Photo credit: Ali Kaukas
"Let your breath be the soundtrack of your life".
At Spiritual Gangster, we love finding music that captures our love for connectivity and raising the collective vibration of our community. So this week, we sat down with yoga’s hip-hop ambassador to the West, MC Yogi, to catch up on his music inspirations, graffiti art background, what the future of yoga in America looks like, and how yoga changed his life.
What in your mind is the future of yoga in America?
As yoga continues to grow in popularity and as society continues to move at a faster pace, yoga will be less of a luxury and more of a necessity. I envision that yoga will be offered in hospitals as a part of rehab, in schools helping kids to be more calm and mindful, and more and more in the prison system when people start to see the benefits and the results of how yoga can change and uplift ourlives.
I didn’t find yoga until I was 17, and it’s so inspiring to see kids who are learning from the time they are 3 or 4 years old. I can only imagine how conscious and aware much a positive impact that it will have on our society.
How has yoga changed your life?
Yoga has helped me to appreciate the simple everyday things that I used to take for granted. Little things like feeling the sunshine on my face, being able to take a slow deep breath, and see how precious every moment is. Yoga has shown me how to slow down and drop back into myself so that I can feel peace even in the midst of stressful situations. It’s made me stronger and more flexible on the outside as well as on the inside.
I heard growing up you were a graffiti artist, can you tell us a little bit about that?
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I saw my first graffiti mural in San Francisco in a place called Psycho City. There was an incredible character, huge and colorful. Inspired by the idea that you could actually paint whatever you want on the walls. It was a huge feeling of freedom, and excitement.
As I got older I started hanging out with graffiti crews and developing my own style. We used to go out 3 or 4 of us, and hit the tunnels, freight yards to paint the trains, and certain freeway spots so a lot of people would see it. It was hard to develop Can Control at first and find the right color combinations. I would always be drawing in my black book designing custom letters and characters. Unfortunately I got in a lot of trouble, and was sent off to a group home. When I was in that program I decided to focus my creativity more on music because I felt I could reach more people that way. I still paint occasionally, mainly legal walls now. I am a huge fan of the art form.
You’ve been called yoga’s hip-hop ambassador to the West, how do you feel your music and art is helping to spread the teachings of yoga?
Both yoga and hip-hop are aural traditions. Through the practice of story telling, poetry and chanting, the teachings can be passed down to the next generation. I feel like my role as a musician and an artist is to make the teachings available for people so they can discover a path back in for themselves.
All the great mystics throughout the ages, have echoed the same Truth “The kingdom of heaven is within us, and its up to us to go there and discover it for ourselves.” My prayer is that in some small way I can contribute to the momentum
that leads to happiness, peace, and love.
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