Confessions of a Loved & Hated Ashtangi.

Via on Feb 5, 2013

kino23May12

People love and hate me. I am, after much deliberation, okay with that.

I’m a bad Ashtangi.

I wear small shorts and mascara. I’m not a natural blonde. I color my hair and blow dry it, even while in India. I’m also vain and I love beautiful and sometimes expensive things. I’ve been called an Ashtanga cheerleader, a slutty yoga teacher (I’m married), a good businesswoman (as if that’s a derogatory term for a yoga teacher) and a sell-out for fame and fortune. I’ve lost really important friendships and hurt the people I love the most through the delusion of blind ambition. I am far from perfect, most likely more flawed than most.

In the mad rush to success I have produced five Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, written two books, started a line of yoga products, filmed online yoga classes, taught in over 100 different cities all over the world, co-founded a yoga center on Miami Beach (Miami Life Center) and founded Miami Yoga Magazine. I’ve figured out how to use social media and build an online presence, dare I say my own “brand.” I tweet, blog, vlog and film for my YouTube channel.

For all these reasons I  am, as Guruji used to say, a “bad lady.”

But I’m also a good Ashtangi. I practice six days a week and follow the guidelines for practice as best I can from my teachers, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois in Mysore. I go back to Mysore to continue my studies and be a student at least once a year. I follow the simple vegetarian diet that my teachers recommend. I do my best to be self-reflective in everything I do, I try (not always successfully) to be a nice person all the time.

I work hard at everything I do, take nothing for granted and am above nothing. I am thankful every day for my students, both the real people in my classes and the real people watching my videos and reading my books at home. I wasn’t strong or patient when I started the practice, and yoga has taught me both strength and patience. You can only push so hard before you break—I’ve learned that all the rest of success in both yoga and life you have to receive through grace and surrender.

So maybe I’m also a little bit good.

Some people would say that what I do is all in the interest of building my own personal yoga empire, in the aggrandizement of my ego. To them I am something akin to the Kim Kardashian of the yoga world.

But to myself, I hope I’m more like Oprah Winfrey. I would love to take the message of yoga to millions of people, because I believe in the power of yoga to transform the world. Someone once asked me,

“If you knew you could reach a billion people with the message of yoga and half would hate you and half would you love you, would you still do it?”

Yes, for sure.

I honestly, perhaps naively, believe that if every person in the world practiced yoga it would be a better place. I would personally like to be a vehicle of inspiration for people to practice yoga, and if having some people hate me is a price I pay for putting my message out there, then I am strong enough to pay that price. At the same time, I admit that I am not as saintly as that sounds. I enjoy seeing myself in videos, on the covers of my books and I like seeing the results of my efforts. I also like that my husband and I can make a good living doing something we love and believe in. While I wouldn’t say that I’m proud of what I’ve done, I do feel a sense of self-confidence that comes from the real world experience of accomplishing some of my dreams.

One of the reasons that some people have taken issue with me is that they feel that the way that I put my teaching out there in the world is against the fundamentals of the Ashtanga Yoga lineage.

First of all, people don’t like the clothes I wear.  I’m not going to apologize for my choice in clothes, whether they are too small, skimpy, bright or whatever. At the risk of sounding callous and elitist, I think the discussion about telling women to cover their bodies lest they offend or stimulate someone’s sexual desire belongs to a by-gone era, not the year 2013.

gurujiThe men’s traditional yoga gear is a loin cloth that barely covers anything.

I wear short shorts, they cover everything that needs to be covered, and I honestly think people should just get over it. I’ve had numerous conversations where I explain my choice of yoga clothing to people, and I am getting exhausted by it. I’m from Miami—where it’s hot and a lot of people wear shorts and show a lot of skin.

I figured out long ago that if I wore pants I would use friction instead of core strength and that no men were wearing tights to hold themselves up in the challenging arm balances. So I made a conscious choice to wear shorts even though I slipped and fell off my arms for years. Here I go…explaining my choice in clothes again and I’m honestly sick of it! My choice is mine alone—I certainly don’t force anyone else to wear shorts.

If you don’t like shorts, don’t wear them. If you don’t like seeing my wear shorts, don’t watch. My freedom of choice is rooted in the history of women who gave their heart and soul to feminism so that I could vote, wear mini-skirts and tiny shorts, burn my bras, go to college, pursue any career that I am qualified to do, lift up into handstand and marry whomever I want freely. I will not betray the heart and soul of feminism to appease anyone’s else’s discomfort with my skin.

Second, I guess you could say that I have broken the taboo against marketing in the so-called purist world of Ashtanga Yoga.

I am a yoga teacher who is a yoga entrepreneur as well. There are benefits and disadvantages to this, depending on how you look at it. Krishnamacharya said to make yoga propaganda and get the message out there. I’ve really taken that to heart.

My teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, also said, much to the contrary, that we should not make yoga an advertisement, that the teaching itself will bring the students. Guruji would also get really excited when there were hundreds of students in Mysore or on his world tours. Whenever he asked me asked me how many students I taught in my classes he would also be so happy to hear that the numbers were growing. In my experience, Guruji loved the idea of Ashtanga Yoga reaching more and more people all over the world. I’ve taken the mission to bring Ashtanga Yoga to people all over the world to heart.

So where do I fit in to the traditional Ashtanga Yoga lineage? I guess that’s the question I am seeking to offer up for discussion here.

Let me say that I have the utmost respect for teachers who teach an under-the-radar Mysore program early in the morning with little advertising and get their students through the power of their own dedication and word of mouth. You rock! I love each of you for your humility, your quiet strength and the un-sung heroism of your work.

I, however, am not one of you. It’s not my path. It’s not that I want more, I want different. I want to be the ambassador of yoga in the “public” sphere. I want to share the message of yoga, authentic real, lineage based yoga, with as many people as possible. I want to be a bridge between the average person and the authentic experience that I’ve known in India with my teachers and the Ashtanga Yoga method.

I want to inspire people to find their yoga path, the inner devotion and the spiritual lineage.

