The above photo is a Hanuman image in honor of Ashtanga Master, Tim Miller. The Mt. Shasta retreat with him was fabulous. Mornings started with Pranayama and were followed either by First Series led or Mysore style class. Then, breakfast outdoors in the quiet town of McCloud, CA. Each afternoon a hike culminated in a swim in an icy to cool mountain lake. (Tim claimed this was great for any soreness/inflammation we were experiencing!) Late afternoons were Q&A periods followed by a amazing dinners that pleased vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores equally!
cairn on Mt. Shasta hike
I was still having problems with my back, and Tim and his assistant, Leigha came up with a combination of First and Second Series poses for Mysore practice that were perfect (and similar to what I had been doing on my own). Tim said he had had the same quadratus laborum muscle injury. He knew exactly how to adjust me, exactly—with strength and certainty! Do believe he has inherited gifts of the lineage and may be channeling Patabhi Jois.
Miller is a regular guy who radiates calm, good energy, and compassion. Think he is about 62. Leigha implied that he has had a lot of injuries (IMHO this guarantees compassion.) His voice quivers sometimes (not sure what that is about and it never came up in talks with Leigha). He seems both dynamic in the spirit of Hanuman (see below) and vulnerable. Maybe the voice quiver conveys fragility. Anyway, doubt he knows what a powerful teacher he is.
It was not at all a young (20's, 30's) group. There were several close to Sixtyni Yogini in age! Several in their 50's and most were near or in their 40's. One Ashtangi who looked 30 but was 40-something proposed the Ashtanga Age Theory: all Ashtangis look 10 years younger than they are. I agree. Start asking Ashtangis their ages. We rest our case!
Lots of help with the stubborn laghu vajrasana. Backbends also. There's a thing that Tim and his assistants do to aid standing up from back bend. While in the back bend, they press on your hips and tell you to push against their hands. Then they put pressure on your upper chest and like a magnet being pulled, you stand up! It's a magic magic touch!
Also, this was not a silent retreat. I worried that talking would dim the intensity and get us/me all caught up in social games. In fact, it was just different. I enjoyed getting know a few wonderful people by way of talk and during the silence of practice), and it turned out fine.
After the retreat my back has been much improved. That is, pain in the QL muscle much diminished. In addition to the retreat, here is why —
- The Trials of the Princess and the Pea: between the last post and this I bought and took back a temper-pedic and got a gel mattress because I thought my back wanted more firmness. Now I think the temper-pedic was really helping. Going to give the gel some more time before going through the $$ and hassle - big hassle - of trading in or selling the gel and getting another temper-pedic.
- One thing is now certain, the old bed played a big part in the exacerbation/slow healing of my back/QL muscle. I'd wake up not refreshed but stiff with that nagging pain above my left hip. It reminds me of getting a stiff neck and continuing to sleep on it wrong. Make no mistake: a bed and pillow play a big part in healing muscular and spinal issues and in sleep.
No one has ever suggested that age was responsible for my back issues - before last weekend at a workshop in Atlanta - Fie!!
Indeed, my body has been and is changing. It's more than just losing quite a bit of weight. There are major differences in strength and flexibility. And more subtle muscular ones. I think my body/muscles/spine have to pass through some stuff (like back or hamstring connection issues) to fully release, and each person has their own unique passages. Flexibility is interesting—while it may appear that I am and always have been bendy—I think things are letting go on a much deeper muscular level.
And in ways and levels other than muscular? Maybe that too.
That's the Mt. Shasta report. (Tim Feldman workshop is up next in Asheville.) I am very grateful to Tim Miller and his assistants for their compassionate and healing energies.
* "Hanuman is a god of physical culture, who possesses great health and amazing strength, wisdom, wit and supernatural powers. He gives courage, hope, knowledge, intellect and devotion. He possesses great healing powers by the means his own natural health and strength and the knowledge of medicinal herbs."
- from Hanuman Center: /http://www.hanumancenter.com/
link to Tim Miller's blog: http://timmiller.typepad.com/blog/