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The Art of Self Practice: Why Are You Here?

By Jennifer French
Prajna Yoga Temple

Stepping into the Temple

I often reflect on how fortunate I am to be on this yogic path. It has provided me with tools and skills that help keep me afloat when the day to day challenges of life get even more challenging. It’s a blessing to have mentors to go to, teachers that help hone one’s skills, thus calming and quieting what can feel like a thunderously noisy body, mind, or spirit!

My teachers, Tias and Surya Little of Prajna Yoga, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, have a yoga center – right on their property – that has become a second home to so many of their students, including me. It’s very different from what we have here at The Yoga Sanctuary. There are no weekly class schedules, no drop-in 60-minute classes, just day-long, weekend-long, week-long or month-long FULL immersions. The topics very and for many of the Prajna students, it is less about the topic of study and more about just being there, in Tias and Surya’s presence, absorbing their knowledge and experience, nourishing one’s spirit. It’s also a time to connect with the greater Prajna sangha. Students come from all over the world, many have been there before, others there for the first time.

This last visit to New Mexico was a week-long immersion called The Art of Self Practice. A session long put off… I was, in fact, unsure if I would ever attend. First, it didn’t ever seem to work with my available timing. Second, I already have a self-practice – I am comfortable with my sitting (meditation) practice, and competent in my asana (posture) practice. In other words, I know what to do. It’s just a matter of doing it.

Why are you here?

This year, the timing worked and my thoughts about the being in this immersion changed. As I said before, it no longer really matters what the topic is; it’s just important to me to be there. So, there I was, grateful to be in the Prajna Temple.

Each extended immersion begins with on opening circle. We introduce ourselves, say a bit about who we are and why we are there. My name is Jennifer. I come from SW Florida. I teach, I direct a yoga studio. I’ve been studying with Tias and Surya for many years now. I’m here to fill my cup…

It’s a long day… eight hours. We eat lunch together. This is time when we can develop our connection to the sangha. But just as in everyday life, one tends to connect with some more than others… For whatever reason, you find yourself deep in conversation with some people and perhaps have only said a brief hello to others.

Why are you here?

About mid-way through this session, I was chatting with a fella from California. It was his first time at Prajna. He is fairly new to the yoga practice, but hungry for knowledge. We were talking about our experiences on the yoga path and what it was like to study under Tias and Surya. Sometime in the middle of this conversation he paused. He looked at me and said, “So, you have a yoga studio, you’re a long-time practitioner and teacher… Why are you here?”

What seemed so very obvious to me, was unclear to another. A person studies, practices, studies more, practices more, and on it goes. They become more practiced, more proficient. Yet still, we must seek out our teachers. We seek out guidance and support. We seek out inspiration and community. Even feedback and insight into the true question of why are we here?

My triangle pose might look different from someone who is taking Triangle Pose for the first time. I might even be able to help you a bit with your Triangle Pose, but that does not mean that I am done. My Triangle Pose will never be perfect. No one’s ever will be. We need our teachers’ eyes, we need their experience, their guidance. They have walked just a bit farther down the path… and the path never ends.

That, my new friend, is why I am here.