Padmasana Kino yoga oprah tvI do not care if they ultimately choose me as their teacher or not. I would be honored if a person that I inspired practices Ashtanga Yoga with me, goes to Mysore and develops a daily Ashtanga Yoga practice for the rest of their life. But I would also be honored if a person that I inspired develops a daily meditation practice or a daily yoga practice following another lineage.

My work in the “public” sector is perhaps the biggest sticking point between me and the more traditional teachers of Ashtanga Yoga. Guruji taught in relative obscurity for the majority of his life, waiting patiently for the yoga that he believed in to attract students. In some ways he waited his whole life for his dream to come to fruition.

The lesson that I take from this is to never give up on your dreams, to work for them patiently even if the results are not immediately evident. The lesson some of my colleagues take from this is that the correct way to teach is exactly how Guruji did in the old days. With the steady humility of reaching one student at a time, these traditional teachers aim to emulate the exact methodology of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. They ask the question, why is it necessary to spread the message of Ashtanga Yoga Oprah-style? Why not just be humble, and teach whoever shows up?

The only thing that I can really say is that each person must choose their own path and learn the lessons that life presents to them. You cannot choose for another person, nor beat anyone into submission to your views. We are all free to live and let live, to find and discover our destiny and live out our dharma in the world. I remember feeling lost in my early twenties before I really discovered Ashtanga Yoga.

I prayed that I would be guided to find the one thing that God put me on this Earth to do and then I would do it with all my heart. With the message of Ashtanga Yoga, I feel that I have found this mission. My dharma, my path is mine alone and I may need to accept that it is a non-traditional approach to Ashtanga Yoga. While I seek to honor my teachers and the tradition I seek to do it in the spirit of what I believe the tradition to be, rather than the letter or dogma of the tradition. Just like for some people it would not feel right to make YouTube videos, yoga DVDs or offer classes online, it is not right for me to sit silently by while other voices carry the message of yoga to the world.

kino2One point worth making is that the message is going to get out there. There are many other yoga teachers on YouTube, creating DVDs and offering online classes. In fact some of the Ashtanga Yoga teachers who appear on YouTube have not been to Mysore to study with Guruji or Sharath. There are yet still more teachers online who eschew tradition all together and present yoga as a glorified stretching and fitness routine.

I see myself as a link between the pop culture of yoga and the more traditional lineage based spiritual practice.

Many feel that I am harming the tradition by providing the teaching of Ashtanga Yoga to the people via books and electronic media. I agree that it is best to learn directly from a teacher, one on one. Not everyone has the time, financial resources or access to a teacher. I intend my videos and writing to be a source of inspiration for new students, to be a reference manual for existing students and to be a teaching resource for those without a teacher.

Whenever I am learning something new in the yoga practice I use all available resources. I Google, YouTube, read anatomy, study movement mechanics and dissect the psycho-spiritual-emotional components of the posture. Rather than be without information I want more of it. I seek to contribute to the information publicly and readily available in the world of yoga. In the freedom of the information available on the internet I do not believe it is possible or really relevant to hold precious things hostage. Give them freely and they will grow, share your heart and it will expand. In this vein I share my work in the public sphere. I get enough feedback from people all over the world who use my videos as a resource to know that they are doing more good than harm in the world.

I’ve been saddened recently by the realization that some of my colleagues in Mysore prefer not to associated with me.

This came crashing down into my field of awareness because of people’s objections to being part of the video on my YouTube channel about Mysore:

People are upset that I did not ask their permission prior to using the extra footage from the Mysore Magic film shoot.

I should have asked their permission directly and I am sorry that I didn’t! It honestly did not cross my mind, and I can see that it is my own naivete to think that people would not mind. I wish that people would have contacted me directly with their concerns, but I understand it’s harder to confront someone with negative feedback.

For the record, I am open to any negative feedback anyone wishes to share with me.

It would help me grow and I am definitely learning from this experience on many levels. I had no idea that the people that I practice with in Mysore who are friendly with me post-practice hold such strong negative views of my teaching and presence in the world. I have read the negative blogs complaining about my shorts, my Youtube videos, and generally me but I just didn’t think that it was from people I shared practice space with in Mysore.

That limited view is just another reflection of my own naivete. I am currently considering what action to take, e.g., contacting each individual person in the video directly and apologizing/asking permission, whether to take the video down or leave it up and of course speaking with Sharath next week when I am in Mysore. I honestly love the video as a link and inspiration for people who may be inspired by my teaching and presence to find their way to the power and magic of Mysore.

My hope is that we can reach a peaceful resolution where the video is okayed to stay available on YouTube. I hope that I’m not being naive about that, too!

Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga with Kino and Tim at Koh Samui
Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga with Kino and Tim at Koh Samui

One of the most controversial things that I want to do in the yoga world is take the message of yoga to a wider audience through television and video. That desire definitely pushes people’s buttons. My YouTube channel has reached more than 6 million views in a little over a year and a half. I hope it’s the start of the actualization of my dream to take yoga to more people through the vehicle of video.

A little over a year ago I was in NYC meeting with some television executives about my ideas for a TV project and I dropped in to practice with Eddie Stern. When we were chatting after practice he asked me what I was doing in New York. I was more than nervous to say that I was shopping around an idea to take the yoga lifestyle to television. But his response was liberating.

He said, “Someone is going to do it, and it’s better that it’s you.” You can be sure of one thing: I will work tirelessly to be sure that it is me, not just for the fame and fortune, but also (perhaps most importantly) to be sure that the lineage of yoga is represented authentically.

 

Kino MacGregor’s next book, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, is set to come out in the spring of 2013 from Shambhala Publications.

 

Like elephant Ashtanga on Facebook.

