Hi everyone! I got to teach a section of Yoga Teacher Training at Lift Yoga recently. This post is to cover some things that I didn't have time to cover in class.
This is the Spotify playlist of the mantras that we covered in class. These are not the same tunes as the ones that I used, though most of them are slow enough that you can easily learn the chants on your own.
The main point of this post is to point out that there's a difference between mantras, chants, bhajans, and kirtan.
Mantras refer to the words themselves, though they can be used in different ways. Usually, a mantra is short and sweet and can be repeated over and over. Like “Sri Ram Jai Ram”, etc.
Chants are monotonous in tone and don't usually sound sing-songy. Think of the Togetherness mantra, etc.
Bhajans are longer songs and usually refer to a long story about someone or something. The Hanuman Chalisa is an example of a bhajan. The Hanuman Chalisa is a 40 verse poem about the life and story of Hanuman and is usually done fully in Sanskrit, though English versions do exist. Jai Uttal has a version of the Chalisa that
Kirtan refers to a very vibrant form of mantra. Traditional kirtan songs are usually repeating different names of a deity, and the tempo of kirtan can also vary- Songs will usually start off slow and get much faster towards the middle. Kirtans also use a “call and response” format- the lead Kirtaniya will sing first and then everyone copies and this pattern keeps going throughout the entire kirtan. If you aren't sure what I mean, look up songs by Krishna Das and you'll get an idea of what kirtan is like. Many places around the country offer kirtan as well, so you may be interested in looking up where you can participate in a kirtan near you. They are a lot of fun!
Lastly, I wanted to talk about how mantras can be used for meditation- If you have a set of mala beads, you can do japa meditation. There are 108 beads on a mala (if not, it's not a true mala!). For japa, you say your short mantra on each bead and work your way around the entire mala. I recommend starting at the guru bead (the knot where there's usually a tassel) and move slowly, saying your mantra then moving to the next bead and the next. Traditionally, you are supposed to use your right hand for japa meditation and never touch your mala with your index finger.
Please let me know if you have any questions! You can e-mail me from the contact us form on this website.