The impossibility of half-assing it under Tim Miller’s gaze

We made it to Tim Miller’s on Sunday.

A benefit of not getting down to the Ashtanga Yoga Center as often as we perhaps should is that we get a pretty solid amount of attention when we do. The downside is, of course, the same. My hips, lower back, shoulders and hamstrings all are keenly aware they went through a little Sacred Fire on Sunday.

I’d joked to Bobbie as we prepared to head down — and tried to decide who’d drive there, who’d drive back — that I could drive the round trip because I planned to phone it in or half-ass the practice. After all, it’s been more than a month since I’ve done all of First.

Yeah, that lasted, if it did, all of about four Surya As.

A probably not complete list of poses in which I got adjusted: Surya A; Padangustana, Trikonasana, Parshvokonasana, a couple of Prasaritas, Utthita Pasta (as I guessed), Arda Baddha, Dandasana, a few of the Marichys, backbends. Either be jealous or sympathetic.

But that isn’t really my takeaway. My takeaway is two-fold:

1. Tim showered me with props as much, if not more, than ever before. I knew to have a block with me, but I also ended up with a pool ring (from, what, ring toss, I guess?) and a blanket. The pool ring allowed this apparently funny exchange (since people around me/us where laughing):

I’m to my second side with Arda Baddha, a pose in which I just grab my half-lotus leg with the wrapped arm. I don’t give the other arm much thought. With the ring, though, I’m really able to grab and I could tell from the look in Tim’s eye that I was supposed to fold down. But it had been so long, I blanked on where that other arm should go. (I think in my confusion/panic that I thought I had been using it to hold half-lotus leg, which clearly isn’t the case.)

“Where does the other hand go,” I asked.

“On the floor,” Tim replied. “Or at the end of your arm.”

The blanket also came in use for a variety of the seated poses. And I think he maneuvered my arms in Marichy C far more aggressively than ever before; more forward and down and around (as, I suspect, is proper).

I don’t know what kind of confluence of events is happening that, at a moment when I’m using more props myself, Tim brought them out. A version of the “teacher appears when the student is ready,” perhaps?

2. It is impossible to half-ass it under Tim’s eye. I wish I could wax uber-poetic about this, but it is difficult to untangle all the reasons and reactions. Tim isn’t driving me (or anyone, as best as I can tell) under a harsh whip, but his presence just pushes all the cylinders to 108%.

I recognize this has something intrinsically to do with the Guru. It has to be why, in the end, practicing at home — or perhaps even in a group, without one clear Teacher with a capital T — misses something ineffable but irreplaceable and essential.

And you can pull back a bit further and consider that, perhaps, life off the mat may also want that presence of the Teacher, of the Guru, of the Guide — in whatever form one wishes it to take.

We are better off not alone but united with that Teacher. United? Right. Yoga.

Got it.

We lucked into a little bit of talk after with Tim as we got ready to leave. He’d heard from Eddie Stern that I had told Eddie about Tim’s Tuesday blog. We talked about our new house. It was a nice little send off. Although he did tell us we should be getting down there at least once a month, if not more. “Otherwise…” he started.

“No benefit,” I finished, to a welcome smile.

Message received.

Also of note: The Ashtanga Yoga Confluence pre-registration (which costs a bit less but requires staying at the conference hotel) has opened. Click here for more.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “The impossibility of half-assing it under Tim Miller’s gaze”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s