Interview with Nubia Teixeira, author of Yoga and the Art of Mudras
By Carrie Beth McCall
Nubia Teixeira’s new book, Yoga and the Art of Mudras, is a guided journey into the alchemy of asana (yoga pose) and mudra (symbolic hand gesture). Nubia, a featured speaker in the Yoga of Healing and Awakening Summit, fuses her passion for yoga and dance with her love for bhakti (devotion). In so doing, she has created a unique and contemporary yoga system that encompasses all three healing arts.
You have been on the yogic path (in this lifetime) for over 30 years. What new insights came about through the process of writing this book?
Through the process of writing and especially editing this book, I found that what I wanted to offer to the yoga community was a simple — more inspiring and experiential — yogic practice. I wanted this book to be more feminine, and be a practical guide in the art of combining yogasana and Mudras.
I want my teachings to empower the practitioner to feel, through the vehicle of their body and the creation of specific shapes, that they can create a bridge between the physical and the mystical, a link between the natural and the supernatural. I wanted to be effective in teaching how to bring the beauty of Bhakti to the yogasanas as a way of offering oneself to the Divine.
What do you want people to understand about yoga? What is Bhakti yoga?
What I hope practitioners can understand via the practice of yoga is that they are beautiful vessels of divine energy and that they can be guided by that divine presence inside in their daily lives. I would like my students to experience yoga practices as a way to fill themselves with the energies of nature and the energies of the spiritual beings that are here to support us.
Bhakti yoga is the yoga of relationship — connecting oneself to nature and to God, connecting to one another. It is the yoga of reverence; what we are revering is the love inside of our hearts. When we intentionally pour that love into all that we do, we are practicing Bhakti yoga. If we can bring this caring love to all of our relationships, we are practicing Bhakti. Bhakti is expressed as art and its ultimate purpose is to be an offering to God, a service to humanity. To me, Bhakti yoga and Karma yoga are intertwined, so making oneself available to love and to serve is the seed of Bhakti.
Alchemy is a magical process of transformation, and your book explores the "alchemy of mudra and asana." How do these two practices combine to create something new?
The combination of mudra and asana is not something new — it has been a component of the Hatha and Tantra Yoga traditions. What I am bringing forth in this book is a combination of the poses of the Gods and Goddess from the classical Indian dance of Odissi into the yogasana practice. To me, Odissi is a complete form of devotional yoga in itself, and it is done in a way that is expressive of the prayers and poetry of Bhakti. A combination of mudra and asana, along with the intention, evokes the energies and qualities of spiritual presences (deities, myths, archetypes). By practicing these special poses that I call Bijasanas of the deities, hopefully you will become a vessel of the forces and the energies that you are evoking. These sacred beings are available to us, and when we properly and humbly invoke them, they will come to guide us, direct their energies towards us, and support us.
As a busy teacher, mama, and author, how do you find balance? What daily practices do you make time for no matter what?
No matter what, I start my day with some basic postures and movement, to bring balance and equilibrium to my physical body; then pranayama to give me energy and clear my mind and, of course, prayers, which power me up and connect me with the deities and energies that I want looking over me and guiding me throughout the day. I have a responsibility to be as clear as possible, as my main intention in life is to be as present and as available as I can to others, so my self-practice is essential and non-negotiable.
I love the Hatha Yoga Pradipika because it presents so many different aspects and elements of a yoga sadhana and because it is so practical. There are wonderful books of poetry from the Bhakti tradition that inspire me so much, and I also love many of the Puranas, which are the stories of the gods and goddesses. I especially love the Devi Mahatmyam, which shares the tales of the Divine Mother and Her victory over evil.
What is your vision for yoga in the future?
I hope that, through our yoga practice, we learn how to see our physical bodies and our lives are a continuation of a vast, beautiful, spiritual life that has no beginning and no end; to see that we are all connected, now and forever, and therefore understand the significance of taking care of ourselves, taking care of each other, and taking care of our environment. I hope that yoga can support us in finding the conditions to live a life that is simpler and intentional — with more joy, more spiritual connection, and more meaning through service to one another and to our planet.
Perceiving yoga as a healing art, Nubia's refinement and unique style overflows with sacred meaning and heartfelt inspiration. Nubia leads workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats locally and around the world. Click here to visit her website.
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This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 11: Yoga of Healing and Awakening Summit