This MC Yogi TEDxMission Talk /// Can I Get an “Oh, brother”?

MC Yogi thinking about something....

MC Yogi thinking about something….

Judging by the illustrious bio given to MC Yogi on TEDxMission, a subsidiary of TEDTalks, you’d think he was bloody well running for frickin’ congressman of the United [Commercial Yoga] Nations (I know there’s no congressmen of the UN). Apparently, he’s “pioneered a new sound” (huh?), he’s a “household name in the global yoga community” (I guess I’m not in the community), he made “history when he released his video Vote for Hope in support of Barack Obama” (I hope the “endorse Obama” yoga campaign endorsed that), he was “commissioned by Starbucks to co-create an anthem and video for their service initiative ‘Are You In?'” (you mean that virus-like coffee shop down the block?), and last year “he became an ambassador for Michelle Obama’s Lets Move initiative and later was invited to teach yoga on the White House lawn.” Damn! The only thing he’s not done is save a bus-load of disabled political prisoner nuns stuck in a tree with tiny kittens in their pockets.

Son’s been busy!

So, let’s see what yoga’s very own Sting has got to say when given the opportunity:

How far d’ya get?

Now, I can’t speak for the man himself, but to me he looks nervous as hell. I’m not saying he was nervous, but damn does he look it. Certainly more nervous than the last time we caught up with him, though there he looked just as confused as we were.

Truth be told, I have a soft spot for nervous people. I don’t like to see humans uncomfortable or visibly frightened. It’s not like I turn away or anything, but I really feel for people in that condition. So, I’m gonna go easy on ol’ MC Yogi here and just point out some highlights from the video:

  1. He does seems like a cute likable guy.
  2. He continues to call a mixed-gender audience “guys,” which, I get. But, come on. You’re speaking in public here. Pull it together.
  3. He, like many other yoga guys who, for some strange reason, are also into music, talks like he’s got a lil’ Indian accent. It’s subtle, but once you pick up on it, you can’t miss it. (What’s up with that? Stop it, please).
  4. He refers to the act of “synchronizing our minds,” which is a nice enough idea, but you really don’t want to base political activism on it.
  5. He also uses this phrase, “…what the yogis call a unified field.” Now, I’ve met a few yogis in my day, and never once did I hear any of them refer to a “unified field.” In fact, mostly I’ve had a difficult time getting two yogis to agree on anything! I find this to be fortunate, by the way.
  6. He refers to himself as “a yogi,” which, and I know a lot of you do this, but, damn! That’s reeeeeeeally hard to swallow. Someday we’ll get into this a little more, but, geez. [Shivers]. Just take it easy on that stuff. That’s like your mom telling her friends that her son is a “punk rocker” or “punker.” It’s way cheesy, and typically untrue.
  7. Most of MC Yogi’s talk is based around the idea of understanding one another, as if to say that people would get along more if they understood each other. Well, guess what. People in troubled conditions (Palestine/Israel) often understand each other very well. It’s that they have very different understandings of how things should go. Understanding usually isn’t the problem. Injustice usually is.
  8. He knocks the idea of “tolerance,” which is my thing too, so we’re good on that.
  9. On the whole this talk is just that, a lot of talk. When you really listen and try to unpack it, there seems to be very little substance. It’s basically, “Hey guys. Go inward. Take a breath. Listen to each other. Now, listen to my video.”
  10. I can’t tell if he lip syncs over his own song, or if the video overdubbed the sound of the song into the video. Either way, it’s weird.
  11. Then there’s the video itself! Phew…. I don’t have it in me….

But, here’s the real clincher for me.

I don’t wanna knock a man for finding inspiration in another human being’s life. Hell, I find soooo many people—too many people—inspiring. Someday I’ll have to put up a sick “Thinspiration Board” of all the people who I have found cool enough to want to in some way emulate. But, Gandhi?! Seems a little obvious, no? That’s like a sixteen-year-old saying Dali is his favorite painter.

My only hope is that MC Yogi goes a little deeper with the Gandhi connection. Gandhi is a sweet role model, but he’s ways deeper than what we normally see. Deeper than the salt march. Deeper than the sew-your-own-clothes thing. Deeper than the hunger strikes. I mean, Gandhi the movie was dope as hell, but let’s go deeper than that. He’s complicated. He’s not-all-good. That’s what makes him so great.

Not to mention, he certainly disapproved of Zionism and the founding of the Israeli nation state. Maybe we should start talking about that:

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs… Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.”



Oh, Gandhi. Always so serious.


Thanks to Be Scofield for the pass-along.


  1. Dyspeptic Skeptic

    A view of other Gandhi quotes, gives a larger perspective to the one quoted:
    He actually told Jews, British and French to submit to Nazi invasion and occupation because the suffering would bring “inner strength” and some other babble.
    “I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions…If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”
    In a post-war interview in 1946, he offered a view at an even further extreme:
“Hitler,” Gandhi said, “killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”
    Excerpted from this article:

  2. I only lasted 15 sec. I just couldn’t take it. But I thoroughly enjoyed your writing.

  3. Oh my god. I just forced myself to watch part of the “hip hop” video. After 10 sec I was squirming and blushing all over with hot flashes and gut cramps and beads of sweat….

  4. The P

    I got to 1:10 then stopped, tried again and made it to 1:57..

    I hate public speaking and would probably vomit then pass out if someone put me in front of a large crowd and video’d me (I may need a Xanax just thinking about it). So I will give the guy big kudos for getting up there and doing that because, yeah, he did seem nervous, at least in the beginning part I watched.

