Spiritual Graffiti: The Journey Of A Yogi Superstar
By Nikita Mehta
“For the longest time in my life, I’d felt like my body was going in one direction while my mind was moving in another. I’d never experienced the serenity of having every side of myself working together, focused and single pointed. The only other time I’d had a glimpse of that kind of harmony and clarity was when I was free styling in the cyphers. In those creative moments when I was allowing the rhymed to form midair, I felt a similar electricity; the energy of being fully present, fully awake and alive.” – MC YOGI
“You’re a dandelion.”
“Umm, are you calling me a weed?”
“That’s what society has named them, but yeah, I am calling you a weed.”
“Okay, I’ll bite, why am I a dandelion?”
“Dandelions are the misunderstood hero of the forest. Dandelions have a long taproot that goes deep into the soil; they pull up water and nutrients for the plants around that have short and horizontal roots. They struggled in the beginning through rocky soil and hard earth to gain that taproot, but once it’s there, it’s of benefit to all around. And that’s you. You struggled through drugs and alcohol for so many years, and through all of that you have laid that taproot. You maybe have a deeper spiritual connection because you’ve had to work for it. And now here you are, bringing it up for the rest of us, through your yoga practice and through being of service to those whose job isn’t to struggle in this lifetime.”
This memory played through my mind as I read MC YOGI’s book Spiritual Graffiti. I could remember that moment, when someone validated my years of struggle in one sweet metaphor. I could feel the weight of all of it dissipate as I went through page after page of learning about MC’s own taproot. How he dug through the rocky soil and the hard earth to become the musician/yogi/bright light that we all flock to today. This isn’t just a book, it’s an autobiography of a yogi, a background tale of why we are so drawn to the music and presence of this one man. His vulnerability is palpable as he spins the record of his life from birth to present day. Along the way, get ready for the beat to drop right under you. Full spoiler alert, I yelled out loud on Muni at the end of Chapter 17.
But this tale is so much more than just a look into the life our Bay Area rapping yogi. There are history lessons about Pattabhi Jois and Sri T. Krishnamacharya; instructions of how to properly use a mala; definitions of Sanskrit words; and, of course, underneath it all, there’s the love story. For those of you who haven’t had the honor of listening to Amanda tell a story, I highly recommend you buy tickets to the Spiritual Graffiti tour and ask that she tell the story about the Ten Thousand Buddhas. For those of you who have been blessed to hear her speak, MC gives us insight into Amanda’s taproot; “When it was Amanda’s turn to speak, tears welled up in her eyes. She found yoga after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, and on the same day she was diagnosed, one of her best friends committed suicide. ‘Yoga got me through the hardest part of my life,' she said, and now she was here to learn how she could help others.”
This book is a backstage pass to the birth of MC YOGI; “The crowd went wild, and all participated in the call-and-response of the chorus. And so it was, on a rooftop in India, that MC YOGI was born,” and to the moments that lead him there; “The faint sound of a bell brought me back into the room. I opened my eyes, smiled, and said thank you. ‘You have good energy,’ she said in broken English. ‘You can be a healer too, if you choose.’”
For most of us here in SF, MC and Amanda traverse the line between rock star and old friend. Many of the stories that you have heard them tell at Wanderlust, or at their Point Reyes studio, are put into context. Remember the story about MC walking out of his first yoga class? “Halfway through the class, my nerves overcame me so much that I actually walked into the closet where we stored our yoga props behind a curtain, to hide. I took a few breaths and then poked my head out and asked if people still liked me and if they wanted to continue the class.” When told in the context of the larger story, we see the purpose of each and every beat, all the struggle and all the pain. This book is front row access to the story behind the man whose music graces your asana classes. It’s the story of lost souls and world travels and falling down to rise up. Read through these pages to find the inspiration behind your favorite verses and to challenge yourself to find the meaning behind your own setbacks. And while you do it, throw on some of his beats, breathe in and peace out.
“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Only love is real.”