The Hump

There is a little personal stumbling block in the Intermediate series and it just so happens that todays training session started with it.  It is a series of poses were a lot of people come up against a lot of challenges.  I have been doing this pose for a very long time and although I make progress I quickly digress and then I’m back to feeling like it will never happen and physically not feeling so great which makes it difficult to persevere.  This in Tim’s words is something like not practicing with the appropriate amount of effort.  Too much the wrong way causes pain in the physical body. For me it sort of is going back to down dog.  Anyway not to get specific as it’s not that important.  The best part is that my attitude is changing.

Today I assisted, practiced and then had the training.  If it sounds like a long day, it is, and physically I did not think I could do another thing let alone a stumbling block asana.  As we got closer to the end of the session with about an hour left I was sure we would not be doing another asana.  Well I was hoping . . . however I was mistaken.  In part of these hump poses in the intermediate series is something I have always struggled with and I never felt like I could move or make any progress.  So a few people did a demo, we learned the proper vinyasa count and then he always asks for someone who may have challenges to come up and demonstrate.  Keep in mind that everyone who gets up really does not look like they have much of an issue or any trouble at all to me.   In any event I could learn something or help someone else so I am going to take that chance and go up to the front.  Well I do it and get some feedback and move a little.  I do it again with an instruction from Tim, move a little more.  It was pretty bad and I have a lot of work but I learned something.

What I am learning is that we have to struggle to get to the other side.  For some it will take longer than others.  Even though I have been at this for a while there are other things that change and then some things stay the same be mostly the good things get better if you let it especially when you can approach things with a new set of eyes or feelers.  I started to sort of give up and but with these new sensations and a new attitude I am looking forward to approaching it all on the mat tomorrow.  Besides at the end of the session one of my fellow trainees thought that my approach was “cute”.   Not a compliment but as Tim says when we go up to the front to demo, “We take one for the team”.  Onwards . . .



When we started to talk about the heart chakra I knew I may get emotional.   I was pretty sure it was going to get deep, intense and powerful.   At this point with the practice I am open and ready and want to keep going deeper so come what may I’m listening.  I came here to get direct knowledge from Tim Miller who every days comes to spend the day with us from 6 am to pretty much 6 pm and if he is teaching a class after our normal session then it’s till 7 or 7:30 pm.  He puts in the hours with us and is showing a lot of love to us all.  He’s so amazing at this and it all comes so natural to him.  He temperament is calm, loving, patient and he is full of the knowledge and he shares stories with us openly holding nothing back it seems.

Tim enjoys discussing Vedic astrology with us and since Friday is linked with the planet Venus it is a day of Bhakti and Devotion.  By now we know what this means as the harmonium is situated to be used so we are going to get to do some chanting together.    The heart chakra is called the Anahata chakra and this means unstruck wheel.  I looked this up to see if I could find a good translation of this and found it in a yoga journal article as follows, “unstruck or unhurt.  Its name implies that deep beneath our personal stories of brokenness and the pain in our heart, wholeness, boundless love , and a wellspring of compassion reside.”

We had just come through a good hour going over kapotasana so we have all been tapping into this center.  It was like we were so ripe for the discussion when we returned from a break.  We all tried to open he heart.   As we went on to discuss the heart charka as an energy body Tim said that although we would like to open the heart it cannot be done by force.   So how does one open the heart?  We all sat thinking and said things like grace, gratitude, devotion and compassion is what we are looking to cultivate deeply.   Gratitude helps to develop grace and gratitude cultivates devotion.  The chant we do everyday puts us in reminder of that.

Tim’s life must have gone in a whole new direction the day he found the practice or the practice found him.   When he talks about Pattabhi Jois, his eyes are bright and full of love and full of gratitude.    It’s amazing and beautiful to experience.  He talks about the first days when his teachers in California told him that Guruji was coming for three months to teach that first time 1975.  When I experience Tim’s teaching I fell like he is the embodiment of Guruji and the closest I can come to the source.  What struck the heart chakra today was when Tim spoke of Guruji and how it was possible to do what he did for so long.   He spoke of how he loved to teach the students and how teaching was what he lived for.   It was when he could no longer teach that he could not last much longer in his body and passed.   As Tim said, it’s that divine love and devotion that is the ojas (vigor or fluid of life) and the long burning fuel for the practice.   Guruji’s devotion was the long burning fuel for teachning.

Tim & Deb Friday 1st week



Reflections on being a Student

Today started my first day of practice at the Ashtanga Yoga Center with Tim Miller. The morning actually started with a round of pranayama and we were given a choice to do it as they have been doing or an easier version of the sequence. Since many of us are guests for two weeks and we officially start our training at noon, we went with the standard, experienced, hard core version. It certainly is quite an experience to practice this with one of the masters of pranayama as Tim learned this from Guruji many years ago. I am over the fact that I could die holding my breath and have ways to take whatever breath I need to continue but it was really hard. I will pay attention these next days with Tim and this is something I am going to practice. Feels good, feels right and puts my body at ease.

Speaking of ease, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to hold myself so tight today and create more stress in my body. I was here to experience the teachings here and not to judge myself. These days it seems that every day I step on the mat I have some stress that does not seemed to be relieved by practice. I feel like I make it worse by stressing over the fact that I cannot relax certain areas of my body. I have rushed practices, early practices and then practices when I would rather be having a nice lunch or nap. Not easy with all this mind stuff going on, so these next two weeks I get to be a student and to focus on going within and to try to practice some yoga. How great is that? When I was at AYNY this past January, I said to Eddie that it is great to teach and to be sharing the teachings, great to practice but the best life is that of the student. He could not agree more.

I practiced primary series today and something happened. I relaxed, I breathed and I stayed with my drishti a lot of the time, (the guy doing third was pretty awesome to watch however). The room at AYC is really cool and we line up facing each other. The room is pretty with nice light and I felt comfortable there and at home strangely enough. Being a practitioner for a long time and knowing the proper vinyasa helps so much even though many practitioners are doing their research poses, I did not get distracted by it. Tim and Natasha work the room and true to form and like I always say you always, always get what you need in the Mysore room. Tim’s adjustment in a standing asana was well received and so right on and then Natasha’s adjustment in Marichasana C was again so much of what I needed. My breath was erratic in the twist and she helped me to calm the breath so that I could relax into the asana. She stayed with me for a while so I could feel the relaxing of my body in the asana and then she took me deeper.

Back bending being my obsession and even thought they are hard for me I have been enjoying the process. I did them in my normal fashion and then Tim came over after observing them, we did the drop backs. I paused and he said “to the head” and my head touched the mat. It was the easiest time I have every had with this and I stayed in my legs and on the final I danced my hands in and he sort of let me find the balance there. He helped me to find the space with his adjustment and when I came up I said, ” I see”.

The forward bend reminded of me when I cried some time ago but I did not this time. I thoroughly enjoyed Natasha’s massage like quality and I was very serene and calm. I finished and as I walked down the stairs to my car, I knew I was right were I was supposed to be. I am so very grateful for that and for feeling that every decision I made to come here, committing to this training was going with the flow of my life.

Tim Hannuman Chalisa