Yoga is one of my favorite things. When I injured myself and couldn’t go to class, I picked up Rebecca Pacheco’s book, Do Your OM Thing to learn more about the philosophy behind the poses. I loved this book so much that I’ve read it twice and decided to do my first ever book review on it.
Although I love yoga, I’m not really a yogi. I don’t do crazy upside down poses or arm balances – not for lack of trying. It just hasn’t happened yet. Nonetheless, yoga has been a consistent thing in my life that always makes me feel good and I’m always trying to improve at it. However, this book isn’t about the poses. The physical postures are only one part of yoga and in this book, Rebecca goes past what a regular yoga class would cover and gets into the what’s behind the poses and then how to incorporate the philosophy of yoga into your everyday life.
She covers ancient concepts and the roots of yoga in a funny, easy to understand, conversational way and turns them into life lessons. She goes through the 8 limbed path (attitudes toward the world, attitudes toward self, physical postures, breathing, turning inward, meditation, concentration and enlightenment) and makes them relevant to the modern age. There are lessons at the end of each section to help you work the teachings into your life. For example, in the section on personal truth, one of the tasks is to identify one personal truth that is essential to yourself and reminds you of who you are. She explains Chakras, Koshas, breathing techniques, and even tackles the controversial question of whether or not yoga is religious. You’ll have to read it for yourself for the answer to that one.
I think my favorite part of the book was the section on meditation. The last 10 minutes of yoga class is always the hardest for me. I can’t get my brain to shut up long enough to enjoy final relaxation. I lie there listening to the soothing music, trying to be relaxed and zen-like while my brain catalogs my to-do list, work issues, things I need to remind my kids, random thoughts on TV shows and pretty much anything and everything other than being present and mindful. It’s also why I fail miserably every time I try to meditate.
So, I was relieved to read that the misconception of meditation is that the goal is to shut the gate of our minds and clear it. As I have learned, that’s impossible. Instead, the goal is to be present and observe our thoughts from a more centered place and open your mind and heart. She says, “Ironically, at a time when more Americans than ever before are doing yoga, we are less present than we’ve ever been.” Truth. So, how do we do it?
How to Meditate (from Do Your OM Thing by Rebecca Pacheco)
- Find a comfortable seat.
- Sit tall.
- Remain still.
- Start small – try 5 minutes a day and work your way up.
- Stop waiting for the perfect conditions.
That’s it? Really? Well, she gives much more detail along with many helpful tips to make it your own. Emboldened with my new knowledge, I decided to give it a try. The goal, she says, is to limit distractions and fidgeting and maintain stillness. Anyone who has sat next to me on an airplane can attest that I’m fidgety. Nonetheless, I gave it a shot and found that when I removed the pressure of feeling like I needed to clear my mind and do it perfectly, I was able to do it.
Yoga is more than just fitting your body into different shapes. If you have ever wondered about what goes on behind those shapes or even what the heck “Om” means or what a mantra is and how to use one, check out this book. It’s packed with knowledge and insights that will elevate your yoga practice and get you thinking about how the teachings of yoga can spill into your life off the mat.
“Yoga is the vehicle. You are the driver” – Rebecca Pacheco