“Remember it’s not the pose, it’s the quality of attention while in the pose. It’s all meditation.”
~ Tias Little, Prajna Yoga, October 2017
I spent 7 days in New Mexico in October of this year and since then, I have started and stopped writing about my experience many times over. I have a very hard time putting into words the experiences that mean the most to me in life. It’s almost like writing about it takes the magic away, in the same way that taking a photograph will never do justice to what the eye sees.
I visit New Mexico normally once, these days, twice a year. I love the American Southwest – Arizona, Colorado, Southern Utah and Western Texas are my favorite places – but none of those states affect me like the enchantment of New Mexico.
I say this kind of hesitantly as I know many, many people don’t like the state at all. But I feel like those people are also the people who like to vacation in Florida. And that’s fine, thankfully we have options in this great country and world, but Florida people are not my people. New Mexico people are. It’s important to understand that before planning your vacations. Reviews only go so far – it would help us all if we knew the people behind the review. And this reviewer will not be visiting the state of Florida.
Now that we got that out of the way.
I visited New Mexico solely for yoga purposes, as I was completing my senior adult yoga certification in Albuquerque, and decided to tack on an extra few days in Santa Fe to study with Tias and Surya Little. I have had the luxury of studying with Tias before, in Dallas, and it was a great experience, but it didn’t blow my doors open. It felt a little unreachable to be honest, but there was something about him that I knew I needed to explore more. I am so glad I grabbed a hold of that instinct and a year later, decided to sign up for a retreat at Prajna.
Once my friend Kila found out I was going to study at Prajna, she said, you are going to love Surya; and there’s nothing like studying with both of them together in New Mexico.
And she was right.
I have the biggest girl crush ever on Surya. And there’s nothing, and I mean nothing, like learning from them both in Santa Fe. If they come through your city, by all means go (Tias will be back in Dallas this January – I sure as hell will be there), but know that you’re not getting the full experience.
What took me by the most surprise, which looking back I don’t know why it would have, was how much I resonated with the other Prajna teachers. I thankfully spent 4 days in Albuquerque after Santa Fe and was able to study with Darcy and Pam at Bhava Yoga, and their offerings were unbelievable. Of course they were. Like minds find like minds; of course the teachers who are attracted to Prajna are the teachers that I am attracted to.
And then I remembered that I took a workshop with Jyl Kutsche here in Fort Worth a few years back, and yet again, she’s a Prajna grad too. Her offering and her love truly grabbed me, and I immediately wanted to know how I could practice with her more.
All I kept thinking, while in New Mexico, and back home in Fort Worth, is I want to teach like this, too. I want this space, and I want this type of flow, and I want this awareness in all of my classes.
Now the problem has turned to, where do I find Prajna teachers here in Fort Worth? I feel like a druggie, needing more, wanting more, searching for more.
Ever since I found the studio version of yoga (versus practicing at home) I couldn’t relate to the new hot power yoga trend. That’s why my 200-hour is from the hippiest studio in town. I can’t relate to push, push, push when so much of our world is formed around push, push, push. For me, yoga is my escape; it is my release, and it’s where I rediscover, over and over again, my truest self. I don’t want a drill sergeant for a teacher, and I don’t want the music to be so loud that I can’t hear myself think, and I don’t want to feel worse at the end than I did when I started.
I want what we all want: to be looked in the eye, to feel respected, to feel valued, to be thanked, and to be greeted, and to be safely led through an hour+ practice. Prajna offers that, but it also offers the perfect blend of yin and yang. I’ve studied with other famous yoga couples, but I didn’t feel the grace and the balance that I feel with Tias and Surya. Their combination of the asanas along with the balance of Hatha and sensory work with restorative poses has been perfectly planned and mastered. Tias’ dharma talks were right on, every day, and Surya’s love felt warm, true, and almost holy. The light in and around the studio changed hourly, turning the tan walls into gray, into pink, and into shades of green; walls that I could have stared at all day. The space both in the studio and outside of the studio on their land was perfectly designed, a little piece of serenity. I want everyone to know about it, and at the same time, I want no one to know about it. I want to escape there, year after year, in my own little world, without having to chat or compare notes or do anything but think and listen.
And I plan to do just that.
My hope is that we all find people we can relate to. I think the guru world is a little BS; that’s just not for me. But it’s important to find people who you can relate to. There are so many incredible older yogis and yoginis in this world, and if you’re a teacher, I suggest you find someone (or a group of them) who has been on this path for a long time. Just like in the corporate world, it’s best to find a mentor; in the yoga world, it’s best to find someone who isn’t there for the likes or the shares or the sexy poses, someone who could care less about a 500-hour or any certification out there, because let’s be honest, these ridiculous credits are all for money and ego and glory (and believe me they grab my attention too – hence the senior adult yoga certification as mentioned above). Find someone who feels true to you, and try as best as possible to study with them, to ask them questions and then to shut the hell up and listen. There are so many paths we can go on, both in the yoga world and in life; find the one that works for you.
And if you’ve studied with Tias and had anything he said grab your attention, anything resonate with you, anything make you question your practice or your way of thinking, book your next training in New Mexico and dive further in. You will not regret it.
After returning from NM a few weeks ago, I made this Green Chili Stew, with beans and potatoes instead of meat. Hatch chilis are no longer in season here so I used canned (thankfully Central Market ships them fresh in every year from New Mexico, but the shipments happen in August, when I don’t want to be making stew). If they’re fresh where you are, by all means, roast some peppers and pop them in. I hope you enjoy.