Toronto Kirtan Community

Toronto Kirtan Community
Kirtan Forever!

~ Connecting & Creating Community for Kirtan Lovers in Toronto and Beyond ~

ALL known kirtans are posted below on this website's Kirtan Calendar, on the left side above the list of links.

To receive a weekly newsletter listing kirtan events or to have your kirtan posted, please email

On FaceBook: 'TorontoKirtanCommunity' group: I post the upcoming week's kirtans, as well as interesting articles, videos, photos, links about events and artists.

On Facebook's 'TorontoKirtanCommunity' page: links and information about kirtan and musicians are posted.



Kirtan opens the heart and stills the mind. It is the yoga practice of ecstatic chanting. Through repeating the Divine Names in Sanskrit, the mind is cleared of worry, doubt, fear and all limiting concepts. The joy of peace and infinite love is given to the practitioner, and transmitted through the world by chanting. This is the practice of bhakti yoga or the yoga of devotion. - contributed by Pat Sandford

“Music that is saturated with soul force is the real universal music, understandable by all hearts.” — Paramahansa Yogananda

“Kirtan is for all people. There are no experts, no beginners. The practice itself is the teacher, guiding us to ourselves. Kirtan allows us to enter into a mystery world—a world where all the logic of our minds, all the condition and learning are left outside. And in this mystery, we create a temple inside of our hearts, a place of refuge, a place of love, a place of just being.” —Jai Uttal

"Chanting is a way of getting in touch with yourself. It's an opening of the heart and letting go of the mind and thoughts. It deepens the channel of grace, and it's a way of being present in the moment." -- Krishna Das

"You start doing chanting as technique. You start to sing ‘Shri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram.’ You start thinking it means, Honorable Ram, Hail Ram, Hail Hail Ram. Then after an hour you stop thinking about all of that and you are just singing it. You are realizing the aesthetic of the music and how beautiful it is. Then after a while it starts to go deeper until your heart is just singing, it’s singing from inside you. Then there’s a point where true bhakti starts- where dualism ends and you become like the chant. You are in a space where it’s not emotional anymore. It’s moved into the deeper, intuitive quality of love. Touching that love leaves you with trust in the method and trust in where the method takes you—trust in the Beloved and trust in how you get there." –Ram Dass

"If we know anything about a path at all, it's only because of the Great ones that have gone before us. Out of their love and kindness, they have left some footprints for us to follow. So, in the same way that they wish for us, we wish that all beings everywhere, including ourselves, be safe, be happy, have good health, and enough to eat. And may we all live at ease of heart with whatever comes to us in life."
- Kirtan closing prayer by Krishna Das

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Kirtan with SWAHA Saturday December 11 2010

click on poster for larger view

Holiday Kirtan with SWAHA

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your invited to our special holiday Kirtan hosted by Swaha (Marla Meenakshi and Ron Reid), joined by special guests Chris Gartner, Morgan Doctor, Carlos Lopes and Tara MacLean!

Swaha performs music that is both inspired and uplifting. It is an enticing blend of ethereal Sanskrit vocals soaring over rich earthy rhythms.

As part of this holiday event we will be hosting some sensational guests in our small studio for an open house! Andrea Olivera ( will be on hand with some of her Ayurvedic products available to sample and purchase, joined by other exciting vendors!

Swaha's Cds entitled 'Salutations', 'Vishnu's Dream' and 'Bolo' are available for purchase at both our studio locations as well as on the Swaha website, cdbaby and itunes. Their latest track, released July 2010 titled 'Shanti Pulse' is now available for purchase exclusively online!
Visit at for full details.

"[Meenakshi's] open-hearted chanting soothes the heart and frees the spirit." ~Krishna Das

$ 20 + tax - In advance (Before December 11th)
$ 25 + tax - On the day or at the Door

Thursday, November 11, 2010


click on image for a larger view

A Celebration of Chant & Song

Allow Kirtan to Ignite your Heart!

Join International Kirtan Artist Mike Cohen,

White Swan Recording Chantress, Brenda McMorrow

& Percussionist Extraordinaire Morgan Doctor,

PLUS 6 Toronto Area Kirtan Leaders,

Sitara Maldonado, Shakuntala Lynn, John William Bauld, Alyssa Cohen, Donna Poulidis & Francoise Roy

for an evening of Musical Collaboration & Connection that Promises to Explode with Joy!

