I had a chance to record this episode with Kino “live”. And what a difference it makes!
Kino is one of those teachers that barely needs introduction because she is super famous, she has a quarter million subscribers to her YouTube channel, 679,000 followers on Instagram, 43,000 followers on Twitter and another quarter million (almost) Facebook likes to her page.
She has also been on the cover of Yoga Journal many times.
She is one of those rare teachers who has gone very deep down the asana route.
She is currently learning the 5th series of Ashtanga Yoga which is the equivalent of performing an athletic feast worth of many gold medals at the olympics, and she is a pleasure to talk to.
What is Special About Kino
Reading “Sacred Fire” I feel like her life unfolded as a fairy tale. I wish I had gotten into yoga so early. She started traveling to India in her early 20s.
But it was not all fairy tale.
She also had to take a lot of heat from the “yoga police”. Sometimes for wearing shorts!
She has been bashed and criticized for her outreach and for trying to expand the circle of people she reaches with her passion, which is yoga. And we talked about that too.
Today the Miami Life Center is a vibrant street front studio on 6th street in South Beach. It is always filled with yoga practitioners and a warm energy. There are great instructors always present, with assistants. They also have workshops going on all the time.
Kino’s extraordinary ability in asana and how to teach it results in large numbers of students joining her wherever she goes.
And the best part about Kino is that she comes with Tim [Feldman], who is also a very advanced and serious practitioner and her husband. Together they created the center. I hope to have Tim on the podcast soon as well.
What We Talked About
– Her beginnings with yoga… Her first class
– Kino meets Govinda, her first teacher of Ashtanga
– Her first trip to Mysore
– Meeting Tim and the love story
– The hardships of a long distance relationship
– Her first Vipassana Silent Meditation 10 day retreat, and her second…
– Discovering body image issues around her legs and hips. I could relate.
– Opening the Miami Life Center – It was NOT easy
– How she deals with haters
– The stereotypes around women being flexible and men stronger – Not necessarily true
– What took Kino a very long time to understand
Books and DVDs By Kino
The Power Of Ashtanga Yoga The Primary Series [Book]
The Power Of Ashtanga Yoga II: The Intermedia Series [Book]
Audio CD The Mantra Collection
Announcer: Welcome to The Yoga Podcast, keeping it real, with your host, Claudia Azula Altucher.
Claudia Altucher: Hey, it’s me, Claudia. Thanks for listening to the podcast. I’m really grateful to all of you who’ve been giving me some amazing feedback. I wanted to give you a little – very quick intro to this special episode. I actually interviewed Kino in person and that was the first time I did this, because I’ve been doing ridiculous hours of waking up to interview people who are in Asia, Japan, Bali, Australia, and then some other teachers that are not so far, but it was never really – even though that Skype face-to-face, sometimes you are able to do it, it was different to do it at the studio.
And I was also in Miami, so I was practicing in the studio, and I thought that was something that was very interesting. We arrived about half an hour early, and opening the door, there was one of Kino’s senior teachers. His name is Patrick Noland, and he recognized me from prior times that I’ve practiced at the Miami Life Center, and we started to talk, you know, sort of introduction. Kino was doing a final exam for some students on another room, so what I found curious that I wanted to share with you is the schedule that Patrick told me he had had on that day.
And I had it in a recording on my phone, but I apologize, I can’t put it here ’cause the quality is really bad and I didn’t want it to affect you, but he told me that on that day, he had woken up at 4:00 AM to walk his dog and then he taught, at 6:00 AM, a Mysore class all the way to 8:30 AM, then he was gonna practice his own practice – he does something serious, something really advanced. Then he was gonna go and – no, then he was gonna teach a led class. So instead of Mysore, a led class is very – he actually does the count and all the students go at the same time, and then, after that, he was going to drive to the other side of town to give a one-hour private lesson.
So I thought that was very eye-opening for all of us who are thinking, “Oh, I would really like to be a yoga teacher,” because I think it may put things in perspective a little. I couldn’t believe the level of activity that Patrick had on that day. But anyways, we chit-chatted for a little bit, and then Kino finished her class and exams, and we started talking. And so here she is, Kino MacGregor.
Claudia Altucher: Okay, so – yeah. Okay. So before we start, Kino, I just want to say that I’m a little jealous of you.
[Laughter] Actually, not a little, but a lot, and it happened because I started reading Sacred Fire, which is a book that it feels very confidential, like you tell a lot of little stories that are not in a proper, you know, Ashtanga book, and it felt like a fairytale, like a really good fairytale. So it’s the good kind of envy, but – [laughs] – at the same time, it’s envy.
So – but I want to introduce you to my listeners although you don’t quite need that much introduction, but Kino MacGregor is an international yoga teacher. She is the author of two books, The Power of Ashtanga Yoga and Sacred Fire, and you have another one coming up, which we’ll talk about soon. She’s also the producer of six Ashtanga yoga DVDs. She’s the co-founder of Miami Life Center, and the founder of the Miami Yoga Magazine. Now, the amazing thing about her is her YouTube channel has almost five million views, her Instagram account has 514,000 followers, and she has almost 40,000 followers on Twitter. Amazing.
Kino is one of the select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga yoga by its founder, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of India, and she was – you received this before the age of 30, which is an amazing accomplishment. Welcome to The Yoga Podcast, Kino.
Kino MacGregor: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Claudia Altucher: I’m very happy that you not only joined me but you let me do it here in the Miami Life Center. You were just doing a final exam or something like that?
Kino MacGregor: There was a course, an intensive course, that we just wrapped up right before Christmas.
Claudia Altucher: Ah, okay, so that was the end of it and then – that was very interesting. We have some sounds of that, so…
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. Right.
Claudia Altucher: So as I said before, I’m a little envious of you. Yoga came so easy, in a way, and at the same time, not so easy. You were very young. You were 19 or so?
Kino MacGregor: I was 19 when I did my first yoga class, and it was not an Ashtanga yoga class; it was a Sivananda class, more focused on relaxation and sort of a restorative view of how to use the postures, and I did my first Ashtanga yoga class when I was 22 years old, and it was really then that I kind of committed to doing the practice more regularly.
Claudia Altucher: Right, and you said in this book that I find fascinating, Sacred Fire, that you were looking for every kind of exercise before that. You had done Zumba and aerobics, all kinds of things, but something clicked for you in the yoga right away. What would you say – what was it, do you think? ‘Cause you went to a class and the instructor even said to you, “Do what you can,” right?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. My first Ashtanga yoga class, the thing that really sort of resonated for me was that the practice answered a searching, sort of a latent searching that I’m not sure I was aware of consciously. But when I did the practice, there was something that really settled inside of me, and it instinctively drew me back to keep practicing, and so that’s really the first and probably most fundamental feeling to really go deeper into the yoga path.
Claudia Altucher: And then, at the age of 22, you find yourself in New York City, right?
Kino MacGregor: Exactly, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: And you were studying something in the university?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, I moved to New York City after some years of sort of just partying and kind of losing yourself in youth and fun and this sort of thing, and I moved to New York City to join a Master’s degree program from New York University, and I sort of thought, “Well, I’m gonna get my life back on track.” That’s sort of what I thought. I thought that I would go to graduate school and maybe get a Ph.D. and get some internships and sort of get a real job and that sort of thing. But when I moved to New York, what actually happened is that I joined a traditional Mysore-style class, and that, for me, really solidified my connection to daily practice. I never thought that I would do yoga every day. It’s not something that I, “Oh, I’m gonna do yoga every day.”
Claudia Altucher: I don’t think anyone thinks that.
Kino MacGregor: No, yeah, I mean, some people are sort of all-or-nothing. Some people who are fitness-oriented people or they go to the gym every day or something like that, I never had any physical discipline before yoga, so it was never really like – I didn’t have a daily fitness regimen or routine, not when I was growing up, or really anything. I would work out randomly or something like that.
