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The Power of Sound: Simrit Kaur

I definitely remember when I first heard Simrit’s music. It was in a yoga class a few years ago at Wild Mountain Yoga in my hometown of Nevada City, California. After class, I asked the teacher who the artist was that was gracing our asana, and then I immeditately went home and purchased the album. Her sound is timeless and refreshing at the same time. When you hear her sing you know she is fully connected and in the flow. Her magestic world music sound has a way of bringing back the ‘remembering’ as well as inpsiring optimism for the future, all while being present. Her devotion appears effortless. All yoga teachers, music aficianados, and lovers of the mystery will appreciate this music. Thank YOU Simrit, for allowing us to catch up with you and learn a bit more about your story…

Can you share with us your first memories of exploring your own voice thru singing?

The first time I explored my voice was in my home in first grade.  I explored and sang with my voice since even younger…My mom said I sang when I was a baby/toddler, but the first time I remember actually sitting and listening back and singing interesting scales and notes was when I was in first grade.  I would sit in the corner of our living room and record myself on a tape player while singing and making up songs and lyrics.  Then I would play the recording back and figure out where I wanted to change the song or add things. 

When did you know that sound and music was your calling and what helped you believe in your path?

Interestingly enough, I was born to a lineage of Beloved Greek singers in Greece, so music has always been my path, and I was always playing music and taking lessons in piano and voice and drums since the time I was in grade school.  However, I didn’t realize I was going to do this as a life path until about 3-4 years ago.  I created two albums and never marketed them or did anything about them.  I just created them out of sheer joy and love of music.  People had been telling me I should tour more, etc, etc…but I didn’t.  They told me that the music was changing their lives and touching them deeply.  They told me that hearing me live was very powerful.  I played some concerts here and there….but never full-on toured like I do today.  One day, I just woke up and saw that I needed to do this thing myself and not rely on something to “just happen”.  That’s when I realized it was my calling…..when I felt a shift in perspective on a visceral level and also when I felt the drive to do this no matter how much work it takes, because it takes an immense amount of work.  However, when you love something so much, you’ll do any amount of work it takes to nourish it.   
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All photography by: Ingrid Nelson

Why is the power of sound so important in yoga and life?

Yoga is all about sound, audible or inaudible.  Being one with the sound is yoga..hearing and feeling sound internally and externally and merging your internal with that external sound.  Yoga isn’t some practice we do on mats or in yoga studios.  That’s simply practice so we can experience yoga.  Yoga is a state of being.  I’m not sure when it became some thing that people do in studios.  Yoga is what life is all about.  

What are your insights on how to create a better relationship with the voice and how to use the human voice to heal?

Stop trying to sound like someone else and start working with your natural sound, uncontrived.  Once we start trying to sound like someone else, we cut the soul out of our experience.  The real healing happens when we embrace our own, unique sound and refine from there. 

What is the main message you would like people to receive from your new album, ‘Songs of Resilience’?

That no matter what we go through, we are as resilient as we want to be.
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Who or what has inspired you the most along the way?

My Mamma, my Pappa, and my Brother.  They all have immense hearts.  My husband….he’s so incredibly intelligent and wise…way beyond his years, but most of all…..so dedicated, kind and SO generous.  He truly walks his talk.  My son, for being unapologetically his own.  Life….It has taught me so much about myself and others.  Music….a constant teacher and inspiration. I’ve been blessed to meet many teachers in my life along the way that have helped me to see life for what it is and see myself for who I am. 

Can you share a simple mantra to include in a daily practice?

Sat Nam.  Sat means truth and Nam means name.  It is the easiest way to direct the mind to tune into what we really are….Truth…which is beyond the mind’s conception.

