Susanna Harwood Rubin is an esteemed yoga teacher, writer, artist + author of Yoga 365; bringing asana, Hindu myth, mantra, mudra and meditation together into an immersive experience, accessible to everyone.
Q: What is your approach to teaching these days?
A: I teach Devi Soul Yoga, “devi” meaning “goddess.” I combine yoga asana class with Hindu myth, mantra, mudra, and meditation, weaving the practices together into an immersive experience.
Q: What is your best advice for how to begin taking your yoga off the mat and into your life?
A: Create a five to ten minute practice and do it every day for a month. See what happens. How does it change your life if you get up in the morning, set the timer, choose an intention for your day, move for a few minutes on your mat, then finish with a few rounds of pranayama, mantra, or meditation? Keep it simple and sweet so you can easily meet your commitment.
Q: What is your new book, Yoga 365, about?
A: Yoga 365 offers daily contemplations and strategies for bringing yoga off the mat and into our lives. Each entry explores a mind-body theme such as balance, strength, or resilience. It is written for all levels, so a new yogi can enjoy it, but I’ve been thrilled to hear from teachers that they have been using it in class. There is a ton of information in Yoga 365, from myths and philosophical concepts to mantras, mudras, meditations, and breathing practices. So it is also a good reference book.
Q: Before writing Yoga 365, you wrote extensively about yoga philosophy, myth, and visiting South India. How did this interest begin?
A: I’ve been studying for 15 years with scholar Dr. Douglas Brooks, and began going with him to Tamil Nadu in 2008. When I first arrived at the great Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram, I felt as if I had come home. It was an overwhelming sensation of poignancy, and familiarity, as if I had stepped into a dream I had always been having. My relationship with that temple is tumultuous and beautiful, like a love affair, yet challenging to explain, so I began to write about it in order to understand it myself.
Q: How did you balance these specific interests with your goal of making Yoga 365 accessible?
A: My editor at Chronicle Books kept telling me to simplify, and she was right. I spend my time with other yoga philosophy nerds, so my sense of what is common knowledge was skewed. My background was writing and lecturing for MoMA, so I was accustomed to making complex Modernist artworks understandable. I did the same thing in the yoga world. I asked my friends and family, “What do you know about pranayama? Kali? Mantra practice?” They looked at me and said, “Hmmm...” I quickly figured out that I needed to define terms to engage the reader. I care deeply about making things accessible.
Susanna Harwood Rubin is the author of Yoga 365. She is a yoga 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 Devi Soul Yoga and Writing Your Practice.