Namaste Counsel: Bhakti For Beginners – Talk with Sean Johnson

Q.   Tell me a short story about kirtan(chanting) for newbies, or bhakti yoga (devotion) for beginners.

One of the most gratifying parts of what we do is sharing kirtan with people who’ve never experienced it before. It’s beautiful when we can somehow be a channel for folks to have an inspiring and transformative internal experience.

We have had the amazing opportunity to play a set of our kirtan music at The New Orleans Jazz Festival for three years.  After our first time playing Jazz Fest a tall stoic, grey-haired man with blue jeans, t-shirt, and oil company baseball hat walked up to me, and said, “Son, I live out in the country. I work on an oil rig by day, and I have no idea what you were singing about, but I’ve got to tell you the music struck something inside me. It touched my heart, and moved me to tears, and I want to thank you for that.”

Q. A Sivananda swami once said that chanting is the most uncomfortable of yoga’s branches for newcomers, but also the hardest to walk away from. Do you agree?

I think this can be true, but the right teacher/wallah can anticipate that discomfort and defuse the resistance to chanting by introducing the practice in an accessible and educational way that can help remove the barriers one might feel.

Being a yoga teacher and kirtan artist based in the Deep South, I have loved the opportunity to share the joy of chanting and make it accessible for people, rather that a practice that might be interpreted as being esoteric, self-righteous, or dogmatic. (Click here to read the full article.)