“Only Connect.” Monday Morning Yoga.

Via on Feb 25, 2013
My Hanumanasana
My Hanumanasana

It’s February, so I’m teaching about my favorite monkey, Hanuman, the sweet demi-god with the monkey face.

Hanuman is known as the very embodiment of devotion, and a great yogi.

Hanuman is dedicated to the great god Ram and Ram’s beloved, the gorgeous goddess Sita, so he does whatever he needs to do to keep Ram safe and to keep Sita and Ram united. He braves demons, wars, and wildly hazardous situations in order to achieve this. It is an unending process and Hanuman’s devotion to the task is unwavering.

To do yoga means to yoke, to connect, and for this reason Hanuman, the great connector, is the ultimate yogi.

So how is Hanuman relevant to us?

Begin by entertaining the idea that the being we call Hanuman is a named aspect of your self. He is that part of you that is dedicated to fostering connectivity in every conceivable part of your life: within your body, between your body-heart-mind, and between you and your world. He is resource and tool. He is a reservoir of grace and a means of access to that grace.

Hanuman revealing Sita and Ram united in his heart
Hanuman revealing Sita and Ram united in his heart

I tell stories and teach his pose, Hanumanasana, or some variation of his pose in each of my February classes. I began this tradition, which one of my students dubbed “Hanumonth,” about seven years ago in reaction to the creaky and punishing February weather, opting to defy the cold’s stiffening and subduing effects with a month of playful hip-opening poses. I was personally dedicated to feeling open and spacious at a time of year in which my body and mind generally struggle to recall the sense of ease and connectivity that comes so naturally to me in warm weather.

Connectivity can be misunderstood.

You can be very tightly knitted together, but feel entirely disconnected because there isn’t enough movement or space in your body, so relationships between body parts become limited. Similarly, you can feel stuck in your life or in your personal relationships because there simply isn’t enough room to gaze upon them from different angles. We have to break up the “stuckness,” introducing space and movement into the stillness in order to feel more deeply connected in every way.

There is no perspective without space. There is no connectivity without an opening. There is no yoga without movement.

Breaking things up can be scary: old patterns, deeply ingrained habits, those places of unthinking comfort. Throwing away an old shoebox full of letters and photos can be tough because they are part of your history. Similarly, opening a tight or cluttered spot in your body can create a destabilizing shift, and may also open up the floodgates. And guess what? That is exactly what you need to do if you truly want connection in your life.

So where do you want to feel a deeper sense of connection?
How will you dedicate yourself to creating the space in which that connectivity can flourish?
What kind of Hanuman-like leap will you take?

“Only connect”

~E.M. Forster

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Hanuman Chalisa, Kakrighat, India September 2009 – Krishna Das

About Susanna Harwood Rubin

Susanna is passionately committed to finding beauty in everyday life. She is a yoga teacher-writer-visual artist, which means that she rarely stops moving except to meditate. She is ERYT-500, has been teaching for over 12 years, and travels regularly to South India to delve into the traditions of Rajanaka Yoga that inspire her work. Her spiritual home is the great Nataraja Temple of Chidambaram. She teaches internationally, but is based in New York. Find her weekly classes at Twisted Trunk Yoga and Abhaya Yoga . 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," and she will still happily talk about Picasso for hours if you ask her. Susanna currently writes on yoga, writing, art, and life for a number of publications, including The Huffington Post , Mantra Yoga+Health , Rebelle Society , and YOGANONYMOUS . She gives talks on yoga, Hindu myth, and philosophy, and created the popular Writing Your Practice workshops and telecourses for yogis, applying yoga philosophy and myth to the practice of writing. Overall, she is amazed at the richness of her life. Find her on Twitter , Facebook , & Instagram

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9 Responses to ““Only Connect.” Monday Morning Yoga.”

  1. fragginfraggin says:

    Hanuman symbolizes the potential for courage and strength manifested through selfless love. Love is the highest order of things and other qualities fall in line appropriately after love.

  2. Erin Hansbrough says:

    As one who generally dreads February (the cold! The stiff joints! The long wait to get back in the garden!) I really appreciated the reminder to put connection at the forefront of my approach to life. Thanks, Susanna!

  3. Amy says:

    Thank you for this timely reminder!

  4. karlsaliter says:

    Susanna, very nice article, I hope you keep up the monday morning yoga series.

    And wow, what an amazing hanumanasana! I enjoyed being reminded that Hanuman can be best viewed as a "named aspect of your self". True and valuable note.

    Though my hanumanasana is still embryonic, my hips stuck at heights to which the best mountain climbers can only aspire, I am encouraged to bust out a hanumanasana for tonight's class. The payful attitude? That, I can accomplish.

    Thank you for this perspective, you are clearly living it.

    • Thank you Karl! Yes – I am happy to write a weekly piece. I did so for a year for a site called SocialWorkout, but when they morphed into more of a goal-setting & challenge site I moved over to Elephant Journal, which has been great! It's time for me to write publicly on a weekly basis again though. I've missed the rhythm of it. Not the same as writing for yourself.

      Oh, and the playful attitude is far more important than anything else!
      Thank you!

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