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Kino MacGregor

Kino MacGregor is one of a select group of people to receive the Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. The youngest woman to hold this title, she has completed the challenging Third Series and is now learning the Fourth Series. After seven years of consistent trips to Mysore, at the age of 29, she received from Guruji the Certification to teach Ashtanga yoga and has since worked to pass on the inspiration to practice to countless others. In 2006, she and her husband Tim Feldmann founded Miami Life Center, where they now teach daily classes, workshops and intensives together in addition to maintaining an international traveling and teaching schedule. She has produced three Ashtanga yoga DVDs (Kino MacGregor – A Journey, A Workshop; Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series; Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series), an Ashtanga yoga practice card and a podcast on yoga. Her next book, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, is set to come out in the spring of 2013 from Shambhala Publications. As a life coach and Ph.D. student in holistic health with a Master’s Degree from New York University, Kino integrates her commitment to consciousness and empowerment with her yoga teaching. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Mind Body Spirit, Yoga Joyful Living, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, Boca Raton Magazine, Florida Travel & Life Magazine, Six Degrees Magazine as well as appearing on Miami Beach’s Plum TV and the CBS Today Show. Find her at: kinoyoga.com.

99,531 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal - but don't worry - you don't need an account with PayPal.)

203 Responses to “Confessions of a Loved & Hated Ashtangi.”

  1. Heather Morton HeatherM says:

    You know sweet Kino it is not about your shorts, make-up, hair, use of a blow dryer in India (although I wonder why bother which is a pain in the ass in India and I'm as vain as they come)…..it is about your inner quest. It doesn't matter if 500 million people tell you they love you if deep down you don't have that solid inner core. At the same time it doesn't matter if 500 million people tell you they also hate you.

    Having experienced fame and fortune in my life (at the age of 17-18 and being a national title holder of Miss Teen Canada), I can tell you that what you are experiencing is the simple price for where you want to be. I also know that surprisingly enough it is often the insiders that are the most double-faced. I had students in my own school whom I taught say things behind my back, talk about my fees, criticize my school and made cynical comments such as, "oh, right, every yoga teacher wants to write a book." Many of these people also took issue when other yoga teachers in the community were receiving some prominent attention. It was always with the air of, "like who do these people they they are."

    I used to wonder what Yoga was truly teaching them. I used to feel that I had failed as well as a teacher since even just before a meditation class these were the on-going discussions.

    So, in short when at the front of the class you will be the object of both praise and blame. The real secret lies is not believing your 'celebrity persona' is the 'real' you or real yoga. I hope you can get that straightened out because even when it is your life it is not your whole life. I had a hard time understanding this division until one time in Mysore my own teacher clearly said, "Teaching is only one aspect of life." I had made the mistake of making it my whole life as I was so caught up with teaching, passion for practice, travel, writing, etc….and giving my mini-lectures to students.

    Again, if within the inner core of what you are is not stable….any wind that rises will blow you off center. It is not easy. It has more to do with being tough and in a good way….not bitter and jealous as many people become…but knowing what you know! I hate justifying myself and had to do it for years to my family who did not understand my choices. In the end, there is no cause for more debate…and you can probably catch yourself whenever you get on that train again.

    Well, we are all people…flawed and imbalanced and most often talking from our own center despite projecting it elsewhere.

    It hurts, but it is more than just being OK with it all. It's really about not losing your inner quest.
    This alone will be your greatest and truest feat and quest in the midst of whatever the future holds.
    As Sharath once said, "as a Yogi nothing should bother you."

    May God bless you. Much love.

  2. Bob says:

    I appreciate all that you bring to yoga. Be true to yourself and the rest will work itself out. Your youtube channel is both a source of knowledge and inspiration to many and it is my hope that you continue to offer this to your online students.

    I wonder how many have spoken out about the billionaire backing of Jois Yoga?!? Never the less, yoga in pursuit of money is one thing, accumulating wealth both spiritual and material as a result of one's practice is another IMHO.

    I wish you continued success in your journey.

    Bob

  3. Anne says:

    I watched the video and found it beautiful and inspiring. What struck me about your article is that you stated a lot of the yogis in Mysore took offense to you. It struck me that perhaps they were in their own struggles with themselves and you became an easy target to put all their projections on. Your practice looked so effortless yet there was a fire. Something, we all strive for as yogis. I will bet you the yogis who are comfortable with their tapas and the churning that is created in their practice were not the haters. I once read something. I think on eljournal, that the tallest flower gets chopped down first. Jai.

  4. Mario says:

    If you had done just one small step in spiritual yoga you will know that you are not the doer of anything. So spirituality is not in a long and pride-driven curriculum. For how yoga is seen today by the people at large..you are doing great! Congratulations!

  5. Ralitsa says:

    Kino, you are a true inspiration to me. I cannot afford any teachers and don't have the money to do it, so I definitely need someone like you to help me, which you do through your youtube channel for example. When I decided to start yoga a year ago, I was pushed by frustration of the disabilites of my own body to stretch properly and feel less painful (I am a dancer, so pain is patr of my everday life). I tried so many ways and there was always something missing, so I was told by someone that yoga helped them develop their flexibility and I started searching on youtube. I found your videos, explainin everything so well, that I got inspired to try. There were all the obstacles and desparation sometimes, but because you had already mentioned what sensation the body goes through during the different stages of the prctice, I was prepared. Plus all the exercise videos you post help me develop that extra skill to handle the postures. You are amazing and your role of mediator between the closed yoga community in Mysore and the vast public all over the world is I believe your calling. So, keep following your dreams and I will be following your advice and teaching, and I hope to meet you personally one day!!! God bless you!

  6. Daryl Morazzini says:

    I LOVED reading this!

    It’s not easy being disliked, but it’s a fact of life if you are following “your path” that people will want you to everything for them, and nothing for your self. be who you are, follow it out, forget about the critics. The disbelievers, especially prudish, puritanical American hypocrites, will always be there. Let them go off and worry about the things that don’t matter. Your Yoga practice, the impact you have made on Yoga, will ultimately speak for itself.

    Stay strong.

    Don’t take no shit off from anyone.

  7. Kevin says:

    Kino you straddle across the divide of traditional teaching and modern media. I agree with ES, if someone is going to do it, it should be you. For what it's worth your 9 minute You Tube video about Mysore sums up the essence and answers the question I asked you about 4 years ago "Why go to Mysore". I'm so glad you told me to go, I'm so glad I finally went and that morning Sharath called "one more" after assisting my backbends and I came up from Paschimottanasana to find you singing "good morning, good morning" on the end of my mat was a day I won't forget. Hope to practice with you somewhere this year or Mysore next year.

