Kirtan with Nina Rao and Ambika Cooper

Kirtan 2 - Ambika Cooper & Nina Rao

Last Friday, my husband and I attended a Kirtan with Ambika Cooper and Nina Rao hosted by Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. This was my second Kirtan (read about my first experience and Kirtan 101 here) and my husband’s first.

This time I was more relaxed and knew what to expect. As a visual learner, I also appreciated that they handled out lyrics to all of the mantras/chants beforehand. Ambika and Nina are beautiful singers while the drumming spoke to my soul (I’m partial to drums). The crowd was more lively this time – one woman was dancing in the corner, most swayed to the melodies.

My favorite mantra continues to be the Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna). It starts slow, building the energy. Then speeds up as if the song and singers are overflowing with prana (life force).

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

“Hare” is an address to God’s energy, known as Radha, and “Krishna” is name of God meaning “He who is attractive to everyone.” “Rama” means “one who gives pleasure and enjoys life.” When chanted the maha-mantra is a petition to God: “O Krishna, O energy of Krishna, please engage me in Your service.” ~Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Kirtan - Ambika Cooper & Nina Rao

Yoga book reviews: Hell-Bent & May I Be Happy

Hell Bent

Earlier this month I finished two more yoga themed books. This time more autobiography/research and less novel. My reviews below for Hell-Bent and May I Be Happy.

Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga (by Benjamin Lorr)
Hell-Bent covers the history and experience of Bikram Yoga (sometimes confused with hot yoga).It also explores the competitive side of yoga found at the National Yoga Asana Championships and the fight club like Backbending club. The writer does a great job of including various people’s stories and view points. He doesn’t shy away from fully describing the eccentric character of the founder, Bikram Choudhury. Although this book only confirmed my lack of desire to try out a Bikram class, I found it absolutely fascinating and give it * * * * (4 of 5) stars.

  • Bikram Yoga classes consist of a copyrighted 90 minute sequence of poses practiced in a room heated to about 105°F (≈ 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%
  • Bikram yoga teacher certification requires a 9-week intensive course that costs $11,000-$15,000!!!
  • The founder, Bikram Choudhury, wanted to make sure official Bikram Yoga classes stayed aligned with his vision so all certified teachers are required to recite the Bikram dialogue verbatim in every Bikram class
  • Some heath claims of practicing yoga in heat – “improved physical performance of the body. Specifically, blood vessels dilate and tissue expands improving blood flow and distribution of oxygen throughout the body. This creates an overall sense of well-being. Additionally, other athletes have adopted the heat as a part of their training routine similar to the way some athletes practice at mile high altitudes to improve their ability to absorb oxygen….. Other suggested benefits include the flushing of toxins and impurities from the body through hard work and sweat.” (source: Wikipedia)


May I Be Happy

May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind  (by Cyndi Lee)

Full disclosure – I only finished half of this book. The memoir explores why many woman dislike their bodies and how the author learns to embrace hers with the help of yoga. As someone who has struggled with this as well, I really wanted to like this book. However, I found the organization random and the style was like reading sporadic parts of someone’s diary. Since I didn’t finish the book, I must state it’s possible that the second half would have redeemed itself….. regardless, I give it * (1 out of 5) star.