In October 2008, a rap singer: Neil Patel opened for the Yoga Show at Olympia in West London. Patel was invited to sing his song The Key from his CD The Rapping Yogi.
When I think of hip hop and rap: I picture break dancing, baggy pants and violent lyrics . However, Neil Patel is rapidly trying to change this stereotyped image and demonstrate to the world that there is a natural connection between the poetry of hip hop and that of yoga.
A Mother and Son Yoga Team
In an interview in Yoga and Health Magazine , Patel explained his personal yoga journey. Patel was exposed to yoga at a very young age by his mother Tara Patel, a successful yoga instructor in the United Kingdom. Although yoga was around him, it wasn’t until the age of 17 that Patel attended his first yoga class. However; once he started he dove right in, taking over classes for his mother and working with her to develop yoga classes for children and for individuals with disabilities.
Patel’s focus on yoga is more on its’ meditative quality and the inner strength that yoga provides him than on any specific physical form. It is this meditative quality that has helped Patel with his battle with cancer and personally reinforced the positive impact that yoga can bring to one’s life. He believes that yoga helped him find both the strength in his body and in his mind to fight the aggressive cancer that resides in his body.
In his song “I Can Cer-Vive” Patel discusses his battle with cancer and how yoga has assisted him through his personal challenges. To Patel the connection between hip hop and yoga is a natural one. As quoted in the Harrow Observer “ Hip hop is a very expressive way for me (Patel) to convey all of my yogic thoughts.”
Connecting with Youth
Rap was the music that he found best expressed his thoughts, due to it’s naturally poetic form. In addition, this genre of music has the additional benefit of connecting to those individuals who may not seek out yoga. Patel’s objective is to connect to as many young people as possible. He believes that by providing a music genre that they are familiar with will help build a positive association to the yoga practice.
After listening to portions of his cd and watching the You tube clip, I have begun to see the appeal of conducting a yoga class with hip hop music. The lyrics of the music help mentally motivate the students enhancing the meditative quality of yoga, while the rhythmic beats seem to naturally propel you through the movements. I probably won’t practice an entire hour with hip hop but I’m going to try to change up my routine by adding a song or two.