What is Kirtan?
Kirtan is the practice of call and response chanting. It is a form of Bhakti yoga – often referred to as the yoga of devotion. The root of Bhakti is bhaj- to share or to love. I often describe kirtan as meditation through music. The leader will call out a mantra – a short phrase in Sanskrit – and the group will call back. With the repetition of the words, one is able to lose themselves in the rhythm and the melody.
Much like asana practice gets us out of our heads and into the body, kirtan gets us into our voices, and into the body with the vibrations we create. Just as there are many different styles of physical practice, each kirtan leader will create their own energy, some funky & dance-able and others mellow & sweet. It’s a beautiful thing to let go of the self-consciousness of singing with people – some of whom you may have never met – and allow your voice to blend with the group.