Glimpses of Community Kirtan

Glimpses of Community Kirtan

This is from our Community Kirtan in Sarasota Florida:   “Holy smokes!!! Great crowd at Unity of SRQ tonight for our weekly kirtan. We created amazing vibrations of sound, devotion and love. Above it all and part of it all, we raised $176.00 for the All Faiths Food Bank!!! Thank you all for your generosity and for sharing your hearts and voices. Thanks as well to Stevananda and Tej for leading beautiful chants and to Hukam for his rock solid drumming and support. I love you all and feel so very blessed for our SRQ kirtan community. And, last but certainly not least, thanks to Jen Canfield and the generous souls who fund the Call & Response Foundation for facilitating the creation of our weekly SRQ kirtan group…..and for paying the rent!!! Jai Hanuman, Jai Sita Ram!!!”     Chant by twinkle... read more
Why Do We Chant

Why Do We Chant

“Kirtan is the glue that binds out hearts together.” – David Newman   Here is a link to a short read from Kripalu’s website about about the basics and overview of Kirtan. It has quotes from David Newman, Krishna Das and Deva Premal. Enjoy! “In the last decade, India’s ancient call-and-response form of chanting has been reinvented by modern devotional artists who are blending traditional kirtan with modern music genres such as rock, R&B, hip hop, and electronica—breathing new life (and new devotion) into yoga’s sacred chants. But what, exactly, are these chants about?” click HERE to read... read more
San Francisco Community Kirtan

San Francisco Community Kirtan

The Call and Response Foundation sponsors community Kirtan events in 6 different cities (soon to be 7 as Houston joins us). We are amazed to hear from them each month with the stories they share. It reminds us how significant this practice can be and how it touches the lives of so many. Here is an excerpt from our San Francisco host. “Our weekly Wednesday night kirtan and the sangha that’s grown around it continue to blossom. I don’t know how some of these people find us, but they continue to come in and have their hearts opened by the practice. The group ranges from people off the street who’ve never heard of kirtan or Krishan, to a young man, recently from the East coast, who needed some kirtan connections and new friends here. My fave recent story: a man we’ll call Peter started coming to kirtan several months ago. New to the practice, he was unemployed, depressed, and then got hit by a car. He started coming early and getting harmonium/chanting lessons from Miko, started reading more about Bhakti, and has become a weekly contributor to our group. He’s been unable all these months to put anything into the donation jar, and is one of the reasons I started having food for the group every Wednesday. This past week, there was an envelope in the jar. It was a card from Peter bursting with gratitude for Kirtan and the weekly group, along with a cash donation “to support the Love and buy kitchari supplies.” He got a job and is... read more
Interview with David Newman

Interview with David Newman

Call and Response Foundation is proud to partner with David Newman to offer tours and retreats. David, along with his partner Mira, share their talents to touch so many through chant as well as other community projects. David is a kirtan chant artist, songwriter and Bhakti Yoga practitioner. He travels extensively sharing kirtan and his style of devotional music, embodying the meditative and ecstatic The following is an excerpt from a longer interview. You can read the full interview HERE but in the meantime we wanted to share David’s thoughts on Bhakti Yoga.   LM: As a practitioner and educator of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love or devotion, can you talk about the benefits of this kind of yoga, specifically as it relates to the honest search inward for connection to the Self? DD: When I got introduced to kirtan, which lead me to the practice of Bhakti Yoga, it was early on that feeling of getting connected to devotion and a sense of gratitude towards something greater in life beyond my own ideas, aspirations and beliefs, my own mind. When I had a vision of that something greater, I was enthusiastic about practicing in a way that would enable me to surrender to t-h-a-t and that is the essence of Bhakti Yoga – surrendering to that whatever you call  it, everybody has a different name for it and a different relationship to it, but it is about expressing one’s devotion and surrender to that “Not my will, but thy will be done.” To say it brings a greater sense of flow and ease into one’s life would be an understatement.... read more
Help Songan Village and The Yoga Barn-Bali

Help Songan Village and The Yoga Barn-Bali

On Thursday 9 February, unrelenting heavy rain caused a devastating landslide in Songan Village, North Bali which killed 7 people (including 2 children). This is a very personal loss for us at The Yoga Barn – Bali and BaliSpirit Festival as this is where our Bali Regreen bamboo reforestation outreach program takes place. Members of our outreach program have lost their lives. BaliSpirit has already donated 50,000,000 IDR and have been working up in the village since this tragedy occured, rebuilding homes and schools that were destroyed. The village of Songan is covered in dirty water and mud, a breeding ground for diseases like Typhoid if medical equipment and services are not supplied fast enough. We are reaching out to you, our community as we need your help. Donations of food, water, clothes or blankets, are essential in helping prevent further trauma and disease, to provide food, water and building materials to those who survived. To contribute, you can drop in to Frozen Yogi on Dewi Sita Street in Ubud and donate money or food, water, clothes or blankets – which will go long way. Additionally, we’ve placed cash donation boxes at The Yoga Barn reception desks and we’re holding two events this week, the profits of which will go directly to this cause. Women’s Circle, 6-7.30pm, Friday 17 February, The Yoga Barn, 130,000 IDR Proceeds from this weeks Women’s Circle will go towards the Songan landslide tragedy, led by Yoga Teacher and Humanitarian Activist, Universal Empress – Nadine McNeil​. Benefit Concert (pictured) with John de Kadt & The Hanumen, 7 – 9pm, Saturday 18 March, The Yoga Barn,... read more
Community Kirtan outreach update

