By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
What is kirtan in Yoga class? There are many options for Yoga teachers, when creating the best possible class atmosphere for students. Some teachers embrace music in their classes, while others would never consider it. Kirtan is an Indian devotional practice of call and response singing or chanting. Many of these practices are comprised of mantra and japa. These divine syllables resonate with a sacred vibration. As a student participates in the practice of kirtan, his or her being begins to vibrate at the same divine frequency. The practice leaves a chanter with a feeling of profound serenity, well-being, and ease of mind and body. Ultimately, all of the elements of the practice of kirtan are intended to lead us into the well-spring of divinity within our own hearts.
Kirtan chanting can be introduced into a class, by a Yoga instructor, in several ways. A teacher may choose to commence a Yoga class with the chanting of introductory mantras or even a short call and response kirtan to enliven and center the class participants. Before beginning the kirtan in Yoga class, a teacher may want to give his or her students a brief introduction to the practice of kirtan. This introduction may include information about the historical and cultural background of kirtan, as well as the lineage or path from which the particular set of introductory mantras or bhajan originated.
A teacher may also incorporate the practice of kirtan in Yoga class as a major aspect of the entire experience. Many teachers and students enjoy listening to music during a Yoga training session. If an instructor plays upbeat kirtan music, during the asana session, the vibratory energy of the students will be raised. There are many different kirtan artists who have become well-known in kirtan circles, for their exuberant renditions of traditional ragas and melodies. Some of these artists include Vaiyasaki Das, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal, Wah and M.C. Yogi. All of these artists will lend an upbeat and authentic feeling to your class.
The practice of kirtan is easily woven into any portion of a class. At the end of class, a Yoga teacher may want to include a short chanting session of closing mantras to mark the end of the practice. The acknowledgement of practicing the art of asana, pranayama, meditation, and chanting, will be underscored by a respectful and sacred closing of the class. The incorporation and integration of kirtan into a Yoga class can invigorate the students, settle their minds, and illuminate the sacredness of their own beings.
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