By Kellee Rich
The married couple of MC Yogi and Amanda Giacomini are both artists in their own right. Giacomini has built the international art project 10,000 Buddhas, and MC Yogi (his real name is Nick Giacomini) is a world-renowned performing artist who specializes in a mystical fusion of styles that combines his love of yoga and hip hop. He has a new album out, Sound Patterns, and his memoir, Spiritual Graffiti: Finding My True Path, was published in 2017.
I first met MC Yogi and Amanda at Yoga Studio Tahoe in 2014. We crossed paths again while teaching and touring with Wanderlust Festivals in 2016. As the events manager at Mountain Lotus Yoga, I am excited to bring my friends and fellow yogis back to the Tahoe/Truckee area for a weekend immersion you don’t want to miss! It’s going to be magical.
Nick and Amanda, tell me how you met?
Amanda: We met in January 2000 in San Francisco at a studio called It’s Yoga on the first day of our teacher training. Nick shares the story in his book. He said that he had a premonition that he was going to meet his person at this training. I don’t want to give away the surprise of the book, but there was definitely magic in the air when we first met. Larry [Schultz], our teacher, started talking about all the people who had met through his trainings who had fallen in love through yoga, and now owned yoga studios. It was like he was having a premonition of his own at that moment. And it came true.
That sounds like divine timing.
Amanda: Larry encouraged me to take the training, and he said: ‘Amanda, this teacher training is going to change your life.’ And sure enough I did the training, I met Nick, and I ran off to India. I moved, I became a yoga teacher, we opened the studio, so yeah, it really did change my life completely. It’s been a transformative 24-year journey. Nick and I are celebrating our 24th anniversary!
How has this partnership contributed to both your careers and nurtured your transformative journey?
Amanda: Nick and I became good friends during our training and about a year later decided to go to India to study under our teacher’s teacher. At that point we didn’t have any commitments, so we traveled around India for several months, went to different ashrams, and studied yoga in Mysore. When we got home, Nick’s dad had opened a yoga studio in the family’s barn [in Point Reyes], and that was the real turning point for us. It was like we were meant to have the studio and it was put right in front of us.
Nick, what brought you to music and how has this inspired other creative paths?
MC Yogi: I started writing poems and songs when I was in junior high. I started to get into a lot of trouble. I got kicked out of school and sent to a group home. I’ve always been a very visual artist and when I was in that group home, I was always drawing and scribbling, making art and poetry. I found yoga, or really yoga found me through my dad. He taught me yoga when I was 17. I used music as a way to document and memorize and learn and understand all the philosophy I was studying. I used it as a teaching technique, because I think in rhyme. I’m always rhyming things and putting things together. One of my forms of art has always been collage, putting things together. It all kind of fell together. One thing led to another. One breath led to the next breath.
What’s your connection to Tahoe?
MC Yogi: My dad worked at the casinos. So my whole life I’ve been going to Tahoe, and it just has this special charge, spirit-energy feeling. It’s just an amazing place I’ve been going my entire life. It’s a joy to be coming back. It’s been so long since the Wanderlust Festivals; 2019 was the last time, I think.
What’s next, and do you have any upcoming collaborations?
MC Yogi: We are going to India in a couple of weeks. I’ve got some new music in the cooker. I’ve got 30-plus songs that are in different stages of completion, working and collaborating with a variety of artists. And this year we have a bunch of great festivals and events. This feels like the year where everything is opening up and coming back online again. So we are really grateful for that. And Amanda just surpassed painting 20,000 Buddhas around the world. She’s doing some murals this year. She’s always working on commission pieces and prints, and hopefully this is the year she puts her book together.
Amanda, your original goal was to paint 10,000 Buddhas. When you set that goal, did you feel like you would ever achieve it?
Amanda: Yes, daunting! I thought I might not even be able to do it in my lifetime. I was really inspired by visiting the Danta Caves in India. There’s 33 caves and they are filled floor to ceiling with paintings and sculptures. They think the project started in 200 BC and completed in 400 to 600 AD — many hundreds of years and a many-generations project. And the idea of starting a project that you might never see finished I think was inspiring to me, to take on something bigger than you thought you could do. I’m not sure where the 10,000 came from, because my first painting of 99 Buddhas took me almost one year. I really didn’t think that I would be able to finish, but once I sped up my process it took me about 10 years. I surprised myself and realized I had painted 10,000. I had so much momentum and joy, and the project was so fulfilling, that I kept going. I don’t really see an end to it. It wasn’t really about the number, it was about having something inspiring to stretch my imagination of what’s possible.
See you at Mountain Lotus on Feb. 10.
MC Yogi: We are excited that Drez and Marti are coming. We met them in Tahoe at Wanderlust Festival, too.
~ Kellee Rich grew up in Truckee and loves to adventure in wild landscapes around the world. She teaches yoga and she knows how to plan a party. She enjoys lazy Sunday mornings, a good book, hot yoga, pow days, and paddling on Lake Tahoe. She lives in Prosser with her family.
MC Yogi: Weekend Immersion with special guests Amanda Giacomini, DJ Drez, and Marti Nikko schedule of events:
Beats, Rhymes and Breath with MC YogI & DJ Drez: 2 to 3:30 pm
Mantra, Myth & Yin Yoga with Amanda Giacomini and Marti Nikko: 4 to 5:30 pm
Meet and greet plus book signing with MC Yogi: 6 to 6:45 pm
Live concert and dance party with MC Yogi & DJ Drez: 9 to 11 pm
Flow into Bliss with MC Yogi & DJ Drez and Marti & Amanda: 12 to 2:30 pm
Bundle and single event tickets available at mountainlotusyoga.com/events.