Book Review: Do Your Om ThingSusannah Kent November 5, 2015
Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Modern Life
Author: Rebecca Pacheco
Book Publication: 2015
There is much to learn from yoga beyond the poses, or asanas. If you have been reluctant to delve into yoga’s more meditative and spiritual side, yoga teacher and blogger Rebecca Pacheco’s wonderfully entertaining and instructive Do Your Om Thing will help alter your perspective. Her book also provides new ideas on how yoga can have a deeper, more meaningful impact on your real, every day life – on and off the sticky yoga mat.
Do Your Om Thing begins with yogic traditions and philosophy – a huge and complex topic to be sure. But Pacheco manages to provide a succinct outline of the key tenets of yoga, focusing on the ‘Eight Limbs’ path – a series of practices that provide us with a map that can lead us, she says, toward a life of meaning and contentment. What she does so well is to show how each of these ancient practices might be applicable to our life today.
Her modern yogic take on Aparigraha (greedlessness) is particularly sensible and insightful. We are all, at one time or another, resentful of those who have things we want. Yoga, Pacheco says, helps us to recognize these greedy tendencies, and to return to a state of generosity. As she does throughout the book, Pacheco candidly shares her own foibles and struggles, often with a refreshing dash of humour: “I have more [sunglasses, sneakers, and bangle bracelets] than one set of eyes, feet, or wrists realistically need. I also hog the blankets at night. I am always eyeing the cookie with the most chocolate chips.” It is okay to take pleasure in providing for ourselves and others through material wealth, but she cautions us to be wary of “following the pull of impulses that deplete the soul rather than strengthen it.” Overcome these, she says, by flexing your gratitude and generosity just like your muscles, every day.
Another section explores the body according to yoga wisdom, and includes an explanation of the seven chakras and five elements. Pacheco poses some thought-provoking questions here: “What do your yoga, or fitness, aspirations embody? What fuels your yoga, your workouts, and your life? What nourishes you?” When considering our answers, she suggests that, before we set another “appearance-focused goal, [we should] embody the real stuff. Crack the shell of the silly, self-consumed self. Feed yourself, and feel your Self. Make a bright, strong home in your own skin. Embody it. Embrace it.”
In Do Your Om Thing, Pacheco also applies her knowledge and experience to help us understand the importance of meditation to the modern yogi. In addition, she provides helpful tools and tips on how to get started on the practice of yoga, and also on how to develop a personal meditation style. This section will be particularly beneficial for the many among us who struggle with this element of yoga.
Pacheco explains that the reason meditation is so difficult for many, if not most, is because we tend to assess worthiness based on performance and outcome. If we can’t turn off our racing thoughts quickly and easily, we immediately think that we have failed to meditate in the right way. The only way to meditate badly, she says, is to not meditate at all, and she adds: “The purpose [of meditation] is not to be like a monk on a mountain top; it is to spend time with the true nature of your own mind.” The first step: “Let go of what you believe meditation should be and, instead, experience yourself where you are, as you are.”
Do Your Om Thing is a yoga book whose focus extends well beyond how to do a proper ‘down dog’ or a ‘revolved triangle’. It is funny, informative, and inspirational. But perhaps most significant, this book is original, a breath of fresh air that reveals the true power of yoga to offer more than a physical transformation for those who practice it. Do Your Om Thing also offers a path to more confidence, compassion, awareness, and joy. Who couldn’t use a little more of all of those attributes in this crazy world we inhabit today?
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