So when I moved to New York and I joined the Mysore-style class, the teacher, he said to me, “This class meets six days a week. You can come at 8:00.” And there was no option to come three days a week or drop in or something like that. It was just sort of like, “You’re here every day or you don’t do it.” So I came every day, and after my first week, I could barely move my arms, and after about a month, I had changed my sleep cycle, and after three months, I wanted to change the way that I was eating. It changed everything about my life ’cause now I had this thing I did every day in the morning, and it required me to make different lifestyle decisions and different lifestyle choices.
And very quickly, after that first class, I got the inspiration to actually go to India, to go to Mysore. So I actually got that inspiration and I followed that dream, really, all the way to Mysore, to India, where I met ____, I met Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Claudia Altucher: But before that, I even want to point out the teacher that said to you, “This meets six times a week,” he’s just no ordinary teacher either, right? [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: Right, no, this was Govinda. His name was Russell at the time, so Govinda Kai, and –
Claudia Altucher: He’s an amazing teacher. He’s awesome like you are.
Kino MacGregor: He’s really awesome. He’s really, really awesome. Yeah, for sure.
Claudia Altucher: So it’s amazing, and you said he directed you to some books on – you had some struggles with food, like I think every woman in the planet. I know I do. He directed you to some books on eating, one called Conscious Eating, was it?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, for sure. I remember, after I had been practicing for maybe a couple of months, I remember looking at what I brought for lunch for my internship, and it was just this sort of hodgepodge of things, and I remember that dessert was Mentos, and I thought, “This doesn’t really seem so healthy,” and I kind of read the ingredients, and I was like, “What are even the ingredients in this?” It was like sugar and Red No. 5 and Blue No. 2 and Yellow No. 20, and I thought, “That doesn’t seem really good for me,” and I went to my yoga teacher and I said, “What recommendations do you have for how to eat in a correct yoga lifestyle?” And he said, “Well, you could try to read this book called Conscious Eating.
So I read that book and it really changed the way that I thought about things, and one of the most important takeaways from Conscious Eating was Gabriel Cousens, he sort of did this research, they cited this statistic where he said that if we took all of the grain that feeds the livestock for all of the animals that are raised for meat production and consumption and we took that grain and we fed that to people, then world hunger would end today.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: So if we just simply redistributed that grain, then all the people who are starving in underdeveloped countries and all the people who are homeless and starving in our own countries, we would be able to feed them all, and I thought –
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: I just really thought there was no moral and ethical argumentation for eating meat on even on that level. I care about the environment and I care about doing the right thing morally and ethically. And so pretty much after I read that paragraph, I pretty much woke up the next day and made the choice to vegetarian.
Claudia Altucher: Wow, radically, just like – and you haven’t come back to eating meat ever?
Kino MacGregor: No.
Claudia Altucher: Wow, and you’re fine? You never miss the protein or the –
Kino MacGregor: Well, I don’t –
Claudia Altucher: I mean, you do some pretty intense yoga moves.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. [Laughs] Yeah. I mean, I don’t miss the protein. I make a concerted effort to eat the vegetarian sources of protein, and if I’m feeling really depleted, like if I’m doing a lot of asana, I’m doing a lot of teaching, I make sure to maybe take a protein shake or something like that, that’s gonna help create sort of a balanced approach to nutrition. In the beginning, I really wasn’t into that. I just kinda stopped eating meat, just kinda ate whatever for a little while, but I mean, there’s a lot of argumentation about which is more health-related issue, and I really think that’s a personal decision that you need to figure out between you and your nutritionist or your doctor or something like that based on every individual’s health needs, ’cause some people have serious health concerns that maybe they need to eat a particular food or even a particular meat in order to sort of save their life, which is completely acceptable, but I don’t have anything like that.
Claudia Altucher: Right.
Kino MacGregor: I feel really good eating the vegetarian diet. I try to do the extreme version, where I was vegan for a while, and I’ve tried to be raw vegan for a while, and that was really extreme, and I did not feel so healthy.
Claudia Altucher: It’s hard.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it was really difficult and I really felt sort of – I don’t know – a little too restrictive. It felt a little bit almost like an addiction on some level for me. Other people do it and they don’t feel like that, but I did.
And so you asked me if I ever miss the protein. I don’t miss protein, like, I haven’t eaten meat for so long that even when I see it, it kind of – I start to think about it and makes me physically uncomfortable when I think about what that was and what that came from. Like, that was a being and it had a life, and then now it’s sitting there, cooked, you know, like your thigh muscle was once attached to you and then it would be cooked and served to someone. Kind of trips me out.
But what I do miss – and this is gonna sound completely random – what I do miss sometimes is the fun experience of it, you know, like a community experience of not having to be like, “Oh, do you have a vegetarian option?” or, “Do you have this?” or, you know, or you walk by and you – like, on the 4th of July in the United States and you smell barbecue. You know, barbecued vegetables also smell good, but when you smell barbecued meat and that sort of thing, none of those smells bother me, but there’s a community aspect that I think slowly is starting to shift, but 15 years ago, when I kinda made that choice or 14 years ago when I made that choice, it was really sort of like a flag in the North Pole, sort of staking out new territory.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: And there’s more options and you’re sort of less ostracized for making those choices now than maybe before.
Claudia Altucher: Than back then, yes. And so is it true, then, when you got to India for the first time, I believe you were 22 or something? 23? You had no hair?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. So one of the things that I did in my first year of practice is, when I was practicing, it seemed like this was the first time that I really began to question all the choices that I’d made up until then. Before yoga, again, I had no physical discipline. I was either an academic, or when I wasn’t studying, I was intensively partying. So I sort of had this party on the weekends, study during the week, and somehow it all managed to balance itself out.
Claudia Altucher: Typical New Yorker.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, typical Miami Beach too, you know, Miami Beach.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, something more typical East Coast, something like that. So what I did was, slowly, I realized, “Well – ” so I was looking at my clothes and I thought, “Well, who am I when I wear these clothes? Is this me or am I trying to put on – am I trying to be the party girl or am I trying to be the studious girl or am I trying to be this girl or that girl?” So I gave away almost all my clothes and then I used to have so many different colors of hair. I used to have light blue hair, red hair, and then I had orange hair and strawberry-colored hair. I used to have all these crazy colors. I used to wear wigs and then cut it and grow it and cut it in weird ways and all these kinda strange things, and then, I don’t know, I was sitting there in New York after I practiced for a little bit, and I just kinda got fed up with just
Claudia Altucher: The whole thing.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, all this – I just thought, “What am I – what is this?” And you know, I get a haircut and think, “Oh, it should be like this, it should be like that.” And then the other thing is that you sweat so much in the Ashtanga practice, so I got so tired of, like, every day, here I was, fussing with my hair, and I thought, “I’m just – I need to get rid out of it. It’s gone.” I throw it out like I throw out all my clothes. So I went and I just cut it off, just shave it, like, get rid of it, and –
Claudia Altucher: But that was also kind of like the objective in which you landed. You were like, “I don’t believe in anything. Don’t tell me there’s a guru or anything like that. I don’t buy anything. I’m questioning everything.” But you say you arrived at The Shala and you sort of melted.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly. So I – well, part of my graduate degree was in feminist studies, so there’s this whole notion of creating the equalization of gender roles and not sort of simply surrendering based on a pre-existing hierarchy, something like that. So I questioned the notion of needing to bow down to a guru. I questioned the notion of needing, for a woman, particularly, to bow down to a man and whether that was sort of an entrenched patriarchal system that was merely being imposed on female yoga practitioners.