This collaborative event includes participants from the Toronto Kirtan Leader Coaching Track, designed and delivered by Mike Cohen. This track was created to support current and aspiring Kirtan leaders in building confidence, competence and skill in the areas of musicianship, leadership and spirituality for the purpose of leading their communities in the heart opening practice of Kirtan. This support is intended to help spread the practice of Kirtan throughout Toronto and beyond, bringing more Love, Awareness and Creativity into our lives and the world.

Sunday Dec 5th, 2010


@ The Yoga Sanctuary

95 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario

4th floor

(Southeast Corner of Broadview/Danforth)

Tickets are $25/ea

*Children Under 6 - free
*6 yrs - 14 yrs - $10

Available at:

Friday, November 5, 2010

FREE online kirtan with KRISHNA DAS Tues Nov 30 7pm EST

Kirtan with Krishna Das

in celebration of 40th anniversary of Ram Dass' "Be Here Now"

Krishna Das - on left, Ram Dass - on right

Tuesday November 30th, 2010 at 7pm EST proudly presents a live web event celebrating Ram Dass' new book 'Be Love Now.' Ram Dass will join Krishna Das in this global celebration. To view this live event, simply log in at





Rebroadcast of Nov 30 Krishna Das kirtan in NYC is available on for the next 30 days - free. (from Dec 7 - Jan 6)

Monday, November 1, 2010

MIKE COHEN returns to Toronto on... Saturday November 27 2010

Sat Nov 27 2010

Sat Nov 27 2010

Sat Nov 27 2010

Building Connection with Self, Others and the Divine

Instructor: Mike Cohen

Saturday, November 27th

3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

$55 (+hst)

This fun, interactive and pragmatic workshop guides you into building connection with self, others and the Divine through the avenues of leadership, community building and spirituality/energetics.

No previous experience required. All are welcome!

Lots of chanting, featuring White Swan recording artist Brenda McMorrow and percussionist extraordinaire Morgan Doctor. Curriculum includes solo reflection, partner inquiry and gentle body movement.

You will leave with an open heart, new friends, and a deeper sense of who you are and what you are here to do. Your experiences will help you bring more love, freedom and inspiration into your world.

All participants receive a 30 page handout titled

'A Bhakti Yoga Perspective on Kirtan'.

for larger view, pls click on image


Mike Cohen, MA is an experienced teacher and healer steeped in the discourses of music, Yoga, Somatics, the Dattatreya lineage of Sri Kaleshwar, Ontology, Integral Philosophy and the Enneagram. He has lived in the worlds of music, leadership and adult development, Integral and Somatic Coaching, bodywork/healing, spirituality/energetics, politics and entrepreneurship. Mike brings Leadership and Spirituality to all he does.

Mike Cohen sings and plays harmonium to lead Kirtan in a manner that blends Eastern spirituality and Western musical influences. Eastern spirituality is represented by Sanskrit mantras that calm minds and opens hearts for the sake of cultivating Divine energy that generates love, freedom and creativity. Western musical sensibilities are represented by typically American/Western musical influences such as funk, soul, rhythm and blues, jazz and rock.

Mike's music is an expression of the Dattatreya lineage of Swami Kaleshwar and Shirdi Sai Baba as transmitted through the teachings of Philip Lipetz, author and one of Sri Kaleshwar's most senior Western students. Mike currently tours internationally with vocalists Joni Allen and Allie Stringer, tabla wizards Jim Feist and Andy Skellenger, bassists Mark Gorman and Patrick Hammond, as well as many other top musicians from today's Kirtan scene including Brenda McMorrow, Lea Longo and Morgan Doctor.

His debut album, Om Dattatreya: Journey to the West was released August 2009 and has garnered rave reviews in Chicago Yoga and LA Yoga Magazines. Mike's musical roots go back to early childhood when he formed a 'Beatles club' with a friend at age 6. As a high school jazz saxophonist Mike toured Europe, recorded albums, and won the top scholarship for outstanding musicianship at the 1984 Berklee School of Music High School Jazz Festival. He went on to study jazz saxophone at the renowned Eastman School of Music, touring and recording with Eastman's top jazz ensembles.

