Third Series Training Begins…at the Beginning

Day Three of Tim Miller’s Third Series Teacher Training has begun, and a collection of some 40 teachers and students of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga have descended on Encinitas to learn about Stihira Bhaga—“Divine Stability.” They have come from all over the world—Germany, Switzerland, England—and all over the U.S.—Nevada, North Carolina, Louisiana—and there are some locals and some Californian, too. It’s a good group.

Some are teachers and shala owners looking to take what they learn back to their students. Some are long-time practitioners looking to learn the series in more detail. Some are students without a shala, stuck on a pose and unable to advance without more knowledge and are here to get it. While our motivations for being here may vary, Tim is in top form and being very meticulous.

Day One began at 6 a.m. with the full, six-part Ashtanga pranayama sequence with what seemed like full-sized inhales, exhales and retentions (these were actually shorter than normal, I was told).

The masterful hands of Tim Miller.

And although the more eager among us may be ready to take off into Third, these first days are a careful review of all the standing poses up to virbradrasana B. To some it may seem like he’s going slowly, but this is my fourth training with Tim, and I have my First Series training book in front of me full of the notes from three other trainings, and he’s actually going quite fast.

He also knows his audience—practitioners who are in deep in Ashtanga asana—and he’s hitting all the aspects of each pose with no dumbing down: counting, anatomy, adjusting, the emotions of the pose, its reasoning, its variations. And then we move on. Yesterday, because he was asked, he ran through the pranayama sequence faster than I’ve ever heard him do before. There are certain assumptions of knowledge, but also an understanding. He is, in other words, passing what he knows on to a new generation of teachers, which is an awesome responsibility on both sides.

For myself, I wait for the stories behind the asanas—their history, the way the changes in the practice came to be, the reasoning behind certain choices Tim has made as a teacher, and of course the stories of the rishis, gods, and heroes of his practice and teaching. Hanuman looms large.

But I’m also here to practice with Tim and my fellow students. I’ve done my rickety interpretation of Third—the series that is saving me from hip replacement surgery—in the Mysore room with some awesome people around me. And today I got my favorite adjustment.

As I came into trikonasna, Tim once again sidled up to put me in my correct place (he’s been working on my trikonasana for years). As he pulled my shoulder firmly but gently back, he stuck out his index finger and tugged at the corner of my mouth to make me smile.

It did.

Posted by Bobbie