Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life
“For yogis who seek a deeper connection with their practice, here is a clear path toward physical, mental, and spiritual practice . . .”
“Yoga is not about performance, it’s about practice, on your mat and in your life,” writes author Rebecca Pacheco in Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life. Then she explains how the guiding principles of yoga apply to our modern lives. For yogis who seek a deeper connection with their practice, here is a clear path toward physical, mental, and spiritual practice in a voice that mixes sarcasm and humor in a really relatable way for a modern audience.
Do Your Om Thing unfolds in four parts: philosophy, body, mind, and spirit. Most of our lives are lived off the yoga mat, and in this book, Pacheco encourages modern yogis to understand the traditional aspects of an ancient practice and how to apply them to life today. Each section ends with set of questions for contemplation, to help readers train themselves not for positive thinking, but for clear thinking. As a result, they are equipped to make better choices about everything.
A compelling storyteller, Pacheco writes in clear flowing language. She’s a living example of using one’s personal truth as a guide in the process of creating and doing one’s om thing.
Starting with worldly and personal ethics, she presents the eight-limbed yoga practice as set forth in the Yoga Sutras.
Do Your Om Thing is not an instruction manual for yoga postures. Pacheco assumes readers know the physical benefits of yoga, so she emphasizes how poses can be metaphors for life: they build qualities such as preparedness and presence, making bodies vital and minds sharper.
Next, four breathing techniques are described as guides to the present moment (since we cannot breathe into the past nor the future). Small monochrome photos are clear and helpful.
Our senses are “assaulted” more than ever before. Pacheco reminds readers to turn inward, to recharge themselves at least as much as they recharge their cell phones and laptops.
Referencing the teaching of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Do Your Om Thing presents the purpose of meditation: to observe our thoughts and to develop the skill to unhook from them, to see them as passing and impermanent. As Kabat-Zinn says, meditation is when we are fully absorbed in the present moment, paying attention on purpose and without judgment.
Enlightenment is not counter to or elevated from ordinary life. When we let go and open the heart, we sense the world in a new way. According to Pacheco, the source of enlightenment is in each of us—getting to it is our om thing.
In Do Your Om Thing there is discussion of the subtle body: the chakras (energy centers) along the spine and the koshas (layers of being: physical, energetic, mental/emotional, intellectual, and spiritual) and how all this energetic anatomy works in concert. Pacheco’s summaries of essential information about chakras and koshas are concise and useful.
Meditation is a way to discover the content of the mind. After all, Pacheco says, we are aware of the content of our smartphone, bank account, and clothes closet. While some of the meditations suggested in Do Your Om Thing are associated with spiritual paths such as yoga and Buddhism, the book focuses on other, more secular meditation techniques.
Author Pacheco wraps up Do Your Om Thing with thoughts about the spiritual aspects of yoga practice: we do not (and cannot) have all the answers. Something greater is at work and we can trust it. She recommends that readers follow Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice to “Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” This is a good first step in curating one’s yoga. This is doing your om thing.
Research sources are cited in Do Your Om Thing. Pacheco includes references to traditional yoga texts and multitudes of modern media. Sanskrit terms are explained in the text and are collected in the glossary. The book concludes with recommended resources and a bibliography.
Pacheco’s writing is personal and sincere: “I do think respecting yoga’s tradition is imperative to calling what we’re doing yoga. . . . I organized this book to reflect and support the journey of other modern yoga practitioners, who eventually feel like they need more sustenance than what the average asana class provides but aren’t sure where to get it . . .”
Do Your Om Thing is highly recommended for yogis seeking this sustenance while interacting in the world in their om authentic manner.