A group of musicians, many of them Ashtanga practitioners at the Ashtanga Yoga Center, have collaborated on a new version of the Hanuman Chalisa.
Why is that news? you ask. Because proceeds from the iTunes sales will benefit the family of Rich McGowan, the longtime teacher at the shala who passed away over the weekend. Rich touched many, many lives, including Tim Miller’s as was clear from Tim’s remembrance this week.
If you read Tim’s post, you’ll know that Rich often accompanied Tim during sacred music performances at the shala, most notably the Tuesday performances of the Hanuman Chalisa.
And so a Chalisa to honor Rich and benefit his family is a natural and appropriate memorial.
Here’s how the Paul Abbott, one of the main artists involved, described it to us:
This version of the Hanuman Chalisa is a collaboration between many musicians, most of whom are also students at Tim Miller’s Ashtanga Yoga Center. It started with the organic seed of acoustic guitar and vocals, and ultimately grew into this electro-acoustic amalgamation with the help of all the musicians, a talented DJ and mix engineer.
Check it out, consider buying it. A link to it on iTunes is right here.
Remember, you can never have too many versions of the Chalisa. And this one just may end up being a favorite.
Steve asked me to post a link to the most recent Tuesdays with Timji, because in it, Tim remembers his friend Rich McGowan. Those of you who have been to Encinitas to study with Tim, most certainly knew Rich, and were aware of his long fight against a devastating disease. Tim’s post is a beautiful description of an excellent man.
I can’t believe it was over ten years ago that I met Rich, when made my first trip to Tim’s with my teacher Shayna. I’d never been to a Mysore-style class before, and had never met Tim. Rich kept an eye on me, and when I got to Marichyasana D–which I’d never bound in before–Rich actually called Tim over, and watched as Tim pulled me together. He stood quietly, watched carefully. It made me feel oddly useful while I was getting maneuvered around by one of the world’s leading Ashtanga teachers–at least someone else was learning, too.
When I first began to teach Ashtanga, Rich was my role model for a good assistant teacher. I believed it was my job to work back up. I still see Rich as an example of all that’s amazing about the Ashtanga Vinyasa school of yoga–an apprentice system of learning good teaching habits. Tim paints a wonderful picture of Rich and all that he taught us. I’ll miss his steady presence in the shala.
This Friday, The Confluence Countdown team will be heading up to Northern California for Tim Miller’s annual Mt. Shasta retreat. In honor of this, we thought we’d do a little introduction to Tim for those of you who will be meeting him for the first time at the Confluence.
My first time practicing with Tim was in his morning Mysore class about five years ago. It was also my first Mysore-style class, and I was terrified. I felt ill-prepared and stiff; at the same time I was in awe at the energy in the room. I got to Marichyasana D, and saw Tim’s long-time buddy Rich McGowan standing over me. There was a pause, and Rich waved Tim over. “Oh no,” I thought, “I require team effort.”
Tim looked down, and said, “Marichy D is happening.” You’re kidding me, I thought to myself, Marichy D is never going to happen, and you and I both know that. Tim sat down, and using one foot, both hands, and eventually the top of his head, got me bound in Marichyasana D. Both sides. We were together sweating the sweat that only comes from the fire of tapas.
Steve has described Tim’s teaching style as “fierce love.” Tim has a way of showing you the possible in the impossible. He calls Ashtanga “a heroic practice,” and I’ve met lots of heroes at his trainings and workshops. There’s deep learning and humor in his demeanor. He’s a master pose diagnostician with a keen eye: He seems to be able to spot both the internal and external issues that need correcting. “Some stickiness is there,” he said once to me, tapping my chest after a difficult round of backbends. That set me on a year-long internal journey to unstick what was stuck.
So there’s no better person to do the pranayama workshop for the Confluence, “Working In.” Tim’s at his shala every morning, practicing pranayama before he begins a day of teaching. He understands the manifold complexities and connections in the practice, and can show you a way to see them, too. Don’t miss it.