Yogi Reads: Decoded

by Olivia Cecchettini


by Shawn Carter (Jay Z)

Summary: Decoded is an unconventional memoir. It’s part autobiography part interpretation of Jay Z’s most famous songs and lyrics broken down by the rapper himself. I couldn’t put this book down. His inspiring journey includes growing up in the Marcy Projects located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City and selling crack to being the first MC inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

When Jay Z first started writing, he wrote for himself, never knowing if anyone else would ever hear his work. Even when he was plagued by doubt, he never stopped writing and he never stopped dreaming. It takes courage to hold a mirror to your life and embark on the journey of self-discovery. Neither is it easy to expose your inner self to the world.

Yoga is another way to hold a mirror to your life, to reveal your personal thoughts, emotions, and actions. I strongly believe that we are all natural-born healers. Jay Z found healing through sacred storytelling. I came to healing first through yoga. It’s not about the method, it’s about the journey and whether you’re willing to take the first step.

Why I Love It: I love this book because it felt so relatable. No, I didn’t grow up in the projects or have the same kind of difficulties in life. (Although yes, I do like to rap old school 90’s hip hop but only for my fiancé.) I grew up in a divorced family, with very young parents. I remember struggling a lot, moving a lot, trying to depend on family and friends for stability. There are happy memories, too. But I was on a quest for independence and I started my own life at 18 in San Diego.

I grew up tremendously fast those first few years on my own. It would be 12 years until I started teaching yoga. Sometimes people think yoga teachers have been practicing since birth, meditate every day, and never get sad – but the truth is that many people, including teachers, come to yoga for healing. In Decoded, Jay Z acknowledges that beneath his doubt was a greater fear of not fulfilling his potential – and this is part of my story as well.

Suggested For: Hip Hop lovers, especially the incredible music that came out of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. They just don’t make music like that anymore! I know that’s what every generation says, but it’s the truth.

Seriously though, this book shows what it means to honor the journey of life. As I edge closer to 40 than I am to 30, I see more clearly how all of life is a practice and a journey. It’s not about where we start out, or whether we end up rich and famous. It’s about the moment to moment living, the practice of self-love and acceptance. May we practice more kindness, practice compassion, listen to our intuition, remember the sacredness of storytelling, and honor those that have come before us.

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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