Michael Franti on The Transformative Nature of Love, Music, and Yoga

By Maranda Pleasant

Maranda Pleasant: What inspires you the most? What is at the heart of your art and why you create?

Michael Franti: I have a passion to make a difference in the world. And that difference can be just making the fans at my show leave with a smile on their faces and feeling uplifted. And on a larger level, I want to promote positivity. I believe that through positive thoughts, speech, action and attitudes, we change things for the better.

MP: Well said. How do you deal with your pain when it comes?

MF: When there’s other, more long-term things, I write about them, and I put them into my songs. I always know when a song is good or close to finished. When I sing it, it makes me feel the emotion. My tears will start flowing or I’ll start laughing. I’ll start feeling whatever intensity or emotion was the seed of that song.

MP: Does your yoga practice keep you centered?

MF: My yoga practice, I do it because when I get on my mat, I know I’m going to be transformed. I know that whatever stresses are in my life or whatever worries I have or whatever monkey mind is happening for me, when I get off the mat, I’m going to be transformed. I think that the transformative nature of love is why we are so drawn to it. And you think of all the things that are happening in the world today that people are doing that are good and why they do it. We don’t have to be good, you know? No one’s telling us that we have to do good things, but we do them because we know it makes other people feel good and it makes us feel good. So it’s that transformative nature of love and music and yoga that really inspires me.

MP: Is there anything on the planet right now, in the humanitarian sense, that you’re passionate about?

MF: I’m passionate about so many things that are taking place in the world. I believe that in order to tackle the big issues of the world today, like environmental issues, we need everybody’s involvement. We need the resources of the corporate world. We need the cooperation of governments. We need the wisdom of indigenous people. We need the spending power of everyday citizens. And we need to connect it to our spirit so that when we hit our first stumbling block, we don’t just give up. That, for me, is where my yoga practice comes in.

Sharon Gannon, David Life, they have been very influential teachers in my life. Also Seane Corn, Eddie Modestini, and Nicki Doane because of their constant connection of the practice to everyday things. It’s not enough to just get on your mat and do Triangle Pose. You have to get on your mat with an intention and an understanding of something that you’re trying to move in your personal life and something that you are hoping to move in the world. And then do your practice through that passion and through that love of wanting to serve something that’s bigger than yourself.