Susanna Harwood Rubin is the author of Yoga 365. She is a yoga and meditation teacher, writer, and artist whose work is rooted in South Indian Philosophy. Based in NYC, Susanna teaches internationally and online. She is the creator of Writing Your Practice, which uses yoga philosophy and myth as the basis for writing, and Devi Soul Yoga, combining yoga asana with mantra, myth, and mudra. She has been featured on HuffPostLive, MSNBC Today, Yoga Journal, Mantra Wellness, and more.
What do I do best?
I take great pleasure in unpacking complex concepts in yoga philosophy, art, or literature, and making them accessible to as many people as possible through my writing and speaking. I did this for years as a lecturer and writer at the Museum of Modern Art, doing extensive outreach into schools and community groups throughout the boroughs of NYC, then I shifted these skills to the yoga world. Through this process, I help people open doors into deeper parts of themselves.
What makes me the best version of myself?
My sense of wonder. When I became a yoga teacher, the world opened up to me as it had when I was a child – I was able to see the beauty in everything and everyone. I am very grateful to have recaptured this sense of wonder as an adult. When I move through my days letting my sense of wonder lead the way, the world is revealed in all its technicolor beauty. I need to remind myself to do this sometimes, of course, but I know that it Is always accessible to me.
What are my aspirations?
To be a good person: loving, decent, peaceful. I do my best, but I know that it is life’s work.
To have enough time and energy to write the list of books and projects I have simmering in the back of my consciousness. But sleep! I still need to sleep!
My Biggest Success?
Loving myself and my life and assisting other people in doing the same. This might seem light, but I think it is actually hard for many of us to do this. We feel that it is conceited or self-indulgent, but if you don’t love yourself, how can you offer love to anyone else? Our love needs to be our own. What I mean by this is that we have to BE the love that we wish to receive. Love need not be dependent on others. We must first locate the sensation, the quality, and the experience of love within ourselves. Once we have connected with that feeling, we are ready to offer it out as well as to receive it. But we need to find it within. This has taken me a long time to figure out and to do, but it is a beautiful thing once you find it.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Professionally, shifting my life from the art world to the yoga world. I chose to leave a great position at MoMA for the yoga world. I loved lecturing and writing for MoMA, but I felt the pull of my yoga life so powerfully that after a few years of inner turmoil, I resigned. On my last day I went into the galleries before they were open to the public, and sat alone in front of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon for almost an hour. I didn’t know how I would make a living, and I knew I was walking away from security and a part of myself that I loved. It was simultaneously sad and exhilarating-a dramatic life shift-but absolutely right for me.
All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes.
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains.
My Favorite People?
My favorite people are my family members, but in terms of non-familial favorites, I have to say that I always look toward deeply authentic artists of all sorts whose work inspires me on a daily basis and makes me feel alive. There are too many to count, but here are a few who spring to mind: James Baldwin, MFK Fisher, John Coltrane, Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Patti Smith, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri . It’s quite a mix!
My Favorite Place?
My spiritual home is the great Shiva Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram in South India. I’ve been going there on pilgrimage since 2008. When I walked in for the first time, I felt as if I had always been there. I had come home to my own heart. It is an extremely important part of my life.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Good graphite drawing pencils of all types – from 2H to 9B. I love the feel and sound of graphite moving on paper.
Black Milky Cardamom tea.
My overflowing library of Yoga Philosophy books.
Organic and Ayurvedic facial products by Pangea Organics and Pratima.
My Current Passions?
Mudras – the hand gestures or energetic seals of the yogic tradition. Each has spiritual significance as well as having various physical effects of the body. Each morning I begin and end my yoga and meditation practices with mantra and mudra. I love to move from one to another and then another, finding ways of linking the movements and the meaning.