So I was sitting there, and for almost like the 48 hours, the 2 days before I met Guruji, all I thought about, I was this little hot mess about like, “Ugh, I’m not going to bow down to him. This is a really outdated custom and it has to do with the Indian patriarchal assumptions about female subjugation and the role of women in history and I’m not gonna do that,” and I’d talk to people and they’d be like, “Oh, okay, well, so don’t do it. You don’t have to do it,” and I was like, “Right, I’m not gonna do it,” and I was like – you know, “I’m gonna take that stance. I’m not gonna do it.” And then when I got to India, I got dropped off. The taxi dropped me off at the Guruji’s Shala, right –
Claudia Altucher: And this is something that used to happen. I don’t think it ever happens anymore. Now there’s hundreds and hundreds of –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, now –
Claudia Altucher: But you were dropped there at the door, like all students –
Kino MacGregor: Exact – I was dropped there. My luggage hadn’t arrived so I literally had nothing. I had this weird backpack that I’d very intelligently didn’t pack anything in except for, like, bug spray. So I arrived there with my backpack and my bug spray and I walked up to the practice room, and there was maybe two people practicing at that time, and Guruji was standing there, and I remember I looked into his eyes, and before I could question, it’s like my heart sort of cracked open for him. So my hands are on his feet, really, before I could intellectually question and intellectually pose all of these very sort of thought-out and rational questions about what happened.
Claudia Altucher: And I find that very visceral because I like when those things happen. You have kind of like a recognition of something that’s happen that has to do with your – you mentioned you had a dream, also, before you –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: – where you saw him, I think?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, absolutely.
Claudia Altucher: So it was kind of like marks along your path that, yes, you’re on the right path or something like that.
Kino MacGregor: For sure, for sure.
Claudia Altucher: And so there, you did your first year, and you know, this is like one of those where it sounds like a fairytale. And I know it’s not. I know it wasn’t easy, but it sounds sometimes – and the way you write this book is also very beautiful, very poetic, kind of like a novel, so you get all the feelings, but on the second trip to India, you went in trying to love yourself, you said, was your intention, and you ended up finding something else. What did you find?
Kino MacGregor: Well, I met my husband on my second trip to India, which was really interesting because I had just sort of gotten out of one relationship, and what was really clear was that I had spent so many times in my life not really derailing my life, but sort of chasing love, you know, chasing love through relationships rather than sort of chasing love into the inner experience and sort of trying to fill myself up from the inside. So that was my intention on my second trip to India. Actually, I saved enough money to buy an around-the-world plane ticket, and I made all these sort of destination stops that I wanted to go to that were all sort of me in my own journey.
Claudia Altucher: Including Iraq, was it?
Kino MacGregor: Oh, I flew through Kuwait is what happened. Yeah, I flew through Kuwait.
Claudia Altucher: Oh, scary.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it was right after the Iraq War and all – there were so many people that – it was a really cheap ticket, was what it was.
Claudia Altucher: Oh, I see.
Kino MacGregor: You can imagine, I –
Claudia Altucher: So it wasn’t the thing about, “I wanna go see the war zone.” It was more of a cheap ticket. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: No, no, no, no. It was just the fly-over. It was a transit connection, that’s all. No, I would – I wanted to go to Nepal and I did go to Nepal, but no, I didn’t – I didn’t think I was prepared to go to the Middle East by myself at that time. But I did, at this – at the layover in Kuwait City, when we transferred – so I landed in from New York and I was the only western woman in the entire airport at the time, and I was a little intimidated by that.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: I was just – this got intense, you know? And I had short hair ’cause my hair had been shaved and it was, like, that long, so it had grown out that much since the last time I had shaved it, and I was like, “Eh.”
Claudia Altucher: Like __ ___…
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exact – I was like, “Eh, I’ll just let it go,” so who knows if they thought I was a lost boy? Who really knows, you know? And I remember that I got on the plane, and when I got on the plane, I looked around the plane, and the stewardess was really nice. They moved me to a place where I could lie down and – you know, the only western woman on the plane, and like, “Oh, let me move _____ the girls,” is probably what they thought. I’m sure I looked real young, you know, ___ ___ ___ _____, and then I got up to go to the bathroom and I looked and I saw – there was another westerner on the airplane.
Yeah, I thought, like, “Ooh, maybe I’d talk with him, you know, ’cause we’re gonna land in India,” and there was all Indians and Middle Eastern people, and I thought, “Wow, I don’t really know – ” this was a new place in India that I hadn’t been to. I was landing in Trivandrum, which is in Kerala, and I hadn’t been there, and I just thought, “Well, it’d be nice to just talk with someone.” But he was talking to the person who sat next to him for the whole trip. So I thought, “Oh, he’s probably not the yoga person. He’s probably like a businessman ’cause he’s talking to this guy the whole trip.” And finally – the whole trip, I couldn’t catch his attention and neither going through customs or anything like that, and then finally, when I walked into the baggage carousel, he was coming out, and I looked at him and I said, “Hey, are you doing that yoga thing?” And then he looked at me and he said, “Yeah,” and he said, “Do you wanna share a taxi?” And I was like, “Sure.” So we started –
Claudia Altucher: You just went for it. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: We started talking. I wasn’t thinking, like, “Let’s start a relationship.” I was really thinking, “Hey, it’d be cool to share a taxi with someone to figure out _____ places.” [Inaudible due to crosstalk]
Claudia Altucher: But you were feeling some kind of a –
Kino MacGregor: Not really, no.
Claudia Altucher: He’s a cute guy, you have to admit.
Kino MacGregor: Not until we got – he’s definitely a really attractive guy, definitely agree, but it didn’t register for me until we got into the taxi together.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: When we got into the taxi together, I actually felt in my body, I felt, like, a visceral response in my body, like, “Ooh, I like this – ” like, there was a charge. So it was less of – there was less of this kind of like, “Ooh, he’s attractive, let me go try to be with him.” It was really – I sort of introduced myself from the perspective of fellow traveler, and then only when we were actually physically close, then there was this kinda charge. And what’s kind of funny is that after that, I don’t know, we were friends and talking and this sort of thing, and I made all of these sort of, in my world, these open signals to him to let him know that I was kind of interested, and for him, he came from this perspective of if you really like someone, you really take it slow. And so – but ___ ___ ___ is I – for the first week – in India, a week feels like a month, you know? It’s like, ’cause every hour –
Claudia Altucher: There’s nothing to do.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, you just sit there and stare at the wall, you know? And then if you’re not staring at the wall, you’re wondering about what other people staring at the wall are doing. So I would occasionally leave my position staring at the wall to go knock on his door, you know? And so I did that a couple of times and he didn’t do anything, you know? And at some moment, he kissed me on the cheek and then he was – I talked to him after, and he was trying to be respectful, but I remember thinking, “He must be gay. I mean – ” you know, ’cause I sort of went there and sat on his bed and –
Claudia Altucher: And nothing, like – [laughs]
Kino MacGregor: Nothing happened, no, and he was like, “Oh, you wanna meet for a coffee later?” And it’s like, “Oh, okay, not really what I was thinking, but sure, coffee later.” And it took a really long time, and I kind of gave up and I thought, “He must – ” you know, I was not interested, and maybe he’s gay or something like that, and I thought, “Well, okay, just leave it at that.” But then finally it did – it did ____. [Laughs]
Claudia Altucher: And through emails later on. Like, it took a very long time. You took a really ____ __ ____. [Inaudible due to crosstalk]
Kino MacGregor: ___ long relationship for sure. [Inaudible due to crosstalk]
Claudia Altucher: Do you think that helped your relationship? You know?
Kino MacGregor: Well, I mean, I would say that one of the things that’s interesting about long-distance relationships is that I think it’s both good and bad, because what happened is neither of us wanted a relationship. I was on this sort of personal journey and my husband, Tim, he had just gotten out of a marriage, so he was just recently divorced, and he didn’t want a new relationship. And he had just been divorced from someone from Venezuela, and he felt like, “I don’t want another one of you people from the south that’s gonna hate my country in the north.” He’s like, “I know what – ”
Claudia Altucher: Makes total sense.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, I had just been in a relationship with someone from Canada and I thought, “Oh, I don’t need another northerner – ”
Claudia Altucher: Another person from the north. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: ” – who’s gonna blow up if they come visit me in Miami from the heat,” and I thought, “No,” and I thought – but anyhow, so we were both like, “No, we can have one month of a romance in India,” and then we both meant to sort of leave it. And then we couldn’t. We kept on emailing and emailing, and what’s interesting about email was that you can –
Claudia Altucher: It was new, for starters.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it was new, and it was – for him, it was easier ’cause he could – he had the computer and the Internet connection before me. It was like, I did not – had no – it was India without Internet.
