Going Deeper: Expert Readings

Recovering the Soul of Hatha Yoga

The Yoga of Sound, I believe, can usher more soul into yoga as it is transplanted to the West and can help Westerners achieve the deepest fulfillment possible through their yoga practice. This is already happening through the widespread use of kirtan, the call-and-response chanting of the names and attributes of Hindu Gods. However, kirtan is only one avenue of the depths of sound yogaalbeit an important one, since it reaches into the heart. Kirtan is the first step toward recovering the soul of Hatha Yoga, but much more is possible when all the streams of sonic mysticism are taken into account. Russill Paul

The Power of Vibration and Sound

Many of us recognize the power that music has in our lives. It has the ability to deepen our journey, evoking both emotional and spiritual states of awareness. However if we look a little deeper at the power of vibration and sound itself, we see that there are forces at play that can greatly enhance the power of one’s practice. Such is the underlying philosophy of sound healing, or vibrational therapy. – Yoganonymous

Chants and Song are Universal

When we encounter indigenous tribes who’ve had little contact with modern civilization, they all have sacred chants that their oral history traces back to their earliest origins. And if you look into creation myths from different cultures, in almost every case the world is said to come into being through sound, through chant. It’s in Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Native American religions. And you can look at young children: Almost all young children make up repetitive songsthey lose themselves in the rapture of singing. Robert Gass

Mantra is Not Exclusive

There’s nothing in the literal meaning of the word mantra that suggest you have to be fluent in Sanskrit or Latin or a certain sacred language, or vow to a life of celibacy and hide out in a cave in the Hamalayas. It also doesn’t imply that mantra is something “exclusive,” a practice meant only for a special clique of yogis and saints who know a sort of “secret” language. On the contrary, I wholeheartedly endorse mantra as one of the most inclusive and egalitarian practices out there, one that serves anyone anywhere. Girish

Vocalizing’s Effect on Breath Rate

Both the Buddhist mantra Om Mane Padme Hum and the Ave Maria prayer were used in the study and are generally recited in a single 10-second breath cycle, corresponding to six breaths per minute. In contrast, the average person’s breath rate is 16 to 20 breaths per minute, according to Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital and director of the Heart Institute at Columbia University. “When your internal metronome slows, you get a variety of beneficial effects,” he says, “and you also lessen the risk of catastrophic events like heart attacks and strokes.” – Alison Rose Levy


Kirtan is call-and-response devotional chanting.

Sweet Syrup & Medicine

The music is just the sweet syrup… the mantras are the medicine. – Krishna Das

Chanting the Names of God

Kirtan is simply chanting the names of God. The words are largely comprised of the various Sanskrit names of Hindu deities: Krishna, Ram, Sita (Ram’s wife), Gopala (the baby Krishna), and so on. There are also occasional honorifics such as “Shri” (“Sir”), exclamations such as “Jai” or “Jaya” (loosely, “praise”), and supplications like Om Namaha Shivaya (“I bow to the Self”). The purpose of repeating these names, in ever-shuffling combinations, is a simple one: to merge with the Divine. Phil Catalfo

Removing the Dust on the Mirror of Heart & Mind

They say that these names come from a place in our hearts that’s deeper than our thoughts, deeper than our emotions. As we bring our attention to these names, it begins to pull us in that direction… It’s a way to let go…. Gradually—but inevitably—the presence hidden in the name begins to reveal itself within us. We don’t make it happen; we don’t create it. We just remove the dust on the mirror of our hearts and our minds. – Krishna Das


Learn a mantra or kirtan and incorporate it into one of your class teaching plans?
How will you effectively teach it to your students?