kirtan kriya

What if I told you that practicing yoga for just 12 minutes every day can alter your life forever? Practiced for over a thousand years, Kirtan Kriya is a Kundalini yoga routine that can stimulate mental balance, positivity, and longevity. Kundalini yoga is a well-known ancient art form that helps you transform and expand consciousness by awakening the Kundalini energy which lies dormant at the base of the spine.

Kirtan Kriya can be aptly described as a “multisensory meditation” that involves breath, mudras (finger movements), mantras (chants), and visualization. Through this article, you will get a clear picture of how to practice Kirtan Kriya the right way, so it can seamlessly become a part of your life and pave the way to a new you.

What Is A Kirtan?

First, let’s take a look at what a Kirtan is. Rooted in Sanskrit, the word ‘Kirtan’ means narrating or reciting an idea or story. It is a tradition that originates from Indian religions in which the devotees chant prayers and sing hymns in praise of the gods and goddesses. The chanting is often accompanied by musical instruments and acting performances.

As far as Kundalini yoga is concerned, a Kirtan involves chanting the notes “Sa Ta Na Ma” along with the respective mudras in order to guide a yogi into an immersive sound meditation practice that can awaken their mind and alleviate stress.

I will be covering each sound in detail in the following sections.

Recommended Reading: The 10 Bodies of Yoga and How to Activate Them

What Does Kirtan Kriya Do?

According to yogis who regularly practice it (including myself), Kirtan Kriya is a yoga meditation that stimulates all the senses and the areas of the brain that control them. For example, when you utter a mantra, the movement of your tongue can stimulate the 84 acupuncture meridian points 1 located in the roof of your youth, sending signals to the hypothalamus—the part of the brain that controls vital bodily functions including hunger, regulation of body temperature, sleep, hormone secretion from the pituitary gland, etc. Similarly, the lip and finger movements you make can activate the sensory and motor areas of the brain, thanks to the dense nerve endings in the fingertips and lips.

In other words, mastering Kirtan kriya can reprogram your subconscious mind and mold your consciousness.

breath of fire

What Are The Benefits Of Kirtan Kriya Meditation?

Let’s take a look at how this powerful meditation brings about remarkable changes in your life by helping you tap into your full potential.

  1. Enhances Brain Function: Research proves that Kirtan Kriya practice has proven to have some incredible benefits on cognitive health. One study2 that involved participants who meditated for 12 minutes daily for eight weeks experienced a 50% improvement in their memory power and an overall increase in mental clarity.
  2. Heightens Telomerase Activity: Another breakthrough study3 conducted at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) came to the conclusion that regular practice of Kirtan Kriya meditation increases brain longevity by boosting the telomerase levels in the body—the enzyme that is capable of reversing the cellular aging process. This research identified Kirtan Kriya as a promising approach for correcting mild cognitive impairment and memory loss. Experts are also of the opinion that it may inspire some groundbreaking advances in the field of Dementia and Alzheimer’s research.
  3. Controls stress and depression: Certain other studies4 focused on this yogic meditation have revealed how it may help battle depressive symptoms and improve mental health by increasing blood flow into the brain and stimulating the nervous system.

What Does Sa Ta Na Ma Mantra Mean?

Kirtan Kriya yoga practice can be ideally defined as a “singing meditation” as it involves the repetition of four primal sounds, namely Sa, Ta, Na, and Ma. Each of these sounds has unique meanings:

  • Sa: Infinity, cosmos, beginning
  • Ta: Life, existence
  • Na: Death, change, transformation
  • Ma: Rebirth

This is the uplifting mantra you will be chanting throughout the practice. It symbolizes the cycle of creation—from the infinity emerges the cosmos, out of which life is born. Life leads to individual existence, which in turn makes way for death or change. And out of death comes the rebirth of consciousness, and ultimately, the joy of the infinite.

Get it now!

How to Do Kirtan Kriya: Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Step 1: Tune In

Like all Kundalini yoga meditations, let’s begin with the Adi Mantra: Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, which translates to “I bow to the creative wisdom, I bow to the divine teacher within.

Chant this mantra 3 times.

Step 2: Posture

Sit with a straight spine in the easy pose—the basic seated yoga pose with your head facing forward, hands resting on your knees, and legs crossed. If you are a beginner, you can start by sitting back straight on a chair, with your feet flat on the ground and knees hip-width apart.

