Intro to Second Series is hard

We thought we had a great idea.

On Sunday morning, it quickly became clear our plan was flawed. Getting all our last-minute stuff — Blendtech for green smoothies, our own coffee maker just in case — together was taking longer than expected. And then there was practice. And the later it got, the worse traffic between Los Angeles and Encinitas was getting.

What is on Tim Miller’s schedule…?

Intro to Second Series, with our friend Holly Gastil. At 4 p.m. Perfect! A nice way to ease our way into the weeks, an opportunity to go over to the shala before the 6 a.m. Monday morning pranayama.

Yeah, one flaw: Holly doesn’t mess around.

If you check the schedule, her class is on the books for 90 minutes. Not true. She always goes a full two hours. And although it more or less stops at Ardha Matsyendrasana, she adds a few more plus includes a whole ton of research / prep poses.

So it was no cake walk. Holly didn’t even bring cake.

We’ve spent a few weeks with Holly in Mt. Shasta and usually run into her when we come down to practice. But it was the first time taking one of her classes. Not surprisingly, she totally knows her stuff. And like all of the teachers at Tim’s I’ve encountered, she has a light and funny presence that almost — almost — makes up for the pain and anguish.

Here’s an example of her know-how. I explained my back had been hurting and when we got to backbends, she suggested something that no one — not a soul — during seven or eight years of yoga had ever suggested. Go up to the wall (that sounds familiar, I’m sure) and spread my hands out to the width of the mat and turn my hands so the fingers are pointed away from each other (also you can think of it as parallel to the floor boards or wall).


Arms way straighter as I pushed up into a backbend.

That was just the first day.

We are back, by the way, from the first morning pranayama and first Mysore class, which was packed. (Also, Tim’s full pranayama is kind of hard, too.) Maybe it was that packed after the first Confluence, but I’m not sure. It was jammed. With lots of people saying, “Hi,” and lots of half-surprised “oh you’re taking the training.”

And Tim being Tim through it all.

Now, if the sun would just come out and a few waves roll in, today might be perfect.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

4 thoughts on “Intro to Second Series is hard”

  1. Hi there, can you explain anatomically how that adjustment for backbend helps your back. That’s really interesting! Thank you so much. Hope the workshop is going well 🙂

    1. Well, I’m far from an expert, so I asked around and it probably has to do with allowing the shoulder blades to move down the back rather than scrunching up; with this position, the shoulders are externally rotated. If that makes sense…


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