Lest Talk Yoga

Kino MacGregor

Kino MacGregor's Interview With Yoganonymous
Kino MacGregor will be coming to Jakarta in January 28th 2015 for a day of yoga workshop, meditation and book signing. Please go to our workshop canal to find out more about the event detail.

"Yoga is not yummy. Those people who want you to believe it is - I want to smack them. Expecting yoga to be yummy is delusional. Ashtanga is not funyasa. " ~Kino MacGregor

That was my favorite moment from a weekend with Kino at Chicago's Moksha Riverwest. The mood can get plenty serious after three hours of arm-balancing in a room that is hundreds of yogis deep. She knows how to deliver levity, alongside wisdom and straight up Ashtanga yoga. YOGANONYMOUS was lucky enough to share a chat with her, over strawberries, between workshops.

Hally Marlino: Did you know as soon as you started Practicing Ashtanga Yoga that you wanted to teach it?

Kino MacGregor: No, I didn't. I thought, first of all, that I wasn't worthy to teach it, to be honest with you. When I first started teaching, I'd only been practicing about a year. I had been to India. I met my teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He was eighty years old and had been teaching for sixty years. When I came back to the States, people were like, "Oh, you spent two months in India? Now you're a teacher." I said, "No, now I know nothing and I'm going back to India as soon as I can." I felt I wasn't ready, that I'd just started. I never identified with being a teacher, but people started asking me to teach and I would send them to Eddie Stern. I wanted to be a writer. Only after Guruji gave me the authorization, after, oh maybe three trips to India, did I say, "I'm a yoga teacher."

HM: So not after 200 hours of training?

KM: No, no. It was over a year before I felt adequate to say, "Yes, I'm an Ashtanga yoga teacher." It was more than getting from point A to point B. For me, the journey of strength is the journey of strength in life. We ask, "How strong do I need to be to practice this pose?" Well, how strong do you need to be in life? What is your dharma? What is you life's work, your inspiration, your passion? You need as much strength as it takes to make that come true. So when you learn to press up into   handstand, it's not about the handstand. It's about staying the course. The handstand is just the microcosm for that steadiness in you need your life. Think of Frodo in 'Lord of the Rings'- even just watching those three movies all together- that's nine hours. Talk about a journey.

Yo, Google, I was looking for 'Kino MacGregor Sukhasana (easy pose).

HM: Tell me something about your background that people may not know about you.

KM: Hm. My grandfather is Japanese and my dad's family is Scottish. Someone told me I'm from two proud warrior cultures. Also, people often describe me as someone who's always smiling, always laughing. But if I don't have time alone, I become very imbalanced. I'm an only child and spent a lot of time alone growing up. I still need that time to retreat into a silent, quiet space. Another thing: I'm the worst Ashtangi ever with early mornings; just grouchy and I don't want to speak. But now my schedule permits me to sleep in...until about 7am.

HM: Oh, that's sleeping in? Ever sleep in until noon?

KM: No way, but that was me in my early twenties. On moon days, I'll sleep in 'til eight or nine though.

HM: Do you have any self-care rituals to share that help you sustain a strong enduring practice?

KM: When you're doing a strong physical practice that is demanding on many levels it is crucial to give yourself rest time. When I'm in India studying with my teachers in Mysore, I'm always sure to give myself some silent time relaxing at home without the computer or other distractions to recover. The physical body requires rest to recover, but the emotional and mental bodies also require time and space to process the depth of the yoga practice. One of the most important ways that you can sustain your practice is to not take yourself or the yoga too seriously. This helps the mind and the body relax and not exert unnecessary effort at places where that effort would not pay off or lead to good results.

On that note, here's what Kino had to say about injuries during the Q and A session:

KM: Don't let doubt take over your practice; from the injury, the ache, the tremble. Pain presents an opportunity to purify the body. I have to look at injury as something I've attracted and fix it, treat it. Find the dukkha, the sleeping seed of negativity and lean into it. Burn the weeds, the negative samskara.

HM: What is the most important mantra or lesson that you want students to take away from studying with you?

KM: The journey of yoga can't be reduced to a collection of right or wrongs, or a collection of muscles and joints that we activate, but teaching the unteachable. Expressing that which can't be spoken. To find the means to do  that we have to find the heart connection to the practice, the vehicle of inspiration and feeling. This is the essence, the magic of the lineage. If my students could take that into their hearts it would be the best gift I could give. That which is so deep it can only be felt in the presence of the lineage.  

Article Source: Interview by Hally Marlino for www.yoganonymous.com