How I was taught…by Tim Miller

For this afternoon’s workshops, Steve and I broke up the act.

He went to Nancy Gilgoff’s “How I Was Taught” (which I’m sure he’ll be posting about) and I migrated over to Tim’s “Roots and Wings.”

I’d done this workshop with Timji in the past, but it never hurts to get a refresher. We’re not sure how much time we’ll get with Tim in the upcoming months, so I wanted to take advantage of the time.

I was so glad I did. These days, Primary Series causes me some back repercussions, and Tim’s Bandha Refresher Course helped a lot.

But I’m not going to go over what Tim talked about here…Although I will say that Tim emphasized that the place where we can access the bandhas most effectively is in pranayama practice. Instead, I’m going to talk about my teacher, and how he taught me, a la Nancy.

The teacher and the student.
The teacher and the student.

Tim begins with sutras from Patanjali, and travels through them to the subtle body, and the role that stillness has in our overall practice. I watched him teach with his usual humor and grace. I sat there on my mat, comfortable and happy, and then I realized that, in this packed house, most of his listeners were hearing him do that voodoo that he does so well for the first time.

I blinked a few times, and started paying attention to the people around me.

A lot of repeat customers were in the front rows–folks that I’ve been in teacher trainings and retreats with. I almost felt like I could spot them, even if I didn’t recognize them. But there were plenty of new-to-Tim people, and they allowed me to pay attention to him as if I were hearing him for the first time.

It struck me that Tim’s California laid back approach is really a delivery device for some incredibly complex ideas, and that these ideas are far from laid back in and of themselves. He has a way of breaking things down into what you might call colloquial language. While he was contrasting the Iyengar down dog with the Pattabhi Jois down dog, he noticed some tittering in his listeners. “I know,” he said, “this is dog obedience school, not a walk in the park.” He is the very opposite of pretentious, but the ideas he conveys are big indeed.

It struck me that this is the way he has taught me Ashtanga. The big ideas snuck up on me. I was never intimidated by them, because they were always presented to me in a way that took the fear out.

So while the Senior Western Teachers are talking about the way they were taught, I thought it might be a good idea to recognize that they  have all developed their own teaching styles, and attracted students that are all and each learning Ashtanga in an individual and original way.

Posted by Bobbie

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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