Barrie's Blog

5 Questions For Shantala, Part 2

Oct 16, 2015

In the second installment of my interview with Shantala, Benjy and Heather share their perspective on how kirtan has developed in the context of Western yoga culture and some of the important questions and challenges facing the evolution of the Western Bhakti movement. We're looking forward to welcoming them back to Shri Yoga this Monday, October 19.

BARRIE: Just as asana practice has evolved to meet the needs of Western students, how has kirtan developed? What are some of the up sides and down sides of this evolution from your perspective?

BENJY & HEATHER: Over the last fifty years or so, there has been a wave of yoga practices – centering especially around asana in North America, Europe, and increasingly around the world – that has now become strongly integrated into western culture. Following the wave of the rapidly increasing popularity of asana, kirtan (as well as some other spiritual practices) has also become an important part of many...

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5 Questions For Shantala, Part 1

Oct 15, 2015

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. We're looking forward to welcoming them back to Shri Yoga this Monday, October 19.

1.     Tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in leading kirtan and devotional chanting.

The path that brought each of us into this role is somewhat different, but it’s also...

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Gratitude Day

Oct 12, 2015

How about including your body?

It’s your vehicle, your instrument, the house of your spirit, the sacred vessel of consciousness and the living, breathing miracle of your existence on this earth.

Amidst the aches and pains you might be experiencing, think of the thousands of things that go right to make it possible for you to get out of bed in the morning.

For a moment, set aside your judgments and complaints about all the ways it doesn’t  live up to your expectations for it, and thank your body for its immense and unceasing efforts in service to all you do.

Then, if you wish to go a step further, consider who is doing the thanking.

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Seriously, Though, Don't Go Back To Sleep

Oct 09, 2015

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

I take these words quite literally these days. As the weather turns colder and I become ever more comfortable under the covers, when the alarm clock rings and its time to get up for meditation, hopefully I can remember, Don’t go back to sleep, and all that implies.

More profoundly, though, this poem calls on us to nurture our experience of awakening. It asks us to clarify and then commit to the shifts we really want to make. It encourages us with the possibility of stepping through the doorsill into a new way of being. It also speaks to the perseverance needed to stay engaged with and interested in our own...

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