Claudia Altucher: There was nothing.
Kino MacGregor: There was no mobile Internet. There were these Internet cafes with these sort of large tanks of computers, you know, and it had this round thing at the front, and I remember there was one dial-up connection for all of the computers in the Internet café. So what would happen is you would – I remember I would bring a book every time and I would put, you know, “mail.yahoo.com” ’cause I finally figured out that you didn’t have to put “yahoo.com.” “Mail.yahoo.com.” Open up to your login page. Then I would – as I clicked out, then I would read through pages of the book. I would look up, “Ooh, it’s loaded.” Then I put my login. Send. Read three more pages.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: I’m also a faster reader, so I would read – and then I look, “Okay. Oh, it’s open. Fantastic.” Then I start writing, look and see if there was an email. And then – this happened the first time. After writing this very intensive email, there was a power cut. I lost my email. It was terrible, and I thought – I was ready to cry ’cause I had poured my heart and soul into these emails, you know? And then I learned a trick, which was that you would – I have to open a Word document and simultaneously write your email, saving it each minute. So if there was a power cut, you could always return to that computer. And so this is the techniques that I had to go through.
Claudia Altucher: Oh my God, unbelievable. Thank God for these times right now.
Kino MacGregor: [Laughs] It’s completely different. People say, “Ooh, I’m afraid to go to Mysore,” and I think, “What are you afraid of?”
Claudia Altucher: Now it’s like nothing.
Kino MacGregor: It’s fine, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: It’s totally – and you can have it in your bedroom.
Kino MacGregor: It’s fine.
Claudia Altucher: So in this second trip that you were there, you learned all of the second series right there. So it was kind of like one of those – it was a different time. I’m not sure this happens that often right now, from what I hear.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, I’m not sure it happens that often pretty much ever. It was really this crazy thing. I don’t really – it wasn’t really happening to – that often –
Claudia Altucher: Back then.
Kino MacGregor: No.
Claudia Altucher: Right, yeah, and then – but you also found that you had a pull for the other aspects as well. I mean, you found love, which is a great thing. I find that very interesting that you found love when you were looking to love yourself.
Kino MacGregor: Exactly.
Claudia Altucher: I think that’s amazing.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah.
Claudia Altucher: But then you also found there was something more that you wanted out of yoga. You love the asana and you clearly had a talent for it, but you started exploring Vipassana.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: And there were two discoveries that I found very, very eye-opening that you mentioned. You had one during a tremendous summer and one during another Vipassana, but the one I remember has to do with something in your leg.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: Can you tell us what you found? Because I think – I related to that very much.
Kino MacGregor: Well, as a little girl growing up, one of the things that I remember sort of the – maybe my first memory about body image was being self-conscious about the shape of my legs because I remember someone making a comment about, “Oh, you’re putting on a little weight down there. You don’t wanna get thunder thighs,” or something like that, or, “You don’t want your legs to be like big tree stumps,” or something like that, or, “Watch out, you’re gonna get cottage cheese thighs when you’re older,” and this sort of thing.
Claudia Altucher: Ow. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: And I remember hearing these things from – – either my – just people around, you know, whether it was someone –
Claudia Altucher: People that mean no harm but they –
Kino MacGregor: Exactly, or –
Claudia Altucher: But it happen –
Kino MacGregor: You know, someone’s older sister saying something like that, and it just sticks inside of you, or someone’s mom to all of the little girls that are there, complaining about what we’re eating, saying that we have to watch what we eat, so trying to – and make it helpful, like, trying to create, you know, the inspiration to live healthfully, and then so that was my takeaway. It wasn’t like, “Ooh, I should try to eat salad.” It was like, “Ooh, my thighs are fat.” So – you know, and then what happened for me was – also because of, I would say, conflicted relationship with my body in many other ways, sort of my legs and the area sort of around – from my hips – so from my belly button down to about the middle of my thighs was sort of the reservoir for every ounce of self-hatred and self-denigrating thoughts.
Claudia Altucher: I’m exactly the same thing and I can bet that a big percentage of the people listening probably have this issue.
Kino MacGregor: Right, something like that, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: Because it’s impossible to live up to advertising, Photoshop, and that.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, yeah, the reshaping of the body, you know?
Claudia Altucher: Yeah.
Kino MacGregor: I remember doing that as a little girl, standing in front of the mirror and holding my thighs from the back and be like, “Ooh, it would be so nice if it were like that, just shave off this or shave off that.”
Claudia Altucher: I do that now.
Kino MacGregor: I hear you, so…
Claudia Altucher: I know, it’s painful, I know.
Kino MacGregor: Totally, and –
Claudia Altucher: But you find noticing it during – it helps.
Kino MacGregor: Well, sort of what happened for me was that I wasn’t even aware that this was happening. I wasn’t aware that the body could actually store these thoughts and memories. All I knew is that when I started in my yoga practice, I couldn’t feel my hip joints. I just couldn’t feel them.
Claudia Altucher: Really?
Kino MacGregor: People would talk about like, “Ooh, you wanna open your hips or externally rotate or internally rotate,” and I would kind of put my legs in the movement. So even though I could put my leg down at this point, I couldn’t feel what was going on in my hip joint.
So when I went to Vipassana, there’s a moment in Vipassana where you’re asked to heal your body from the inside out. So when I got to the area of my hips, as soon as I put my attention there, it’s like I felt all of the self-directed negative thoughts that I’d ever thought. I felt them. And I didn’t think them, but I felt them. So I felt like, “Oh, I hate my body. I hate my legs, my fat thighs, the thunder thighs.” I felt all of that, and I was just sitting there. And it sat there like a band, like it just kind of, like, sat there, and as I felt them, it’s like each one of those thoughts, each time that I thought that, it had sort of taken residence there and had blocked my feeling in my body and had blocked my life energy there. And as soon as I started to feel it, I noticed these tears just starting to roll down, roll from my eyes, and I was really – I didn’t know what to do with it.
And the instruction in Vipassana is, remain equanimous. Don’t do anything forward or do anything against. So if you’re feeling this intense emotions, don’t play it up but don’t try to suppress it. Just observe it. So if you have tears, be aware of the tears. If there are thoughts that are arising, be aware of the thoughts. Return to the technique. So that’s what I did, and it was really powerful, because for the first time in my life, I was not subject to the experience of my emotions. So the emotions weren’t driving my chain of awareness. I was driving the chain of awareness even though intense emotionality was there.
The second thing was that I, for the first time, felt a part of my body that was previously just a big, black area. I didn’t feel it. It was like a black hole, really, and I remember feeling – it took me almost two hours just to move my attention from the belly button down to the middle thighs, and it was really – it was almost like a lifetime of emotions that were there and just this intensive self-hatred that was there, and I just sat there with it and I experienced it.
____ ____ teaching be possible is the same teaching in Ashtanga yoga. If you remain equanimous and you walk the middle path, sooner or later, you will become balanced and you will embody that balance, something by not generating future attachments or future aversions. So in doing that, just feeling what I felt in the pure light of awareness, there was a shift. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. So the next time I was directed to go through the body, I got really afraid ’cause I thought, “Oh my God, I’m gonna have to go into that darkness again. I’m gonna cry for another two hours.” And what’s amazing was the next time that I went there, it just wasn’t there.
Claudia Altucher: Really? Wow.
Kino MacGregor: And I just thought, “Wow, it’s not there,” and I thought, “Well, what’s there?” And then there were just sensation, and it was neutral sensation. First of all, there was a tingling sensation –
Claudia Altucher: So there wasn’t all the judging and all of the –
Kino MacGregor: It was gone, all the –
Claudia Altucher: And would you say – two things on that is would you say, nowadays, you don’t feel hatred toward parts of your body? Have you made peace with it?
