Tim Miler is one of the first people in the United States to begin to create Vinyasa Flow sequences. Born out of continuous practice of the Ashtanga Vinyasa routines, the exploration of unique and intelligent sequencing became a seed that has sprouted to tremendous proportion. It is important to note that this innovative enthusiasm evolved from having a dedicated method of practice for many years. His theory is that it is absolutely essential to have a consistent routine to serve as the kernel of authentication within the realm of alternative sequencing.
If you are not a musician and someone hands you an instrument, you can begin to bang away on the instrument and make sound. Yet the sound that comes out won’t be very harmonious. That is because a proper foundation needs to be laid in place first. You need to learn the notes, scales and chord patterns primarily and then you can start to piece together the beginnings of a song. When someone becomes proficient at playing compositions that other master musicians have arranged then there might come the desire to try to compose their own song. Yet always the underpinning of the rudiments are drawn upon as the bedrock of creative orchestration.
This analogy applies to Yoga in exactly the same way. Can you take a few poses that you see in a magazine, try them, and then put them into some order and make a sequence? Yes, exactly the same way that you can pick up a guitar and pluck the strings and make a few notes sounds relatively pleasant. That is about the extent of it however. To make real progress, mastering the fundamentals can be extremely beneficial for being able to develop in a safe and harmonious manner.
With all of that being said, today I practiced Vinyasa Flow with Tim in his 7am Improvisation class. True to the class name, Tim takes requests from the students, and then creates a routine based on those requests. Much the way jazz musicians improvise from a heart centered, creative space. The practice is rooted in Ashtanga Vinyasa so that the foundational elements are inherent. Today we practiced poses from all of the 4 series and one of them even came from the 5th. That doesn’t mean all of us could do each and every one (of course), yet through the experience of the collective group we attempted to try them to the best of our ability. It was the most fun that I have had in a long time! The idea is to think outside the box and explore things that we have perhaps never investigated before. Tim practiced all of the poses with us and had some of his extremely talented students demonstrate the truly ‘off the planet’ ones. Before going into the class I had bit of a dilemma(albeit a good dilemma to have). I felt like I should practice Mysore because that is what a good ashtangi does. I have been learning that sometimes the greatest chance for growth often comes from doing the opposite of what we think it is we should do. Someone had requested the pose where you go into handstand and then slowly lower your chest down to the floor with the chin forward and bend the body into a scorpion shape to touch the toes to the head in a backbend. Yes, I’m not kidding. One of the students made it look like child’s play. The essence of the practice seemed to take one to a new place and see how that enhances or challenges one’s own concepts of what is possible. In this case I was completely inspired to the point of genuine stoke.
At the end of the practice we took a long savasana and Tim put on some soothing music. I felt so alive in my body and when I least expected it I had tears of joy flowing down my cheeks. I had such an overwhelming sense of connection and appreciation that it brought me to tears of happiness. I have had this happen before when practicing with Timji. I never know when it is going to hit but I have to admit it feels cleansing. There is something to be said for letting down our defenses and allowing emotion to move though us.
Yoga comes from India. So learning yoga the way it is practiced in India brings an element of authenticity to the procedure. Traditionally yoga is in place to help humanity realize peace and liberation. If independence from suffering is the cornerstone of the practice then perhaps we might be able to merge with that goal.