Mantra yoga is the yoga of sound vibration. Sound, as music, chanting or singing is used as a means of transforming our body and mind so that it becomes a powerful instrument of vital energy, perception and insight.
Mantras help to disperse the chatter of the mind,bringing inner calm and putting us in contact with deeper levels of our Being. The sound vibrations help us to become more aware of patterns in the subconcious, and where necessary, come to terms with them and start to eliminate their negative impact from our lives. Then we start to experience spaciousness within.
The vibration of the sound is more important than the meaning of the words. Each Sanskrit sound has a specific vibration which activates a chakra (energy centre), awakens energy and opens us up to insight. They can also be used for healing, for example, the Mrityun Jaya mantra.
Kirtan is group chanting, informal and everyone is welcome to lead the group in a chant or song. The chanting is often accompanied by instruments, such as tambourines and drums. It's great fun and can even inspire participants to get up and dance!
You don't need to be able to sing in order to chant or join in kirtan. The key element is to take part with an open heart and not to be concerned with how "good" your voice sounds. Regular chanting peels away the layers of ego and self-consciousness to reveal a loving heart and a beautiful voice.