Honestly, I’ve been expecting there to be more written about the last day or days of Ashtanga Yoga New York at its Broome St. location.
This piece at Huffington Post is the first I’ve seen beyond some Instagram/Facebook post. Enjoy:
During the last week at AYNY, memories arose, like the very first time I practiced Mysore with Eddie. I was intimidated surrounded by so many extraordinary practitioners. It didn’t matter that I had been doing the entire first series elsewhere.
“That’s all for today, Debby,” Eddie called over.
I was stopped my first day after Navasana (boat). I stayed there for several weeks. It was humbling. More importantly, it was safe. I progressed to the next pose when my body was ready, not my ego. One year later, I completed the entire first series.
Obviously, that’s not from the last-day memories. But you’ll have to click the link above for those.
This seems timely given our last post also was an intro to Ashtanga class.
Last one was Tim Miller. This one is Diana Christinson, out of Orange County, CA (and one of Bobbie’s first teachers):
Here’s the description:
This is the 60 minute led intro class that’s practiced at Pacific Ashtanga in Dana Point, CA. Diana will lead you through the full standing sequence, 8 seated poses (up to navasana), and a shortened closing sequence. This is our first try at a led practice video. Let us know what works/doesn’t work for you. We welcome your feedback.
This one is much more in the tradition of a video you could practice with (David Swenson, etc.).
The change into a new state of being is the result of the fullness of nature unfolding inherent potential.
—Yoga Sutras IV.2 (trans. Tim Miller)
“There will be no Fourth Series Teacher Training,” Tim announced (in a definitive voice) during the first days of his Third Series training. So, now that all the trainees have completed our Third Series training, I guess we’ve maxed out.
We try pretty hard here at The Confluence Countdown to keep a more universal tone to our posts–keep it newsy and light and out of the personal. That’s pretty hard as I emerge from the self-centered hothouse that is a yoga teacher training: Ostensibly, we were supposed to be learning to teach Third Series; really, we were learning to do Third Series in the broadest possible sense of doing. That is to say, what to do with it now that we know it.
“Guruji said Third Series was ‘just circus,'” Tim told us; “tricks” the early practitioners called the phenomenal Ashtanga backbending sequence. When he would remind us of this (as he did often), I would hear Steve’s voice in my head. He’d asked me as I was preparing, struggling and sore, “Do you have a good reason to want to learn this?” (or, occasionally, “Why are you doing this?”).
At the time, I was pretty sure I had a good reason. Third Series offers me unprecedented access to the kind of structural muscle strength my degrading joints need. But now the training is done, I find myself wanting a better answer.
I probably won’t be teaching my handful of yoga students Third Series any time soon. I won’t be busting out my repertoire of fabulous asanas on Facebook or putting them on display in my local Mysore room; I practice alone. There’s no teacher’s eye to motivate me, and Tim is a hundred miles away and can’t direct that hilarious grunt of disappointment at me when I cheat. So as I forge ahead with the prescription he gave me last week–First with Second one day a week, the rest of the time, Third Series–what’s my reason for doing this?
From the seat where I’m writing this, there is a damselfly lightly hovering around the window looking out on our garden. She’s a fine thing, hardly thicker than a needle, with nearly invisible wings that seem to be made of leaf veins. As she approaches me, she encounters the invisible obstacle of a pane of glass. She taps it gently: Once, twice. Even though she can’t see that barrier, it sends her off in an unintended direction, and she’s gone.
I feel now like a version of that damselfly, save this: The invisible barriers have disappeared, and I’ve been given a chance to fly through them. I learned that possibility is a powerful tool. Certainly, barriers are there. But if you gain a finer sense of your own strength, both mental and physical, what you think you can’t do will transform into a greater understanding of what you do, and why you do it.
On the last day, we studied both the chapter in the Yoga Sutras that contains the words that lead this post, as well as the chapter from the Ramayana where Hanuman, under a curse that he must forget his extraordinary abilities until he is reminded, leaps over the ocean to Lanka to find Sita. “In a sense,” Tim said, “we all possess extraordinary abilities.” Thank you, Tim Miller, for the reminder.
The big news is that on Wednesday the Third Series teacher training with Tim Miller finished up the official Third Series poses. On, I guess, to back bends and the closing over the next couple of days.
This morning, before the later of two practices (the Mysore, which comes after an Improv that Tim practices along with), I could hear some declarations of exhaustion as well as some surprise that folks didn’t feel worse. So it appears all have lived to tell the tale.
It seems most people are putting photos and short video clips on Facebook, which is horrifically unfriendly to reposting. So instead, here’s a couple new videos not from Encinitas. From Richard Freeman’s monthlong intensive, which finished up a few days ago, I think:
That’s Tim Miller, describing the group of Ashtanga practitioners who are in Encinitas for the Third Series training. More from his blog, which went up a little bit ago. (And then, yes, on to surf. Practice, as it was, is done.) All of it is here:
It’s quite a dedicated group of practitioners—highly motivated and very hard working—an ashtanga teacher’s dream, really. The Mysore classes have been huge and very sweaty. With so many people practicing third and fourth series, the studio almost has a circus like atmosphere—sometimes I catch the local students gawking at some visiting phenom displaying a combination of strength, flexibility, and agility.
And he concludes (more or less) with this thought: “My sincere hope is that something of real value is being transmitted during this course.”