Stoking the fire of Tapas

Two weeks of Primary Series teacher training is winding down at the Ashtanga Yoga Center, but as Tim Miller writes this week, it won’t be over until passing through three very intense final days.

We can attest to this. Bobbie’s done the two-week training, and we’ve both done the intense-in-a-different-way week in Tulum. (I sort of mean that tongue-in-cheek, except it really is intense. The warm Caribbean sands and water and the swaying palms do help moderate the intensity, a bit.) Bobbie also will be going to this summer’s two-week Second Series training, and I can note that I blocked off a week on my calendar to go down there, as well. (I may do some work during the day along with just lying on the beach. Additional note: My birthday will fall during that week. A good way to celebrate.)

The ideal of service, via

What ultimately comes through, though — and anyone who’s had even a weekend workshop with Tim or was at the Confluence will have experienced this — is Tim’s dedication to his teaching. As if there was any doubt where that came from, here’s Tim:

Aside from Saturday, when I just teach only the five hour training session, and Sunday, when I just teach two classes from 8-12, I’ve been teaching for ten hours a day. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m tired—I’m really not tired. I’m having a great time, and feeling, as always, that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Guruji loved teaching more than anything, and he was able to transmit some of that joy of teaching to me. He was very loving and funny, but also had a fierceness that could push you beyond your perceived limits—he could stoke the fire of Tapas like no one else. I always feel his presence very strongly during the training—as if he was overseeing the proceedings.

I’m avoiding quoting the weepy parts of Tim’s post because, well, Tim would understand. He’s seen me in those situations a few times now. I do want to pass on his appreciative nod to his assistants:

It has been particularly wonderful and helpful to have many of my teachers assisting in the training—Rich Mc Gowan, Holly Gastil, Marne Green, and Atsuro Chiba (who left for Japan today for three months). It’s great to have Rich back in the studio, assisting and drumming when we do kirtan—his energy is good and he looks great. He’ll be taking over most of Atsuro’s Mysore classes during his absence. I am very appreciative of the deep sense of humility that I feel from all these teachers. They have truly embraced the Hanuman ideal of Selfless Service and all the students are benefiting from their wisdom, experience and generosity of spirit.

Of that quartet, I know Holly by far the best. And I can attest that she certainly embraces the Selfless Service ideal. As much as all of the dedicated students at Tim’s or who keep returning to practice with him are wonderful demonstrations of Tim’s ability to pass on what Guruji taught him — and I should add a demonstration of what Tim has added into the mix, which is deep and vast — his teachers offer a different model for that, one I’m happy to echo and highlight.

Collectively, they make the Ashtanga Yoga Center what it is: wonderful.

But I’m biased. Still, if you ever have the chance to practice there, do.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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