Top 10 chanting (kirtan) albums

Hello pop pickers!

Off the back of what may have been Harpenden’s inaugural evening of Sanskrit chanting last weekend, I’d like to share my favourite chanting albums with you.

You’ve got no excuses now – you can get your Om on in the car, whilst doing the washing up, or on the 8:04 to London St Pancras. As with all the best hit parades, we’ll start in reverse order (click on the titles to buy/listen to the albums):


Amma10: Bhajans (songs) from any of Amma’s World Tours

Amma, otherwise known as ‘the Hugging Mother’ loves to chant. I’ve chanted with her on her world tour when she’s visited Alexandra Palace in North London, and I’ve also been honoured to join her at her ashram in Kerala. In Kerala she had me in tears (read about my Amma experience).

Her chanting is proper traditional Indian yoga chanting and a proper slice of devotion (bhakti).


Wah! Maa9: Wah! – Maa

And now for something completely different… Featuring the music of American singer/yogi Wah Devi, she mixes traditional Sanskrit mantras with a bit of funk and dance.

Not at all traditional but rather good none the less.



Heart-Soul-kirtaniyas8: The Kirtaniyas – Heart and Soul

I first heard of this group last year via the harmonium teacher Daniel Tucker and I really like this album. They’re not amazingly well known and you can download via their website by simply naming your price.

When they chant ‘Hari Bol’ I always think they’re saying ‘horrible’ over and over again.


Peter Kater, 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama7:  Peter Kater – 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

Ok, this isn’t strictly a kirtan (chanting) album. It’s the soundtrack for a film about His Holiness the Dalai Lama but it does feature Tibetan Buddhist chanting. It’s by multi-platinum selling Pianist/Composer/Producer Peter Kater, who has received six Grammy award nominations. He’s amazing. It’s amazing.


Sivananda Yoga Chants of India6: Sivananda – Yoga Chants of India

This album features snippets of audio sung by Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda – the teachers who founded the school of yoga where I originally did my teacher training.

It also features modern takes on traditional chants, including one led by Swami Krishnadevananda who ran the Putney Sivananda Centre where I taught for a few years. He was about six foot five, from South Carolina and he rocked the harmonium. The version of Raghu Pati Raghava provides a chance to hear his voice.


And now for this week’s top five…


deva premal love is space5: Deva Premal – Love is Space

If you’re interested in yoga music, it’s a given that you’ve heard of the lovely Deva. She’s sold around a million CDs internationally and visited London last month as part of a world tour.

I really don’t like this album cover but her version of the Gayatri Mantra is fab.


jai uttal ben leinbach4. Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach – Music for Yoga and Other Joys

This is a chilled out yoga album. Think Goan beachfront café made of coconut palm fronds, sitting watching the sunset… and that’s where this album takes you. It’s Café del Mar meets yoga.

Nataraja is my favourite.


snatam kaur3. Snatam Kaur – Anand

Snatam is slightly different to the other yogis included here. She chants in Gurmukhi – a language that’s Sanskrit based, but not pure Sanskrit – and she was brought up in the Sikh Kundalini yoga lineage as taught by Yogi Bhajan.

She has a wonderful voice and the name of this album – Anand – translates as ‘bliss’.


Krishna Das

2. Krishna Das – Heart Full of Soul

Called ‘the American chant master’ for good reason, Krishna Das is another kirtan stalwart.

The first time I saw him in London, I was blown away. It was at the Union Chapel on Upper Street and everyone really gave their hearts and a lot of soul.



And it’s a non-mover at number one…


Jai-Uttal-Kirtan-The-Art-Of-Ecstatic-Chant1. Jai Uttal – kirtan: the art and practice of ecstatic chant

This is my favourite kirtan album. It’s two CDs and contains over two hours of great chanting. Jai also gives an introduction to the practice and talks about what drew him to it.

His voice gives you energy and you’ll be joining in in no time…


So that’s my top 10. Have I missed your favourite out? Feel free to comment below as I’m always looking to expand my CD/iTunes collection…

Oh and we’re going to set another date for a Harpenden chanting evening. If you’d like to come and I don’t have your email address, email me.

Yogi Yin tunes

I must say that I’m rather enjoying teaching my Sunday morning Yin yoga class at Bermondsey Fayre, SE1. I’m used to teaching Hatha yoga which involves more movement and you get through a lot more poses.

But Yin places emphasis on stillness and prolonged time in postures to encourage the connective tissue to lengthen. We do some warm up movements such as ‘happy baby’ and ‘cat and cow’ and sometimes the odd bit of partner yoga which is always a giggle. One of the big differences is that I’m playing music in class for the first time. This helps to focus people’s attention as one pose can seem like a lifetime.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’ve always been rather fond of music. Whether it’s singing musicals in the car, chanting sanskrit mantras in satsangs, or having karaoke birthday parties (my favourite karaoke number is Elton and Kiki – Don’t go breaking my heart. A classic, I’m sure you’ll agree). Now let me tell you a secret. Sometimes in class I have to suppress the urge to sing along. It’s true. And that would not be relaxing for students.

I’m spending some time today putting together a playlist for Sunday’s class:

Yin class screen grab from iTunes

Mali Music album cover
Mali Music

It features some yogi stalwarts such as Deva Premal and Jai Uttal, but I’m enjoying throwing in some unexpected ones. Nora Mangiamele taught me to teach Yin and she always started the class with some upbeat numbers. I love Hot Chip and the mysterious dubstep man who was known simply as ‘Burial’ for a long time, like music’s answer to Banksy. One of his tunes is called ‘In McDonalds’ but somehow I didn’t think that was right for yoga.

Mali Music was one of Damon Albarn’s projects, working with musicians in the African country. The album’s happy and the Blur man can do no wrong in my opinion.

I heard about Wah! a few years ago on my first teacher training when a buddy was raving about her. She’s American and her actual name is Wah Devi. Imagine that.

Wah! Maa album cover
Wah! Maa

I was thinking earlier that some of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells would work well in class so I downloaded Sentinel from iTunes.

And if any of you enjoyed the music from the French film Amelie, you’ve got Yann Tiersen to thank for that. This song Kala isn’t quite so ‘in your face’ as the Amelie soundtrack but still has a quirky feel to it and feels relaxed enough to play in class.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn is a Pakistani musician who’s pretty well known. His music featured in the soundtrack for the film ‘Dead Man Walking’ with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. I can see that some people might think that he sounds rather like a wailing man in the throes of death, but I like him. However, I like Take That and some people think that’s ridiculous too. Here’s a song from ‘Dead Man Walking’:

Nora introduced me to Peter Kater and this is the music from the 2006 film, ’10 questions for the Dalai Lama’. In this documentary the film maker interviews His Holiness in Dharamsala, India. The soundtrack has beautiful piano pieces and some feature Tibetan monks chanting mantras. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Dharamsala and Rewalsar Lake in Himachal Pradesh with my Dad and this music instantly transports me back there to monasteries where we sat listening to chanting monks with fantastically long squawky trumpets.

So anyway, feel free to download these songs from iTunes and create your own Yin yoga playlist. Or even better, come along to the class on Sunday and try Yin yoga with me. Contact Bermondsey Fayre to book your place.

Do you have any songs you enjoy playing during yoga? I’m always keen to hear other people’s suggestions. Feel free to leave your comments below…

Chanting monks
Me and my Dad sitting with chanting Tibetan monks (2010)