What is Kirtan and why should you make it part of your yoga practice?

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We are so fortunate at Forever Yoga to have International Kirtan artist Girish coming to visit us again at the studio in September! If you haven’t experienced a kirtan before or you’re wondering what it’s all about and why it’s such an amazing addition to your yoga practice, keep reading!

What is Kirtan?

Kirtan is a form of live music that often involves Sanskrit mantras. Each artist puts their own sound and creativity into the music, so it can be quite different from person to person or group to group. They may use different instruments from what you might see in a typical rock band to more traditional instruments like harmonium and drums or sitars. Beyond the music, a key element of Kirtan is that it is usually in Call and Response format. In other words, the leader of the group will sing a line, and then the audience will sing it back them. We all get to participate when we go to a Kirtan!

What are the benefits of Kirtan?

Vibration. Sanskrit is the science of vibration. When we chant Sanskrit sounds, we receive physical and energetic benefits. Kirtan makes that all the sweeter by, as Krishna Das often says, giving us something that makes taking the “Medicine” (the Sanskrit mantra itself) easier to “swallow”. Music just makes everything sweeter. Putting words to music has also been shown to make retention and recall better. That’s why you can still remember every word of your favorite song from when you were a teenager. Want to really learn a mantra? Do it through Kirtan!

Stress Relief. Singing has been scientifically shown to relieve tension and relax the body. But what if you feel like you don’t have a great singing voice? No one cares what you sound like! It’s just like when we’re in a yoga class, the only people that care about your down dog is you and your teacher! Everyone is having their own experience and if they’re really paying attention, they aren’t at all concerned with what you sound like. We’re all in this together. And if you really don’t feel comfortable singing, just being in the room with the sound and the others participating can bring you huge benefits.

Group Energy. Speaking of the others in the room, group energy is so important in so many of our practices. If you’ve ever done a yoga video at home, you know that it’s just not the same as it is when you do yoga in a class setting. When everyone is moving and breathing together, there’s something special that happens. The same thing is true in Kirtan. It’s just like when you go to see your favorite musical group live. Sharing that experience with others provides a kind of magic that you just can’t get when singing alone in the shower!

A sweet form of meditation. You know how you feel when your favorite song comes on the radio (or the Alexa or whatever it is you play music through these days)? Kirtan can give you that feeling in an even more beneficial way. The music we play in classes is often recorded versions of Kirtan. Just like so many other yogic practices, kirtan allows you to release stress, tension and anxiety in a way that is far more beneficial than sitting in front of the TV on a Friday night. Instead of simply distracting you, it actually draws you in to more conscious relaxation. How does it do that? Kirtan is a form of meditation practice! Really! As you chant along with a room full of friends your mind will wander, but it will wander a little less due to the group energy. When you notice you’ve wandered, you just come back to the chant. It’s that simple! You may find that this is the most fun meditation you’ve ever done!

I hope you’ll join us for our Kirtan with Girish this month or another Kirtan in the future. You won’t be sorry, I promise!

Bonus: My kitty who I named Kirtan because she loves to sing! :-)

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A great yogic tool for bringing stress and anxiety under control

I see out there in the world through social media and other avenues that one thing people are looking to do with their intentions for the new year is bring stress and anxiety under control. Here's one of my favorite techniques from my yoga practice for doing just that:

Chanting!

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One of the most powerful and SIMPLE tools of yoga that can help YOU right now!

One of the most powerful and SIMPLE tools of yoga that can help YOU right now!

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Exciting News!!

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We're ridiculously excited to announce that we'll be welcoming @girishmusic to @foreveryoganh on September 30th @ 8pm for #kirtan! It's sure to be a magical evening and I may even get to join the band again on #harmonium!

Get your tickets now!

#foreveryoganh #girishmusic #musicandmantras #bhakti #love #livemusic #chanting #chants via

Instagram

Back at Kripalu with Girish!

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Back at @kripalucenter for the night to play #kirtan with @girishmusic ! Still have to pinch myself sometimes that I get to do things like this! 💙🙏🕉 #kripalu #girish #harmonium #chanting #musicandmantras via

Instagram

A weekend with Krishna Das and Sharon Salzberg!

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Spent the weekend at @kripalucenter with @krishnadasmusic and @sharonsalzberg ! Always a joy and always so many great teachings shared. Blessed to have this opportunity to learn more about the path of #yoga and #meditation from these great #teachers. And daily #kirtan is such a wonderful way to let go and just be. Looking forward to sharing what I learned at the studio soon. #foreveryoganh #krishnadas #sharonsalzberg #allone #subek #sabek via

Instagram

Humble bow

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Still feeling the #vibration of my weekend at @kripalucenter with @krishnadasmusic. Always such a profound #blessing to chant with so many in one place and to experience #bhakti at its best. #namonamaha via Instagram

February 2016 Mantra

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This month in Jessica's classes we have been working with this mantra: "Om Shri Rama, Jaya Rama, Jaya Jaya Rama"

According to Namadeva Acharya, this mantra is said to be a liberation mantra. Enough repetitions of this mantra will free us from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Enjoy 27 repetitions with Jessica through this Soundcloud recording.

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/248752335" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]

Namasté!

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Disclaimer: Not all yoga poses are suitable for all persons. Please consult with your health care provider and obtain full medical clearance before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. The information provided in this blog is strictly for reference only and is not in any manner a substitute for medical advice or direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor.

Chamundi Mantra

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One of the mantras we've been working with this is month is: Om Eim Hrim Klim Chamundayei Vicchei Namaha

This mantra is said to be a protective mantra. It invokes the energy of the protective mother. It is said to bring about self confidence, especially in women. Chamundi is another name for Durga.

You can chant this mantra at home with our latest Soundcloud recording! Stream it from this page here or go to Sound Cloud and download it. This recording has 27 repetitions. Listen to it 4 times and you'll have a full mala of 108 repetitions! A very auspicious number! Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you find these recordings helpful. :-)

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219991098" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]