Sean JohnsonNew Orleans, LA
About the Teacher
New Orleans mantra musicians Sean Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band (Alvin Young and Gwendolyn Colman) are celebrated as one of the leading voices in western kirtan music, known for their dynamic sound that merges mantras, rock, funk, and world grooves. The band is a favorite headliner at festivals and conferences worldwide and they are the first kirtan band to ever play The New Orleans Jazz Festival. Their music has appeared on Nettwerk/Nutone Records, White Swan Records, Sounds True, and Putumayo World Music. The band tours the U.S. and abroad playing music festivals, yoga studios, retreat centers, concert halls, and celebrations year-round.
Musician and yoga teacher Sean Johnson is the founder of the band. He’s been leading kirtan for the last fifteen years. His voice is equally influenced by his roots in New Orleans, vocal exploration of his ancestral Irish heritage, as well as study in Indian vocal music and love of the path of bhakti yoga– the yoga of the heart. In addition to creating kirtan music, Sean is also a respected yoga teacher, founder of Wild Lotus Yoga, and a Yoga Journal contributor and presenter. He is also the creator of Soul School, an interdisciplinary yoga and spirituality teacher training program that focuses on bringing soul and imagination to the art of teaching yoga. Sean also specializes in helping yoga teachers bring more depth through bhakti yoga into their teaching. He seeks to weave the emotional power of bhakti yoga with the sensuality of hatha yoga to free the spirit and bring more love, creativity, and meaning to our lives. His classes, often accompanied by The Wild Lotus Band, focus on opening the heart through ecstatic chant, storytelling, mythology, creative vinyasa flows, mystical poetry, and enchanting music. He has taught at many conferences and festivals, and is also the co-curator of the Putumayo World Music yoga music compilations. Sean opened Wild Lotus Yoga a decade ago. The studio, with locations in uptown and downtown New Orleans, has been voted “Best Place To Take A Yoga Class In New Orleans” by Gambit Weekly readers for 10 consecutive years.
Bass and guitar player and New Orleans’ native Alvin Young spent years on the fabled Crescent City music scene playing with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, local legends James Booker and James Black and many more. His voice on bass and guitar weaves the jazz, rock, classical, and folk styles he’s been immersed in for the last 35 years. The hallmark of Alvin’s expression on the bass is a rare and deeply melodic quality that illuminates the trio’s sound. Music has been a pivotal part of Alvin’s spiritual journey. Alvin has also been invited by many kirtan artists to play bass and guitar including Girish, Shantala, David Newman, Luna Ray, Prema Hara, and Gina Sala.
Percussionist and singer Gwendolyn Colman brings a unique ethnic sound to the band with years of experience drumming with middle eastern ensembles, flamenco troupes, and avant garde bands. Her ‘ride’ includes frame drums, cajon, high hat, kick drum, doumbek, and karkobs, playing with merging ancient rhythms with a modern, urban flare. Gwendolyn can move seamlessly from a traditional middle eastern trance rhythm, to subtle jazz brushwork, to a New Orleans hip hop street groove. Her powerful vocals are influenced by early opera training. Gwendolyn’s spiritual quest has led her from Rastafarian to Baha’i to yoga – with the heartbeat of her drum always at the center.
Read Elephant Journal’s article about the band’s debut at The New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Product Offerings | Albums
Calling the Spirits – Click here to purchase
Devaloka – Click here to purchase
Trainings and Special Events
Annual 8 Day BHAKTImmersion & Soul Retreat in New Orleans: March 16-23, 2013
Soul School: 200 Hour Interdisciplinary Teacher Training Program with Sean Johnson and Mitchel Bleier at Wild Lotus Yoga: Now in session. Next program will be October 2013- April 2014.
Home Studio Schedule
When not on tour, Sean teaches four classes a week at the studio he founded in New Orleans, Wild Lotus Yoga, voted “Best Place to Take a Yoga Class in New Orleans” for the last 10 years. Sean’s Yoga Classes, offered at the studio’s two locations, focus on opening the heart through ecstatic chant, storytelling, mythology, creative vinyasa flows, mystical poetry, and enchanting music.
6pm – 7:30m Spicy Flow Yoga at Wild Lotus Yoga- Uptown
6pm – 7:30pm Spicy Flow Yoga at Wild Lotus Yoga- Downtown
Medium Flow Sliding Scale Community Class ($5-$15) at Wild Lotus Yoga- Downtown
6pm – 7:30pm Medium Flow Yoga at Wild Lotus Yoga- Uptown
“Born and raised in New Orleans, Johnson plays kirtan in the cradle of American musical confluence—the birthplace of jazz, the home of the second line brass bands, a city where funk and blues, Latin and rock, klezmer and punk and zydeco cohabit and fuse happily. Likewise, The Wild Lotus Band’s kirtan is complex in character without sacrificing its yogic origins. Johnson’s vocals drive the songs with the earthy soul of an R&B singer, the longing of a rock star and a lilting beauty that belies his experience in Celtic music.” – Elephant Journal
“A joy to listen to whether you’re a yogi or anyone who appreciates wildly creative music.” - Yoga Journal
“Their music will ignite the world…a hybrid of East and West that will bring joy to your heart and get your body boogieing.” – Yoga Chicago
“Perhaps the most powerful version of “I’ll Fly Away” at The New Orleans Jazz Festival came from Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band. As he droned it as a private dirge in the Lagniappe Stage, his intensity silenced the talkers and sat those who wanted to dance or rhythmically clap, which would have forced a beat on a version that worked just fine without one.” – Offbeat Magazine
“Sean’s voice is warm, soothing river of serenity.”–Jai Uttal, Grammy-nominated Kirtan singer
“Sean is living proof of the power of the hatha yogi who also understands the power of sound. This, I believe, is the future of yoga, especially in the West, where a unique yogic culture is being developed” - Russill Paul, chant recording artist and author of ‘The Yoga of Sound’