The Halo Effect: Alanna and D’Anne head to India

Earlier this year, yoga instructor, published author and Ph.D. student Alanna Kaivalya was fit with Halo Made for iPhone hearing aids by her friend and audiologist Dr. D’Anne Rudden. This fall, the two traveled to India for a yoga retreat led by Alanna. We caught up with them to hear all about their adventure and how Alanna’s Halo hearing aids functioned overseas: during plane rides, train rides, in the streets of Delhi and along the banks of the Ganges!

What brought you to India?

Alanna: As a yoga practitioner and teacher for many years, I have made several pilgrimages to India in order to deepen my studies and the understanding of the culture that my beloved practice comes from. India has always fascinated me and after writing my first book, Myths of the Asanas, I wanted to bring people to this holy land to show them where the myths were born. It took 14 months to plan the trip and in the end, we had the most extraordinary group of people sharing the magical experience. I was incredibly grateful that my friend and stellar audiologist, D'Anne, was there with me to witness the marvels of India, and to watch me revel in the incredible sounds with my Halos.

D’Anne: When I was first introduced to yoga, I had no intention and actually, no desire to go to India…ever. Despite being a total travel junkie, it just wasn’t on my radar. A few years later, I took a class from Alanna at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colo. called “Myths of the Asanas.” In this class, she had woven the stories and mythology of the physical postures into the class so artfully that it sparked my interest in learning more. I read many books, including Alanna’s book mentioned above, and listened to many lectures, becoming more and more enamored with this aspect of yoga. Little did I know I was “falling in love.” Last fall I traveled to Massachusetts to continue my studies with Alanna and over lunch she looked at me and said, “You know, D’Anne, you and yoga have been dating for a while now. Don’t you think it’s time you go ‘meet the parents?’” She was 100 percent right. When Alanna announced that she and her coauthor, Arjuna van der Kooij, were leading a trip to see and study the mystical path of yoga in India, I was IN!

Alanna, How did your Halo devices and TruLink perform during the trip?

Alanna: Awesomely! I was able to navigate different environments without a hitch. India is a VERY noisy place, so there were also times that the mute function came in handy! In fact, I think the other trip attendees were pretty jealous of the incredible functions of my Halo hearing aids.

What TruLink functions or SoundSpace settings did you use the most?

Alanna: Well, like I said, mute came in handy! But, we ended up having a private concert one evening and the auditorium setting was key there. When enjoying dinners and lunches with the group, I relied on the restaurant function to stay in the conversation. Beyond that, I was also happy to simply adjust the volume to accommodate the wide variety of settings I found myself in. There were even times I slept in my hearing aids! On our long overnight train trips and international plane rides, I kept my Halos in and streamed classical music all night long to shut out train noise and help me sleep. Hearing people everywhere will be jealous of THAT function, I'm sure!

What situations were the easiest to hear in and what were the most difficult?

Alanna: Well, luckily, hearing with Starkey Halo hearing aids is usually always easy! The trickiest thing was actually navigating changing the hearing aid battery. We were often in crowded, dirty locations with lots of people and I was nervous about dropping or losing my precious hearing aids. Also, we spent a couple afternoons in the Ganges River: first just stopping by a beach and stepping into the water, and second on a rafting trip where we actually were able to jump in. In those circumstances, I couldn't wear my hearing aids, which was a bummer! The helmet on the rafting trip made hearing particularly challenging. 

Were there any challenges with your hearing aids when you traveled? How do you take care of your devices while traveling?

Alanna: Well, they are small and fairly delicate and traveling in a third-world country is so tricky anyway! I always kept my case on me in case we had a water event or something that I couldn't wear my hearing aids for. Also, sometimes pulling out an expensive iPhone in a public setting isn't wise, so I was also grateful for my Pebble watch's connectivity in order to be subtler about changing the settings. 

D’Anne, What do you notice that Alanna is doing well, or better, with her Halo hearing aids?

Well, as Alanna would say, India has no dimmer switch! You are assaulted from every angle with noise, people and environmental contaminants. From the streets of Delhi, to the riding in rickshaws and overnight trains, to standing on the banks of the Ganges River with thousands of spiritual pilgrims, Alanna hardly missed a beat. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing her take out the TruLink app to adjust the settings. There was one day I did notice her focusing very intently and asking for repetitions so, as all audiologists tend to do, I gently took her aside so that I could see what was happening and offer some help for improving her options to hear better only to discover she had taken the aids out. When I asked her why, she commented that we were about to go white-water rafting down the Ganges and she had plans to jump out of the raft and float in the current!  I guess that would be the time to protect your Halos!

What is your favorite part about going to a place like India? Do you have a favorite place to travel?

D’Anne: The best part of traveling to a place like India is the reminder that we are all interconnected on this planet and that every being, regardless of their race, circumstance or condition is searching for one thing and one thing only: to love and be loved. That’s all! India is definitely not an “easy” country. It pushes your self-perceived limitations and challenges you to constantly evaluate what you think you are capable of in this life. By getting the chance to press against the sharp edges of life, I am reminded of how amazingly grateful I am for everything I have in this life. That said, I’m not going to lie; Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman is probably one of my favorite spots on Earth!

Alanna: India is a wonderful, exciting and challenging place to travel and this was certainly the trip of a lifetime, even for me as the leader of the excursion! I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the incredible culture, mythology and sights of one of the most beautiful and foreign countries in the world. In addition to India, my favorite place on the planet is Bali, Indonesia. I've been there nine times, and in a fact, I'll be leading another yoga and mythology retreat to Bali from May 24-30, 2015!

Anything else about your trip you want to include?

D’Anne: I’d like to give a shout-out to Dr. A.U. Bankaitis and Alison Hartman from Oaktree Products who provided me and the rest of my fellow spiritual warriors with a variety of earplugs to try out. I cannot thank them enough for the auditory respite that we were able to receive with those sweet sound dampeners, especially on the overnight trains. Unlike Alanna, the rest of us didn’t have Halos to reduce the noise or stream music! Also, if any of my colleagues out there wonder if they can run a successful practice AND take time to fuel and inspire their lives, my answer is yes, yes and YES! 1000 times over! I say it is absolutely possible to find the balance and you may just find that it serves to ignite your entrepreneurial spark even brighter.

By Starkey Hearing