Introduction to Chanting and Kirtan

A Day in the Life of a Huge George Harrison and John Lennon Fan
You may have noticed that the practice of chanting and Kirtan converts are taking center stage in the routine of the dedicated yogi. This is due to the many enhancements this particular practice brings to your yoga regimen.
Let me introduce you to the popular practice of chanting and Kirtan if you haven’t had the pleasure thus far:
Chanting is something that has its roots in Ancient Indian culture. You may be familiar with the popular chant used quite regularly, “Om”, many yoga instructors will start or end their practice with this. To demonstrate how chanting works, we can use “Om” as an example. Om is from the Sanskrit language, originating in India. The term has symbolic ties to the sound of creation, the manifestation of the divine and the connection of soul to body. “Om” can be sang or chanted and used like a mantra. The use of chanting spiritual, divinely symbolic words, Sanskrit or not, has a HUGE impact on your practice and your life entirely. You can use chanting just like you use your mantra, it adds intention to whatever you’re doing and incorporates and spiritual component that can heavily strengthen your yoga practice.

Chanting first gained mainstream popularity in the U.S. and Europe from The Beatles. George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono became devoted practitioners of chanting and encouraged mantras and chanting throughout the Western world. Harrison was a huge fan of japa (the recitation of a mantra use with yogic movement) and often practiced this method. Japa is said to connect the individual or the group with God. Songs like “Awaiting on You All” and “My Sweet Lord” are great examples of the influence chanting had on Harrison.

To learn more about The Beatles and their relationship with chanting, we recommend reading their book , Chant and Be Happy.

Difference between Mantra and Chanting:
Not to take away from simple uses of mantras by any means- The difference between simply speaking or thinking your mantra and actually chanting your mantra is that chanting adds a vibratory, song-like additive that just repeating a mantra does not have. Each human vibrates at a certain level, and the act of chanting can kick start that vibratory energy, kick starting your connection between body and mind. The vibrations are also extremely important at stimulating various chakras in the body. You may notice when you chant “Om”, a strong vibration all the way from your root chakra to your crown chakra.
Incorporating Chanting into Your Yoga Practice:
Incorporating chanting into your yoga practice can really enhance your experience. As noted before, it brings a strong connection to the divine within yourself. Another wonderful thing to note is that it unites those that chant together. Practicing yoga with a group can be such a cool experience, and when adding a group chant to kick start or finish your meditation or your yoga practice, it unites the souls of those involved and sets a spiritual intention of those United. It’s can be extremely powerful and beneficial to your evolution as a yogi and as a spiritual being. Chanting can make way for connecting with your higher self and the divinity within yourself. It’s something we all should add to our practice.
What is Kirtan?
Kirtan envelopes the same concept as chanting does. It is chanting and singing on a more concert like level. This has become huge in the yoga, meditation and wellness community. It is a type of music that has its foundations on the ancient Sanskrit chants. At a Kirtan concert you can expect a huge aspect of interaction. Typically, there is a singer or several singers on stage, singing various chants and mantras and encouraging the crowd to sing back in repetition. It’s a very cool, unifying, interactive experience. It echoes the same idea as using chanting in yoga groups, it unifies the group on a spiritual level and ties us all together to the divine within ourselves as individuals and as a collective.
Try These!
Some awesome examples of frequently used Sanskrit phrases for chanting are as follows. Use these, chant these, sing these, use them in your yoga practice, your meditation practice, driving in your car, however best it suits you!
Lokha samastha sukhino bhavanthu“- there are several different translations for this, here are a couple- May this world be established with a sense of well being and happiness”.
Om, shanti shanti, shanti“- this simple translates to “Om, peace peace peace”, this is short, sweet and simple. It adds the intention of peace to whatever you’re doing and allows your soul to connect to the feeling of peace.
Hari Om“- this is a Sanskrit phrase that promotes the removal of hardship and encourages purification. This is a good one to incorporate into the beginning of a yin yoga practice, the idea that you are working through pain and obstacles while maintaining breath and serenity.
Sita ram“- both of these words in Sanskrit relate to the divine spirit. Some translations suggest that this phrase opens the heart chakra and promotes love. This is a beautiful phrase to chant in repetition before going into meditation, yoga practice or even just to begin your day in the morning!

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare – Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare“- This mantra is also known as the “Great Mantra” and refers to the Supreme Being in three names (Hare, Krishna, and Rama). In the process of chanting this powerful mantra, one can spiritually and directly connect with God. George Harrison and John Lennon regularly chanted this mantra.

A version of Danielle’s article was published with YogiApproved. Click here to check it out!
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