February 13, 2012

The Yoga of Charlotte’s Web. ~ Nina Hayes

Connect to all beings.

In the Jivamukti Yoga tradition, a spiritual theme is examined and practiced through the “Focus of the Month.” This month’s focus, Comfort in the City, is inspired by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra II.46: sthira sukam asanam. It can be translated as, our connection to the earth should be steady (sthira) and joyful (sukkam).

We can perceive our connection to the earth as the physical connection which provides stability and balance in our yoga asana, as well as the intangible connection with other beings with whom we inhabit this earth. As yogis on the path of union with all that is divine, we seek the most inclusive definition; all beings without exception: human beings, animal beings and plant beings. A practical and enjoyable way to experience this connection is by providing comfort to animals who are serving humans and tirelessly teaching us the path to joy.

Since we don’t understand their language – all too often we dismiss the intelligence of animals, and at worst, permit the exploitation of these sentient creatures. In order to approach joy it is imperative, both individually and collectively, to resolve our relationship with animal beings. If we are sincerely seeking a joyful connection with the earth and in our lives, it is critical that we acknowledge this relationship as symbiotic and mutually beneficial. It is not enough to solely intellectually understand this principle,  instead we must act.

This truth is beautifully articulated by the the spider, Charlotte of Charlottes’s Web. She opened her heart to hear friend Wilbur the pig,

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.
~E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Allow yourself to become inspired by insight of Charlotte and make a concerted daily effort to provide solace for our animal friends. Perhaps you are not in the habit of taking care of animals or maybe you don’t see yourself as an “animal lover”…Try anyway! You may be surprised at the happiness you receive from taking care of another being who desperately needs attention.  The suggestions  below are recommended by Jivamukti co-founder Sharon Gannon. They are especially relevant for city dwellers, both human and animal. Try them out and also get creative with other ways  you  can connect  with and serve our animal friends.

  • Provide fresh water for feral cats and other wild animals. Put a pan of clean water on your balcony, fire escape or on the sidewalk next to your building, in a park or vacant lot nearby your house
  • Walking dogs – your own or take one lucky dog out of a shelter for a 20-minute walk. This is certainly a way to uplift someone’s life.
  • Veganism. Eating a vegan diet is undoubtedly the most powerful way that we as human beings can contribute to creating a kinder and more comfortable world for ourselves, other animals and the planet.

May your connection lead you to boundless joy!

Nina Hayes
is a Jivamukti Yoga instructor who is passionate about yoga as a vehicle for living with courage and equanimity. Describing her yoga mat as a magic carpet, Nina experienced a transformative ride through physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. She credits her beloved teachers Sharron Gannon and David Life, as well as her practice, with providing her the tools to consciously navigate life’ obstacles. Nina is available for both domestic and international workshops. Please email Nina for more information.[email protected] and visit her website here.


This article was prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Lauren Foster.

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