  8. Michelle says:

    Kino, I am a big supporter, and admire your generosity in sharing what you have learned with the world. Keep doing what you are doing…I really believe your actions have brought many more people to Ashtanga than if you had not followed the path you are on. Certainly, I can't see how your very educational, helpful and sincerely offered videos could drive anyone away from the Ashtanga Path! Guruji would be proud, I believe.

    I find it interesting that the video offerings of David Garrigues, the other great internet ambassador of Ashtanga, don't result in the same accusations of self-aggrandizement and overt "promotion" of the Ashtanga path. (Or perhaps they do and we just don't hear from those haters as much?!) Still – I do feel there's a bit of misogyny involved with the criticism that is directed at you, and some jealousy, too.

    I've tried to practice in short shorts on super hot summer days in my studio. It's absolutely soooo much harder to practice the arm balances in them vs. leggings (although garbapidasana is much easier!) Keep rocking them, good lady and continue to inspire us to work harder and better at asana practice! As soon as the weather gets warmer, I think I'll start wearing short shorts in solidarity with you!

    Finally, I know I may offend folks with what I say, but, your Mysore video was much, much better than "Mysore Magic" video. I think most people would agree with this after watching both films. "Mysore Magic" felt so…elitist and self-referential that I DIDN'T want to go there after watching it. But, your video version made me feel there was some merit in making the effort (an effort I have not felt inclined to make, frankly, since I started the practice in 1997 and especially since Guruji died and the place became more Westernized.)

    One question – if the same videographers filmed both your film and the "Mysore Magic" film, why didn't they ask – or know to ask – the individuals who appeared in both videos for their permission? Don't the videographers have some responsibility here as well? Or, perhaps, like you, they assumed that there would be no problem with using the footage?

    • I completely agree with you about the video's. Mysore Magic left a bad taste in my mouth.

    • gastrophase says:

      My understanding is that Mysore Magic was the official project for commercial release, so hopefully it got all the signoffs, while Kino's was a side project using some extra footage from them so probably the onus was on her to collect release agreements?
      I enjoyed both videos, I don't think it's about pitching one against the other.

  9. Maria says:

    Brava!!!! If I had legs like yours I would TOTALLY rock those shorts!!!
    As you said….people need to get over it!!
    Life's too short. people…..there are more important things to complain about than Kino MacGregor's yoga attire.

    I am so looking forward to your Moksha workshop this summer in Chicago!
    Namaste

  10. AbbyHoffmann says:

    Honestly? This is all less about Kino's abilities as a teacher (wonderful, compassionate, knowledgeable, dedicated etc) and more to her newly found (in the last few years) status as a media personality. The internet has changed everything, including yoga. When I started practising Astanga about 14 years ago, there was only the trusty VHS of David Swenson to keep us company – as media and channels of media have proliferated, along with yoga' popularity so have the likes of "Media Kino" (who is a separate entity from "Teacher Kino")… I also feel slightly uncomfortable with the ' I want to spread the yoga message to as many people as possible " message. To me this sounds like spreading the Religion, and I have issue with that.. (separate post!) . Yoga in the West (lineages/authenticity etc debatable since recent research dates modern postural yoga as only being codified in 19C India/Europe) has had a steady increase since the 1950's when 'celebrity' endorsement from the likes of Yehudi Menuhin and Indra Devi helped to promote yoga as a fitness pastime…so go figure… Kino maybe just one of the long line of 'yoga promoters' on their world tours, promoting DVDs, clothes and yoga centres….Not good not bad, but just what it is…. (to evoke a yoga cliche)

    I don't agree with her detractors who slam her for wearing short make up etc.. cos that is really nothing to do with her teaching, "My freedom of choice is rooted in the history of women who gave their heart and soul to feminism so that I could vote, wear mini-skirts and tiny shorts, burn my bras, go to college, pursue any career that I am qualified to do, lift up into handstand and marry whomever I want freely". Um the history of women who gave their heart and soul etc were more concerned with equal pay for equal work, the right to vote and own property.. shorts and handstands were pretty low down on their list, but nice seque!

    Once you are 'out there' you are fair game and, as all Reality Show contestants experience (or most of them) the build em up knock em down syndrome… People in the blogosphere are cruel, witness in the UK the recent slamming of Academic Mary Beard, whose 'untamed' appearance (no make up, grey hair, tombstone teeth) brought her equally harsh comments. Women in the media you just can't win! Kino, you are good at what you do, keep doing what you do, but realise you are caught between a rock and a hard place, wanting to claim 'authenticity' and 'good yogi' status, whilst your public persona invites comment and controversy..

    • Doug says:

      Yup, praise and blame come with the package. If you sign on for one, you've signed on for the other. That goes for the general popularization of yoga as well: for every Yeudi Menuhin, there is a William Broad.

  11. Keni says:

    Kino we LOVE YOU. You're awesome and inspire us daily on this incredible Ashtanga journey. Your dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism is something all should aim for. You're also gorgeous as well and I understand some people might have a problem with that, but hey, that's their problem. Keep rocking and take it easy !

  12. Sarah says:

    THANK YOU, Kino, for being an important and consistent inspiration to the different aspects of my yoga practice! Much love, Sarah.

  13. Don't listen to the "haters". What you are doing is of enormous benefit to those who are ready to look past the outward appearance of your presentation of the practice and see the heroic spirit with which you present it. Isn't that the whole point of yoga after all: too look past the appearance of things and see its essence? It takes tremendous strength and grace to put yourself in the lime-light sending a message of peace and love. Anyone caught up in fear, ego, hatred, competition thinking, greed, and envy will only react to the FORM of your presentation because they are still trapped in forms (including mental ones such as dogmas and belief systems in general) and have not yet touched the formless. They somehow think that they are less because you have become great. As Tony Horton says, "do your best and forget the rest". Much love, Kino.

