Ella Isakov, Yoga Editor: It is an absolute pleasure to interview Tias Little. This life-long student blends the wisdom of multiple schools of thought, bringing diversity and depth to his yoga teaching.
Parvati Magazine: You have been practicing yoga and meditation for over 35 years. How has it created a sense of ahimsa (non-harming) within yourself?
Tias Little: Ahimsa is the beginning of yoga training, missed out by many in the yoga industry these days. People are more concerned with becoming more flexible. But Ahimsa requires not pushing oneself into the pose. That is what I have learned over my years of practice. Not forcing, but in a time-honored way, allowing change to occur. Sometimes ahimsa is simply created by thoughts. Thoughts about other people, negative, injurious thoughts.
PMAG: You have studied and practiced different forms of meditation over the course of your life. Which one has guided and benefited you in your life?
TL: Vipassana meditation has had the greatest influence on my life. We must continually question our agendas for doing what we do. For me, what is my agenda for doing yoga practice? What are my aims, ambitions and goals? In Vipassana, we see into our own hopes and fears. The underlying current of a lot of our actions is never truly realized, but is underneath the motivation of what we do.
PMAG: I love your latest book “Yoga of the Subtle Body: A Guide to the Physical and Energetic Anatomy of Yoga”. How does moving deeper into the subtler body aid us in wholeness within ourselves?
TL: Engaging the subtle body is where the rasa flows in yoga. Rasa means juice, or essence of life. When we listen and follow the smallest movements across our nerves in our fascia, that’s when we can be the most attuned to our own experience. Rather than simply how far can I get in the pose, and can I sweat until my mat is like a sponge, my teaching at Prajna Yoga is about observing the nuance of feeling in the body. Connecting to the subtle in life connects us to beauty.
PMAG: You founded and run Prajna Yoga. What is the essence of Prajna Yoga? How does it guide people to navigate their life so that inner well-being influences their decisions?
TL: Prajna Yoga guides people inward to their core. Core is such a common phrase these days in the yoga world. Core means considering the very depths of our soul. At Prajna Yoga, we accomplish this through working in meditation, slowing down our experience in yoga, working with dreams, listening inwardly to the wind of the spirit that flows inside. This inner work will extend outward into our relationships. How we raise our children, how we can respond and be available without clinging at the end of our parents’ lives. Prajna means wisdom, insight or connecting to our innermost seer or witness.
PMAG: Your years of study include various styles of meditation, Buddhist studies, several lineages of yoga and trauma healing. From all these, what three pieces of advice would you give people to find more ease and contentment (Santosha) in their life?
TL: One is to remember that all things are fragile. When we remember how delicate and impermanent things are, it brings us to greater care for what we do have. Second is to remember that all things are conditioned, that people have a whole karmic history from their upbringing or their gene pool or the school they went to, the part of the world they grew up in. So all things are formed by causes and conditions. We must remember that people’s actions in the world often simply come out of causes and conditions. One of the things we do in yoga, of course, is to look carefully through the microscope into our own set of karmic causes and conditions to heal, grow and transform. Third is to allow more space for meditation. Allow for more physical space between our connective tissues, space around the diaphragm, space in the jaw, and psychic space. When people have more psychic space, they feel much freer.
Tias began studying Iyengar yoga in 1985 and lived in Mysore, India in 1989 studying Ashtanga with Pattabhi Jois. He is a longtime student of the meditative arts and Buddhism. Tias lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he directs his school, Prajna Yoga, and is the author of three books.