Standing there, in a room full of yogis wiggling their hips and swaying their hands, I was overcome with pure joy. I couldn’t keep myself from laughing, right there in the middle of a yoga workshop. Our teacher was wearing jeans and sneakers and was splitting his time between sitting in lotus pose and rapping yoga-inspired rhymes for us as we flowed in and out of a loosely-constructed vinyasa class. I had never experienced anything like it in my life – and I was hooked. A hip-hop infused yoga instructor who ditched convention, embraced joy, and encouraged us to have a damn good time – Yes, please!
The hip-hop yoga instructor was MC Yogi, the beautiful goddess chanting alongside him was his wife Amanda, and the young yogi smiling back at them was me. The year was 2013, the venue was Wanderlust Tremblant. Fast-forward 4 years and I have since attended at least 5 more events with MC Yogi and Amanda, 3 more Wanderlust festivals, and have fallen completely in love with work that they do and the love that they share. One time I even got to hug them. It was my favorite.
So when I heard MC Yogi was writing a book, I not-so-patiently awaited its release. I immediately joined the pre-order list and received my copy of Spiritual Graffiti the very same day that it went on sale. Spiritual Graffiti is the story of MC Yogi’s life – from his parents’ divorce, to his troubled youth, to finding yoga and love and art. To be completely honest, this book didn’t change my life. It didn’t inspire me to transform my perspective or do big, wild things with my life. What it did for me was much simpler, yet equally as powerful. It reminded me of the importance of not only sharing, but owning our stories and having the courage to write brave new endings and bright new beginnings. Spiritual Graffiti allowed me to put words to a part of my own story that I’ve known to be true, but have never known how to articulate.
There comes a time in MC Yogi’s journey when he is contemplating whether or not to register for yoga teacher training with his teacher Larry Shultz (yes, the Rocket Yoga guy!). Larry looks at him and asks, “What is your soul’s purpose?” Ugh, YES. Upon reading that sentence a voice deep inside of me offered a resounding “Love and joy,” as if Larry was standing in my living room asking me the very same question. That inner voice was so certain. Love and joy. But, it didn’t feel complete, so I asked myself, “Okay, great. Tell me more.” Almost immediately that voice came back and said, “You are a giver of love. NO WAIT. You are a bringer of love and joy. You bring love and joy. That is your soul’s purpose, to bring love and joy out into the world, into the lives of others.” There was no doubt. No question. It was stated as a fact, a resounding truth. As someone who overthinks and second-guesses just about everything I do, this certainty was both shocking and soothing.
My soul’s purpose is to be a bringer of love and joy. That is what I am here to do. Mission accepted.
I’ve known this to be true for a long time. I have always loved really hard. My boyfriends, my family, my friends, and people I’ve never even met – I love them hard. How do I know? Because I also hurt hard and feel a lot. I suppose I recognized the true depth of my loving capacity once I noticed that I often hurt for people on the other side of the world that I have never met and likely never will. I realized that if I am hurting so deeply for these people, it must be because a piece of me loves them… hard.
One time I asked my yoga teacher, “Do you ever hurt for the world? Because I do.” Her response is something that I will never forget. “All the time. Since I was like 7 years old. You are so fucked. It’s great.” She said. To many this might seem like a pretty grim reality, but to me it meant that I had full permission to go out into the world and love really fucking hard with the complete understanding that I will also hurt really fucking hard, but – all things considered – it’s so fucking worth it.
And so, Spiritual Graffiti gave me permission to own my story, to acknowledge my soul’s purpose of love and joy. I’m tired of feeling embarrassed for falling in love too fast or loving too hard. I’m fed up with other’s trying to convince me that being sensitive is a bad thing. I love, that’s just what the fuck I do. So, yes, I will love you whether you like it or not. Truthfully, I already do.
Now, let’s talk about joy for a minute. Just a few weeks after shaking my butt to MC Yogi’s jamz in that workshop at Wanderlust years ago, I found myself back home in yet another yoga workshop – only this time I was blindfolded. As I wandered aimlessly around the studio space, the teacher asked us to pair up with someone and tell them one thing we desired. I found myself a person and the words that started to flow from my lips took even me by surprise. “I so badly want to be playful. I feel exhausted and old at only 23 years old. I just want to be and feel fun.” What my partner said changed the course of my life forever. “So go be playful.” She said. “Ughhh, I’m not sure I understand.” I muttered, trying to grasp how the hell one just goes out and allows themselves to be playful. “What would playful Brandy do? Go do those things.” She responded, then off she went flitting about the space as class moved on. For me, however, that moment stands still. That was the very first time I intentionally decided to be playful and to prioritize joy.
Today, I teach yoga because it brings me joy to bring joy into the lives of others. In my classes I encourage singing and laughing and free-form movement. I play loud music to sing and dance along to. I actively tell my students to do what allows them to feel good in their bodies even if that means ignoring me and the sequence that I am teaching. I choose to bring joy out into the world, into the lives of others, through yoga and fun times together. Looking back, it seems that all those workshops I’ve taken with MC Yogi and Amanda have infused themselves into my own teachings. MC Yogi and Amanda are joy-bringers, too. Their classes are filled with smiling, dancing, singing yogis who are feeling so damn good in their bodies.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you should definitely read MC Yogi’s book Spiritual Graffiti, but not because you want to radically transform your life or are looking for a guru in book form. No, you should read this book because you want to experience the joy of sharing our stories, owning our unique purposes, and the love that exists in MC Yogi’s heart for his wife, his music, his art, and the powerful practice that brought them all together – yoga.