  14. Christina says:

    The most important thing when we do anything in life is to have integrity, and I believe you have it. You are who you are, and you shouldnt have to change that just because you are a yoga teacher! If people have a problem with you, then they are not connecting to being "spiritual" beings….i.e. acceptance, non-judgement, universal love for all…??? etc etc….
    As for those that have an issue with being filmed at mysore, fair enough, that is their choice and right. however, i do raise the question, what are they afraid of?…
    Anyway, I often use your vids on youtube for help with detail of postures as they greatly compliment my own practice and the classes that I attend. And i personally don´t think that the rigidity and "closed-ness" of Ashtanga yoga is necessary – by all means, follow the lineage of the practice and keep its integrity, but there are some ashtangis out there who can be a little lacking in flexibility (pardon the pun!) which doesn´t necessarily suit all individuals and their life. I believe that spirituality and yoga are unique paths for every individual, and they will take a different shape accordingly. :)

  15. Doug says:

    A simple and inescapable teaching about the reality of life is that wherever there is praise, there will be blame — the 'pairs of opposites' always travel together, even in the 'yoga world.' The practice of yoga is not a place where we are exempted from them; if anything, they are more intense and subtle, and practice — with its tapasya — is learning to bear them with equanimity. This doesn't excuse the critics; the yoga philosophers are simply pointing out that in this world, praise comes with a price.

    The more that ambition is moved forward by praise and promotion, the sharper the criticism and the greater the price. This is not a criticism of you for having ambition or pursuing it. Ambition is rajas, and even the 'purists' who criticize you are still moved by rajas. It is a force of nature, which leads to actions that are neither purely 'good' nor purely 'bad,' but mixed — in their motivations, ethical justification, and results. The philosophies that point this out are not putting you down, any more than they would criticize gravity. They are simply pointing out that in pursuing a path as a teacher that accepts (and even for the sake of promotion, courts) praise, you signed up for the inevitable blame as well. Part of the process of yoga is the process of enduring both.

    As a yogi, you of course know this; but it's worth pointing this out so that we don't all get too spun up over praise and blame. Which in today's yoga world seems to happen a lot.

    • David Kos says:

      Thank you Doug. This is so well said. This goes for all of us, in whatever we do in our lives. Whether small or big successes. I appreciate this. Is this Doug Swenson by any chance??? Peace D.

  16. @MerryChica says:

    I love you! I do laugh at your short shorts and little tops—the way my friends all laugh at the way I wear bedroom slipper boots to the studio and act as though they were intended to by worn just everywhere. From your videos, I've learned to jump through, finally eased into lotus, and rocked tittibhasana–among many other neat asana gains. I've also learned to embrace all the limbs of yoga, and it's changed my life. YOU have changed my life. As have many other instructors that will never build, or seek to build, a 'yoga empire'. So there you have it. Empirical evidence that there is room for, and a need for, both in this world. Thank you for your journey.

  17. Melanie says:

    Kino,

    You walk your talk. You are doing and have done the hard work that has gotten you to where you are. I admire and appreciate all you do because I am benefiting from all you share so GENEROUSLY!! That is how I see it. I do not have a teacher where I live and so I have appreciated your tips for my practice and you have inspired me.

    People project their own discomforts and fears onto those who are further along the path. I am sure it is hurtful at times but you are strong and I hope you do not take it personally very often. It is about them, not you.

    I actually bought one of your short shorts when I was in Miami in December and use them for my home practice…….and I am 60:) I love them and would never had dreamed it had not been inspired by you. Why NOT celebrate my beautiful body at EVERY age!!

    You rock. I totally believe that this IS your dharma. That you are bringing so much more yoga to the world. Don’t falter for even a moment…………I know that you will not.

    May you feel the love of all that support you and may you gain strength from all that are not able to see your gifts.

    Many dis Oprah as well but she has brought SO much healing to our planet……….You just keep following your heart, Kino.

    Much love, Melanie from MN.

  18. Carolyn Freeman says:

    wow, love your honesty. I also love your blogs and utube teachings, they are very inspiring and very valued for a British teacher who can't get to India and lives in an area of England that is short of senior teachers, so thank-you, keep up the good work.

  19. Karen Reid says:

    Your story hits and emotional chord with me as I also recently learned I was not perceived the way I thought I was projecting myself. It hurt. In fact it hurt a lot. In a sense there is a feeling of betrayal but what I have come to realize is it hurt so much because the story was all about me. As soon as I stopped thinking from my point of view and tried to see myself as the “others” apparently did I understood. We are all blobs of ego wanting this or that for ourselves and from others, somewhere along the trail the balance between giving and receiving was upset. To be clear I am not a “hater” I am a big fan and have always found in your work shops that you lead by example. But what I am trying to say is the universe gave you an alternate view of yourself, take it for what it is an awareness that wasn’t there before. But now you know, have compassion for the “haters” they are just blobs of ego… have compassion for yourself, because you too are just a blob of ego. Personally knowledge unshared is wasted, thanks for putting out what you know whether you are in shorts or a burqua makes no difference to me. I’ll take honest knowledge in whatever clothes it wears.

  20. chiara says:

    Kino, you rule.
    Don't worry about what people think about your shorts, you helped the practice of so many people, that is all it matters.
    Your courage and determination are really admirable.
    Thanksnfor all the videos which keep helping me and indirectly my students, even if I do not practice ashtanga vinyasa.

  21. To those in the yoga community making you feel that you should not be promoting your work and passion, they need to take an internal look at their own jealousy, judgments and motivations. You are a business-minded yogi and that is never something to apologize for. Let the haters hate and keep it moving!

  22. Kino,

    I look forward to your videos!!! There are always going to be "haters" I believe it just shows insecurities in themselves and jealousy. You are a strong and beautiful woman!! Please keep doing what you are doing because you INSPIRE so many of us with your words and videos! I hope to meet you in person some day!! Thank you…thank you for all that you do for the yoga community!! I would love to have you come do a workshop some day at my studio in Washington state! :) Desiree Ouellette Yoga

  23. Renee says:

    I would have been thrilled to practice with
    you and been in your video! You are an inspiration to many!

  24. Kate Kuss says:

    You go, Kino! Your passion for the practice is awesome and I love your videos. If there will be a show about yoga, I'd like to work for you and help you produce the best yoga show ever. Keep growing!