During and immediately after college, Mike performed across the United States and in the Caribbean on cruise ships, in clubs and on the NACA college circuit, including four years with African American Rhythm and Blues singer Jane Powell, the 1989 NACA Performer of the Year. Along the way he received a 1991 National Endowment of the Arts grant to study saxophone with jazz recording artist and educator Jerry Bergonzi and studied with the esteemed saxophone teacher John Purcell.

In 1994, Mike left the world of music to focus on other commitments which led him through the worlds of Integral and Somatic Coaching, leadership and adult development, spirituality/energetics, politics and entrepreneurship. In April 2000, Mike attended his first yoga class where he discovered and immediately fell in love with the practice of Kirtan. He sings and plays harmonium to lead Kirtan events based around his original chants. In the fall of 2006 he launched First Friday Kirtan in Columbus, Ohio that quickly became one of the larger local and ongoing Kirtan events in the US. A recent Kirtan in Cincinnati, OH gathered 300 participants. Mike currently tours the US and beyond, offering Kirtan events and workshops to open hearted souls! Mike recently led Kirtan at the 2010 Bhakti Fest and has been invited to return in 2011.

Mike’s original compositions helped earn him a 1991 NEA jazz study grant. His 2009 release, Om Dattatreya: Journey to the West, contains 10 original Kirtan compositions that have proved to be wonderful chant vehicles in live events. In early 2011 he will release a second Kirtan album featuring a dozen original songs.

Spirituality and Energetics
In 1997 Mike co-edited Secrets and Benefits of Yan Xin Qigong, a collection of talks given by the renowned Chinese Qigong master Dr. Yan Xin. After exploring Kung Fu, Qigong and Tai Chi, he began Asana and Kirtan practice in 2000.
Mike is a senior student of Philip Lipetz, Ph. D., author and senior teacher in the Dattatreya lineage of Swami Kaleshwar, Shirdi Sai Baba, Jesus, Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He is a certified teacher in the Kaleshwar lineage and frequently offers mantra initiations across North America.

Since 2004 Mike has offered bodywork and healing sessions using the modalities of Somatic Bodywork, Polarity Therapy and Mantra (energy channel) Healing. He received mantra healing training through Philip Lipetz, Ph. D., author and senior teacher in the Dattatreya lineage of Swami Kaleshwar (, where he is a certified teacher.
Mike studied Somatic Bodywork with Richard Heckler (pioneering author and teacher in the world of Somatics) at his Strozzi Institute (
Somatic Bodywork integrates elements from many styles of and teachers including Rolfing, Polarity Therapy, Reichian Breathwork and Feldenkrais. Mike has offered
over 250 Somatic Healing sessions in 2010 alone.

Community Building
In 1994 Mike managed over 100 volunteers as political campaign manager. He wrote two winning campaign plans, helping a 30 year old, progressive first-time candidate win a 6-way primary and general election in West Hartford, CT. During 1996-98 he built and co-led a Yan Xin Qigong community that touched hundreds of individuals in Ft. Collins and Boulder, CO.
In the fall of 2006 he launched First Friday Kirtan in Columbus, Ohio a monthly event that quickly became one of the larger local and ongoing Kirtan events in the US.
Within one year this community grew from 20 to 120 participants at monthly Kirtan events. A recent Kirtan in Cincinnati, OH gathered 300 participants.

Coaching/Leadership/Adult Development
Mike earned a MA degree in Leadership and Adult Development in 2004. His program and thesis examined skillful ways to work with adults to transform their Way of Being through Integral Coaching, as taught by New Ventures West ( He extended his skills through the study of Embodied Leadership, with subsequent certification as Master Somatic Coach at the prestigious Strozzi Institute during 2006-2008 (

Since 2002 Mike has worked with hundreds of adults in a wide variety of contexts, supporting and challenging them to learn and unlearn, to build the competences and
capacities required to effectively reach their goals and fulfill on their deepest and most meaningful commitments.

Mike is committed to guiding fellow Kirtan practitioners to connect with their Centers, cultivate Bhakti (Devotion) and Shakti (Divine Energy) and generate Brahma Consciousness, allowing more Love, Freedom and Creativity into their lives.
Mike is committed to helping aspiring and experienced Kirtan leaders bring greater Connection, Consciousness and Aliveness into how they guide others into the
practice and experience of Kirtan.