Community Kirtan outreach update

Hello everyone! We wanted to share with you how excited we are about our Community Kirtan outreach program.  It has been growing steadily and we now have programs in 7 cities: Montclair NJ, Manchester CT, Amherst MA, Sarasota FL, San Francisco CA, Burlington VT and Houston TX. The community teams in each of these cities are incredible and we are inspired every time we see photos or hear stories about how the kirtan touches their community. We wanted to share a few of these here. Enjoy!   Blessings! In San Francisco the Community Kirtan hosts began having hot food each week. Now, the community has begun to bring food items as well and it has grown. If someone is hungry there is food available to ground before the practice or it can be had afterward as blessed prasad. May you continue to warm hearts and bellies SF! In Burlington, community members have learned more about the lifeline that a Kirtan can provide for those in need of connection. “I cannot explain kirtan but I know it needs to keep happening in our community. People need each other and need that space….kirtan keeps them going every week. Just that something that is there, no matter what else may not be, to gain so much from participating in the experience, knowing it will be there again and again.” You can learn more by going to our Community Kirtan page on our website. Happy... read more

Chant4Change: October 8, 2016

We wanted to share these words from Gaura Vani inspired by an important event happening in October.   Lincoln’s Stairs Let me set the stage for CHANT4CHANGE, I feel like a stranger in a land that’s strange, Terrorism, racism, ringing alarms, We must pull Sita from Ravana’s arms. The voice of the soul lifted in song, With prayerful hearts and intention strong, The Divine names upon our lips, Can lift the tide and with it all ships. We need your voice and 10,000 more, As we knock on history’s sacred door, From the steps where “the dream” was spoken out loud, Where Martin addressed the American crowd. Yet all ears listened that day, and now, We hear our own voice joining his vow, A simple act gives us each our role, Singing together to heal the soul. We are not young, we are not old, We are not the stories we have been told, Nor races, sexes, or economic station, Not one religion, not one nation. We are the soul, the conscious spark, That light dispels the fear of dark, And when 10,000 souls come to sing their prayers, That sound touches heaven from Lincoln’s stairs. Gaura Vani *** Chant4Change: Raise your voice in song to heal the soul of America with thousands from across the social, political and religious spectrum. Celebrate our diversity from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King spoke his dream aloud to the world more than 50 years ago. The noise of this year’s presidential elections is loud and divisive. And the volume is increasing. If you love your neighbor without consideration... read more

Shantala Interview and Insights

We love this interview with Benjy and Heather Wertheimer of Shantala Music. Enjoy! Benjy and Heather Wertheimer, aka Shantala have been leading kirtan for the past 15 years. They are known for sharing their love of sacred chanting with beauty, passion and reverence. Shantala has performed and recorded internationally with such sacred music luminaries as Krishna Das, Deva Premal & Miten and Jai Uttal. In summer 2008, they were named as one of the top “Wallahs to Watch” by Yoga + Joyful Living. In the first part of this thoughtful interview, Benjy and Heather discuss the power of kirtan, explain how chanting supports asana practice and offer tips for yoga teachers to incorporate music into their classes. Tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in leading kirtan and devotional chanting. Shantala: The path that brought each of us into this role is somewhat different, but it’s also wonderful how the confluence of our journeys feels like such a powerful and important part of our relationship. For Benjy, the path started nearly 40 years ago with his first yoga practice – the Naada yoga of Indian classical music, sitting at the feet of the great master musicians Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain. When he and I got to know each other as songwriters – and later as partners in music and life – my background as a yoga teacher, therapist and folksinger helped guide us into our current roles as kirtan leaders. Benjy began recording and performing with Krishna Das in 2001, and shortly thereafter we were asked by yoga teachers we really loved... read more
Benefits of Chanting

