people to go within and grow.
We’ve all had to do a lot of that over the last year. It’s been amazing that all of these wellness things have been available to people online, sound healing included. It’s given people a space to be able to drop into how they’re feeling and to work out what’s going on inside. I think we’re at this kind of waiting room period, and there’s a real sense of anxiety to emerge out into the real world and going back to the hustle and bustle and the rushing around again. But also excitement for freedom and hope things will be different in life this time around. It’s an opportunity to start again and wipe the slate clean and build from the ground up. It’s so different depending on the individual. Still, I think the wellness industry is just going to get bigger and bigger, and sound healing will become more and more accessible.
Where can we experience your teaching?
I do weekly Tuesday morning sound healings at 8:00 am on Instagram Live. They’re free 20-minute session of sound healing I call “sound awake.” Everything’s on my Instagram, which is @iamhollyhusler. I also do a “sound asleep” class Wednesday evenings at 8:45 pm. I do lots of events as well as online events. The best place to find me is Instagram and my website, which is hollyhusler.com.
What was the last place that truly inspired you?
I went to Iceland last year, and I did some sound healing at the bottom of a beautiful snowy mountain, and the landscape was just stunning.
Where do you hope to visit next?
I am hopefully visiting all the islands around Sicily in September. I’m doing some sound healing on a yacht, which will be amazing.
What is your morning routine?
I’m a really early bird. We don’t have curtains in our room because I like waking up with the sun. As long as I have seven hours minimum sleep a night, I don’t care what time I wake up in the morning. The first thing I have to do is have a coffee. And I’ll read for about half an hour, and I try not to have my phone on during that time. I teach classes in the morning as well. I teach yoga, sometimes some sound healing, and I’ll try and do some movement of my own as well.
If I’m feeling especially energetic, I might do a little HIIT class. For breakfast, I always have Vigo, a nutritional protein shake that I mix with porridge and banana and peanut butter, which I’m obsessed with. I always start the day eating healthily, and by the end, a little bit of chocolate might trickle in here and there. But balance is healthy, right?
What are you cooking coming into the summer?
I have to be honest, I need to upgrade my cooking skills. I’ve got a bit slack. Last year, I was really good, and I did some of Jasmine Hensley’s recipes. There’s a chef that I really love called Bettina’s Kitchen, and she does some really lovely vegan recipes. I’m more of a flexitarian – I don’t like to label what I eat. In the summer, it’s a bit boring, but I do love a good bowl with lentils, hummus, falafel, avocado and broccoli. I am a bit of a sucker for that kind of stuff. But I could equally munch down a chicken burger and curly fries.
Are there specific things away from the studio that you do to relax?
My husband and I moved to Surrey a few months ago, which is where I’m from. There’s an abundance of walks and beautiful nature reserves. We try and go on a different walk every week, which is all you can really do now, isn’t it? We just discovered the Silent Pool recently, which is a gin distillery. So we’ll have a nice glass of gin in this beautiful bar, which was all outside in the woods overlooking this gorgeous crystal clear pool. I do love going on adventures.
What’s going to be on your summer reading list this year?
I’ve just discovered actually a guy called Joe Dispenza. He combines the neuroscience of how your brain works with positive thinking and gratitude and higher levels of consciousness and the Shakra, which I really am a big fan of. So, he is on my list to check out next. He’s got a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.
What advice would you be giving back to that slightly confused 22-year-old self?
I would say trust in the process. You are exactly where you’re supposed to be right now. Everything you’re going through is here to help you grow and expand into the person you’re here to become. Your darkness is going to become your light and the way you help the world to evolve.
Do you have any role models or people that have inspired you?
One of my yoga teachers, Mia Togo, is just amazing. She’s this fantastic combination of really gentle and warm but really strong and powerful as a woman. She really owns her voice, but she’s so compassionate as well, and she really wants to help people, and I aspire to be like her one day. I absolutely love Oprah as well. I’m obsessed with her.
What do you suggest one should listen to, whether it’s to invigorate or to calm?
I’ve got about 70 hours of music that I’ve collected over the years in a yoga playlist. The person that I always have near the top of my playlist is a producer called Sol Rising. He’s a really unique blend of energising and calming at the same time. And he’s perfect for all situations: sitting out in the garden, having a drink, practising yoga, lying down, chilling out. He is definitely my top go-to; he’s terrific.
I’ve actually just released a single out into the world. My husband bought me a harp for Christmas a couple of years ago. We were on Hampstead Heath one day on his birthday last year, and this beautiful melody just came into my head, and I said, “We got to go home.” These words came to me, and I was looking at the sun, and I just wrote it all down and got the harp out. This song just formed, and it’s called “Moment With the Sun.” It’s all about when you’re told as a kid, “Don’t look at the sun; it’ll make you blind.” That day, I was looking at it, and I wasn’t looking away.
What do you hope the next few years bring?
I’ve never been a goal setter, and I used to beat myself up about that because there’s this preconception in this world that if you don’t have goals, you’re going to fail at life. I’ve never had goals. I embrace that about myself now because I’m here today, I’m really enjoying my life, and I’ve left room for magic to happen. The only thing I want is to live an authentic life around helping people where I’m surrounded by love and the people that I love. And if that happens, then I don’t mind what happens in my life. I’m really open to the magic happening.
Magic is a word you use in your classes?
You can’t really explain it, can you? There’s something so mystical about it. It’s like that thing that everyone knows is there, but you can’t put it into words, and everyone’s got their own take on it as well. But it’s there if you believe it’s there.
At the end of a yoga class, so many people end up just getting up and walking out when it’s Shavasana, which is the time when you have to lie down and be still, because it’s really scary, isn’t it? This whole last year has been a massive Shavasana in a way – everyone has had to get a little bit more still and confront what’s going on. It’s scary but necessary.