    I also agree with all points on your list as well. Kudos for the balls to face fears, meh on the fluffy, clichéd message..

  5. Well, I personally found that Toastmasters did not work for me with public speaking. A real alternative is taking Inderal (a blood pressure drug and beta blocker), used off-label for public speaking anxiety. If MC is a musician and a yoga teacher, then the problem could not be general performance anxiety, but (possibly) public speaking anxiety.

    A better explanation: the guy is of Italian extraction by birth. Of COURSE he’s going to gesture wildly while he speaks. Such smooth delivery that we peoples of the Mediterranean could be capable of achieving, was not educated out of him by colleges and courses …

  6. Careful, careful. Not sure how you get from MC Yogi and Ghandi to the Isreali/Palestinian conflict but if you are trying to make a case against Israeli “occupation” by citing Ghandi, and have that be anything about Yoga commercial culture, then I think you are on thin ground brother.

    However, you are on to something here with the whole DJ/yoga teacher trend that has emerged. Just the other day I was speaking to a room full of young aspiring yoga teachers and I told them: “If your yoga class is about playlists, be they music or asana, then you are in trouble.”

  7. I made it to 54 seconds but the cringe feelings began when “guy” was first used and again as soon as “rad” popped up – all before the 10 second mark. I can’t go on. Painful even with the best intentions. Thanks for your insights.

  8. Yoga Whelp

    Sheesh, Couldn’t he have done some deep pranayama before he spoke? Tsk tsk, that’s what you get for relying on a pin joint of “Kona Gold.” Stay Puffed?

  9. Dyspeptic Skeptic: You know, whenever I read stuff like that from Gandhi, I think of it in terms of PR. I think, in addition to being a stubbornly well-intentioned activist of a pretty high order, Gandhi was so very often speaking as a Public Relations guy.

    Alex: Get a hot water bottle, get under the covers, and take a nap.

    The P: Yes. Our exact sentiment boiled down into a much more concise statement. Thank you!

    amphibi: Still making me laugh!

  10. There are actually a lot of bad scholarship about Gandhi and Partition of India in general.
    If MC Yogi really wants to know what Gandhi said, I suggest he have a look at Norman G. Finkelstein’s book “What Gandhi Says”,

  11. Thank you for allowing a forum where we can be disappointed and bored by this earnest drivel. I just kinda wish that this “student of words” had studied the difference between “underlining” and “underlying”, and knew that ourself is a made-up word. Oh and freestyling does not mean “am at a loss as to what to say as I have not prepared”.

  12. Yoga Whelp

    I sense no spiritual or emotional resonance to his words, or to his voice. All the yoga people are like this. You can speak softly and almost breathlessly, and it doesn’t mean you’re connecting with your own heart, let alone anyone else’s. It’s a totally flat affect. It’s called “lacking in authenticity.” “EmCee” Yogi? Just practice at home with your family and friends, and turn away from these bozos. They got nothing. Kudos to the audience for remaining dead silent after this name-dropping pastiche of God knows what. Yes, Gandhi was a solider, he kicked British ass, he wasn’t some lost weenie on a stage.

  13. With you on all of this.

  14. yojay29

    Wow, the lyrics are middle school level. This is part of what makes yoga “ambassadorship” look so cheesy to the outside world, but the core yoga community probably loved it….

  15. Greenpoint

    I’m embarrassed for the guy, in way over his head…his agent needs to spoon him some truth….

  16. The Corpse

    Public speaking is arguably the most scary thing most people ever do, which makes it worth attempting for its own sake. If you’re not confident in your material, which is probably the case with Mr. Yogi, then you won’t fare well.
    This talk is pretty much a communication-free zone. Remove the platitudes and buzzwords, and it’s as empty as a dose of gastroenteritis.

  17. EER: Ooo… A blurb by Julian Assange. Nice. I suppose, like most things (historical figures, events, etc.), the myth ends up having the most influence. Still not convinced this is a bad thing. A thousand years from now it won’t matter at all what he *really* said. It’s the story that lasts.

    Tina: Now, now, Tina. Speaking in public is difficult. If I was beaten every time I used the word “irregardless” instead of “regardless…” Oh, right….

    YW: There was this eerie silence in the audience. I’m sure that had to do with what the mic was (or was not) picking up. But there is an eerie silence nonetheless.

    yojay29: Yeah, I didn’t even have the energy to get into the lyrics. “Gandhi and his peeps?” Ugh!

    Greenpoint: I had the embarrassed feeling too. After a while (I watched this video about six times) I lost it, but at first, it was really difficult to face.

    The Corpse: Though I’ve done it a million times (it seems), public speaking is still an insane experience. I think for many people, they just go into a black hole and never know what they’re saying. I know that experience. Very tough.

  18. I’d like to hear more about why you don’t like yoga practitioners calling themselves yogis? Is that reserved for an elite bunch who are more enlightened than the rest of us Babs?

  19. karmaordharma

    ha! at minute 3:34 the connection got lost thanks God… I had never seen this poor soul called MC Yogi… what a nightmare… thanks for the good laughs.

  20. Wait, isn’t Sting yoga’s very own Sting? I don’t keep up, I guess.

    Thank you for pointing out that Gandhi is complicated, not-all-good. The conversation around him is usually cliche and flat.

    Also, you make my sides split. I like you.


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