  25. Proud to be the publisher of this strong woman.

  26. Nichole says:

    The first Ashtanga video i ever did was one of yours on My Yoga On line. i quickly began practicing the primary series and now attend monthly guided practices but have yet to make it to Mysore. I am also anxious to share Ashtanga with my community. (where there are no Ashtanga teachers practicing) I have begun to host an informal group practice at my studio and hope this grow into something more. Thank you for this article. It encourages me to stick with my intentions in spite of the obstacles in the way& judgement from other people. (I have only been practicing Ashtanga since June of this year) Here is to spreading the love of Ashtanga all over the world….namaste.

  27. Donna says:

    I love this article which I find to be about so much more than the title suggests. As a new yoga teacher I sometimes struggle with a huge wish to shout to the world about yoga and all it can give you and a need to show the yoga community I am humble. Your words reassure me that if we are authentic, true to ourselves and our dharma then this is the best we can do – and as we know being all of that does not make everyone love us – and that is in fact not what we are asking from it. Your words smacked of authenticity so I know you will continue to be successful – hell I might even be persuaded to try ashtanga one day. Keep the faith my dear. D

  28. Tara says:

    You go Kino!

    I have found many of your videos to be extremely insightful and they make some of the more confusing poses seem easier to understand. I also love that Mysore film because I have not been to Mysore yet, so it helps to give me a sense of what it is like there; and because I have just come back from my first trip to India, it makes me feel happy to see some of the country and life again, it helps me stay connected to that feeling of being in India.

    The social media world is a tricky place: it helps us stay connected to the people we don't get to see often (like family, in my case) and be exposed to things that we normally wouldn't see outside our daily lives, but it can be such a drain on the mind and energy. So I do hope that you give yourself time away from it all; to be "unplugged" and not have your attention pulled in so many directions and hearing the voices of so many different people. I just know how valuable that time is for me, and I'm not on all these things nearly as much as you are, so I hope you give yourself some time like that.

    I have also been fortunate enough to practice with you in person via a weekend workshop and I can say that you are an even better teacher in person. You always honored where this yoga tradition comes from and you clearly had a lot of knowledge about the practice, which can only be gained from years of a dedicated personal practice. It was very easy for me to trust my practice to your teaching during the weekend that I practiced with you.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, your courage and your spirit. You've got my support :-)

  29. Thank you for being so inspired to women for don't let their dreams come true went things get hard. I personally don't identified at all with Ashtanga practice, precisely because it seems so aggressive. But I definitely can admire the work you have done (as yogui, bussineswomen and teacher ) I can see how much you can spire other women to not be afraid to be strong and feminine at the same time; to be yogui and not to lose their personality; to be perfect and humble at the same time.
    Thank you for being YOU !!!

  30. Dave Fulton says:

    I spent many years studying martial arts, and saw the same type of sniping. In fact, it was worse (I actually witnessed challenges to fight "to the death" being thrown around). The haters are part of a public life, and can really be over the top, so all you can do is make the best of it.

    They don't like your clothes? Well, I find that they help me to see what you are doing and make minute adjustments. They don't like your videos, Tweets and blogs? Well, I don't happen to have an Ashtanga teacher handy, so I really appreciate them. Your YouTube channel is bookmarked on my PC.

    Finally, when I first saw your videos, I immediately had two impressions. First, that you truly love teaching yoga. Second, that the you have the same precision in your movement and detail in your instructions as people whom I consider to be truly great martial arts teachers. These two impressions are what draws me to your videos.

  31. Kara says:

    Hi Kino, I have practiced with you several times. You have always struck me as the real deal, with a little bit of pizzazz and marketing skill on the side. I agree with Eddie Stern's comment, it will happen anyway, so I'm pleased it's you.

    I like the odd fancy purse or pair of shoe. I actually feel less shallow being then when then when I strove to be a perfect yogi in all things, with correct diet, correct organic cotton accessories, correct fancy vegan foodstuffs, you name it. It was very ego driven. This was the same period where I was obsessed with one day mastering third and judged everyone's commitment to practice by what pose they were one. The more authentically ashtangi I perceived myself to be, the better I felt about myself. I only learned how wrong I was when I became disabled and could no longer move my body. Then I finally learned to practice yoga and realized I had been an idiot.

    There are a lot people like the former me kicking around the ashtanga world and we're judgmental. It seems in this case to be tinged with misogyny, plus a bit of jealousy. After all, not only were you certified by Guruji, you also look good in your shorts. No need to apologize for it. Most of us have very specific reasons for our yoga clothing choices and they are no one's concerns but ours.

    Recording without consent was a mistake, but I think your response of responding to public vitriol with a public response is a good one. Let those who wish to publicly malign you do it behind their real names.

    My disability is better now and I can do more asana than I could before, but I have not returned to the ashtanga world. I find it hard to face the judgment of the people like the former me because I practice primary and likely will only be able to practice primary for the rest of my life, and with difficulty. I'm not talking about people like you, Kino, but those like your catty detractors. Yoga know-it-alls, if you will. I'll take a yogi in a pair of heels with a sense of open acceptance over that any day.

  32. Man. What a dilemma. And it's hardly about yoga. Yoga would be the ticket here actually. This is about your image and the perceived taint on it. Which is the root of all the suffering here. You and the folks in the video. The fear of dismantling or have taken away what you put all your energy into, including your reputation, must really pull on something deep to elicit this request- which overall is asking for permission and maybe forgiveness. You can certainly have those from me. Not that it makes any difference or was even needed. Yoga can't be taught. Nobody teaches yoga. They only support the method. Yoga begins with application of the method. The inner application specifically. What you do is getting it out there and giving people a chance to have it for themselves. Yoga is always about "aloneness" even from the first stages, and we use the method to groom ourselves for this understanding.

    You seem like a sweetheart for sure. I've watched your videos and think they are well done and that can't be easy. Its admirable what you have tried to accomplish. Plus all the dedication to getting it going. Which includes the practice of the krama. You seem to make a good connection with lots of people Bravo. People can love you. When a few don't it hurts. I doubt they hate you, but if they do its about them. Still hurts. But really, it's empty. Only this now is something that holds the essential meaning we give it. Past and future are empty as is our essential nature. Yay for that. Then this too shall pass.

