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What is Kirtan and What Role Does It Play in Yoga Practice

Kirtan Yoga

Singing is basic to mankind. Its origins are long lost in antiquity. We sing our children to sleep, sing into euphoria, sing for love, sing in hope, and sing to praise the Lord.

When it comes to the world of yoga, singing is not far behind. Yoga practitioners sing mantras while practicing yoga with the intention of developing harmony within. Singing is one of the ways to find your innermost voice.

Traditionally, Kirtan differs from mantras, in the way that mantras are chanted to fulfill personal purposes, whereas kirtans are all about coming together of people. When a community of people sings praises to God and Goddesses together, it is known as Kirtan.  Kirtan is a great way to indulge in spiritual practices to experience spiritual bliss. As people sing together, they find themselves deeply engrossed in devotion. And, somehow, effortlessly, they travel to a meditative state where utmost sukha (happiness) and shanti (peace) can be felt.

“When people sing together, the vibrations produced dig deeper into the hearts of people thus transporting them into a divine space.”

Benefits of Kirtan:

  1. The first and foremost benefit of Kirtan is that it is a destroyer of negativity. The Yoga Sutras (1.27-31) state that chanting eliminates “disease, procrastination, laziness, doubt, pain, nervousness, and lamination.” Therefore, kirtan destructs the seeds of negativity waiting to sprout. A person free from burden naturally feels happy and healthy.
  2. Kirtan awakens blissfulness within the heart. Arjuna says in the Bhagavad Gita (11.36) “the world rejoices upon hearing your name.”
  3. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes kirtan as the “ultimate spiritual practice.” By a way of kirtan, you can attain spiritual perfection.
  4. Finally, kirtan leads to a divine connection. By humming the praises of Lord, people experience the presence of supreme power and awakening of loving center– the heart.

Role of Kirtan in Yoga Practice:

For years, sounds and music have been in practice for accessing higher consciousness, and healing. Practices such as using Tibetan singing bowls, Chinese meditation gongs, drumming are a few examples.  In India, human voice and classical instruments have been used by folks to open the spiritual channels, to harmonize the body, and to walk the path of self-realization.  Nada yoga, the yoga of sounds is the practice that aims to connect people with the unstruck sound, the sound of true being.

In similar ways, soulful vibrations produced during kirtan activate the heart chakra, the center of deep and vivid emotions, feelings, and desires. The sounds produced during kirtan act as harmonic healing, reducing chronic pain and improving the conditions of stroke-affected patients. The devotional songs uplift the emotions thus helping the practitioners obtain a higher state of consciousness.

The sole aim of kirtan is to purify emotions through devotion. The synchronization of sound and breath with the movements of the muscles makes a practitioner feel alive and present. This coordination of three elements develops concentration and breath capacity. During the performance of kirtan, an emotional shift occurs because of the strong building of devotional energy. Due to the buildup of sacred energy the participants of kirtan experience cleansing and liberation from a burden.

With kirtan, our thoughts and bodies get purified, we realize that there is much more to pain and sufferings that we identify with. This feeling marks the beginning of spiritual ecstasy and connection with the purpose. Kirtan is an important part of yoga and is known as Bhakti Yoga.  Bhakti yoga is one of the four main paths to enlightenment.  The essence of Bhakti yoga lies in surrender – the surrender to the Divine. The Bhakt (practitioners) can unite with the universal conscious by practicing kirtan.

Yoga Sadhana through Kirtan: By practicing kirtan at home, you can develop a connection with the self and the Almighty. Kirtan practices also help individuals power their ego by self-discipline. Sadhana within the practice of yoga assists in alignment.

Get your heart sanctified and elevated with Kirtan. Wishing you all a happy, healthier, and awakened soul!

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