Kino MacGregor: I think now, I’m comfortable in my own skin, you know?
Claudia Altucher: That’s great.
Kino MacGregor: It doesn’t mean that I don’t wake up one day and I feel a little fat or something like that. You know, I feel, “Oh, I’m a little bloated,” “Oh, I’m out of shape,” something like that.
Claudia Altucher: Oh, it wasn’t just me?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah.
But it doesn’t have this quality of self-judgment or self-worth, you know? So there’s a feeling of comfort inside of my own skin that also creates an identity that’s not tied to the physical form.
Claudia Altucher: I see.
Kino MacGregor: So – and again, it’s not like now, every day I wake up and I feel like, “Oh, everything is amazing.” No, I wake up and then I experience my body for what it is, but I’m not – I guess I’m not as identified to the result of the physical body as I was before, and in many ways, that’s set me free by locating my sense of identity at a place that’s really beyond the physical incarnation.
Claudia Altucher: Right, and the other question I wanted to ask you about that is the next time you went onto the yoga mats, you said you were not aware of the hips, for example.
Kino MacGregor: Right, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: And during Vipassana, you’re not allowed to do yoga, although when I do it, I strike a pose or two in the morning when no one’s looking, but did you feel any difference? Did all of this sitting and observing, did it help you in the opening of the body?
Kino MacGregor: For sure. I think – well, I think there’s two things. First of all, if – seated meditation, long periods of seated meditation, I think, is the fastest way to open your hips.
Claudia Altucher: True.
Kino MacGregor: Because you just sit there and the hips open and open and open and, you know, you just sit there, and gravity wins over ten days, you know? So this, I think, is just a really good function. Anybody that wants to have open hips, I think should develop a seated meditation practice of minimum ten minutes per day. Do that every day, not sitting against the wall, not lying down. Just seated upright. Sooner or later, your hips are gonna open. You’re gonna train the core muscles to support your spine, which will then help the hip flexors release. There’s a purely anatomical function of a seated practice, which is great for that.
The second thing was that it took a really long time, even after Vipassana, for me to feel my hips. I became aware of subtle sensations, like the pulsing, the feeling of skin, this sort of thing which was all new, but it took almost a year for me to actually feel the hip joints.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: So even after that. And one of the ways that you feel part of the body for the first time is pain, and I remember feeling – people would talk about their hips being tight and this sort of thing, and I would feel like, “Well, my hips stop there, but I feel nothing.” And then I remember working into a posture in second series with both legs behind the head, Yoganidrasana, and I remember working – trying to get deeper in that, and I had this feeling of the inside of the hip joint of the – in the ball socket of the hip joint that the head of the femur was rotating around, and then I felt the muscles around the head of the femur almost like, “Stop. Stop it.” And then I felt a pulling and a stretching around there, and I thought, “Wow, that’s so exciting.”
Claudia Altucher: “I found my hip muscle.”
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it was amazing.
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: And they were tight and it hurt. I was more excited, like, “Oh, that sensation. Oh, that’s what it feels like. Oh, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Oh, I get it,” you know? And so some days – and now I have some days where my hips feel really tight, which I never had before, which I really – I sort of enjoy ’cause I think, “Wow, that’s amazing. I feel it.” And they would be stuck in some places before with no sensations, you know?
Claudia Altucher: Right, right, right. That’s amazing. And so this kinda happened during your first couple of trips. Eventually, you and Tim decided to get together and you were having some trouble with the cold weather where he was living?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, for sure.
Claudia Altucher: I mean, there was an image of you in a bathtub _____ __ ___ ____. [Inaudible due to crosstalk]
Kino MacGregor: Exactly. Crazy. See, I have this thing that I’ve learned. Now we’ve – you know, Tim and I, we’ve been together almost 11 years now, and –
Claudia Altucher: Congratulations.
Kino MacGregor: Thank you. And almost every summer, we go to Europe and we – Tim’s from Scandinavia, he’s from Denmark. So they have this thing in Scandinavia which I’ve learned, which I didn’t know because we do not have that here in Miami, which is called a “bad summer,” and what that means is if you have a bad summer in Scandinavia, that sort of means that the sun doesn’t really come out. So that can remain 60 degrees and raining the entire summer. And so we had one of these bad summers, and all of the Scandinavians are so strong, they just shrug it off like, “It’s a bad summer. Let’s go to Spain for a week.” And I was in tears. I had seasonal affective mood disorder. I was like, “Where’s the sun?” And I was crying –
Claudia Altucher: I’m like that too.
Kino MacGregor: And I could never get warm, and I would try to ride the bicycle really hard just to get warm. I was taking, like, five showers a day ’cause they didn’t turn the heat on because no one else was cold except the girl from Florida.
So I – and I remember I was also teaching, I remember, Ireland, also – I was teaching in Ireland and they had the same bad summer, and I remember sitting there, and there was – I had tried to turn the heat in the apartment at maximum and I was still cold, and I went out to the supermarket and had come back, and I was shivering. And I turned the bath on and I put it, like, maximum, only hot water, and I try to let it fill up and, you know, I’m sitting there watching it and putting my hands over the steam and shivering, and I just really had this image, like, “Why am I here? Why have I done this? Why am I not in Florida?” And I got on the computer and I put http://www.weather.com and I put “Miami Beach, Florida, 33139,” like the zip code, and then it said, like, you know, “87 degrees and sunny,” and I’m just thinking, like, “What am I doing? I have to go home. I wanna go home.”
Claudia Altucher: Thank God he agreed, actually, because I think things were happening in his life too and he decided to come here, but that must have been – felt like such a blessing that he followed you. And then you – the teaching kind of came to you. It’s not like you were looking for it. Like people started inviting you, and then eventually, you created the Miami Life Center, which is a wonderful space here.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, yeah, Tim and I – I mean, Tim and I created that together.
Claudia Altucher: Tim and – right. And you mentioned – you have a lot of travel, actually.
Kino MacGregor: For sure. Yeah, this was not easy.
Claudia Altucher: It was, like, months that you were going to India, you thought ___ ______ – [inaudible due to crosstalk]
Kino MacGregor: It was terrible.
Claudia Altucher: – were gonna take care of you, and it –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, so we had this arrangement, and Tim was really instrumental, really, in building Miami Life Center because I’m not really a pragmatic person not a practical person.
Claudia Altucher: Really?
Kino MacGregor: I would try to say that again. Maybe I’m pragmatic in circumstances, but I’m not practical in terms of changing light bulbs, right? I’m not such a good light bulb changer and I’m not really spatially oriented, so I –
Claudia Altucher: Space – really? You do the fourth series and – [laughs]
Kino MacGregor: Well, I can orient my own space, but if you try to tell me, “How many electrical outlets should go in an 8′ x 10′ room?”
Claudia Altucher: Right, right, right, right, right.
Kino MacGregor: I will sit there and think, like, “Ten – how many electrical outlets?”
Claudia Altucher: “What does that mean?” [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: “I don’t know, how many do you think?” Whereas Tim, he’ll sit there and he’ll draw things out and he’ll say, “What about here and there?” And, “How many lights?” And the lights would point in this direction, that direction, and I’m like, “Wow, that looks great. Whatever you think, sign me up for it.” So now – so he was really instrumental in doing this whole – the buildup, so really, he did that.
Claudia Altucher: But the city gave you trouble.
Kino MacGregor: The thing about Miami Beach is – and now I’ve learned is the – really the first time in my life where there’s nothing that you could really do. You have all these hoops that you have to jump through and you just have to go through them, and it’s not your pace, and it’s the city’s pace, and they’re – the city’s gonna put – they’re gonna send inspectors out and they’re gonna do this, they’re gonna do that. It’s like they don’t –
Claudia Altucher: So how long did it take from beginning to opening the doors?
Kino MacGregor: We got our permit – well, we signed the lease on the first of January and then we opened in September, so that’s, like, nine months.
Claudia Altucher: And this is ’06 so 7 years?
Kino MacGregor: I’m not so good with years either, but I think, yeah, ’06, something like that.