Step 3: Eyes

Meditate at the Brow Point, the point between the eyebrows known as the ‘commanding circle’. According to ancient scriptures, a part of your soul’s consciousness is out there in the world (the mind) and another part lives in your body. When you meditate at the Brow Point, your consciousness merges and awareness is at a 100%—this is when your Kundalini energy truly awakens.

Keep your eyes half-open at first and focus on the point between your eyebrows. Ensure that you don’t strain yourself when doing this. Being aware of the tip of your nose might help you concentrate slightly better. Be conscious of your surroundings melting away slowly, until your focus is only on the One—the ultimate being. You can close your eyes at this point if you want if that will help you focus better.

kundalini chanting

Step 4: Mantra

Rest your hands on your knees, with palms facing upwards. Make sure that you are comfortable and your back is straight. Now chant the sounds “Saa Taa Naa Maa” one after the other.

You can chant in three languages of consciousness:

  • Human: Loud or normal voice
  • Lovers: Strong whisper
  • Divine: Silently, in your mind

Step 5: Mudra

The way you move your fingers plays a vital role in channeling the energy flow during the process. The Sa Ta Na Ma mantra can be chanted with different mudras, out of which, the Gyan Mudra is the most common. The mudra will keep changing throughout the mantra, each time you touch your thumb with a finger.

As you chant, focus on joining the thumb with a fingertip in the following order:

  • On Saa, touch the Jupiter finger (Index finger)
  • On Taa, touch the Saturn finger (Middle finger)
  • On Naa, touch the Sun finger (Ring finger)
  • On Maa, touch the Mercury finger (Pinky)

Remember, each time you practice a mudra by joining the thumb with a finger, the ego seals the effect of that mudra into your consciousness:

  • Index finger: Brings in knowledge
  • Middle finger: Enhances patience and purity
  • Ring finger: Improves vitality
  • The Pinky: Facilitates clear communication

Step 6: Flow

As you chant the mantras and form each mudra, visualize the energy flowing through each of your chakras in an “L” form (the same posture you are sitting in). Starting from the Crown Chakra, it will flow through the Third Eye Chakra, followed by the Throat Chakra, Heart Chakra, Solar Plexus Chakra, Sacral Chakra, and finally the Root Chakra.

Step 7: Time

It takes about 3-4 seconds to complete each repetition of the mantra. You can alternate between the loud, whisper and silent chants every few minutes until you complete your meditation.

Older adults are recommended to follow this sequence to reverse memory loss:

  • Chant loudly for 2 minutes
  • Chant in a whisper for 2 minutes
  • Chant in your mind for 2 minutes
  • Chant loudly again for 2 minutes
  • Chant in a whisper for 2 minutes
  • Chant silently for 2 minutes

Others can practice this sequence for up to 30 minutes:

  • Chant in a normal voice for 5 minutes
  • Chant in a whisper for 5 minutes
  • Chant silently for 10 minutes
  • Chant in a whisper for 5 minutes
  • Chant in a loud voice for 5 minutes

Step 8: Stretch

Wrap it up by stretching your arms over your head, fingers spread wide. Hold the position as you inhale and exhale 3 times. Slowly relax your fingers and bring your arms back down towards your chest in a prayer position and end with the mantra “Sat nam“, meaning, “truth is my identity.”

Things to Keep in Mind

Practicing this meditation is an art and a science at the same time because it can refine consciousness and retrieve quantifiable results simultaneously. But for the same reason, it could pose problems if not followed properly, so make sure you get proper guidance.

If you get distracted while meditating silently, switch back to a whisper and then to a loud voice and then again to a whisper to focus better.

If 30 minutes seem too much in the beginning, start off with 12 minutes a day, and then increase the duration gradually.

Kundali Master Yogi Bhajan said that a person who dresses in pure white and practices this sound meditation for 30 minutes to 2 hours a day for a year, “Will know the unknowable, see the unseeable”.

So, are you ready to unlock the secrets of the universe? Feel free to voice your queries regarding Kirtan Kriya in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to clear them for you.

Stay safe,

Much love


View Article references (-)

Yoga and Kirtan Kriya meditation bolster brain functioning. (2016, 1). Psychology Today.

The incredible power of Kirtan Kriya: A conversation on brain health and longevity with Dr. Chris Walling. (n.d.). Kripalu.

The incredible power of Kirtan Kriya: A conversation on brain health and longevity with Dr. Chris Walling. (n.d.). Kripalu.

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