The Beauty of Movement.

Via Susanna Harwood Rubin
on May 23, 2011
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Still is still moving to me… ~ Willie Nelson

Definition: Wanderlust

a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering (

a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about (

About 15 years ago I spontaneously visited a friend in Colombia.

It was a particularly wet and miserable February in New York, and I was itching to be anywhere else. I called my friend Luis, and in a week was on a plane to Bogota.

We drove from the city two or three hours to some of the small towns surrounding it. Luis navigated rapidly along winding highways through the mountains, the damp high-altitude fog lifting to reveal trickling waterfalls along the sides of the mountains and explosively green foliage everywhere. Beyond the green in the lower altitudes, the mountains shone orangey-pink in the sun. We stopped by the side of the road, grabbed chunks of the mountain and crumbled it into a terracotta dust that stained our fingers.

At the time, many of the highways on which we drove were guerrilla-controlled, so speed was of the essence, as the guerrillas’ good humor in letting through the supply trucks and travelers’ cars vanished with the day’s diminishing light.

It was imperative that we arrive at our destination before the sun set. We drove through jungle, coffee country, arid towns famous for their clay work, and stayed in small colonial villages where the white walls around the central squares overflowed with bougainvillea, music and cooking smells. The diverse richness of it all was exhilarating. There was also a subtle but persistent edge of uneasiness lurking around the perimeter of daily life that, to my perception, compelled people toward a profound appreciation of the fleeting sweetness of the moment.  We decided that while I was there we should eat like crazy and dance every night. And so we did.

At the apex of our non-stop motion, I had a conversation with one of Luis’ friends who said that he did not leave Colombia much because he didn’t enjoy traveling—that he began to lose his sense of self when he was removed from his everyday surroundings.

This was a stark contrast to what Luis and I were experiencing. Inspired by our constant movement—walking, driving, dancing and eating, I expressed to him how passionately I love traveling; how I find calmness within the incessant movement. The strangeness of new places and experiences makes me acutely aware of my own habits and assumptions, which I find liberating. Movement offers me perspective. Perspective creates self-reflection. Self-reflection cultivates insight and empathy and so on.

Once you get a hit of the stillness held by movement and of movement‘s suspended stillness, no matter where you are, you carry the awareness of it with you. Multiple frames of a movie give us one flickering image. Stare at a still image for long enough and it seems to shift before your eyes. This is the pulsation of nature. In Anusara’s Tantric tradition we call the stillness Shiva and the movement Shakti. Stillness defines motion and motion stillness. We can’t conceptualize one without the other. The beauty is both in the difference and in the merging. We hold them in a continual play. I move. I stop. I pause. I wander.

For the first time this year, I decided to go to Wanderlust. It seemed ridiculous that I have not yet gone, given my love for travel and, of course, yoga. There are yoga teachers who wander all over the globe and there are others who stay put at their home studio. Both roles are valuable and I find myself somewhere in between. My travels make me a better teacher, but I also love the day-to-day relationships I have with my students. What seduced me about this particular Wanderlust is that it is on the East Coast, and is hosting the Anusara Grand Circle, which is like the party of parties for anyone who practices Anusara Yoga. So I get my fix of stillness—resting in the heart of my community—through my embrace of motion—picking up from my surroundings and leaping into a new experience.

From Wanderlust, I leave for India. From India, I fly to Paris. From Paris, back home to New York. I embrace the mirror that travel provides, holding up infinite reflections of my own identity. I bring back experiences, insights and new perspectives for my students. In August, I will rest, my stillness holding its whirling wandering history like a passionate pulse.


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


22 Responses to “The Beauty of Movement.”

  1. Loved this, Suzanna. Hope to see more from you soon.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  2. Lori Landau says:

    I was in a teacher-training that Suzanna mentored. Her way with words, theme and heart had a profound effect on my understanding of yoga and inspired me to use my own love for words to help others not only understand, but feel the teachings (as I express them through my own writing and art). I am THRILLED to see Suzanna's beautiful work on Elephant Journal's pages…..

  3. Thank you, Bob! I am happy to be here!

  4. bridgetstacey says:

    Really loved this, so beautiful encapsulated.

  5. bj galvan says:

    Iccha Shakti baby! So awesome to bathe in yours last week in Paris. Opening to Greece now… LOVE! <3

  6. Lori – you are so thoughtful to say that – thank you!

  7. Thank you, Bridget!

  8. BJ! That was blissful. Paris is always better WITH your positive energy in it – I'm glad our constant movement found a place to meet…

  9. It was amazing – Anything with Sianna Sherman always is. Next stop Anusara Grand Circle at Wanderlust, VT…the auspicious coming together of our community – See you there!

  10. Noah Mazé says:

    Susanna, you have the gift of Vac, I love reading your words and experience.

  11. Noah – that means a lot to me coming from you. Thank you so much.

  12. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  13. bj galvan says:

    Thank you.. and you do has Noahji noted, you are the vessel for the fluidity of Vac… She dances through you in ways that light us all up! The whole traveling stillness is the profundity of the great Gochari mudra… home in our own skin, steady within & without, wherever you your Heart. SO much love to you!

  14. bernieb says:

    I'm so happy to see Susanna on Elephant! She is such a beautiful writer!

  15. bj galvan says:

    Oops… sent that from iPhone w/ the wacky key pad… It says you are amazing!

  16. Thank you bernieb!!!

  17. 🙂 – You are utterly sweet – especially meaningful coming from someone who knows SO much about constant movement, and who offers such stillness through her voice to her students. You are one of the passionate wandering ones! Will you be at the Anusara Grand Circle at Wanderlust? See you there?

  18. Lila Rasa Brown says:

    Susanna, your words and descriptions are exquisite. Thank you for sharing your gift and your ability to go with matrika's sweet and expansive flow. I truly enjoyed it!

  19. Lila – you are welcome – and thank you for your kind words!

  20. Shig says:

    Virtuosity, a great theme you presented in the class. Here’s is your voice. Beauty of weaving. It’s a deep desire for auspiciousness. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Shig, coming from someone as intelligent & elegant as you, that means a lot. Thank you so much. The movement toward our own virtuosity is unending…and delicious…the piece I'm posting on elephant right now is on exactly that.