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kirtan workshopJai has been leading Kirtans worldwide for over thirty years. “These ancient chants,” writes Jai “contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.”

“When I get off the plane, whether I’m arriving in New Delhi or returning to New York, I say to myself, ‘I’m home.’ Home East, home West: Jai Uttal’s musical heart is at home in either idiom. He could be called what Karl Jung termed a ‘gnostic intermediary,’ an ambassador between the two cultures.” –Ram Dass

“Jai is a shaman with wings big enough to carry all of us to ecstasy. Singing with him is a transcendental train to everywhere you ever wanted to go; all you have to do is sit there, surrender and let your song rock.” –Gabrielle Roth

“Riding Jai’s kirtan is a journey that spirals into the heart with such incredible passion, tenderness, stamina and surrender that one is left transformed and sanctified. Not to be missed – the best around.” –Shiva Rea, Yoga Journal

“Jai Uttal’s chanting workshops are the best of the best. His music is one of the quickest ways to the center, it opens the heart and attunes the spine. I gave Jai’s music to my wife Ondrea, it was the 1st time she shed spiritual tears.”
–Stephen Levine, author of “A Gradual Awakening”

“One of the most extraordinary spiritual chanters and ecstatic singers of our time. His music transforms the hearts of all who listen.” –Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Center

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What is Kirtan?

kirtan workshopKirtan is the calling, the crying, the reaching across infinite space — digging into the heart’s deepest well to touch and be touched by the Divine Presence.

Kirtan is singing over and over the many names of God and the Goddess, the multi-colored rainbow manifestations of the One. It is said that there is no difference between the name and that which is being named, and as the words roll off our lips in song, the Infinite is invoked, invited, made manifest in our hearts.

Kirtan is part of an ancient form of Yoga known as Bhakti, or the Yoga of Devotion. But in Bhakti we redefine “devotion”, we expand the meaning to include every shade of color in the palette of human emotion, turned towards God through song, dance, and worship. These chants have been sung for millennium by sages, sinners, devotees, and the great primordial yogi alchemists of old. And, as we sing, we touch the spirits of the millions of people across the centuries who have sung the same songs and cried the same tears. As we sing, we immerse ourselves in an endless river of prayer that has been flowing since the birth of the first human beings, longing to know their creator.

Kirtan is a vessel that can hold love, longing, union, separation, lust, despair, mourning, anger, hate, sadness, ecstasy, and oneness. Powered by the fire of these emotions, the chants of Bhakti become like a ship, singing us to the other shore. In lightness, in darkness, in despair, in joy we sing the names — The Name — and turn our human hearts toward the One, who is closer to us than our own breath. Kirtan is food for the spirit, a life raft of song.

Kirtan is for all people. There are no masters of kirtan, no experts, no teachers, no advanced students, no beginners. The practice itself is the teacher, guiding us to ourselves. Kirtan teaches itself by allowing us to enter into a mystery world — a world where all the logic of our minds, all the conditioning and learning are left outside — and we allow ourselves to expand into the mystery.

And in this mystery, we create a temple inside of our hearts, a place of refuge, a place of love, a place of being, a place of sanctity… whatever we need.

There is no right or wrong way to sing kirtan. Kirtan can be breathtakingly beautiful, the music can be stunning and masterful; and it can be cacophonous, dissonant, and almost painful to the ears. Aesthetics don’t matter. All that matters is the spirit, the feeling. Don’t worry about what you sound like, feel whatever you feel, have no expectations, no inhibitions. Kirtan is an oil well digging deeper and deeper into the heart. A power tool of love and longing. A train carrying us home. Make these kirtans your own prayers and use their power to set fire to your own soul. We sing together and each person has a totally unique, individual experience. Yet by singing together we give strength, safety and passion to each other, and give ourselves permission to sing and dance freely, releasing and expressing through our voices and bodies, the emotions tightly locked in our hearts. The pain of separation is one with the bliss of union.
And finally kirtan is an offering, a gift to the great One who has given us everything, and to whom we can give nothing in return but our loving remembrance.

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The Art and Practice of Kirtan Camp

Kirtan is the calling, the crying, the reaching across infinite space — digging into the heart’s deepest well to touch and be touched by the Divine Presence. Kirtan is part of an ancient form of Yoga known as Bhakti, or the Yoga of Devotion. It is the practice of singing over and over the many names of God and the Goddess, the multi-colored manifestations of the One. It is said that there is no difference between the name and that which is being named, and as the words roll off our lips in song, the Infinite is invoked, invited, made manifest in our hearts.

Kirtan is for all people. There are no experts, no beginners. The practice itself is the teacher, guiding us to ourselves. Kirtan allows us to enter into a mystery world — a world where all the logic of our minds, all the conditioning and learning are left outside. And in this mystery, we create a temple inside of our hearts, a place of refuge, a place of love, a place of just being.

