Kirtan – call and response chanting – can seem a bit strange initially, but just like yoga, skydiving and falling in love, it’s one of those things you need to experience to truly understand what it does and how good it can feel.
Kirtan refers to chanting – one of the main practices of yoga. Classic Indian instruments, such as the harmonium and drum accompany the chant, while simple Sanskrit mantras are repeated in a call-and-response fashion, from the leader to the group, building in energy and tempo.
Many people find it challenging to sit and meditate, but with kirtan, the struggle of ‘turning off’ or ’emptying’ your mind melts away as you focus solely on the singing, sound, music and mantras. A sitting of the mind is an easy, welcome effect of this practice as well as a natural feeling of uplifting joy and inner peace.
“There’s no need to be shy as everyone’s voices blend together alongside the rhythm of the drums and the melody from the harmonium.”
Radhika Das loves kirtan so much that he spends much of his time sharing it with diverse audiences, including university students, corporates and within the Bhakti Yoga community. He is a core manager for the Kirtan London project and helps to oversee its 6 Hour Kirtans, retreats, workshops and courses, as well as leading soulful sessions himself.