What is Bhakti Yoga?
The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means “to adore or worship God.” Bhakti yoga has been called “love for love’s sake” and “union through love and devotion.” Bhakti yoga, like any other form of yoga, is a path to self-realisation, to having an experience of oneness with everything.
Chanting has been an integral part of all religions through the ages.
As we sit together in one place, we have different thoughts. But when we start chanting, there is one thought and one rhythm in all of our minds. All minds become one. This oneness creates a profound energy that enlivens us.
Chanting allows all other senses to dissolve into one, and allows the mind to sink into itself. Chanting can be considered as the yoga of sound.
Sanskrit chants in particular have a very profound effect on the consciousness.
Each Sanskrit letter has a sound, which relates to a specific subtle energy centre (chakra) in our subtle bodies. Sanskrit chanting activates subtle energy centres, which produce a soothing, purifying and energising effect.
Kirtan, the practice of chanting, is perhaps the most important technique in bhakti yoga. Although the practice itself is simple, the internal process that it stimulates is vast and mysterious. Externally, we’re just singing repetitive songs with simple melodies and a few Sanskrit words. We try to put our analytical minds to the side and sing from the heart. We try to channel whatever emotion we’re feeling into the song.
For thousands of years, people have used sound and vibration, including music, to relax, access deeper states of consciousness, and heal their bodies. Practices like chanting and drumming, or using Tibetan singing bowls and Chinese meditation gongs, are just a few examples. In nada yoga, the yoga of sound, the human voice and classical Indian instruments are used as a path to self-realisation, opening the spiritual channels and harmonising the physical body.
It’s possible to sing the sounds and appreciate the vibration without really worrying that much about the meaning for each syllable. Your own intention behind the sounds is more important than any abstract meaning someone else attaches to it.
• Om Namah Shivaya. I bow to the Self.
• Sita Ram. Sita and Rama are deities who are husband and wife–to chant Sita Ram is to unite with our own perfect masculine and feminine.
• Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambho. Mahadeva Shambho. Shiva is the essence and source of joy. Lord, the bestower of good.
• Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha. I offer my love and devotion to Sri Ganesha; please grant me success in my noble endeavor.
•Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
Kevin James is joining us on Thursday for a Bhakti yoga and kirtan evening. More details here.