What yogi doesn’t have MC Yogi’s album Elephant Power on their playlist? In fact, MC Yogi’s beats and rhymes have become such a staple in most yoga classes, it is hard to imagine that his path to this success was riddled with darkness and chaos. In his personal memoir, Spiritual Graffiti, MC Yogi takes us back to his early days in the Bay area, where he struggled with school, partying, and getting into trouble. He details this dark period in his life, letting us in on the experiences that so often claim young adults’ lives for an existence on the street and running from the truth. But, for MC Yogi it was a fateful step into a yoga class with his father when he was just 18, that led him from that darkness to his spiritual path.
It’s remarkable really, to see how his life quickly starts to turn around. It reminds us of the saying we always use as yoga instructors: “the path always meet you where you are.” And this seems so true for MC Yogi, who from his very first brush with yoga is awakened to the opportunity of another path in life. It is clear that his transformation begins at this point, as he chooses to begin again and create a different ending. From there his life seems to organize in a way that time and time again presents him with opportunities to continue to deepen his spiritual journey. He begins to take up practice with Larry Schultz, the king of Rocket Yoga, who owned the It’s Yoga studio in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood at the time, and who just happened to be a good friend of the family. MC Yogi lives in a loft at the studio and begins to devote all of his time to being of selfless service to the community. This is also there where he embarks on the path of a teacher in their Teacher Training program, and of course, this is also when he meets his wife, Amanda Giacomni.
MC Yogi and Amanda seem to have two parallel paths and it is incredible to read of their journey together to deepen their practice as they travel to India, meeting with mystics, Pattabhi K. Jois, and experiencing the intoxicating and exotic culture of this magical land. Again it appears that so much in their life lines up for them to stay on the path of yoga and it is amazing to see how, bit by bit, things reveal themselves. This struck me with regards to MC Yogi’s beginnings in yoga and hip hop. Hip hop in the beginning had been a focal point of his life and marked a dark period of chaos and struggle, so when he started to move towards a purer existence and purposeful life, he did away with it. In fact, MC Yogi consciously made a point to minimize his connection with hip hop as the negative lyrics did not mirror what he was seeking in his internal environment. However, much later when he is devoting time to work with at risk youth and getting them off of the streets he is faced with the opportunity to merge hip hop and yoga, as a way to connect with these individuals and bring healing. This eventually takes root later on when he is back in India and throws a free concert where he weaves the stories of Ganesh, Hanuman, and the other great symbols of Yogic Philosophy into beats and rhymes entirely reminiscent of his past. It is equally incredible to hear about how his wife, Amanda, got started with her 10,000 buddhas mission.
All in all, this is an inspiring story of how yoga empowers and uplifts, guiding us on our paths and providing the lightness and support we need. We are so grateful for both MC Yogi and Amanda’s contribution to the path of yoga and couldn’t imagine our practice without a little Ganesh Hip Hop.