MC Yogi’s Mantras, Beats, & Meditations has been in my car’s CD player for the last month, and it may just be the coolest yoga music CD I’ve ever listened to. But I admit: up until I heard this new album, I was saying that about his last one, Pilgrimage.
Using a delightful mash-up of hip hop, rap, and infectious world beats, MC Yogi is undoubtedly a master of telling stories in his music. This time around, MC Yogi morphs into a wise professor of the ancient teachings of yoga, and lucky for us he is sharing his yogic wisdom and love in such refreshingly creative way through his music.
If you think yoga is just about touching your toes, MC Yogi will fill you in on all the other aspects in the song “Eight Limbs,” a cleverly rhymed instructional journey through each of the limbs, or branches, of yoga. The song brings the teachings down to a level that is not only easy to comprehend, but easy to move and groove to.
If you have ever struggled with how to explain (or understand) the concepts of pratyahara or samādhi, you’ve got to listen to this track. It has officially become a part of my Beyond Beginners yoga class series, and I play it when I cover the eight limbs to offer the participants a fun and fresh take on the subject.
Want a quick discourse on the seven chakras? “Seven Wheels” is another informative hip-hop anthem that expertly guides the listener through the body parts, colors, senses, and emotions tied to each of the seven chakras. (MC, where were you when I taught my chakra yoga class series?!)
“Ahimsa” is MC Yogi’s storytelling at its finest. This tale beautifully lays out the concepts of ahimsa and samādhi. To quote the lyrics:
Ahimsa is the science of non-violence,
Practicing the art of peace, love, and kindness.
Cultivate a state where love shines the brightest,
Resolving conflicts with the ancient yoga science.
This song reinforces the teaching of yoga that when the mind is kept quiet, peace automatically will spread around it.
If you have not caught on to the general theme yet, this CD is a virtual hip-hop Yoga 101 (and 201) course, serving up the deeper spiritual teachings of yoga in a uniquely cool way. Any yoga practitioner, from beginner to advanced, can learn a few new things about yoga while absorbing the yoga teachings infused into each track.
One of the reasons I love this MC Yogi album is the mix of different musical genres, Indian music elements, and hip hop beats that were styled in big part by DJ Drez, who performs on the majority of the tracks and co-wrote “Heart Sutra.”
As much as I like listening to the CD, I’m finding it hard to put most of the tracks into my yoga class playlists. The songs are lyric heavy, and I feel it would be too distracting to give yoga cues on top of the rapping. However, with that said, I think this is excellent music for a rockin’ home practice, and I can highly recommend a booty shaking sun-salutation session to the hardcore hip-hop “Yoga Breakdance” or “A.U.M.” (which stands for Almighty, Universal, Magnetic).
There are two songs on Mantras, Beats, & Meditations that will definitely make it to one of my yoga class playlists: “Heart Sutra,” beautifully chanted by MC’s wife Amanda Giacomini, and “Prayer Wheel,” a chant of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, complete with a gorgeous cello accompaniment by Michael Fecskes.
MC Yogi is making the yoga festival rounds this summer. If you can make it to one of his concerts – or better yet one of his classes (yep, he and his wife Amanda are both yoga teachers) – or even better yet a yoga class where DJ Drez is knocking out the yoga beats for them, you are in for one yogalicious musical experience. I got to attend a class with MC, Amanda, and DJ Drez at Tadasana Festival, and it was incredible!
Thank you MC Yogi for sharing your wisdom, musical talents, and energy. I have one request, though, for your next CD release: How about covering the Bhagavad Gita in a hip-hop storytelling feat?
See below for links to my reviews of other MC Yogi and DJ Drez albums.
Jahta Beat The Lotus Memoirs by DJ Drez – Yoga Class Playlist Nirvana
Pilgrimage – MC Yogi
Visit the Cool Yoga Music page on The Daily Downward Dog for yoga class playlists, CD reviews, and more!