The Yoga of Sound – Bhakti

Sounds and Songs of the Hearts

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Russill Paul
in close collaboration with Remmelt van Kleef and Carla Verberk
21 till 26 July in Havelte-Holland

We are happy to be able to offer a retreat with Russill Paul again this year. This year, for the first time, we will put the spotlight on the Mantra movement 'Bhakti'. 'Bhakti' is the spiritual path of loving devotion to the Divine.

This retreat is a shared experience, a gathering of souls, in which we  sing, celebrate and create healing ceremonies. Sacred sounds and ecstatic chants have an enhanced healing and transformative effect, when knowledge of Nada Yoga (the Yoga of Sound) is incorporated . What is special about this retreat is that we will also do Puja, with the specific customs that go with it such as Mudras (gestures) and Nyasa ('places' sounds on the body). This can help to stimulate, deepen and comprehend the Bhakti experience. Together with Puja, the singing takes on a mystical quality.

Although there is a lot of "technical knowledge" behind the Bhakti experience, the retreat will mainly focus on the communal experience, on the 'call and response' singing (Kīrtana), guided meditations, devotional chanting, ecstatic chants and the healing power of Puja.

Students who are familiar with the Bhakti experience and with Kirtan can expand their knowledge of Bhakti to include Mantra, Japa (prayer recitation), Archana, Kirtan, Bhajan, and devotional chanting. These are all "classical" aspects of Bhakti, as used in Carnatic music and by practitioners of Sri Vidya in South India. This is about the relationship between musical intervals (Nada Yoga) and Consciousness. This can enhance the Bhakti experience.

Students who are interested in Puja can learn about it during the retreat. Others may focus on other aspects of the Bhakti experience. Musicians are welcome to bring their musical instruments and singers their voices.
In other words, depending on your interests and abilities, there are different ways that you can participate, heal and transform through sacred sound and meditation practices during this retreat.

Structure of the retreat
We will start the day with spiritual practice. We will chant simple Bhakti mantras as a form of musical Japa recitation along with Kīrtana for healing.

This is followed by breakfast and work meditation.

The morning session after breakfast will integrate three aspects:

The Meaning of Divine Figures and Their Mantras
We will discuss a particular deity and its significance, that is, try to understand its relevance to our spiritual practice

Introducing Elements of Puja:
We will introduce elements of Puja as an expression of devotion and discuss its meaning and relevance to us during our retreat. We will reuse these elements in the evening.

Introducing Ragas for the Kīrtana:
We will also introduce the ragas (musical scales) in which the Kirtans find their specific expression. In this way, we discover the nuance, refinement and dynamism that the different ragas give.

We take into account students who have a solid musical interest, as well as those who have an intellectual, spiritual or therapeutic interest or who are drawn to the healing power of rituals. 
The extensive morning session will be followed by lunch and free time.

In the afternoon we will split into three subgroups, each with their own approach. Every afternoon you choose which subgroup you want to join.

Musical aspects with Russill:
 Russill works in the afternoon with those who want to be part of the Kirtan band with their voice or musical instrument and sing ecstatically in the evening ceremony. Singers can explore different aspects of vocal dynamics to access the Bhakti experience more fully; such as the volume and timbre of the voice; modulations of the voice, such as glissando, diminuendo, vibrato, and tone inflection (gamakam). All this can help in the performance of Bhakti, where the emotional element is essential and knowledge of musical intervals (Nada Yoga) can make a difference.

Process work with Remmelt or Carla: A vital aspect of Bhakti is the relationship with the Divine. This is a profound topic and can evoke many things in us. From intense joy and emotion to deep despair and resistance. In the afternoon, Carla and Remmelt will offer their support and expertise for those who need to look deeper into what is touched in the processes of the morning and the previous evening. Remmelt will work with the use of voice, sound and mantra where possible, and the elements of ritual (Puja).

After this choice afternoon program, there is dinner.

"Puja-Party" with ecstatic singing and dancingThe evening is the moment of harvest and celebration. The musicians and singers who worked with Russill in the afternoon will 'perform'. All others can -if they want- accompany the ceremony at the beginning of the evening. Or they can simply enjoy the experience, supported by the rest of the group. Then you can chant, dance, meditate, or whatever supports you to stay engaged in the experience.

Different roles of the staffRussill's role is to present the scope of the Bhakti experience with 'Sacred Sound' and from the perspective of Tantra, as he has studied, practiced and taught it for over 40 years. He will answer questions about the methods and techniques of the different forms of Bhakti, without going into the psycho-dynamics behind these methods.

Remmelt and Carla, senior teachers at the Center for Tantra, will present the retreat together with Russill. They will help participants understand their feelings around different deities and their symbolic meanings; and to look more deeply at their inner response to the various Bhakti practices. This supports to integrate the process and harness its deep healing and transformative potential.

In addition, trained staff from the Center for Tantra will be present in a supporting role to take care of the participants and guide them when needed.


Russil is a spiritual teacher, specialized in working with sound and mantra. He is also a musician and author of the book 'The Yoga of Sound'.


Practical information

This 5 day retreat (21 - 26 July) is open for anyone with an interest in mantra, yoga or Tantra. Russill Paul will lead it in close cooperation with Remmelt van Kleef, senior teacher at the ‘Centrum voor Tantra’. The emphasis will be on your personal experience. Teachings will be in English.

The total price of this retreat is €1.545,-. In this price three healthy and tasty vegetarian meals each day are included. You'll stay in a 2 or 3 person bedroom at group accommodation 'Meeuwenveen', in the beautiful nature of Drenthe.

To sign up for this retreat, please send an email to with your contact details and date of birth.

Want to know more about the Centrum voor Tantra? Click here.
Are you especially interested in our offer on Mantra? Click here to subscribe to our special Mantra mailings.

More mantra groups:

Yoga van Klank ‘BHAKTI’
Open Mantra Inloop
The full scope of the Yoga of Sound
Yoga of Sound Immersion