Off The Mat

I Have Such a Teacher

Apr 29, 2015 Michelle Dorer
Michelle Dorer / Ashtanga Yoga Teacher

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Charlottesville, VA, where I was a student at the University of Virginia. Charlottesville is also the place I met my yoga teacher, Tim Miller, for the first time.

It had been about three years since Tim taught in Charlottesville.  Jennifer Elliot, owner and director of Ashtanga Yoga Charlottesville, has been his host for over a decade. There was a change surrounding the venue in which the workshop takes place.  After a couple years, things worked out and here we found ourselves again back in the Barn with Tim, Jennifer, myself, and Ashtanga Yoga students.  I felt like I came home. It was a nourishing trip, and it sent me down memory lane...

I wanted to share my memory of the first time I met Tim.  Everyone meets their teacher at different times in their path. Some search for a long time; others, like myself, know instantly...

I was 23 years old, I had just graduated college from the University of Virginia, and I had already moved to the Beach.  There was a teacher on the Outer Banks, Itay Dollinger, who is a student of Tim's. I started taking classes with him, so I could continue my studies of Ashtanga Yoga which I began with Jennifer.  At Itay's suggestion, I decided to make a trip back to Charlottesville to meet Tim.  Itay was going to the workshop and encouraged me to go too.  It was easy then. I still had lots of friends and places to stay. Why not?!

Like most 23 year olds, I was feeling a bit lost and confused. The whole "what am I going to do with my life" dilemma we face after graduation was upon me.  I was, however, loving the simple nature loving life I had discovered at the Outer Banks, especially after growing up in Northern Virginia.  Life on the Outer Banks felt like heaven. I cherished the tranquility.

True to tradition, Tim's workshop in Charlottesville has always been in April. It was April 2004.  I had been doing the practice for about a year but had only been practicing Mysore for the past 6 months.

I arrived at the Barn and put my mat down. The students were all sitting and waiting for Tim to come in and start teaching.

I have had allergies my entire life.  I began getting allergy shots at a young age which continued for eight years and then my doctor prescribed Claritin instead.  Most of my allergies are environmental.  Spring is always an intense time for allergies, so, I had a bit of a runny nose and some sneezing, but nothing major.

Ok...so stories tend to get exaggerated, yes, but this is honestly the way I remember it...

I was sitting there lost in my thoughts, I am sure, when Tim walked in the room.  As soon as he walked in and passed by me something happened to my sinus cavities.  I experienced a burst in my nose and large amounts of mucus came pouring out for THREE DAYS!!!!!

I had to keep tissues by my mat and blow my nose intermittently throughout my yoga practice.  "Oh my gosh" I thought to myself, "is this ever going to stop?"  On and on my nose poured, and it became a joke between Tim and I.  He kept stepping on my tissues. At one point, he even picked one up and said, "Ewww...snot rag..."

Yes, I was a little embarrassed, but...these things happen, right?  I guess you can say it was love at first sight.  I think Tim's shakti must have opened up my inner eye and the gunk came out through mucus.  The teacher is the jungle physician after all.

With a combination of this experience and daily practice, my sinuses have significantly improved.  I have not taken Claritin in over a decade.

After almost 12 years later, three teacher trainings, several trips to Encinitas, Virginia, Chicago, South Carolina, opening my own yoga studio, and now I will be hosting him for the second time in the Outer Banks in a couple weeks, here we are!

The reflection went deep...

Through the years, I have spent a lot of time with my teacher.  I feel I have grown up under his wing in a sense.  Tim's presence in my life has been steady and always sheds light on my way.  He is an anchor to me, helping me stay on track.  We all go through dark times and forget who we are in moments.  Tim's presence always steers me back home, and this is one of the many reasons I recommend developing a longstanding relationship with a teacher. They get to know you, and longevity creates a strong basis for observation and deeper understanding.

This trip was interesting.  I had a wonderful time with Tim, and for once, I found myself as one of the veteran practitioners.  One of the many humorous moments I shared with Tim was at Jennifer's potluck party. Tim and I sat at the table next to each other, and there was a small group of young UVA students across the table from us.  I was looking in the mirror and able to see how much I have grown.

I told them this story, and they laughed. Tim added a few of his own tidbits, and we all laughed. When the mucus part came up, Tim said, "This might not be the best story to tell while we are eating."  Lol !  I almost choked on my food.

After spending time with a teacher and deepening a yoga or meditation practice, I have noticed that the effects of the work you do takes time to unravel. I have been home a few days, and after this trip, I noticed that my awareness has deepened to a more detached and calm place.  I have been able to sit back even further than before, and I feel I am in a more calm state than I have ever known.  This is a priceless gift, but one I could not have achieved without the prior years of practice leading up to it.  This is why I keep returning to be in Tim's presence.  Every time I understand things I was not able to understand before.

The lessons keep building upon one another. Growth continues as time and years of practice unfold and your conscious awareness develops further and further.  Being around your teacher tends to add speed to the process.

I must say after all these years and many phases of my life have come and gone, I am forever grateful for my teacher's steady presence.  I was fresh from the ground when he showed up and have spent some time cooking.  Now, I have developed some flavor and am emerging in my own way.  What an incredible feeling...

During one of the talks he gave he began to talk about Guruji. I was as usual sitting in the front row.  Tim was crying as he spoke of Guruji and his devotion to the practice and to the students.  It was touching to see how much Tim loved his teacher and how much his heart probably still aches for that missing physical presence in his life.

As I listened and observed Tim talk about Guruji, I understood.  I understood how this might feel.  Because, I too, have such a teacher.

I am happily getting ready for his arrival!  Tim Miller will be in the Outer Banks May 15-17. Space is still available. Contact me to register or visit my website.  Click here and scroll down to the event if you would like to pay directly with a credit card through Paypal.

I am honored to bring him to my community. For me and the Sangha I have created on the Outer Banks, this is how Parampara flows...

With Love,

Michelle Dorer
Owner, Director, Teacher – Ashtanga Yoga Center, Outer Banks, NC

Categories: Off the Mat