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Monday, August 07, 2006

stars in the kirtan sky, part 2

From Kirtan with Ragani:

"Kirtan (yoga chant) is a participatory, cross-cultural music experience that incorporates the audience right into the performance. Recently featured in Time Magazine (Oct 2003), this call-and-response sacred experience is swiftly gaining popularity throughout the U.S. as it follows on the heels of the yoga movement. All ages and cultural backgrounds are welcome to the event--there are no prerequisites for participation.

Though it involves music, the practice of kirtan is not about musical ability or training, it is about the heart. These ancient chants contain powerful healing and transformational energies that serve to reconnect us to the Ever-present and Eternal Being that lies within us all. All the mantras, melodies, and instruments are designed to lead us toward this meditative state. Although the language of kirtan is often in Sanskrit, the true language of kirtan is universal, because it is a language of the heart. As part of bhakti yoga (the devotional path), kirtan also utilizes nada yoga , the yogic science of sound. Through absorption in the sound, the eternal love that lies within each of our hearts can awaken. By chanting the different names and aspects of the divine, by calling out to the divine, we naturally reflect upon and call forth that divinity that exists within us all. Indeed, this call-response style chanting (kirtan) is a means of finding our way back to the core of our being, to our heart, and to our connection to each other."

while at friday night's kirtan session at illumination, i found myself enjoying the goings-on so much that midway through the performance, i started wondering why i hadn't thought of doing this chant thing sooner. after all, there were many places on the westside that offered kirtan, and they were definitely easier for me to get to than where i was at that moment, which was deep in the san fernando valley.

for example:

at power yoga west in santa monica, home of bryan kest and donation-based yoga, govindas leads kirtan chanting every first saturday of the month, from 8:00 to 10:00pm. and as is the case with all the yoga classes at this studio, what you pay is totally up to you.

at maha yoga in brentwood, home of steve ross and hip-hop yoga, steve and his buddies hold ecstatic chanting sessions at least once a month. the events are free, although donations for the musicians are most welcome.

at goda yoga in culver city, travis eliot and his friends gather for some kirtan chanting on the last saturday of the month at 8:00pm. the suggested donation is $10.

at santa monica yoga in santa monica, on the first sunday of the month, travis (the one and the same) lends his kirtan talents to mary donovan's yoga and meditation class at 5:30pm. the usual class fees apply, including the KCRW discount :)

and at the sivananda yoga vedanta center in marina del rey, i found a blurb for this free chanting workshop held every second and fourth saturday of the month, from 4:00 to 6:00pm:

If you love to chant or want to learn, this is your chance! Come for a relaxed afternoon of Kirtan (mantra chanting) and good company. Practice the traditional call-and-response Sivananda daily chants, experiment with rhythm, become confident to lead chants, learn new ones. It's easy, and uplifting.

i'm sure i could find more places if i ventured farther away from home, but this was a good start.

mentally going down the list, i remembered that govindas was going to be at shiva rea's big trance dance event over at golden bridge on saturday night. which meant that he wasn't going to be at SMPY west. and it didn't look like i was going to attend shiva's shindig either because i hadn't bought a pre-event ticket and was too cheap to pay for the "at the door" ticket price.

my next option was the chantfest at maha, with steve ross. it just so happened that there was going to be one that saturday. i later found out that girish was going to be joining steve that night, which made me even more determined to go.

so i did.

for those unfamiliar with steve ross's background, CD baby had this in his bio for his compilation of chants, grace is the name of the game:

"Steve has been both a musician and yogi for close to 30 years now. As a musician, he has performed with artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Men at Work, The Beach Boys and kirtan artist Krishna Das. On his spiritual journey, he lived as a vedic monk for years in India and has followed many well known teachers."

he was also featured in the july/august 2006 issue of yogitimes in maha's maestro.

unlike the small affair friday night at illumination, the yoga studio at maha was packed with chanters of all shapes and sizes. there were grandmothers, college frat boys, and kids barely out of diapers. there were the blonde yoginis as well as the men who looked like they had just a bit too much love in their love handles. and also unlike the illumination crowd, these people were seasoned chanters. they barely glanced at their lyric sheets as they filled the room with their voices. with steve on guitar, girish on percussion, lee on harmonica, and mark (was that his name?) on bass, the place rocked. god, it felt good!

maybe i should attend that workshop at the sivananda center to hone my chanting skills...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI. Made it to LA. Bonus son got married. Was overserved. Never made it to Bikram. But one day...

3:21 PM  

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