My favorite yoga teacher is Kia Miller. Kia Miller is my favorite because every class of hers inspires me to want to learn more. For me (besides safety), that is the most important characteristic of a great yoga teacher: that he or she inspires me to want to learn more.
In 1998 when I was studying the history of yoga in graduate school at UCSB with academic laureates such as Ninian Smart, Barbara Holdrege, and my advisor David Gordon White, David suggested that I meet Ganga White who founded the Center for Yoga in Los Angeles in 1966, the year of my birth. I spent some time at Ganga's White Lotus Yoga Foundation and recall one particular anecdote he recounted: a novice asked Ganga how long it would take her to receive the benefits of yoga, to which he replied, "Just a few lifetimes."
From the Upanishads through the Bhagavad Gita through the subtle energy body and chakras and bandhas, through the mantras and yantras, through pranayama exercises and meditations, and through sundry asana practices, the journey of yoga is never-ending. And like mine, Kia Miller's sense of wonder is insatiable.
I took my first yoga class in Paris in 1992 and then started to practice regularly when I moved to New York in 1995. Since then I have participated in countless retreats and workshops around the world, took a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from UCSB, did my teacher training with Heather Seiniger, and currently teach "Cultivating Meaning and Life through Mindfulness and Yoga" twice a year at the Esalen Institute, and I can honestly say that I learn something new every time I practice with Kia. Her enthusiasm is infectious, her thirst for knowledge is tenacious, and her personal integrity is impeccable. If you ever need a "Proof is in the pudding" model for the benefits for yoga, it is Kia Miller. She must have been practicing for more than just a few lifetimes.
I originally met Kia in a chakra workshop on New Years Day 2006 and I happened to bump into her the other morning as I was leaving a class and Kia was going to take one.
Kia told me about her upcoming trainings designed to take yoga practitioners to new levels of insight and awareness. The classes cover the deep transformational and healing practices of yoga, specifically Prana & Pranayama; Mantra & the Yoga of Sound; Meditation and the Mind: Awakening the Spiritual Heart; Kriya, Flow and the Art of Teaching; and Awareness and Lifestyle.
"Many of these topics are not often fully explored in classes and teacher trainings yet are the real keys to the inner kingdom," Kia told me. "So that's what we're going to do in these advanced trainings. If we yearn to see ourselves as we really are - beautiful, wise, loving and universal - then these classes will give students tried and tested yogic pathways to true states of freedom and higher awareness."
Count me in! I'll definitely be at the Prana and Pranayama class on August 3rd!
Because being technically adept at an asana practice represents a minute portion of the liberation that yoga was designed to engender.