It was winter of 2012. I was deep in the middle of training to become a teacher of Kundalini Yoga. I was so into it, this practice, this culture, this whole new world. One thing I loved most was the music…
In Kundalini, mantra is built into many of the exercise sets (called “kriyas”). The mantra has a purpose, of course, and it layers onto the bodily movement, breath work, and eye gaze that you’re asked to do simultaneously (hence this yoga’s effectiveness). And since it is such an integral part of this type of yoga, what has spawned is an entire music industry devoted to mantra.
And it is So. Good.
I got into Kundalini teacher training never having taken a Kundalini class before. That is another story in itself. But when I got there, I so loved this music–it was uplifting, it was positive, it held no negative characteristics, and it was just plain enjoyable.
Up until this time, my primary musical influence had been rap; the stuff of the 90s. Top-shelf rap, in my opinion. Wu-Tang, Outkast, Ice Cube, Beastie Boys, Eminem, Eazy-E, and many more. I had amassed a collection of CDs that a lot of guys over the years envied. I loved my “homies.”
But then, I sold them all. It was a dark and cold night when I met a stranger in a parking lot to hand over my beloved collection in exchange for cash. Cash that I would then use to buy myself a new music collection–of entirely mantra music.
Amidst the “beautiful” songs, I also ordered a CD about which I was both curious and hopeful: Kundalini Remix: Yoga Mantras Revisited. It seemed amazing that someone would take the mantras and turn them into club-worthy songs. Yet, to my shock, a host of musicians got together for this album and did just that. They turned the spiritual into the mainstream. And they did very well.
I still had music to dance to.
In the years since then, I have found even more spiritual music worth dancing to. Numerous professional DJs are now producing yoga-inspired music; these include DJ Taz Rashid and DJ Sol Rising. Others are seriously rapping (thank you!!!): Check out MC Yogi and the lesser known but amazing Nimo (Patel) who happens to rap in Sanskrit and it sounds a lot like Latino rap. And still others like Bryan Divisions are rising through the ranks of our music industries, for which I give thanks–because I like my music. Preferably positive.
As well, many of our old-school and new-school rappers themselves are changing their lyrics to be more constructive. I encountered a project by well-known rappers to teach “humanity through hip hop” and help kids express themselves in positive ways; it’s called Hip Hop Saves Lives. They dance quite a bit. (And hey, did you know that the entire Wu-Tang Clan are vegan?)
Years ago, I heard a well-known mystic say, “Enlightenment is boring.” I say, “It need not be boring at all. Let’s dance.”
Check out the artists mentioned above:
DJ Taz Rashid: http://www.djtazrashid.com
DJ Sol Rising: http://www.solrising.com
MC Yogi: http://www.mcyogi.com
Bryan Divisions: http://www.bryandivisions.com
The mantra-based music industry that many Kundalini Yogis rely on: https://www.spiritvoyage.com
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