What a Tim Miller workshop in Austin can teach us

Tim Miller will be traveling to Austin, Texas in about three weeks for a workshop at Castle Hill Yoga.

In just the few years I’ve been studying with Tim, I’ve seen the design and focus of his weekend workshops change, ever so slightly. If memory serves, he used to kick off with a discussion of Patanjali (maybe coupled with a Friday evening class), follow that on Saturday with a full Mysore program and then a variation on his “asana doctor,” and conclude on Sunday with a little delving into Second Series.

A more recent iteration included a focus, I think on Saturday, on the bandhas.

His Austin program appears to include more tweaks, again.

Now, perhaps Tim talks with the host shalas and figures out where the students are. I know my first workshop with Tim included very few Asthangis, so he might have gone more basic (even if they were “advanced” yoga teachers in many cases). So I don’t know if I can say there’s a progression to watch, but I think it is interesting that later this month, after doing his introduction to Second Series on Saturday (with “asana doctor” on Saturday afternoon), he’s spending Sunday on the finishing poses:

Sunday morning is Finishing Poses Clinic. The Finishing Poses of Ashtanga Yoga provide a closure to the dynamic Primary, Second and Advanced Series and prepare students for Savasana. The finishing poses calm the nervous system, cool the body and bring clarity to the mind. In addition, they help remedy a variety of physical ills, including poor digestion, constipation, asthma, ailments related to the heart and high blood pressure. During this class, students will learn about the proper execution of the finishing poses and possible adaptations or and modifications. All levels welcome.

From my experience, this is more of a focus on the finishing poses than in the past. I know Tim — like all good Ashtanga teachers, if not practitioners — values these poses highly. He’s talked about how they are especially important following a Second Series practice, which excites the system more than First. In that case, the finishing poses really do calm things down, and he talks of staying in them (shoulder stand, etc.) longer than when he’s just done First.

So, what can we take away from this workshop that, I suspect, not many of us will get to enjoy? Perhaps think about why in late November Tim might be increasing his time teaching these poses. Maybe reflect on your own relationship with the poses. (Do you race through them?) And maybe, just maybe, be prepared to hear Tim talk about them in March at the Confluence.

I do want to note that he finishes up the Austin weekend, I’m happy to report, “with a live Kirtan led by Tim.”

Posted by Steve

On Saturday, Swenson starts First Series teacher training

This time next week, there is going to be a tired group of Ashtangis wishing they had the strength to make it out to the bars on Austin’s Sixth Street.

But I’m thinking they will be heading to their hotel rooms and barely watching TV.

Despite that, we’ll all be jealous. They will be a few days into teacher training with David Swenson.

Like with Tim Miller’s trainings, Swenson’s seems clearly designated as not being some kind of certification. That’s out of Mysore, of course, with all the politics of that involved.

But it surely doesn’t mean that a week with Swenson wouldn’t deepen one’s practice immensely. Here’s a little description of Swenson’s program from his website:

It is NOT a certification course. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course but NOT a Teaching Certification. Participants will gain great insights and depth of knowledge as to how to share the practice of Ashtanga Yoga with all levels of students. The information contained in this course is invaluable and will be beneficial to those already teaching as well as to students wishing only to attend to deepen their personal practice.This course will cover the teaching techniques of the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga. The participants will learn safe and effective hands-on adjustment techniques through partner work for all of the asanas, practicalities of conducting a class and yoga theory. This is a deep immersion into the details underlying the practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga. One need not be a teacher to attend or even desire to be a teacher. Many students have attended this course to merely enhance their personal practice. Those that do wish to teach however will find a wealth of invaluable tools to share with their students.

When I went to Tulum this past winter with Tim, my intent was “to merely enhance” my practice. It worked — wonders. And I only can imagine a week with Swenson would do the same.

Although, I’d likely be extremely weighed down by all the Mexican food I’d be sneaking. For my money, Texas Mexican food is the best you can find in the U.S. Puts my SoCal version to shame, which is painful — and depressing — to admit. I’m still on a quest to find some here that matches even the basic breakfast burrito you find in restaurants that occupy old Taco Bell buildings.

(That means, I’m open to suggestions for anyone in the greater Los Angeles area.)

A link to Swenson’s training page is here.

Posted by Steve