August 30, 2013

The City of (Yoga) Light with Kino MacGregor.

Yoga does not take place in our comfort zone; yoga takes place at edge of our limits.”

Kino MacGregor

The City of Light transformed into a Yoga sanctuary while hosting internationally recognized Ashtangi, Kino MacGregor. More than sixty practitioners awaited her teachings during the three-day intensive organized by Linda Munro & Gérald Disse at Ashtanga Yoga Paris.

The Yoga Sutras

The Yoga Sutras was the point of depart to the journey. Through an interesting and concise lecture coupled to chanting, Kino led us through key concepts of the Yoga Sutras; especially the importance of understanding Samkhya, apart from Yoga, one of the six Indian schools of thought written in Sanskrit, the language of Yoga.

Kino gave us an overall approach on Samkhya’s dualistic approach of Purusha—consciousness and Prakriti—material universe; relating to the way in which we first attempt to understand the gross elements of our physical body, and as we advance in our practice, we are able to perceive the subtler elements of our consciousness and spirit.

Knowledgeable about yoga’s history and Indian philosophies, she expressed the way in which she felt inspired and fully devoted to the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali was able to democratize the spiritual path to anyone and everyone wanting to fully commit; hence, fully rejecting any possible spiritual hierarchy.

“Patanjali was able to integrate both orthodox schools including Samkhya, Vedanta and Yoga, as well Buddhism, as the non-orthodox one,” she stated.

Through call and response, we chanted and discussed a couple of sutras including 1.1. Atha yoga anushasanam—now, the study of yoga begins and 1.2 Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodah—yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of the consciousness.

You no study the Yoga Sutras, You confuse yourself” narrated Kino as the anecdote every time she asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, her Guru in Mysore, India, if she could use the Yoga Sutras to guide her philosophical studies.

Kino’s insights to the Sutras coupled to her anecdotes while studying in Mysore, were fun and helpful in understanding the way in which our Yoga practice becomes our “lifelong relationship”, as she related.

Led Full-Primary Series & Mysore-Style Practice

During the morning Led Full-Primary Series, Kino guided the class in Sanskrit assisted by Linda & Gérald, senior teachers and founders of Ashtanga Yoga Paris.

Ekam, inhale as we started flowing through the Surya Namaskaras and standing poses. The counting was slow and steady taking us through the physical and emotional discomfort of the asana practice, fully focusing on equalizing the Ujjayi inhalations and exhalations, as well as flowing in a step-by-step Vinyasa manner.

“Don’t give, up. Good job. Great, yes you can” repeatedly pronounced Kino as any sound of false dukha (suffering) echoed the room or any extreme forceful Ujjayi took over anyone’s breath.

In the Mysore style, Kino was fully dedicated to taking each and everyone to the edge of our limits through safe hands-on adjustments.

Personally, my physical body was at bliss as she took me a couple of tiny steps forward in my practice. Poses I have been working with dedication for some time seemed to flow easily into my mind and digest into my body. Kino gave me “to do” little projects that fully inspired my journey, and most importantly, proved my mind that yes, it is up to me to do it.

“Here is were the Agni (the purifying fire takes) over and leads us to pure self-transformation. Yoga is about Nirodah, the cease of misidentification with an external world, with temporal suffering.”

We must find the ability to take over our nervous system, going beyond our mental limitations. In times of fear, stress, pain, or panic is where the Yoga truly happens, where we are challenged to find the balance out of comfort zone, to train the mind in times of temporary emotional and physical difficulties, she explained.

Afternoon Sessions

During the afternoon sessions in hands-on and partner-style workshops, we delved upon Twisting into our Center, Fearless Backbends, and Arm Balances with a unique approach to fully strengthening the physical body as a vital tool to progress in the yogic path.

Kino’s energetic and passionate Yogic heart fully embraces the traditional Ashtanga Yoga Practice, as taught by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Her teaching approach, guides the practice as a “to do” project, as a point of depart to building the strength and flexibility in our gross physical body needed to eventually attain higher states of consciousness.

She believes is vital to purify and train the body with constant practice, to be in the capacity of clearing up the mind and finding steadiness and comfort in our Eight-fold path. Hence, eventually going to the subtler levels and being able to battle our Kleshas, the afflictions that keep us off-balance and constantly experiencing fluctuations and emotional complexity in our minds. These are Avidya (spiritual ignorance), Asmita (misidentification), Raga (attachment),  Dvesha (aversion) and Abhinivesha (fear to death).

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. Namaste.” were the words that flow through the room as Kino finished every session.

She was fully grateful to all, especially for the hard work each and everyone put into the practice. She was also very grateful with Linda & Gérald for hosting her in Paris.

“Keep practicing…” were Kino’s last words before heading to her next yoga stop. It was a fabulous intensive, where laughs full of curiosity and eyes of admiration took over the City of Light.

Kino inspired us to fully embrace our self-practice as an exploration of the real magic that lies deep within ourselves.




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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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