Tim Miller Weekend
March 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Tim Miller came up north to spend the weekend at our shala. It was intense, fun, agonizing, illuminative, instructive, heart-warming, all at once. He’s such a repository of knowledge about yoga philosophy, sanskrit, vedic astrology, among others, I could sit all day just listening to what he has to say. This video is a pretty accurate representation of the type of discussions we had over the weekend. Overall his teachings are very much grounded in the yoga sutras, which provided the philosophical framework for everything we did.
Before the workshop, I fully expected to take copious notes and that I would be brimming with anecdotes and insights to blog about by the time Sunday evening came around. Interestingly enough, I’m lost for words this Monday morning. Still, I’ll try my best to share my observations, SereneFlavor style:
1. The yoga tradition is an oral one, so if you’re obsessed with note-taking, particularly during complex discussions and explanations about the yoga sutras, there’s a high chance you’ll miss out on a soundbite crucial for following the train of thought. Better to leave the notebook/iPad aside, listen and absorb. The understanding will follow when the seeds of knowledge bear fruit later.
2. For someone who’s sustained a dedicated yoga practice for 34 years, he still says that he ‘sucks’ in certain poses, like Kapotasana. Now that’s humility.
3. Speaking about humility, if you’re a young (30-ish), up and coming yoga teacher (read: practicing Third Series) looking to start a Mysore program in your town, you’d be well-placed to learn from those who came before you: keep your ego in check and not complain about having to teach in your local gym and only having a small group of students who are so stiff they can’t do a simple forward bend.
4. The accuracy with which one is able to imitate Guruji’s turns of phrase seems to be directly correlated with the depth of one’s Ashtanga experience. It’s certainly a fool-proof way to build rapport and break the ice.
5. Tim adjusts by action, not words. Like moving your back leg as you stand in Parsvottanasana to place the foot where it needs to be. An interesting, if not slightly alarming, experience, in maintaining one’s balance.
6. Saturday morning’s led primary was an intense, liver-wringing, window-fogging practice that more than stoked the agni – the digestive fire. After lunch at 1pm, I was craving a juicy chunk of steak by 5pm, quite possibly the shortest, hunger-driven interval between two full meals I’ve ever had.
7. Sunday’s intro to 2nd cracked me open. I could do most of the poses adequately enough, including glamorously bonking my head as I went back in Kapotasana, but overall, it is not an experience I want to replicate. I have a real fear of this series, and I am perfectly happy never to have to progress towards it for the rest of my life. Of course, in yoga’s convoluted logic, this means that 2nd series is just what I need. Great.
8. Pranayama’s a great way to energize the body and infuse your appearance with a relaxed, radiant glow. We experienced it for ourselves when we met friends for dinner yesterday and they commented on how relaxed we looked, sore thighs, abs and shoulders notwithstanding.
9. Ashtanga, like any field of interest, has its groupies too – a segment of the population that I avoid like the plague. This fact has made me a little wary of going to Mysore. To be continued.
10. I feel fortunate to be part of a local studio that brings in a range of respected Ashtanga teachers on a regular basis. It’s taught me that the teacher is not as important as the message they’re transmitting, which provides fodder for the asana practice and Svādhyāya. Because ultimately, the journey to self-realization is ours to make. Each awakened mind gets there with the help of those that came before, and once there, serves as a signpost for those still on the journey.