written by Lourdes Paredes
Michael Franti is a poet, a prophet, and a rocker. He’s also one serious yoga teacher! Through his songs, he shares uplifting and easy to repeat mantras, gets people moving (mainly jumping) and the prana flowing. ILLUMINE was fortunate enough to experience a beautiful day of music, yoga and community with Michael during the Chicago stop of the Soulshine tour.
On July 10, about 300 yogis had a very special pre-concert yoga session and intimate concert with Michael Franti at Chicago’s FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. Michael set the intention and tone of the yoga class, and yoga teacher Allie Purdy led the asana. Michael and his lead guitarist, J Bowman, strummed acoustic guitars to accompany our movements, and a few times during the class, Michael broke out in song, which provided welcome danceable moments between asanas. Partner poses created connections between yogis and near the end of the session, we joined arms in a large circle and finished with balancing poses and massage. Guided by Michael’s deep and earthy voice, the savasana meditation was truly sublime. We ended the day’s practice with more joyful music, jumping and dancing and Michael graciously posed for photos with yogis.
Many of the attendees agreed it was an extraordinary yoga experience, and the concert had not even begun! After the yoga session, playful acroyogis generously offered the therapeutic and exhilarating benefits of acroyoga to newbies as well as other acro-enthusiasts. During the concert, opening acts Trevor Hall, Brett Dennen, SOJA and Sonna Rele got the crowd moving, and then Michael Franti and Spearhead took the stage and rocked the audience! Michael literally brought his music into the community as he moved from the stage to the middle of the audience to perform a few of his songs. He also ran up to the highest bleachers singing, “I feel closer to God when I’m closer to you.” On his way down, he shook hands with fans(while still singing), noticed a pregnant woman in the bleachers. He leaned over to lay hands on her belly. The knowing eye contact he made with her as he again sang, “I feel closer to God when I’m closer to you”, was just one of many ways he makes a personal connection through his words and music, which moves his listeners in big and tender ways.