Yoga has many forms and includes different kinds of practices. Kirtan is a form of devotional chanting and is part of a complete yoga practice with many of the mind-calming benefits of a yoga class or a sitting meditation. By simply repeating mantras or words, we can release our minds from regular daily chatter and allow ourselves to access inner peace, calm and connectedness.
Many people report feeling joyful and blissful as a result of kirtan and mantra chanting and this bhakti yoga practice is said to:
Induce a powerful sense of oneness with the Divine (irrespective of one's religion)
Induce trance like meditative states of altered consciousness
Open the heart, allowing for greater connection and a sense of community
The best part of the chanting practice is that all our senses are involved at the same time. The sound engulfs our ears and tongue, we see the other participants and chant leaders, the smell of incense wafts gently through the yoga hall, everyone can play bells or a small drum, or even clap their hands, so the tactile sense is engaged as well. By chanting, we naturally engage our breath, which is the extension of pranayama exercises. The mind is brought under control simply by focusing on the sound. Different people will experience kirtan
differently. Some people might immediately love it and others might take a little while to get used to an unfamiliar experience.
Although kirtan involves music, the underlying art of kirtan chanting is not actually about musical ability or training - it is about the heart. The purpose of chanting is to get us out of our heads and into our hearts. Everyone can participate, regardless of age, cultural or religious background.