“Swollen With Light”

Via on Jun 21, 2011

John Friend-Anusara Grand Circle, Wanderlust, photo by Elena Brower

Notes from the Anusara Grand Circle – Wanderlust

Swollen with light ~ John Friend

I have just lowered down from another backbend and am staring up at the taut curves of an enormous white tent. My teacher, John Friend, has been talking about the burgeoning quality of the light at this time of year, the Summer Solstice. One little fragment of his talk still resonates: the idea of being “swollen with light.”  For some reason, this particular phrase delights me. There are a few pregnant women practicing and I imagine them light-filled, their bellies glowing like fireflies.


If you want to learn about the universe, get very quiet. Watch your breath as it moves through your body, initiating your inhale like you are pouring a glass of water. Fill the pelvis – the waist – the ribcage – the shoulders. Everything expands. Now pour out your exhale top to bottom.  What you just felt in your body is what happens in every aspect of nature, whether we choose to pay attention to it or not. The Sanskrit word for pulsation is Spanda. The passage of your breath. The pulse of your heart. The rise and fall of a day. The trajectory of a life.  The structure of a yoga class from the beginning invocation to savasana. Expand to contract. Contract to expand. Spanda.


Intention is an interesting thing in that it can be difficult to discern productive determination from needless grasping. Think about not trying to be like X, but rather, to be X. In this way, as John Friend said this morning, you ”put your will in the flow of the bigger will…then all we’re doing is lining up.” If you align so deeply with your desire, you become it. If you see your desire as a part of you, as opposed to something outside of you, the longing and the longed for become a unified dynamic: two parts of a whole, the question and its answer.

photo by Elena Brower

Dwelling in the wonder of not knowing ~ Hareesh Wallis

All good answers give birth to further questions, like sparks cascading from a firework. If we see an answer as a directional indicator rather than as an end, our worlds become vast skies lit up with the sparks and patterns of our sensibilities. We create our own personal constellations of questions, our own configurations of limitless light. “We dwell,” as Hareesh Wallis said, “in the wonder of not knowing.”

Raising the resonance ~ Elena Brower

Sometimes when I teach a class I feel it so acutely within my body that it seems as if I have actually moved through the entire physical practice. Sometimes when I assist a class I have the same experience. I opted to assist my friend Elena Brower today instead of practicing. The verbal instructions, the manual assists, and the physical practice formed a triangle of communication in which what was said, heard, and enacted upon “raised the resonance” of the experience. As Elena spoke of living ever-more fully within our individual choices and lives, I felt the words permeate my skin, soften my tired muscles, and open into a dense honeyed internal place. We finished in meditation, word, body, and intention melded into a gently glowing intensity.

photo by Elena Brower

We see all places as places of pilgrimage ~ Bill Mahony

Sometimes we journey to find a sense of ourselves. The strangeness of a different context can illuminate our particular qualities and habits. We leave home to come more profoundly home, which is why we’re all here. Bill Mahoney spoke about seeing every place in our lives as a place of pilgrimage. In this context, a place can be an event, a relationship, our connection to the world, or our sense of self. If we treat these “places” as sacred, our world becomes one in which every observation and interaction becomes rich with meaning and worthy of reverence. Our world becomes more substantial, our lives become a moving prayer.

About Susanna Harwood Rubin

Susanna is passionately committed to finding beauty in everyday life. She is a yoga teacher, visual artist, and writer, which means that she rarely stops moving except to meditate. She has been teaching for over a decade, and has spent over 11 years immersed in studying Rajanaka Tantra with Dr. Douglas Brooks, with whom she travels regularly to South India to delve into the traditions that inspire her teaching, writing, and artwork. She teaches internationally, but her yoga home is Virayoga in NYC. Susanna's artwork is represented in collections such as the UCLA Hammer Museum, the Berkeley Museum, and the Addison Gallery of American Art. She lectured and wrote for MoMA for years, including co-writing the book "Looking at Matisse and Picasso." She will still happily talk about Picasso for hours if you ask her. She has been profiled by the Today Show, Yoga Radio, FIT YOGA, YogaSleuth, SocialWorkout, and ChaudiaChan.com. She gives talks on yoga, Hindu myth, and philosophy for the Yoga Teacher Telesummit, and teaches Writing Your Practice writing courses and workshops for yogis. Susanna is an Origin Magazine columnist and writes for Rebelle Society . Overall, she is amazed at the richness of her life. Find her on Twitter , Facebook , & Instagram


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15 Responses to ““Swollen With Light””

  1. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Absolutely lovely. Thank you, Susanna.

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    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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    • Thank you Tanya – there was so much to write about in the past few days – so much inspiration at the Anusara Grand Circle, that I just took it all in & offered little tastes of all of the deliciousness…

  2. BJ Galvan bj galvan says:

    Thanks you for drenching us with Solstice Love Shine! Blessings.. xo

  3. Diane says:

    This post is exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you!


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