Coding Yogi Zen

I first was given Yogi Cameron’s The Yogi Code a few years ago when I started semi-regularly going to yoga classes in college. I started reading it then, but only got probably a chapter and a half into the book because it wasn’t the right time for me to read it.

Now, after about fifty days of continuous yoga asana (the physical part of yoga…. also thanks Corona) it seemed appropriate to start this book up again.

In the book, he combines seven teachings, or laws as he posits, from the sacred Vedas. These ancient Hindu scriptures are thought to have teachings for spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment, but apparently are super dense. So, as to make this large volume of texts more accessible, Cameron boiled them down to seven laws to focus on.

He combines these seven laws–routine, practice, self-study, intention, purpose, service, and love–with anecdotes from his own life in order to demonstrate their importance.

In my vlog, I go into each code briefly, but I feel like this should be more about my thoughts on the book.

In short, I think that these are very useful laws and are super important. However, I think some are almost too similar and nuanced for the average person just starting along the yogic path.

For example, I think “routine” and “practice” are eerily similar. It almost seems like in modern, Western culture, these two terms are often used semi-interchangeably. We often think of routines as the steps we do after we wake up or go to bed, it’s almost like the how-tos of our lives. Practice, on the other hand is the repetition of those routines. Cameron presents “routine” as essentially the same as the colloquial definition, but practice as the individual steps. Personally, while I liked the debrief of the practice chapter more than the routine chapter, I found routine more useful because I felt like the practices Cameron offers could have almost been better fit as a sub-section.

Similarly, I think “intention” and “purpose” are almost too close as well. Colloquially, again, we often say, “Oh, that wasn’t my intent,” or “that wasn’t on purpose.” (As an aside, I suppose I could have made those statements more positive, but I feel like I hear the negatives more frequently.) For me, it took a lot of mental energy to understand the nuances between the two. It almost seemed like intention was more short term–like we should have intention behind all of our actions. While purpose is more like the bigger picture of why we’re here or what we’re supposed to do with our lives. Like with my above comment, I feel like either way, one of those chapters could have been a subsection of the other one.

I did like the self-study chapter a lot though–I think we often do think of “self discovery” as a process of labeling ourselves. However, the “what/who” we are isn’t nearly as important as the “why,” so I really liked how Cameron investigated this duality. Likewise, I liked how Cameron explored and juxtaposed “service” with the idea of helping. I got a very “teach a man to fish vs give a man a fish” vibe. I got from it that it’s more important to serve others by giving them what they need and to do it selflessly rather than doing something for others because we think they need it and we want to check it off our to-do list. Helping others is still important–in my opinion, Cameron seemed like he somewhat disagreed–but there is a fine line between helping and enabling.

The last law is love. Personally, I liked Buscaglia’s thoughts on love a little better. I think that even though love is a very complex thing that does have different forms, this chapter didn’t really do a lot for me.

On that note, maybe it didn’t do a lot for me because it still wasn’t the “right” time for me to read the book. I feel like while it did open my perspectives somewhat, I wasn’t quite open enough to really understand his message. I felt like the tone of his prose was just a little preachy–I have a tendency to be a little stubborn and questioning, with my training in rhetoric and communication styles/practices, I am a big believer in context. I feel like, for me, while it was relatively easy to objectively understand what Cameron was suggesting and trying to teach, it didn’t touch me on as deep of a level as it could have.

Despite this, I do recommend the book. I think it’s a really great introduction into the yogic lifestyle for those who are interested, and even though I personally felt it was somewhat preachy, I think Cameron is a talented writer with a genuinely good message of exploring oneself and finding mindfulness and peace. Something I thought was interesting is how he made the distinction between yoga asana (the physical aspect all us Westerners know) and yoga more holistically–the spiritual and mental aspects too.

I really liked the structure of the book–he gives a chapter summary, a few suggestions of practices, and even a 21 kick-start guide. I also liked how, and maybe this is me reading into it, but despite sounding preachy (I’m sorry, I don’t have a better word for it), he conceeds that everyone is in different stages and flat-out says 1) the yogic life isn’t for everyone, 2) anyone can start wherever they are, you don’t have to be special, and 3) you don’t have to take it 100% of the way, you can make concessions so that you are more spiritually fulfilled and still maintain parts of your current life.

That’s all I have for this week! I’ll be taking a short break to work on some personal, creative endeavors, so I’ll see you soon in July!

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