What is Kirtan? Kirtan is a form of yoga that has nothing to do with arm balances or stretchy pants. It is a “performance” of sorts where the leader sings a chant and the audience responds. (Think of hymn singing in church.) The songs are created with short chants in Sanskrit and slowly progress in speed, then slowing down, ending with silence for meditative reflection.
Weirded out or unsure? Just wait until you read WHY this is such a great activity to participate in:
The Power of Singing – As a classically trained vocal performer, I have experienced first-hand the healing power of singing. A Time Magazine article from 2013 stated “What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” Here are a few notes on why singing every day is a great way to improve mental, emotional, and physical health.
How Singing Changes the Brain and Body **:
Now that we understand why singing is great, let’s explore why chanting is even better:
Why I sing Kirtan – Five years ago, I attended my first Kirtan, not knowing what to expect. The first 30 minutes I felt really uncomfortable, not having sheet music, not knowing too much about what I was saying, and trying to ‘let go’ with my vocal training. After I continued to chant, I started to witness my need for perfection melting away, and my mind chatter calming down. I left with a huge smile and had the best night of sleep. Since then I have enjoyed chanting alone and in groups. I feel it is an amazing form of vocal therapy, bringing me back to why I became a singer in the first place. My mission with Kirtan at Tosa Yoga is to invite others in our community to join in this wonderful experience of peace and joy.
Want to experience Kirtan for yourself? Join us at Tosa Yoga this Saturday, October 24th at 7:00 pm! We will break down the what, how, why of Kirtan, show a quick 10 minute film, and spend some time chanting together. At 8:30 pm we will end and have a fun potluck of community and celebration.
**Want to learn more about the positive effects of singing in a group? The research and resources for the points above can be found in the book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others written by Stacy Horn**
So go ahead – sing away in the car, the shower, or even at work. Find a group to sing with, enjoy some Kirtan, and do not feel ashamed of your voice. It is good for your health!