Claudia Altucher: [Laughs] Something like that?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah.
Claudia Altucher: Yeah. So that’s – I just wanna point out, because a lot of people, I get the impression, seem to think that teaching yoga is an easy thing, and I just wanted to bring that up because I never thought of it. I thought that the Miami Life Center, where I’ve practiced a couple of times, it materialized there.
Kino MacGregor: Right. [Laughs]
Claudia Altucher: And there it was. Fantastic. And that it took so much built it was new information for me. I had no idea.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. I mean, it was – this space was completely empty. You know, we were here when – I like order. I don’t really like the process of chaos to create the order. So the space was empty in here, and I was here when they jackhammered the floors to run the plumbing lines to create the bathrooms, and that really freaked me out. It was extremely disturbing because I thought they were just breaking everything, and Tim was excited because he sort of – he likes this construction process. So really, I think that if it weren’t for Tim, Miami Life Center wouldn’t be what it is today.
Claudia Altucher: Thank you, Tim. Wonderful.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, really, for sure, and that’s true with our house and with so much our lives, really, because I’m not really – I don’t know, I guess I’m not – I’m an abstract and conceptual thinker, but it’s hard for me to think about, again, the pragmatics and the practicals of light switches and electrical outlets and hammering things into the wall and this sort of thing. It’s just really – I just – it –
Claudia Altucher: It’s not for you.
Kino MacGregor: It hurts my brain. I just create –
Claudia Altucher: Right, yeah, not for you. So let me ask you, those beautiful videos that you’ve been making on YouTube, and you have these new ones where you talk about the life of yoga, the yogi and what happens, and how you notice people breathing, very interesting. Is that in your house? We see a beautiful living room and a bed at the center, that –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, that is my house. That’s our house.
Claudia Altucher: And Tim helped you remodel that too?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, absolutely. For sure.
Claudia Altucher: That’s great. That’s wonderful. So now, going back to the Miami Life Center, it was after this opened – so you were a full-blown teacher by then, so you were doing your own practice and teaching and traveling, and your traveling schedule is heavy. Like, I’ve seen it. You are all over the world. And then you got, as a surprise in 2007, you went to say hello to Guruji and Sharath and they surprised you, right?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah. Well, the story in relation to the certification was, actually on my – I think that it was on my third trip to India when I got the authorization to teach, and this was something that was really kind of kooky, because when I – my second trip to India, I felt really guilty ’cause I had taught a few classes, and I went to talk to Guruji and I said, “Guruji, I’ve been teaching a few classes, and I know you didn’t give me the authorization.” He smiled and he said, “Oh, for you, Diji, okay, next trip, authorization, no problem. You take.”
So the next trip, he gave me the authorization, and when the authorization was being handed over to me, Sharath said to me, “Next year, when you finish advanced, you take certification.”
Claudia Altucher: Wow.
Kino MacGregor: And I thought –
Claudia Altucher: Tall order.
Kino MacGregor: [Screams] You know? And I thought, “(a) You think I’m gonna finish the advanced series next year? You’re pretty crazy.”
Claudia Altucher: Advanced. I mean, just to put it in context, the third series of Ashtanga yoga has so many arm balances and ____ splits and things – contortions.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
Claudia Altucher: It’s like being an Olympic athlete to finish that.
Kino MacGregor: [Laughs] For sure, for sure, and I never thought I’d finish it, so – and I never thought I was worthy of the certification, so he freaked me out. And Tim and a friend of mine were there, and I remember turning to both of them after I got the authorization paper, and they were like, “Yay, you’re gonna get certified,” and I said, “Both of you stop that right now. Do not repeat that, do not say that to another person. You take this to the grave with you. I don’t want this repeated, I don’t want you to talk about it with me. If you don’t wanna talk about it with each other, I don’t want you to tell your mother, I don’t want you to tell your grandmother, I don’t want you to tell your dog. Don’t repeat this,” right?
Claudia Altucher: Right.
Kino MacGregor: I just didn’t – and I didn’t really wanna accept it, and I remember you had to renew this authorization so I would go and renew it, and Guruji and Sharath, they would get mad at me. “Why you wait last day? Certification not possible one day,” and I thought, “Oh, it’s okay,” you know, ’cause I was uncomfortable with this whole thing.
Claudia Altucher: [Laughs] That’s very different than how it seem from other people sort of coming into Ashtanga. People kinda want it or crave it –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, people –
Claudia Altucher: – and you were kinda like, “No, not yet, not yet.”
Kino MacGregor: For sure, and that’s pretty much how I felt about the fourth series too. You know, I felt like, you know, I was like, “Oh,” there’s something in me that felt – I don’t know, I didn’t feel worthy of it yet, and they were sort of yelling at me about it. But when we opened the yoga center, then I felt like, “Okay, now I have the yoga center, now it sort of makes sense,” and so then on that trip, I sort of went with the authorization on the first day and they were like, “Oh, fill out this paper,” and all this sort of stuff, and then Sharath and Guruji, they said it would take some time before the paperwork was done. But then on my last day of practice, I was doing guided primary with Guruji, and after the practice, we’d do pranam, or we had to say thanks to Guruji, and I was about – in the middle of the line, and when I right was about to do pranam to Guruji, when I was about to say thanks to him –
Claudia Altucher: That is, the filing to him and saying thank you, yeah?
Kino MacGregor: Yes, exactly, yeah. He looked at me and he smiled and he said, “Your paper is ready.” And I said, “Oh, thank you, Guruji.” He said, “Come, take it now,” and I thought, “Uh, okay,” and I looked at the line, and then people start to look at me like –
Claudia Altucher: That’s kinda weird, yeah.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, like, “Why is she going into the office with him?”
Claudia Altucher: I can feel the jealousy. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: Or even just annoyed now they have to wait, I think was what it was it was more like, “What do – just wait?” If I would have known, I would’ve gone to the end of the line and I would’ve let everyone go ahead of me, you know? But then I went in and then Guruji took the paper out and he was like, “Oh, some stamps are missing,” and I said, “Oh, I’ll come back later,” and he said, “No, sitting there, I am doing.” And so he took out – and I watched him do all of the stamps, and I watched him do all that, and I watched him sign it, and I watched him sort of do everything that needs to be done. Then he handed it to me, which was really sweet, you know?
Claudia Altucher: That’s really nice.
Kino MacGregor: ‘Cause I didn’t expect it. It was a surprise, you know?
Claudia Altucher: That’s nice, and I think it gives you a whole new level, also, of – for people to know, having the certification, it gives them a sense of solidity that the teachers has, in fact, practiced for a very long period of time.
Kino MacGregor: Absolutely, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: Now, you’ve been to Mysore about 14 times now? Something like that?
Kino MacGregor: Something like that, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: An enormous amount of years. Have you ever taken anything other than asana? Have you ever learned, say, Pranayama or meditation?
Kino MacGregor: I’ve done a few Pranayama classes with Guruji. I’ve never really – even in just those few classes, I really felt that I was able to learn a lot. Every moment I spent with Guruji, I felt, was a valuable lesson contained in each of those moments. I’ve also spent some time studying the yoga sutras with Dr. Nagara Drau and _____ and Nara Siemand, who are also some chanting and philosophy teachers.
Claudia Altucher: They’re like celebrities in Mysore, yes, and they have some CDs that you can chant to.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, they’re amazing.
Claudia Altucher: So I have a personal question. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: Okay, sure.
Claudia Altucher: So here it comes. Reading Ashtanga Yoga, the primary series, your first book ___ _____ – which is beautiful, by the way, beautiful photos, black and white –
Kino MacGregor: Thanks.
Claudia Altucher: – you talk about gender stereotype, and something that happens a lot, which is people say, “Women can be very flexible.”
Kino MacGregor: Very flexible.
Claudia Altucher: “Men will then have it easy when they have to lift their weight.” And so my question is, I’m 46. I do what everybody does or most people, like, you know, all the primary comes okay and a little of the intermediate, but I am 46.