SAT NAM

 

 

 

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Simrit Kaur’s energy and music have a way of deeply touching people, understanding them, and bringing them with her into the unapologetic realm of the soul. Hailed world-wide for her haunting voice, music and undeniable and rare ability to transmit deep humanity and pure love through her sound, Simrit is known for her revolutionary innovation in hypnotic world and chant music that heals and evokes the innate power within all. She is a Renaissance woman who is the CEO of her independent record label, SIMRIT KAUR MUSIC, LLC, and she has topped World Music Charts including iTunes at #1 for consecutive weeks at a time, many times over, and Billboard’s top 5 in the World and New Age Music category.  Her voice communicates with so much humanity. As an orphan child from the moment she was born in Greece, Simrit was the heir of a very distinct sound that she genetically inherited from a lineage of beloved Greek women singers going all the way from her mother (who was too young to take care of her) through her great grandmother. As a toddler, she was adopted by another Greek family from the American South, and she was raised in a rich Greek culture in South Carolina. Simrit records music and tours the world giving concerts and workshops with her band.  She is the creator of The Supreme Sound, a yogic voice cultivation online course that has been attended by thousands across the globe.  She is the co-creator of The Sweetest Love, an online course that she created with her husband that helps people deeply enjoy and succeed in their love relationships.

CONNECT:

SIMRITKAURMUSIC.COM

Facebook:  simritmusic

Instagram: @simritkaur

You Know You’re Ready When…

“S.H.R.I.I…S.H.R.I.I…A.N.A.N.D.A……
Shrii Shrii Ananda …….M.U….”

“Murti?” I asked.

I almost couldn’t believe it, when I heard the well spoken man from Guatemala City, spell out the name of my Guru to the internet cafe helper, who was helping him type his login password. He was as equally surprised to find that I, a fresh young traveling yogini from Texas, was able to finish his thought, and the name of his most sacred and beloved teacher.

At that point, I had only heard my Guru’s name spoken a handful of times, as I was very new to the tantric lineage of Ananda Marga, and still in the process of being introduced to the teacher and philosophical teachings.

Before Ananda Marga, my experiences of yoga were primarily asana based, within public studios. However, within the four and a half months leading me up to my big Central American adventure (my first solo international travel experience abroad), I had attended two intensive retreats, that were based on living life through selfless service and devotional approaches to yoga. During these intensives, I learned about the 8 branches within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and had gained several tools and insights into the preparation and practices of meditation. My favorite tool to help focus the mind before meditation is the use of a mantra (a collection of syllables to free and focus the mind), and kiirtan, which is the singing of mantra.

After a long chat at the internet cafe, I came to find out that my new Guatemalan friend, had been a part of Ananda Marga since the 1970s, and had even met the founder, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, before his passing.

He ran a yoga based hotel in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan, and invited me over for kiirtan, meditation, and dinner. After completing our devotional practices and meal, I was invited to teach about the 8 branches of ashtanga yoga to the other guests and volunteers of the resort, and to lead them through the practices of kiirtan and meditation. Immediately my self doubt began to set in, and I quickly searched for any excuse I could come up with to redirect the conversation away from my invitation to teach.

There were numerous yoga classes, being taught daily in San Marcos by experienced and certified instructors, and I was just a young, fresh, twenty two year old gypsy, who was still in the process of learning about different ideas and approaches to yoga. I tried to come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t lead a kiirtan and meditation group at his hotel, but I had already revealed to him my desire to one day become a yoga teacher, and he wasn’t about to let me escape this opportunity so easily.

It was then that he gave me one of the greatest teachings of my career. A lesson that I still pass on to all of my students in training to become yoga teachers.

“Trust that you’re ready to teach, as soon as the universe asks for your teachings.”

My new friend helped me to build confidence in knowing that I had everything I needed within that moment, to answer the call of the universe, and step into my new role as a bhakti yoga teacher.

I didn’t think that many people would show up for a class on devotional yoga philosophy and meditation, but it turned out that no other instructor on the lake was currently offering yoga classes that went beyond asana during that time, and my workshop was well attended by local yogi ex-pats and travelers. Many of the attendees had been practicing yoga for much longer than myself, but they all seemed genuinely happy and impressed by my devotional offerings, and many even asked if I would consider doing it again, though my travel plans would only allow for that one day.

