I recently had the honor of interviewing one of my favorite yoga teachers in the field, Kino MacGregor! Kino simply radiates strength, grace and beauty, and I’m sure we all have a question or two to ask her!
I tried to structure the questions so we could gain some insight into her past and her journey, as well as learn some fun facts about her! Enjoy!
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.
Kino currently travels the world sharing her message of yoga as a path to inner peace. She has produced three Ashtanga yoga DVDs , a yoga podcast and cofounded Miami Life Center.
Once Upon A Time
>>I understand that you are the youngest woman to have been certified by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. How does it feel to have this title, and can you briefly describe what your connection to Guruji was like? (What went through your mind the first time you met him?)
I am honored that Guruji considered me worthy to carry on the torch of Ashtanga Yoga with the Certification. The idea of being a Certified Ashtanga teacher was always something magical to me. When I first started the practice, I never thought I would be good enough to attain that level of recognition from my teacher. With slow dedication to the practice, something far greater than I ever imagined became possible.
I met Guruji in Mysore after I had been doing daily Mysore Style Ashtanga Yoga for less than a year. After the nearly 30-hour journey to get there, I can still remember the exhaustion and excitement when I first walked down the back alley to the Old Shala in Lakshmipuram and saw Guruji for the first time. My heart opened before my mind could question the idea of a Guru-Disciple relationship, and a deeper place than I had ever felt before surrendered into everything that Guruji ultimately was and still is for me. The amazing thing was that nothing went through my mind when I met him, but what my heart did was open powerfully to a whole new level of being and living that would take years for me to actually realize.
>>You didn’t attend your first yoga class until your were 19, but how old were you when the idea of yoga first sparked in your mind? What sparked it? Were you practicing prior to attending your first class?
I had never tried yoga before my first class. I was never a dancer, or gymnast or anything physical, so I didn’t have any exposure to movement potential in the body. I was academically inclined and devoted my full attention to studying in school. I was, however, always interested in alternative and complimentary healing practices, and I had tried massage therapy, energy healing, acupuncture and other healing modalities outside the realm of Western medical science. This was something that I can always remember being open to and experimenting with from the time I was a small child.
When I was around 16, I started going to the gym for exercise, and then the people in my gym started attending a yoga class. I do not know what exactly it was that drew my attention to yoga, but when I saw people turned upside down in headstand I was definitely attracted and wanted to try. So, I made up my mind that one day after an aerobics class I would stay and try the yoga class. I am so happy that I did, because that one class opened up my mind to what would unfold to be my life’s mission.
>>What did you get your Master’s degree in at NYU? And how did you ever find the time to get your Master’s during that seven years of intense practice and travel?
I actually completed my Master’s degree in just two years at New York University. The degree is a social science degree that combines Feminist Studies, Anthropology and Political Science in the John W. Draper Program for Interdisciplinary Studies. My thesis combined these approaches to give a post-modern critique of the science that goes into contemporary agriculture. I used the apple as a test case for the way our epistemological paradigms are reflected and ultimately entrenched within agricultural practices. I compared conventional, organic, genetically modified and biodynamic agriculture and the particular theory of thought, gender forms and social views that each manifested.
I found yoga right at the beginning of my post-graduate studies, so I was in student mode when I began yoga. I actually think being a graduate student helped me have the time to immerse myself in yoga study, too.
>>>In your bio it says that you began your “real self practice” after your first trip to India. What did “real self practice” entail for you?
When I returned from my first trip to Mysore I felt so strongly that Guruji was my teacher that I decided to practice at home in between my trips to Mysore. Many people call Mysore Style practice self-practice and it is self-directed, but you have the energy of the group and a teacher to guide you. When you unroll your mat alone with no one else around, no teacher, no other students, it is truly a self-practice.
Fast Forward to Now
>>Could you tell us a bit about your diet? How has it influenced your practice? What kind of a diet do you recommend to an aspirant looking to refine and take their practice to the next level? (I have an inkling that raw foods do something to the physiology that allow the body to be more balanced and malleable making difficult and otherwise impossible asanas a reality.)
I eat a simple, vegetarian diet. The principle of Ahimsa, or non-harming is the single most important guideline for yoga practitioners, and the way choices in food reflect that is a moral code yoga practitioners ideally embrace.
I’ve tried the raw foods diet and I think it can be a truly healing and cleansing diet. However, I found it too rigid to embrace on a daily basis for me personally. A balanced mind is really the key to a peaceful diet for me, and a simple vegetarian diet gives me enough room to feel happy and indulgent sometimes, too.
>>I understand you are in the process of learning the fourth series. Who is teaching this to you now?
R. Sharath Jois, Guruji’s grandson and head of the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, is my teacher now. While he cannot replace Guruji, having a place to go to be a student is immensely helpful and I would say necessary as a teacher. Tim Miller also visits my yoga center in Miami and he is a truly gifted teacher who carries Guruji’s lineage with him wherever he teaches.
>>Of asanas, pranayama and meditation, which do you enjoy the most and why?
I go through periods where I enjoy and benefit from one more than the other, but the asana practice is my foundation for all other spiritual practice that I do. Without the basic cleansing and healing of the body, I would not be able to easily perform the other more esoteric practices.
>>I have personally been trying to master the handstand for quite some time now and am finding it to be an incredibly difficult task! How long did it take you to learn to do handstands, and do you have any tips for any other yogis out there working to gain this type of inverse balance?
It took me nearly five years of dedicated attempts to balance in a handstand. One thing to remember is that balance is a state of mind. If you try so hard that you loose your balance while trying, then handstand becomes impossible. It helped me to break the posture down into small, digestible bits that I could work on every day, while remaining calm and balanced.
>>Do you have any advice for the beginner yogi/aspirant?
Just keep practicing and believe in the limitless potential of the human spirit!
>>So what is your favorite asana?
My favorite asana is anything that challenges me way beyond what I would normally do. I’m working on a very hard posture right now in fourth series that I’ve nicknamed “run around the world”. From headstand you literally walk around your head three times to the left and another three times to right and finally flip back over. I’m trying this challenging movement and I love it because it pushes me right to the limit of what I believe is possible.
Thanks, Kino! You are simply amazing!
Brittany Trubridge (B.A. Psychology), creator of B-Tru Yoga™, is a 500h RYT, a 300h certified Ayurvedic Counselor and a Reiki Master with specialties in acupressure, crystal and chakra therapies. As well as being the ambassador for Yogasana Yoga Mats and a contributor to MindBodyGreen, Origin Magazine and Elephant Journal, Brittany is also a freediver and the wife of 15-time World Record holding freediver, William Trubridge. Classically trained in Hatha Yoga, Brittany also has a great depth of experience in Ashtanga, Pranayama and Vedanta. Brittany currently teaches workshops worldwide and is available via Skype for private lessons. You can also connect with her via facebook and twitter.
Editor: Sara McKeown