Benefits of Chanting

BENEFITS OF CHANTING: YOGA OF SOUND LEADS TO POSITIVE EFFECTS CHANTING, JANE YOGA, RESEARCH, YOGA BENEFITS   /   The yoga of sound involves chanting; chanting is a centuries-old technique that connects humans with themselves, the universe, and Spirit.  Chanting raises vibrations of the individual practicing and a result, people who chant feel alive, peaceful, and centered.  We all know that in order to attain good physical health and happiness, the body requires adequate exercise, proper diet, and rest.  More importantly and more overlooked is the health of our inner self which also requires nourishment and attention.  When we neglect our spiritual, inner self, we become imbalanced and negative in attitude and emotions. Expert Yoga teacher Adrian Cox explains,  “When you chant OM with the right understanding, it becomes a powerful yoga practice in it’s own right…Chanting OM creates detachment and empowers all mental and spiritual processes. It can take you all the way to deep states of yoga, if you have good concentration.”  Cox reminds us that “It [can take] a long time before [any mantra] takes effect. Depending on the number of syllables in the mantra, it can take 16,000 or more repetitions before it ‘unlocks.’  That’s if you’re concentrating… Having your brain wander off on to unrelated things while chanting might make it take longer.” CHANTING IS FUN, EASY, AND ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO YOU! Chanting is a useful anecdote in our fast-paced lifestyles, stressful lives, and during our modern times.  Chanting is a good habit and beneficial to bring into your life, no matter how busy you are each day: You can chant alone, silently, quietly... read more

Hanumen Summer 2015 Schedule

Full Summer Schedule: Hanumen Summer 2015 Schedule in partnership with the Call and Response Foundation Hanumen Kripalu w/Shiva Rea Retreat 7/7-9, 2015 Join renowned yoga teacher Shiva Rea for her annual teacher training at Kripalu in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. The Hanumen will provide daily live music to accompany to Shiva’s relaxation, trance dance and yoga classes. On Wed night July 8th The Hanumen will also provide a beautiful kirtan for all the guests at Kripalu Center. Come join us for what is sure to be a healing and inspiring week. www.kripalu.org Hanumen New York 7/9/2015 Yoga Mandali Saratoga Springs NY Evening Kirtan www.yogamandali.com   Hanumen Adirondacks Retreat 7/10-12, 2015 The Great Camp Sagamore Raquette Lake, New York 13436 www.greatcampsagamore.org Join the Hanumen July 10-12 ,2015 at The Great Camp Sagamore on beautiful Raquette Lake in New York state’s Adirondacks! The 3 day retreat features inspiring music, kayaking, yoga and pristine wilderness to explore! Enjoy a digital fast, feast on thoughtfully prepared vegetarian food and chant from your heart at this historic retreat center! The Hanumen will offer workshops on storytelling, mantras, percussion and the history behind the ancient practice of kirtan. The multi talented group includes Gaura Vani, John de Kadt, Purusartha Dasa, Benjy Wertheimer and Vish Seth. Yoga and meditation with John Smirtic is also included. The Hanumen’s trademark uplifting humor, inspiring stories and enthusiasm for conscious living will make this weekend the highlight of your summer! Your 3 day stay includes 6 meals, lodging at the renowned Sagamore Lodge, all workshops, use of kayaks and lakefront and evening kirtans. Hanumen Adirondacks is open for participants over... read more
Yoga American Style

Yoga American Style

  The Call and Response Foundation sponsored the production of Yoga American Style, by Prem Prakash. From Amazon: “This book is not about another type of yoga, which seems to be multiplying across the country. It’s not about yoga for the aerobic masses that just want to improve their bodies. It is, instead, the timeless essence of what yoga actually is. Written for Americans, it explains the practical philosophy and psychology of the deep spiritual path of true, ancient yoga.” Learn more on... read more
Kirtan at Shakti Fest

Kirtan at Shakti Fest

Would you like a unique opportunity to connect with an international kirtan community? Win two free passes with camping to Shakti Fest, May 16-18 in the beautiful desert of Joshua Tree, CA. Join Call & Respose Foundation for 3 days with an unprecedented line up of internationally renowned kirtan artists, yoga teachers and workshop leaders. Enjoy over 40 hours of kirtan, practice asanas in any of the 50 unique yoga classes, and deepen your awareness through 36 innovative workshops offered throughout the weekend. Visit bhaktifest.com for details and to purchase... read more

Stories from Shyamdas

Here are stories from Shyamdas, a beloved teacher who passed away in January 2013: What is it like to be in the bhava (deovtion)? I think it is a unique experience, because the relationship that souls have with their Maker, really, each one is unique, and because the Supreme is able to respond to every individual according to her specific qualification and eligibility, that is what makes it so interesting, because everyone’s bhava arises in a different way. So what is it like to be in the bhava? Well, as they say, it is predominately blissful.  What is it like to be in the bhava, I have read and I sense that when a person is in that devotional state, they are largely unconcerned with unrelated affairs. A person who has established him or herself even somewhere near the bhava, attains a sense of fearlessness, because the bhava makes us understand that there is eternity within the present moment. That makes the individual unconcerned about what is going to happen next, because it is already a perfect manifestation as it is. Being in the bhava allows a person to feels God’s presence in other beings as well. It allows the individual to feel that life is a gift, that it has been given to us. So generally speaking, people in the bhava feel gratitude, and they are recipients of humility because they cannot identify with their smaller self nor do they consider themselves to be greater than other individuals. They see their own lives as really opportunities to serve the greater community so that other people can also taste... read more
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