That was the most full that my heart had felt up until then, and it was during our group kiirtan that I decided to pursue my yogi life goal, of becoming a full time traveling teacher. I often look back to that sleepy rainy day, in a small town in Guatemala, as being the birth place of my yoga teachings and awakening of my inner Guru.

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Mollie Galbraith has taught yoga internationally since 2004, within 11 countries across the globe.

Call and Response Foundation

Kirtan is a group singing and music making experience that blurs the boundaries between performers and audience. Mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.​ Here we catch up with Director of the Call and Response Foundation, Jennifer Canfield. She educates us about the benefits of community kirtan and mantra and gives us more information about this inspiring and soulful foundation. 

Tell us about the vision of the Call and Response Foundation…

The Call & Response Foundation is a registered nonprofit devoted to serving and expanding the mantra music community. Our mission is to share the experience of chanting with one million people by 2020.

Our Outreach program is our fastest growing program with more than a dozen Universities on board our Sacred Sound project.  The Rutgers University event draws over 500 students and embodies our vision of a project we support but is executed and sustained by dedicated community members.​

What are some benefits of chanting and kirtan?

 

-​ ​“According to a research done at the Cleveland University, USA, the rhythmic tones involved in chanting create a melodious effect in the body called the Neuro-linguistic call2effect (NLE). When we know the meaning of the mantra we are reciting, it creates a Psycholinguistic effect (PLE) on the body. The NLE and the PLE effects are by-products of the production and spreading of curative chemicals in the brain. The research concludes that this is the real reason why chanting provokes curative effects in us.
-A study by Dr. Alan Watkins (senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London) revealed that while chanting, our heart rate and blood pressure dip to its lowest in the day. Doctors say that even listening to chants normalises adrenalin levels, brain wave pattern and lowers cholesterol levels.
-Using chants as part of our exercise regimen, helps facilitate movement and flow of the body during exercise.
-Studies prove that making chants a part of our daily yoga can help achieve greater weight loss in a shorter span of time.
-Neuro-scientist Marian Diamond from the University of California found that chanting helps block the release of stress hormones and increases immune function. It also keeps our muscles and joints flexible for a long time.
-The body’s energy and vitality are augmented by regular chanting.
call5-Chanting cures depression: An 8-week study was carried out at the Samarya Center for Integrated Movement Therapy and Ashtanga Yoga in Seattle, WA, to see the effects of chanting on general well-being and particularly respiratory functions in people suffering from mild-to-severe depression. The results showed that chanting helped participants increase control over their breath and expiratory output level. The participants claimed that chanting reduced their anxiety and improved their mood. Researchers thus concluded that if done at least once a week, chanting is an effective means of enhancing people’s moods in the immediate present, as well as over an extended period of time.”

How does your foundation embody “living” yoga?

 

​Our programs and events create opportunities for positive change; especially with marginalized and vulnerable populations.​

Do you offer volunteer opportunities?

 

Yes; we work with volunteers who help us facilitate programs in prisons and other institutions.  We also work with community members who help facilitate our community kirtan programs.​

How can people bring more kirtan to their local communities?

 

One way is for anyone interested in having more kirtan in their community is to call3schedule a free consult with our staff an​d discuss the community kirtan initiative we facilitate.  We have helped establish weekly and monthly kirtans all over the country.  Our resources include making connections with qualified instructors, a grants program for renting space and support scheduling guest presenters.

The Foundation started in 2010 with a dream.

call1Three people who felt more vibrant, calm, and connected through kirtan, the ancient sanskrit practice of call and response chanting, decided to share the practice with as many people as possible. Their research about mantra music and chanting revealed that these practices do indeed improve mental, physical and emotional health. Now, our staff works to connect sacred sound musicians with universities, prisons, psychiatric facilities, refugee communities, shelters, and more so that they can offer free conscious music to participants.

 

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