    I've been on this path as long as you- longer since I'm older a bit, and I have found the yoga scene in Mysore to be the best and the worst of what's going on in the yoga world. Worse but still stable now that Guruji has passed. The drive to be considered close to the source and an authority on that source are paramount to actual yoga practice in Mysore for some people and its been going on for years. People want it because they get to have power and notoriety. Ashtanga yoga in a large way, has been infiltrated by athletes who excel at the krama then claim to speak with authority for traditional yoga and the lineage, without ever once expressing an understanding of what Patanjali taught or even being able to convey the basic script structure laid out in the yoga sutra. The body and the Krama have become performance pieces that engender overblown ego clinging among the mass of students there. When I hear "what pose are you on" I can't help but think this person still doesn't get yoga. After i choke down a little bile i think of saying, "What pose does it look like I'm on?" I don't though.

    I recently was invited to speak about Patanjali Yoga Sutra to a group of new teachers who had completed a yoga teacher training. I was surprised to hear that only 1 out of 20 had heard about Patanjali. The one had heard about him from me. One of the questions that was very central to this groups association was how to have a confident voice when teaching. I was totally inspired to tell them that knowledge and application of the logic presented by Patanjali would remove all doubts and the asana krama could then be what it was simply intended to be- therapy.

    People need this therapy to understand yoga sutra. Yoga is all about observing transition and reducing our karmic expression of needless waste of energy. They need to know this most of all because the body won't last, our image of ourselves will fail us. So we need to locate what aspect of our selves that won't fail. It's there in Patanjali.

    Last thing. In the time I'veI taught ashtanga yoga method it has been increasingly difficult to get a sweat out of people. Guruji's method is working through all these off shoot yoga styles and people are getting fit. I think his adage 99/1 is hitting an evolutionary tier. It's time for a lot of folks to focus on the 1. As a teacher it's getting to be high time to offer access to Patanjali (not just ashtanga precepts) lest folks are relegated to thinking the need blow their mind and body every class. What postpones this event, teaching Patanjali, is a lack of study in the sadhak. lack of study is exemplified by there being no results that correlate with the results Patanjali says we should be getting. And this will be a big deal big deal because this lack puts into question what we were really doing when we thought ourselves "the teacher".

    Good luck and thanks for the video you sent me a few years back. Remember, it's all impermanent. This struggle eventually will end and we will be forgotten. But also liberated. Get ready. One lifetime might not be enough.

    I wish you well. You are kind of famous. Sorry it hurts.

    Casey in Portland Oregon.

  33. Ben says:

    Kino, all I have to say is that your teachings have given me a tremendous amount of insight into my yoga practice. You communicate things in a way that are easy for me to understand, and you sometimes say things that change my practice in a profound way.(I often repeat to myself something you said in one your videos or website: "Don't worry about the external form of the posture. Be patient. Let the work happen deep within").

    You make ashtanga much more accessible to me :) Thank you!

  34. Tanya says:

    Anytime you film someone and put that out into public, you should have their permission. You should edit your video to remove those who don't want to be seen. It is the respectful thing to do. Your desire to keep the present video online is based in ego desire and it steals other people's energy for your own gain at their expense. Your video is beautiful but you should take it down until it does not exploit the privacy of others while in practice. For a lot of us practice is a place to withdraw from the world and be private. To have my sanctuary pop up online unexpectedly would be a shock and I would feel totally let down. You have many great videos out there, and no doubt will put out many more in the future. There is no need to keep this one up and continue upsetting those affected by exposure in it.

    • Istafiah says:

      I agree w you Tanya. I am a Bikram teacher and the issue of clothing- obviously we at Bikram wear short shorts- its necessary it's practical- its' hot! So the clothing aspect is a non- issue. However, I lived and worked in the Middle East and for my own reasons I highly prefer to NOT be photographed in my yoga clothes/in practise. For some cultures such minimalist clothing denotes a negative character.
      However the idea of being filmed and uploaded to a public space really upsets me. So I understand why there is negative comments re this by your fellow yogi's. As you said your from Miami and hey in the west clothing does not equate directly to morality/character etc. So In my humble opinion you must take it down and edit it. It is not okay to film without consent. It's highly probable that you simply over looked this- because it is a foreign view to your basic character. I have not seen your video's- in fact the class looked interesting and yes you come across very well. Its' your innate talent. But people's practise, and yes we follow different teachings is very personal and you must get approval. To show link here before it's edited- is not right. Thats all- the other issues are non issues and of course business – success in outside world does not hinder internal progress. But edit it!

    • ce mois says:

      Uhm, my understanding is that they were all OK with being in the video (as part of the movie or whatever it was) but not OK with Kino using footage for her youtube channel. So really, we're talking about people having a personal issue with Kino. This smacks of jealousy , envy, and worse, being TWO FACED!! They need to get over themselves. As a yoga teacher for the last 10 years, one of the negative aspects I've learned from practitioners/teachers behavior is the elitist self righteous attitude they espouse as if it is part of the practice. If people are upset, they should cry their tears until they have no more tears, be mad as long as it takes until they realize they're only hurting themselves and THEN get over it.

  35. Laura Helms says:

    Do your thing, girly! I love your videos. You are an inspiration! <3

  36. Nick Cheeawai says:

    As I understand, there is a code that Ashtanga yoga be done indoors and not for public viewing. Maybe that is what the clamor is all about. Privacy is a touchy matter. As Kino said herself, the practice is very private, but seriously, there wasn't in my humble opinion anyone singled out… Shakti was revealed, if you haven't seen it before go into a Mysore room. I say this all the time, quoted from my teacher, "I practice my yoga, you practice yours". Kino you are an inspiration not just to me but to others… And by the way, I am now inspired to get back to practice and make it to Mysore. Kudos on a great job, sistah!!!

