Guide To Kirtan Kriya Meditation—Sa Ta Na Ma & Benefits

Kirtan Kriya meditation technique
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I love Kirtan Kriya meditation technique. You might know it by the name “Sa Ta Na Ma meditation”.

I love this technique because it makes me feel so joyful and warm in my heart. Indeed, happiness is one of the benefits of Kirtan Kriya meditation.

Yogis have practised Kirtan Kriya meditation for thousands of years. And it is especially important in Kundalini Yoga (read: Kundalini meditation).

It is a singing based method. So, if you enjoy singing as I do, you will love this. Actually, if you do enjoy singing you will love my guide to meditation for singers.

We sing the sound Sa Ta Na Ma, pronounced with elongated vowels (“Saa Taa Naa Maa”). Meanwhile, we also use hand positions called mudras.

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Let’s take a look at the meaning of Kirtan Kriya meditation, and then the procedure and its benefits.

Meaning of Kirtan Kriya meditation and “Sa Ta Na Ma”

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It is important to know the meaning of the Kirtan Kriya meditation before practising.

The name comes from two Sanskrit words: Kirtan and Kriya. We pronounce it “KER-tun KREE-a”.

“Kirtan” is a Sanskrit word that means narrative or story. This concept stems from Hindu chants and prayers [READ: Chanting meditation].

Originally, these would be sung to honour the gods. They would be accompanied by music and acting.

A “Kriya” is a set of practices used to achieve a specific outcome. These practices include breathing techniques and physical exercises.

When we do Kirtan Kriya meditation, we use the Kirtan “Sa Ta Na Ma”, which basically means “True Identity”.  This is the meaning from Sikhism.

In yoga, Sa Ta Na Ma means something different:

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

Ultimately, this interpretation represents the cycle of creation.

Let’s look at how to do Kirtan Kriya meditation and its benefits.

How To Do Kirtan Kriya Meditation Technique

1: Sit with good posture.

Make sure your spine is straight but relaxed. Close your eyes but leave a very slight opening. Traditionally we would dress in pure white with a shawl. According to Yogi Bhajan, a person performing this meditation dressed in pure white “Will know the unknowable, see the unseeable”.

2: Start to sing the mantra “Sa Ta Na Ma”.

While singing, focus on the sound of the mantra. You should sing with the proper melody, like so:

While singing, use the following mudras (hand positions):

2a: While singing “Saa”, touch your thumbs and index fingers together on both hands.

2b: On “Taa’, touch the middle fingers and thumbs.

2c: When you get to “Naa”, touch your ring fingers and thumbs.

2d: Finally, on “Maa”, touch the little fingers and thumbs.

Touching the fingers in this way brings mental health benefits.

  • Index finger: Used for knowledge.
  • Middle finger: For purity and patience.
  • Ring finger: For vitality.
  • Little finger: For communication.

3: As you sing each syllable, visualize the sound flowing through the chakras.

Work in this order:

  • Crown chakra
  • Third Eye Chakra
  • Throat Chakra
  • Heart Chakra
  • Solarplexus Chakra
  • Sacral Chakra
  • Root Chakra.

4: How to sing

  1. For the first two minutes, sing with your regular voice.
  2. Now sing for two minutes in a whisper.
  3. Now sing the sound inwardly (silently and only in your mind).
  4. Reverse the order above (go through the steps again in order c), b), a))

4: Take a deep breath and stretch your hands over your head. Now bring them down in a sweeping motion on the exhale.

Sa Ta Na Ma / Kirtan Kriya Benefits

Would you believe that just twelve minutes of Kirtan Kriya meditation can heal you? Specifically, it can create mental balance, longevity, and positivity.

Although simple, there is actually a lot going on in this meditation.

For instance, chanting a mantra can stimulate the 84 acupuncture meridian points that are located in the roof of the mouth. When we do this, we send signals to the hypothalamus part of the brain. This is the part of the brain involved with vital organs, sleep, hormones, hunger, and body temperature. And that’s just one part of this meditation.

We also have the mudras. When we perform mudras, we activate acupressure points in the hands that create positive states of mind. Plus, this exercises the motor areas of the brain.

And then we also get all the regular benefits of meditation. For instance, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and reduced activity in the sympathetic nervous system. Ultimately, this helps us to relax and focus.

Scientific research

Improves Cognitive Ability

One scientific study shows that Kirtan Kriya benefits our brain and improves cognitive ability. The study asked participants to practise Kirtan Kriya meditation for twelve minutes per day. After eight weeks, participants showed a 50% improvement in memory power. Plus, they also showed better mental clarity.

Improves Telomerase Activity

More research comes from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). They state that Kirtan Kriya meditation benefits brain longevity. This happens because it boosts telomerase levels. Telomerase is an enzyme that can reverse cellular ageing.

They also state that the method can help with memory loss and cognitive impairment. Because of this, experts like the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation consider it a potential aid for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Reduces Stress and Depression

You already know that meditation can help with stress and depression. And that includes Kirtan Kriya meditation technique. It improves blood flow to the brain. Plus, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Summary

Kirtan Kriya meditation is a wonderful practice. When I use this method, I feel uplifted and joyful. It combines the best elements of singing with the best of meditation. And the result is pure bliss.

If you would like to learn Kirtan Kriya and other Kundalini meditation techniques, book an online meditation lesson with me today.

SOURCES:

1: García-Sesnich JN, Flores MG, Ríos MH, Aravena JG. Longitudinal and Immediate Effect of Kundalini Yoga on Salivary Levels of Cortisol and Activity of Alpha-Amylase and Its Effect on Perceived Stress. Int J Yoga. 2017;10(2):73-80. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_45_16

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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