I’m just back from Sean Johnson & the Wild Lotus Band’s Bhakti Immersion in New Orleans, and what a wonderful & transformative experience it was! I spent it with 40 beautiful people, most of them Yoga teachers, who wanted to bring more Bhakti Yoga into their classes & their lives. The whole retreat was permeated with the spirit of New Orleans, complete with storytelling, great food & lots of music. In this edition of the podcast, we’ll walk through a day at Bhakti Immersion together so you can get a sense of what it was like.

We started our day with the Hindustani vocal exercise called sargam — Sean calls it vinyasa for the voice. Then Sean either led a ‘Bhakti On the Mat‘ Yoga class or told a story, and in the podcast you’ll hear a beautiful story from the Zulu tradition told by Sean with musical backup from Gwen & Alvin, sound effects by us. After that we had lunch and Sean led lunchtime discussions. I recorded two of them — one is about introducing chanting to a group, and the other has Sean’s thoughts on leading kirtan. Then we broke into groups (harmonium, rhythm & guitar) to learn a chant and came back together at the end of the day to play it — you’ll hear a bit of our group jam from the first day. And we’ll finish with several chants from the Wild Lotus Band.

Bhakti Immersion is also all about New Orleans, so it was important to Sean & the band that we get a taste of what life is like for the people who live there. The first night he invited us to his house for an amazing dinner. We met his sweet wife, and they’re expecting a baby boy next month! Tuesday night Gwen took a group to bars on Frenchmen’s Street that featured live bands, and Wednesday night she threw a dance party at her house with another live band that inspired a dance party. So much fun!

Many thanks to the Call & Response Foundation who sponsored my trip. They have many outreach programs, so if you want to lead kirtan in your community or feel called to do prison or hospice outreach check out their website because you might qualify for one of their grants.

April is shaping up to be a big month for kirtan here in Corvallis. David Newman is coming this weekend! His kirtan is sponsored by the Corvallis Unitarian Universalist Church, and we’re so excited to host him. David will be leading a kirtan, a workshop & co-lead the Sunday service with the UU’s minister Jill McAllister, and as an added bonus, he’ll be backed by Benjy & Heather Wertheimer of Shantala. Later in the month, we’re hosting a screening of ‘Mantra: Sound Into Silence’, an amazing movie about chanting I saw last summer at Omega Ecstatic Chant. Then Rob & Melissa Kirtan are coming through at the end of the month! Coming up in May we’ll have an interview with Deva & Miten when they return to Portland. Just now Miten is recovering from heart surgery — he’s doing really well, so please continue to direct healing loving energy to him.

I hope you enjoy this audio trip to New Orleans & Sean Johnson’s Bhakti Immersion. Until next time my friends — Namaste.