In this workshop Jai and Daniel will share some of the many tools they use in their Kirtan practice, such as a beginning understanding of Indian music and rhythm, so that the participants can leave with the feeling that they, too, can dive into this world of Bhakti on their own, that any of us can lead and sing and share our hearts with others.

Subjects to be covered in this training:

*Kirtan*
As the essential practice of Bhakti, Kirtan will be the main focus of this training. We will spend many hours singing together, taking turns leading, sharing melodies, and sharing our hearts.

*Bhakti Yoga*
Understanding the path of Bhakti and Kirtan, as a journey of surrender; an offering of one’s entire being to the the Divine will.

*Mantras*
Experiencing the invocational power of the ancient Sanskrit syllables and names in ecstatic song and silent contemplation.

*Gods and Goddesses*
An exploration of the energies embodied by the different deities of Hinduism. Understanding the spiritual beings on the mythological, archetypal and deeply personal levels.

*Ramayana*
Studying and reciting the multi-leveled epic adventures of Ram, Sita and Hanuman; and how this story relates to our daily lives.

*Saints*
Drinking from the waters of Bhakti by reflecting upon the lives of some of the saints of modern India, particularly Neem Karoli Baba.

*Vocal Training*
Opening the voice and learning to love the sound that comes from our bodies.

*Rhythm*
Beginning to understand the rhythms associated with Kirtan; the rhythms of trance, the rhythms of ecstasy, the rhythms of contemplation.

*Learning Harmonium*
Gaining a begining understanding of the rudiments of harmonium and kartals (finger cymbals) for accompaning Kirtans.

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KIRTAN! An Evening of Ecstatic Chant

kirtan workshopEmbark on a vocal journey through the sacred sounds of ancient India.

Drawing from an unbroken tradition of Indian devotional singing, Jai Uttal will introduce and lead us in the ancient practice of “Kirtan” (or chanting), the heart of devotional yoga. This practice of calling to the divine creates a bridge between the individual and the eternal, opening the heart and welcoming the spirit. Sometimes soft and meditative and sometimes loud and wildly rhythmic, Kirtan takes the participant on a deep emotional and musical journey through our mostly unexplored inner world. With solo performance and call-and-response group chanting, Jai creates a space of invocation, prayer, and heartfelt expression.

Jai has been leading Kirtans worldwide for over thirty years. “These ancient chants,” writes Jai “contain a transformative power and healing energy. By singing these prayers we join a stream of consciousness and devotion that has been flowing for centuries.”

No previous experience is needed. This is an exploration of the heart, independent of vocal or musical technique.

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PASSION AND GRACE: The Art of Devotional Singing Workshop

“Kirtan is food for the spirit, a life raft of song.”

This training is for those who aspire to lead Kirtan; those who wish to enhance their Yoga teaching with chanting; and those who simply wish to immerse themselves in the vast ocean of Bhakti.

Embark on a journey into the multi-colored, many roomed mansions of the heart through the practice of Kirtan; or chanting the ecstatic songs of ancient India. Using call-and-response singing and storytelling, recording artist Jai Uttal will invoke a space of prayer and heartfelt expression, joined by his good friend, tabla maestro and vocalist Daniel Paul.

In the practice of Kirtan we are able to come into contact with the wide palette of feelings inside of us and to begin to freely express them and share them with others. Rather than being obstacles in our path, these emotions become the fuel to connect us to the Spirit, to our eternal beloved. This deep river of passionate surrender and prayer is known as Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of devotion or personal relationship with the divine.

In this workshop Jai will explore how we can approach the path of Bhakti Yoga in our own lives, with our own personalities and identities. We will begin to understand a new meaning of aesthetics, an internal aesthetics, wherein we create our most beautiful prayers to spirit without the slightest concern for other’s opinions or criticisms. We will touch on the vast beauty of the Indian Raga and Tala systems and direct participants to further study in those areas. Jai will open the floor to all kinds of questions, and, with a very flexible and lighthearted approach, will answer from his personal experiences and ideas and the stories of ancient India.

No previous experience is needed for these workshops. This is an exploration of the heart, independent of vocal or musical technique.

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AWAKENING BHAKTI: A Celebration of Divine and Human Love

Bhakti Yoga is the path of personal relationship with Spirit, with God, with Goddess; a relationship that includes all the flavors and moods of the human heart. In the journey of Bhakti our emotions become the fuel to reconnect us with the Divine and to find healing and wholeness within ourselves. Through singing Kirtan we explore, express and share the deepest caverns of our souls and ultimately find the eternal spring of love.

For everyone who loves and practices Kirtan, Jai will share and demystify some of their secrets particularly the ‘fact’ that with just a little understanding of music and rhythm and a lot of self acceptance we all can sing and lead and share our hearts with others. The practice of chanting, itself, can become our teacher, guiding us home.

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