Class Notes, Week 10: Tias Little Workshop

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

Tias Little knows the words to Taylor Swift songs.

When he broke out into “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” it became one of the most endearing moments during our four-day “Anatomy of the Chakras” program.  In that moment, Tias wasn’t some celebrated yogi sprinkling a lecture with esoteric concepts learned from monks and master teachers based in far-flung lands.  He was a dad mimicking a song his son played over and over at home.  He became an “everyday” human — no different than the rest of us.

The rest of his program, however, was not as plucky and lighthearted.  I walk away from these past four days in a bit of a whirl.  Tias warned us that the “journey would not be linear” and there’d be some jumping around.  Boy oh boy, he wasn’t kidding.  There was a lot of jumping, but not in the literal sense.

I’ve done two other chakra workshops in the past six months – one with Angie Knight in Mexico, another with Seane Corn here in Chicago.  The lessons delivered in each of those programs followed a pretty linear/chronological path, fused with tangible applications of these interconnected concepts – i.e. a day of silence to contemplate the power of the throat chakra, doing practice blindfolded to plug into the brow chakra, practices that focused on grounding when exploring the root chakra.  That sort of delivery made it easier for me to absorb.  Not to mention, it was organized.

With Tias, however, I am left to make sense of his somewhat scattered and esoteric delivery of information, and integrate it into a foundation built with Angie and Sean.  During these past four days, concepts were tossed out like candy at a parade, oftentimes out of any specific order.  Now I’m holding this bag of candy, trying to decide which to eat, which to save, which to discard.

As I’ve remarked before – and others have cautioned me – the yogic path is neither “easy” nor straightforward.  Just when I think I’ve wrangled a concept, that very thing sprouts another head, ten legs, seventeen arms and a slippery skin.  Oye.

To his credit, Tias did remark in today’s final lesson that the program is the “I-90 approach to the chakras” and encouraged us, especially us newer teacher trainees, to absorb what we could.   Without sifting through my notes and scribbles, here is what I absorbed and enjoyed:

  • The chanting and guided meditation at the start of each day.  The vibrations this sent through my body were incredible, the energy it created in the room was powerful.
  • It is “CH”akras … not “SH”akras.
  • The concept of the Sushuma and how its existence means that we are all truly “beings of light.”  So cool.
  • How the chakras relate to the nadis (sushuma, ida, pingala) and doshas (pitta, vatta, kapha).
  • Creative/effective use of props to deepen poses, i.e. twists and heart openers.  I’m going to remember these for my personal practice, and future teaching.
  • The reminder to soften the jaw, soften the tongue, soften the face – places where we often visibly hold tension.  I liked his expression, “Savasana with the tongue, savasana with the face.”
  • Tias’ penchant for using sound effects when he couldn’t articulate a concept with words.  It was funny, albeit overused at times.
  • The analogy of climbing up a spiral staircase, as we progressed from root to crown chakra.  He referenced the “Miraculous Staircase” in Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel, a place I visited in spring.

The “Miraculous Staircase” at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico

While most everyone left “oohing” and “aahing” about this program, I’m not exactly gushing over it.  (I’ll be honest — gotta work that throat chakra, right?)  Perhaps it will all resonate with me over time.  Or, perhaps I’m just having a hard time getting over a single negative experience I had in one of the weekend practices.  It came after one of Tias’ assistants lovingly-delicately-compassionately got me into a modified pose because my knee was acting up.  Seconds later, Tias abruptly grabbed my knee and moved it into a position that was painful.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.  He had given me some delicious adjustments in previous practices, but this one action really startled me, and unraveled some of the reverence I had developed for his teaching style.  Shouldn’t this seasoned yogi know better?  Why did he make that adjustment without asking for my permission?  I, nor the assistance close by, had the opportunity to explain the reason for my alternate alignment.

In “Teaching Yoga,” Donna Farhi writes: “We should never underestimate the impact of our words and actions.”  This single action, for better or worse, impacted me.  I’m sure Tias made the adjustment with good intention.  But it was good intention without delicate consideration.  For me, this memory will serve as a reminder to always be considerate with my future students’ bodies.

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