“The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

It all started with a seed that was placed in my heart, an inner knowing, that one day I’d bring people together to share in the celebration of Kirtan right here on the beach at the Brighton Baths Health Club.

I was originally introduced to Kirtan when I attended yoga school at the Krishna Village, an eco-yoga community in NSW. As part of a six week intensive 200 hr yoga teacher training we were required to attend Kirtan nearly every day at 12:00 noon. I admittedly was quite resistant at first. I didn’t understand the words (often chanted in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language) and I thought it was all a bit strange…something only mystics with long beards and hippies partook in (memories of the Beatles chanting along-side Maharishi Mahesh Yogi filled my mind). Still I determinedly attended day in and day out, attempting to connect with this deep sense of inner-peace that Kirtan was meant to unveil…a peace yoga teaches us is already within.

It wasn’t until I returned to Melbourne after 6 weeks of living amongst the peace of an ashram that I realised the power of Kirtan. The Rajasic (hectic) city energy left me feeling overwhelmed and I instinctually and surprisingly found myself google searching ‘Kirtan in Melbourne.’ I stumbled upon a little community centre in Collingwood called Gokula House and hours later I was deeply immersed in three hours of chanting, chai, and sound vibration. This was the beginning of my newfound love…

Nearly a year and a half later I would find myself on the boardwalk at the Brighton Bath’s Health Club having a chat to one of our members and long-time yoga students Harb Gill. Her and her husband, Phil Gunter, had just returned from an ashram in India and her heart was exuberantly bursting with excitement and passion as she shared new songs they had learned. Without hesitation, I said, “We should host a Kirtan at the baths!” and the rest is history…

 [ What is Kirtan? ]

Kirtan is a form of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love. To me this translates as giving purely from your heart without the expectation of receiving anything in return and in that way you can bring joy to those around you and in your community. Mahatma Ghandi beautifully summarised this concept when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Traditionally Kirtan is the call-and-response singing of ancient Vedic mantras, mantras that have been chanted for thousands of years. Rather than being a performance, Kirtan is a journey of self-discovery weaving together melody, music and mantra with people responding to the words of the singer igniting clapping, swaying and sometimes dancing. Simultaneously it is a meditative and closely personal experience, by which if you allow yourself to surrender and relinquish your judgements you have the opportunity to experience a deep sense of peace and connection within.

 [ The Big Night ] 

Words cannot express our gratitude for the people who came together to make this event such a BIG success. Thank you to the musicians who unconditionally gave their time, commitment and soul. The attendees, many attending Kirtan for the first time, for being inquisitive and open to new experiences and for the beautiful ‘clink, clink’ of their gold coin donations. And the weather-man for calming the storm and blessing us with the most perfect evening.

We collectively raised our spirits and funds to support Yogahood, a  non-profit on a mission to provide free yoga classes to at-risk and underserved men, women, and youth in Melbourne, Victoria and right across Australia in the future.

– THANK YOU + Namaste –

Musicians: Harb Gill, Phil Gunter, Boaz Modman, Mary-Anne Steele, Sam Cox, Leela Fernandez, Wayne Fernandez, Isi Lumbroso, Scott Fraser, Sia Maniatis, and Marnie Sather.

written by: Katrina leavitt. Article originally posted on March 5th, 2018 on the Brighton Baths Health Club Blog