Kino MacGregor: Right.
Claudia Altucher: And you – so is this “I am 46” just a thing in my mind? Because you’ve seen – even though you’re much younger than me, you’ve seen thousands of bodies.
Kino MacGregor: True.
Claudia Altucher: So do you think for me, as a female, at this age, is it possible to learn the arm balances to get that strong?
Kino MacGregor: The strength, I think, no problem, for sure, 100 percent, you know? I don’t really see that as the obstacle. I mean, I feel like strength is something that’s even – especially for women, strength, in particular, is something that’s healthy and really should be worked on – continuing as long as physical movement is recommended.
Claudia Altucher: So you don’t stop someone, say, depending on age? You just look at each individual case?
Kino MacGregor: Each individual case is really important, but as the student gets older, I think you have to evaluate a couple of different things. For example, you teach someone – there’s so many different factors for each individual person, right? But generally, if you wanna make generalizations – age-related generalizations, you –
Claudia Altucher: Right, and someone who’s relatively healthy.
Kino MacGregor: Right, so you take a relatively healthy 20-year-old person, they’re gonna recover so much quicker and they also have less injuries already. So you’re gonna be able to push them harder and faster, right?
Claudia Altucher: Right.
Kino MacGregor: That being said, there’s also 20-year-olds that have anxiety and 20-year-olds that have brittle joints or have – their body’s weak in some capacity, so you can’t push them too hard. Then you have someone, say, who’s older, say someone who’s 50 years old and maybe they’ve never done yoga before, but they’ve lived a really healthy life and they’re really physically fit and their muscles are – the muscles tissues are – they have a lot of liquidity in them, their joints are very healthy, there’s not a lot of pre-existing injuries, you can really see them progress in the practice. Generally, I recommend, regardless of what age, at some moment, it’s really useful, like when you get a new posture or a new movement to really pause and let that integrate rather than try to move on too fast, too soon.
Claudia Altucher: I see.
Kino MacGregor: That, I think, is real important, regardless of what age you are.
Claudia Altucher: So don’t rush.
Kino MacGregor: Don’t rush, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: Feel it, stay with it.
Kino MacGregor: Stay and pause, and that can be as little as, like, two weeks in one posture or up to two years in one posture or even ten years in one posture, just to figure out where you’re gonna find your sense of stability in it. And in relation to sort of gender – questions about gender, I think that yoga changes the subjective experience of the physical body. And so what I mean by that is it changes how we be in our bodies, changes how we feel. So traditional gender identity is based so much in how we inhabit the space of our body, and we take that on from our cultural conditioning. So when we do our practice, we feel our bodies in a way that is outside the bounds of conventional gender stereotypes. So again, it changes the subjective experience of our gender by changing the way we inhabit the inner spaces of our body.
Claudia Altucher: That’s very interesting. It’s almost like you go back to the drawing board through a daily practice.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: It’s like, eventually, it’s not even female or male.
Kino MacGregor: Exactly.
Claudia Altucher: It’s just sort of a mass of bones and joints and –
Kino MacGregor: Exactly. So there’s – rather than saying the guys are always gonna be strong and the girls are always gonna be flexible, I think there are people who have a proclivity towards flexibility, whether they’re a male or female or some other gender. And then there are people who have a proclivity towards strength. Again, whether they’re male, more traditional heterosexual male, female, or LGBTQIA, whatever it is, then you’re going to find this neutral point where the strength becomes flexibility and the flexibility becomes strength, and we’re kind of asked to create that harmony between these two opposing forces that are capable within each person.
Claudia Altucher: That’s very interesting. I’m definitely gonna take that in, and yeah, I feel seriously encouraged now. I’m so glad you said that.
Now, you’ve dealt with – you have a business. Can you actually make money from teaching yoga? Do you make a living from yoga? Do –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, I think it’s possible. It’s definitely possible to make a living from teaching yoga. I think that just as in anything else, you have to sort of come up with a business plan and figure out how – sort of put in the work behind the scenes to understand, “Where is sustainable revenue gonna come in and where does that meet with my lifestyle and my values?” Sort of really do the behind-the-scenes work about that, I think, is really important, to put in your due diligence rather than just to think in an abstract way, and to sort of bring it down into reality and say, “Okay, well, if I’m teaching this many classes per week, and – what can I expect to bring in from that and is that gonna sustain my life? And if not, are there other ways that I can teach or that I can share the message of yoga that are going to be sustainable?” Some people like to do a lot of private lessons. We have a lot of teachers here that do a lot of private lessons because they feel that they like to teach privately, and it’s also – creates the possibility of making more economic sustainability.
Claudia Altucher: Right, because I find that it’s quite a bit of misunderstanding in what it means to be a yoga teacher. A lot of – I received an email recently. “I like Ashtanga, I wanna be a teacher; I just started.” And for me, just to put into words what has to happen for a primary series class to happen is an enormous amount of energy. It’s just – and that’s just one class.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, it’s very –
Claudia Altucher: Not to mention traveling, opening a studio, dealing with the city. So I think it’s good to bring it back to reality. I think you do this very well. And you also use every medium. You are on YouTube, you are in – and that ___ ___ a lot of hatred.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, for sure. [Laughs]
Claudia Altucher: Which I never understood because I think anyone who can see the amount of work that you put into this since your very early days, what is there to hate? How do you deal with it? How do you deal with that, with – because it’s intense. Like, I’ve seen it.
It’s kind of funny, you know? There was a period – I don’t – it kind of comes and goes, you know? There was a period where there were a lot of blogs about people who were really – they were obsessed with that – I was wearing shorts, so they were – their number one mission was, “Let’s try to make Kino wear leggings.” And I thought, “Okay, you want me to wear leggings? Okay. I’m not against wearing leggings; it’s – ”
Claudia Altucher: I just wanna mention, it’s December 28, and it’s, like, almost 100 degrees here, just for record. Yeah, so –
Kino MacGregor: That’s what – you know, come to Miami in August when it’s super hot and then see if you wanna wear leggings, you know? So for me, it was just kind of – any time – so sort of a policy that I have with any negative feedback, negative feedback never feels good to hear. You don’t like it. Nobody likes it.
Claudia Altucher: No, it’s horrible.
Kino MacGregor: It’s not like – there’s a few people addicted to pain that are like, “Yeah, beat me down,” but the average person, they don’t like to hear negative feedback. I don’t like to hear negative feedback.
Claudia Altucher: I don’t like it.
Kino MacGregor: Someone tells you, “Ooh, your shirt has a hole,” you’re like, “Ugh,” you know, you tell me that, “Thanks,” you know?
So I create a policy in myself. This is what I do whenever there’s negative feedback. I pause, I don’t fight back against it because this is really important because I – if you fight back against it, you might not be able to grow from it.
So I pause, I evaluate it, I try to remain equanimous, and I evaluate, and I see, “Do they have a point? Do they not have a point? Is what I’m doing out of my integrity? Is what I’m doing out of my authenticity? Or is it just me?” And if it’s just me, then I say, “Well, thank you for bringing that up. At some moment, maybe you’ll have a point, but right now, I’ve really thought about it and I’m still gonna wear what I wanna wear.” Or sometimes people have brought up a point and I think about it and I say, “Oh, well, you do have a point. Well, I’ll use that to – as constructive feedback and do better the next time.” So I really welcome the feedback.
Claudia Altucher: That’s a really healthy way to look at it, and also, I think one thing that you can see when looking at you, your life, what you’ve created here, is that you definitely have a passion for these. It’s beyond clear. So when you really wanna do something, who’s gonna stop you and why? And you have this passion for sharing what is done for you with others, which I find – so I’m very glad that you never got discouraged and that you kept going and that you find ways to teach beginners, ways that are outside of the Ashtanga way as well, and that’s great. I find that really interesting.
Kino MacGregor: In the Ashtanga world, I feel it’s actually mostly – the people who are having some criticism of me are mostly within the Ashtanga world.
Claudia Altucher: There’s an Ashtanga police, unfortunately.
