Book Review: Just Breathe by Radhika Vachani
Yoga never made too much sense to me.
In fact, ten years ago, I watched as my good friend fell in love with the movements and philosophy. It helped her as she grieved the loss of her mother. We would do the DVD exercises together, but as much as I tried, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. She eventually adopted #yoga as a career and a lifestyle.
Recently, I came across the book #JustBreathe by Radhika Vachani, and felt enlightened after reading it. Finally, I was able to grasp philsophy of yoga.
A Renewed Appreciation
I developed a new appreciation for the breathe. Yoga isn’t necessarily about the moves as I had thought. It’s about being present. Vachani explains how learning to focus on the breathe centers you so you focus on the present moment.
Our minds are often swirling with thoughts focused either on the future or the past. We question our ability to retire or what the next day will look like; or, we may fret about the past with questions like: "why did I say that?" or "why did I do that?" Rarely, do we sit, and absorb the moment that's in front of us. The constant demands can cause us to miss the beauty of the day like the blue sky, the warmth of the sunshine, the chirping of the birds or the joyous laughter from our children.
How do you sit still, and shut off the worries of the future and the regrets of our past? Just breathe.
I remember telling this to a coworker under intense stress. I told him to stop and listen to his breathing. It was rapid, and filled with fear. "Take deep breathes," I told him. He did, and I watched as his eyes recognized how hard he was breathing. It caused him to stop and come back to the present moment. He was soon able to think and express himself more clearly.
Coming to terms with the present, and only the present, helps you to eliminate the drama of the past and the worries of the future. In yoga classes, you will often hear instructors say "breathe." As you focus on your breathe, you are instructed to ease into positions. These positions improve the flow of oxygen to certain organs. Novices will wobble at first, but eventually, you find your stability and develop your strength physically and emotionally.
Golden Nuggets of Wisdom
The book is full of wisdom. I came across so many reflective quotes and cathartic moments that I kept thinking of friends who could benefit from reading the book.
However, as I read I came across some moments that slowed my progress. I will say that it’s good to have some understanding of yoga before reading the book because Vachani uses terms relevant to the practice of yoga and Buddhist spirituality. I noticed this occurring around the fourth of fifth chapter.
Vachani provides a glimpse of the life-changing event that led her to write the book, but she doesn’t divulge too much. This is understandable since the events involve other people. I still felt that further insight into her personal struggle would have helped to create a connection with readers. I wanted to say “oh, I feel your pain” and “that happened to me too.” I wanted to cheer and support her journey and break-through.
I would highly recommend reading the book, but prepare to read it twice, especially if you are new to yoga. It's worth the second read because of the golden nuggets of wisdom found throughout the book. The book has so many paragraphs and passages where you will want to sit back and reflect on what was said.
Vachani presents a great example of how you can take your pain and your struggles and turn them into good by helping others.
Ultimately, the book for me was more of a #spiritualawakening, and it increased my understanding and appreciation for not only yoga, but also for meditation.