  37. Misa Derhy says:

    Dear Kino,
    I am not Ashtanga practitioner but yes, I am yoga practitioner and teacher, and your honesty and clarity is just inspiring. You don't have to explain anything, neither apologise, your intention is clear and you bring yoga to many. What about those yogis turning back to you? Where is the yoga practice in this? Or…are we yoga practitioners only on the mat and we forget it as soon as we leave it? It says a lot about others, not about you. But eventually they will come to it too, as we are all in different stages on the path. Sending LOVE to your way and everybody else :)

  38. Kirsty says:

    Great response Kino, We are all human, we are all different, we all have something to offer. I'm glad to read your comeback to what happened. Go girl.

  39. Susan Tanner says:

    Kino, I am not proud of it, but I certainly have been guilty of envying your beauty – WHILE at the same time bookmarking a truckload of your youtube videos. I use them regularly and look forward to meeting you soon. Come back to Atlanta. I look forward to learning from you.

    If there's any way to re-edit the Mysore video, it might be worth your time to show respect for the feelings of those who feel wronged. That said, there may simply be other feelings there – of envy or of a mistaken sense of greater authenticity – that are impossible to placate.

    I fully agree with Eddie Stern – if yoga is to have a wildly popular public persona, let it be you. Thanks for all your proxy help with my wobbly pincha.

    Susan Tanner

  40. Tami says:

    I've been following you for about a year, Kino. Your Primary Series DVD is fantastic, as are ALL of your youtube videos. They are fantastic resources for anyone who practices and/or teaches. I'm so sad to hear that people are criticizing your choice of clothes, or the fact that you color your hair. Don't we have more important things to focus our attention on? Thank you also for your dedication to Ahimsa by choosing and speaking out about vegetarianism. I wish more yogi's would make that connection.
    You are an inspiration to me and many others – keep doing what you're doing.

  41. what Kino is saying is:
    "why are you so interested in what I do? do your thing and quit judging me".
    damn right. one may not like her, it is up to that one. but she is essentially right.
    or, like dear old Sri KPJ used to say: "Do YOUR practice, and all is coming"
    (and not do MY practice and all is coming). have respect, give thanks, be loyal, practice, learn, advance, go your own way.
    kaivalya, pramana, abhyasa, vairagya.
    very clear.YOGA, isn't it???

  42. Christa Bedwin says:

    Very awesome. I agree with you that we should wear (or not wear!) what we want. Puritanical clothing standards are silly and obstructive.

    Love your spirit. Keep rocking it! Thank you for the inspiration.

  43. [...] yogi named Kino McGregor – maybe you’ve heard of her. (you can read all about it here) I’ll be honest – I judged her a little bit too — why? was I jealous? (probably [...]

  44. Carolyn Riker Carolyn Riker says:

    I am new to yoga – barely a year – and watching this and hearing your words is inspiring…permission actually to hear, it's a practice and it takes time. It's a growth of physical, mental and spiritual awareness. Definitely touching into my own repetitive voices during a practice, especially during meditation. Thank you!

  45. Lynn Braz says:

    Love your videos, love your writing, love your honesty. Also, love your little boy shorts and blonde hair. The world needs teachers across a wide spectrum of styles and temperaments.

  46. KEPuckett says:

    What resonates most in this article is the assertion that we each have our own path and our own dharma. It is the human condition to project and judge. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, what matters most is that you can say you were true to your path, you applied yourself wholly and fully to the work you are here to do. Anyone can take issue with your path, your style, your person, but only you have the capacity to discern if the criticism holds value in application or if the value resides in a lesson about humanity, humility, and ego. Fortunately for you, Kino, you have a strong, rooted practice that helps you to be both discerning and open. Thank you for sharing it so earnestly and honestly.

    Regarding 'Mysore Magic' complaints: It may not have been an issue of disliking your methods as much as an issue of respect and privacy that caused some of your mat neighbors concern. It is usually the on set producer or production assistant who is responsible for gathering signed video release forms on film sets. From the credits on 'Mysore Magic' it is clear this was an intimate crew. However, whether it is a full blown network production, an indie YouTube clip, or a snapshot for your personal viewing, the way to honor and respect those you are filming is to ask first.

  47. Shari says:

    This criticism clearly comes from the insecurities of others. Anyone who has spent any time with Kino, knows what an amazingly knowledgable and humble teacher she is. She is nothing but an inspiration!!!! We love Kino – short shorts and all!

  48. hannfay says:

    Yes, this criticism come from people who are insecure and want to say that they’re good, know more.. blah blah even maybe they are. People naturally find something to say whether its true or bad, something to make it wrong when its not.. Simply because everyone has it own opinion, and Yes we can’t please everybody and justify to everyone as well…

    Important is that you focus more on the positive side and continue inspiring people for what you do, you’re such an inspiration for me first and I’m sure more than thousand(s) others..

    There’s nothing wrong by your choices of clothes, as a teacher is good to show how your body moves on all position and us student could easily see ourselves and understand to better apply in our own practice.. If all teacher could be like that it could be better, but they simply not.. lot’s of morals, custom or even audience issue or consideration.. so be it…

    I like your way of teaching though I only know and see you online by watching your videos and seeing your awesome pictures.. You inspired me to practice Ashtanga.

    I agree to KEPuckett
    “What resonates most in this article is the assertion that we each have our own path and our own dharma. It is the human condition to project and judge. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, what matters most is that you can say you were true to your path, you applied yourself wholly and fully to the work you are here to do. Anyone can take issue with your path, your style, your person, but only you have the capacity to discern if the criticism holds value in application or if the value resides in a lesson about humanity, humility, and ego. Fortunately for you, Kino, you have a strong, rooted practice that helps you to be both discerning and open. Thank you for sharing it so earnestly and honestly.”

  49. 2m3gansee says:

    Bravo.

    To add: The 50% who respond with hate, experience that negativity for (hopefully) only a few moments out of their life. The 50% who "love" Kino, gain something from her work that transcends the emotional realm – the gift of inspiration and guidance that returns dividends.

    So it's not an even split. The benefits to the group of "lovers" appreciate her growth and work far beyond what impact any negative emotions have.

Leave a Reply