Kino MacGregor: It’s something like that. I’m definitely a criminal in the Ashtanga police department. There’s a warrant out for my arrest and has been for a while.
Claudia Altucher: [Laughs] But you know what, God bless the Ashtanga police, and you keep doing your work. I know – I mean, I know I’ve benefited, and I dare anyone who’s in the Ashtanga police to say they’ve never seen one of your videos to understand something about a posture and – I mean, you have too many videos about pretty much every posture out there with an anatomical descriptions, you have another student demonstrating so we an see the different bodies. It’s – there’s like a full library on your YouTube, so you know, love to the haters and let Kino continue doing – now, let me ask you one question. I wanna go – I’m conscious of the time. I wanna go deep on you.
Kino MacGregor: Okay.
Claudia Altucher: So throughout your whole life, yoga found you and you’ve been on this amazing path. What would you say is one thing that took you a long time to understand?
Kino MacGregor: The thing that I would say it took me the longest time to understand is my relationship with God. I think that’s one of the things that I didn’t really understand from the beginning. And I remember reading Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and getting to the Ishvara sutras and thinking, “What is all this?” and not really understanding. But, you know, Guruji would always talk about God. Guruji would say, “You do your practice; you think about God. You do your – you inhale, you think of God. Exhale, you also think of God. You go in your life, always think of God,” and I was thinking, “God? What is that?” Literally, like, “God? What is that?”
Claudia Altucher: [Laughs] ___ ___ ____. [Inaudible due to crosstalk]
Kino MacGregor: “Who are you? Where are you? Where – what is that?” And I think that I had so much of a resistance to that because of conventional religion. And I was never raised with any religion, so I’m sort of un-churched in the Christian sense, you know? And my grandfather was Buddhist and my dad’s a Protestant and my mom went to Catholic school, so they raised me with no religion because they didn’t believe in enforcing religious beliefs on me. And I had a strong resistance to the sort of – the patriarchal assumptions of contemporary religion. We already know that from previously in the discussion, right?
Claudia Altucher: Right. [Laughs]
Kino MacGregor: So for me, when I came into yoga, the Gurujis talk about God, God. I was like, “Well, what is that? Where do I find it?” And I would have these sort of moments of timelessness, and these moments, these sort of epiphany moments in the practice, where the past, present, and future sort of merged into a sort of timeliness experience and a misty experience, you could say, and I realized after a long time that these were the experiences – these experiences were the divine, sort of reaching to speak to me in the cracks of my consciousness, right?
Claudia Altucher: That’s very interesting.
Kino MacGregor: And it took me a really long time to sort of understand that God is within each of us, including myself, and that the reason that the practice works is because it gives us kind of a radio channel into divinity. It gives us a direct experience of God.
Claudia Altucher: I love that, like a radio channel, yes.
Kino MacGregor: And it took me a long time to really sort of accept and understand that. And here’s the magical thing about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, right, in relation to their understanding or presentation of the divine, is that yoga is traditionally presented as a path of effort. So we practice and we practice, and through the practice, we cultivate the fire of purification, removing obstacles and impurities along this path, and if you didn’t finish this lifetime, you get to press restart and you try again. And so you get – again, so the game of life can be perpetually restarted until you do it right.
Now, Patanjali says, “Hey, that’s cool, you’re – these are all the obstacles and this is what you’re gonna do for them and these are the countless incarnations it’s gonna take you to get there, and if you’re real lucky, one day, after thousands and thousands of lifetimes, like the Buddha, maybe you’ll be clear of all your samskaras, all of those –
Claudia Altucher: Preconditionings and…
Kino MacGregor: Exactly, all of the preconditionings that sort of mar the clarity of our mind. Now, Patanjali presents this other option, Ishwara-prani-denanva, right, or, through surrender and devotion to God, we can attain that peace right now. Patanjali says that in the presence of Ishvara, if we understand the presence of God, in the presence of God, all our obstacles are removed. All the samskaras are gone.
So I thought for a long time – and this concept, “What does surrender to God mean?” I thought for such a long time, “What does that mean?” I didn’t get it, you know? The people, “Oh, they’re gonna sing kirtan and this is devotion to God.” I would look at that and I would say, “I don’t really see how this is devotion to God. You’re liking singing and you’re in a zone, and that’s awesome, but good for you, but I don’t see how this is devotion to God.” And then some people would make offerings or do a ritual, and, “Oh, you’re doing a ritual. Oh, this looks like the Vatican. I don’t really know how this is God. I don’t know, maybe God lives in the Vatican.” For me, I was just like, “I don’t really understand how you do devotion to God.”
And then one day, I got it from my own sense. Surrender to God means the Christian sense, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” You surrender your will to God’s will, and this is devotion to God. This is devotion to divinity, which is the humble acceptance that you are not the master and creator of your life, you’re not the master and creator of the universe; you have a mission, maybe a divine mission that’s sort of been assigned to you, you could say, but that – you don’t have the control. Who has the control? God has the control. So you surrender your will into the divine will, and through that, you are devoted to God. You are a devotee, right?
Claudia Altucher: You still do your work but you surrender whatever comes and whatever happens.
Kino MacGregor: Absolutely, and I understand that what you want and – you surrender your wants and your desires, and instead of forcing the world, you listen more. And you listen for that spark within you to speak to you and you listen for that quiet voice in your heart to guide the path of our life, and in this way, I think that the yoga is a path of redemption and it’s a path of being able to be whole once more, because when we understand that we are not the driver, but we follow the path that’s been revealed before us, then we can understand who we really are. We can understand that we are not of the ego. We are beings of spirits, and once we can identify with that, then I think that all of our life begins to make so much more sense.
Claudia Altucher: That’s beautiful. I love that. So Kino, where can people find you?
Kino MacGregor: People can find me on my YouTube channel, which is KinoYoga on Youtube. You can find me on Instagram, also on kinoyoga, on my website, http://www.kinoyoga.com, where my schedule is.
Claudia Altucher: And that’s where all your schedule –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah.
Claudia Altucher: Okay, that’s wonderful.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, so if I’m visiting a city near you, it will be listed there.
Claudia Altucher: Right, or here at the Miami Life Center, just a wonderful –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, and here too. I’m also online. I have always some new online classes that are coming out. I just had a series that’s a few different series of the classes on the Cody app, so those can be downloaded and watched on your mobile device.
Claudia Altucher: Cody? How do you spell “Cody”?
Kino MacGregor: C-O-D-Y.
Claudia Altucher: Oh, I didn’t know. Okay.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, and I also have a primary series course on the Cody app that goes point-by-point through the whole primary series, and then there’s a flow practice. And I just released the 21-day course on strength, which is all of the techniques to build strength, so it may be good for you if you want to do the arm balances. [Laughs]
Claudia Altucher: That’s good to hear. I will check that one out, yes. And for anyone who listens who is not into yoga and you’re interested, Kino has a fantastic DVD for beginners for Ashtanga yoga –
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, exactly.
Claudia Altucher: – which goes only until the middle of the primary series.
Kino MacGregor: Yeah, and I have a new one out just – also called just Beginners Ashtanga, which is even more basic.
Claudia Altucher: Oh, really? Oh, I didn’t see that one yet. Okay, and you also have – and this is for anyone who’s listening who may be interested – you have a second book coming out, The Intermediate Series: A Practice to Open Your Heart and Purify Your Body and Mind.
Kino MacGregor: Right, yeah.
Claudia Altucher: And this one comes in June from Shambhala Publications, right?
Kino MacGregor: Yeah.
Claudia Altucher: So we’ll be looking forward that. We’ll link to that so that people can read that as well as the other two that you have.
Kino MacGregor: Super.
Claudia Altucher: Thank you so much for having me here.
Kino MacGregor: Thank you so much. Namaste.
Claudia Altucher: Namaste. [Laughs] Wonderful.
Announcer: That’s all for The Yoga Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes and visit http://www.theyogapodcast.com for more interviews. Until next time, keep it real.