Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kirtana: The Yoga of Voice

Tomorrow I leave to attend the Omega Institute's Ecstatic Chant weekend where we will spend nearly every minute practicing the yoga of voice, also known as kirtana or, more commonly, kirtan. I discovered this remarkable practice a couple of years ago in a yoga class and was swept away. Things have not been the same for me since.

Kirtana is easy to describe and even easier to do. The leader chants one of the many divine names and the group copies what the leader has chanted. This is repeated -- over and over and over, sometimes for as much as thirty minutes. The tune can change, the tempo is often varied, but all that a participant has to do is follow the leader in a call and response fashion. 

The result is remarkable and hard to describe -- this is one of those things where "you just have to be there" to really get it. In short, the practice of kirtan can lead the participant quite easily into a state of transcendence. The result is pure, sheer joy and there is nothing else like it.

I recorded a short bit of a kirtan session I attended this past May with Krishna Das, or KD as he is known by most of us, and I offer it here to give you a hint of what I'm expecting for this weekend. If you want to listen to more kirtan from KD, check out his YouTube channel.

1 comment:

  1. And "nada yoga" is the yoga of sound, which includes but is not limited to chanting/kirtan. Energy shifts depending on whether one does this alone or with a group.

    I treasure two special memories, one of chanting for over an hour with one other person and another of chanting for 10? 12? hours with a group.

    Each experience became a most glorious experience of the Divine that I will never forget.