Kirtan refers to chanting - one of the main practices of yoga. The mantras are chanted in a call-and-response fashion, from the leader to the group, and accompanied by musical instruments, such as harmonium, drums and guitar. There is no need to be shy as everyone's voices blend together alongside the music!
I began to practice kirtan just over two years ago as a result of studying yoga in a traditional yoga ashram. Prior to this, I have never chanted anything more than the mantra Om in an occasional yoga class. It wasn't during my first, and not even the second time that I have attended the kirtan, that I really began to connect with the practice and noticed a real shift in in my body and mind - yes, kirtan is an embodied practice, you may feel it on the physical level as well as on an emotional plane (although we all connect and feel the mantras differently). And even then, I have not imagined that I will be leading the practice and sing in front of groups people! But it happened. Gradually, but surely, I began to sing in the ashram, took a master class with the amazing Tom Simenauer (Tabla Tom), and bought a harmonium!
Every time a practice, I connect not only with the deeper part of who I am but also with my childhood and teenage years, playing the piano and singing as part of my school education (parallel to mainstream school) and later as part of my higher education in music. I learn a little bit more about myself each time and share from a place of acceptance. Why? Because despite our frequent fault perceptions of ourselves and others we are absolutely perfect! There isn't anything else but pure love inside each and every one of us. This is what I feel in my heart when I sing and this is what is transmitted through my voice each time I sing with you!
Chanting is not just about religion and spirituality; rather it's a combination of sound, breath and rhythm that helps you to channelise your energy. The mantras have both psychological and physiological effects on your body. Below is the list of a few benefits you may experience during and following the kirtan practice:
- It releases stress: Chanting is amazing for releasing stress and pressure - mentally, emotionalyl and physically. The vibrations of each chant move through the body, giving us a rush of energy to replenish and rejuvenate us.
- Improves immunity: Chanting certain mantras puts pressure on the tongue, vocal chords, lips, palate and other connecting points in the body. The vibration from the mantra stimulates a gland called hypothalamus. It is responsible for the regulation of many body functions including immunity and some happy hormones. The happier you are the stronger your immunity.
- Helps to calm the mind: The certain vibrating sounds of the mantras helps in stimulating the hormones that calm the mind and relax your body. It also helps you to concentrate and thereby works as a tranquiliser for your mind.
- It cultivates connection: Through chanting from our heart, we can better connect with the infinite supply of energy within us – sometimes described as our inner self or 'source' within. With a regular chanting practice, we can begin to feel more open, receptive, energised and naturally connected to ourselves and others around us.
- It is empowering: Many people who are anxious about public speaking or singing, or feel shy in social situations, say that chanting has improved their confidence and released their inhibitions, leaving them more empowered and better able to express themselves.
- It has positive effect in daily life: Since chanting uplifts us and brings a sense of inner peace, it naturally helps us be more productive and creative in all areas of life. It can help us feel much brighter, warmer and calmer; thereby, creating more harmony and peace at home and at work.
So come join me! Come as you are and experience the healing and transformative benefits of mantras as I will be leading a kirtan & mantra workshop every month at the Yurt in The City in Cardiff through the first part of 2019. Find out more about this workshop on my Facebook page - Oxana Weber Yoga and on my website. See you there!