Few weekends ago it was all about yoga practice, dedicated to the third limb Asana (yoga postures); I had the opportunity to assist to one of the “Ashtanga Asana” Workshops from Social media, instagramer and Yoga Rockstar: Kino Mcgregor in Vienna. Workshop was organized by Yogazentrum PureYoga Wien. Kino talks handstands, cakes and equanimous mind.
My first impression when I saw Kino walking to the room was on my God she has a wonderful tan then, oh, she is as tall as me then oh, why so serious?
After the whole room got silenced she gave us a big smile and opened the workshop talking about the equanimous mind. We started with opening the hips to jump through, to backbends, to Handstands; pretty fun.
Photos Credit: Yogazentrum Pureyoga Wien
AF: When and why you decided to practice yoga?
Kino McGregor: It was in my first class when I was 19 years old, it was a sivananda class, the impression was that yoga was a spiritual path so, when I injured my Achilles tendons doing to much exercises and to much parting, it was really when I made the decision to live more peaceful and live more a healthy life. So, when I was 22 years old I tried an ashtanga yoga class and from that moment forward I took the practice as a daily sadhana, a daily spiritual practice and, it’s since then that discipline of daily practice is been a part of my life and I would say that my decisions thru the practice really comes from a desire to live a more peaceful life…to take my life and stir it to more peace, more joy, more happiness and out of circles of negativity, out of circles of addiction and, out of circles of negative habits. And to make that possibility real.
AF: Did you have any influence from around?
Kino McGregor: Well I think we all have influences around, you know, but It was really that first yoga class that I took when I was19, then I was 22 I realized I wanted get my life back in order. I sort of was thinking about I wanted to do something physical to become more healthy again and I didn’t want to just going to the gym and exercise, I looked at yoga as a path to a decision to embrace health, a decision to live a more peaceful life.
AF: How have you developed the balance between the roles of been a wife, business woman and teacher?
Kino McGregor: Absolutely, balance is hard for me, I think I am a workaholic, I work non-stop because I love what I do, half of it I don’t even consider it as work, you know, I just love what I do, and I just do it and I feel that for me it is really hard to do nothing, it’s very difficult, there is one thing I really love going to Mysore, going to India, it’s that I am really forced to do nothing for long stretches of time and I don’t want to read any books, there is a huge amount of time where you are just bored, its pretty hard for me to find balance, because again I would just constantly work, look, I love to walk on the beach but then I also like to Periscope when I walk on the beach, and also I would like to take new picture when I am over there, so for me everything that I do bring me so much pleasure, brings me so much joy that it is almost not work for me, so to find the balance I think is to really be present in my marriage, I have to constantly prioritize the precious moments that my husband and I spend together and really pre plan that into my day as well; to create rituals of connection, rituals of nourishment together, as a couple to really prioritize that as well and things that we share and things that we don’t share and to recognize that. You know, to take time and space for both, I think relationships are challenging and rewarding at the same time so it is about mutual respect for each other.
AF: Did you ever practice another sport before yoga?
Kino McGregor: I was never on the sports team, I was never involved in anything physical. I was forced to do when I was in elementary school in 6th grade, it was mandatory to do cheerleader try out and also the basketball squat was no so good so the cheerleader team was like, “yeeeh..” Some were excited but I was like they just put me here. I wasn’t really doing anything. That was for 6 weeks. I was never a gymnastic, I was never a dancer, I was never in any sports team, I was never anything physical. I don’t think I’ve ever kicked the soccer ball, I am not naturally physically coordinated; my husband throws me keys often and I dropped them. I am not a natural physical person although I love the practice and I love the physicality of it, it’s not something I was raised to it; I was more an intellectual, I was more into education. I thought I was gonna be a writer I never imagined I was going to do something physical for a living.
AF: Any skills that an athlete should develop/cultivate in his/her yoga practice?
Kino McGregor: The first thing would be the most beneficial for athletes to coordinate is the mind training that comes from the yoga practice. The ability to have an objective field of awareness, so you are not disturbed by whether or not you reach the goal because athletic competition is very challenging for the mind and if the mind is not able to be steady and calm, focused on the goal and technique, and mix you see what’s happening, that can really divide you.
I think the mental training from yoga cultivate an equanimous mind and locating your sense of self worth inside of the centre of your been rather than in your achievement in a physical form or physical goals is extremely important so that you recognize your self worth is not underline your physical achievement and what you do is an expression of a natural joy of the spirit we all humans contain instead of judging ourselves by our physical achievements.
I don’t really care if the students do handstands or backbends or anything I want people really to get that yoga is a path to the inner self, that yoga has a spiritual path; that’s what matters.
AF: What do you want to pass on as a yoga teacher, has your goal changed?
Kino McGregor: I think when I was a younger teacher I did a lot of mistakes as a teacher, I think, you know, when at first I started to teaching I was really interested in getting people to do all the power moves and I was really interested in handstands and this kind of thing and you know it was really cool for me as a student and as a teacher.
Now I feel like I don’t really care if the students do handstands or backbends or anything I want people really to get that yoga is a path to the inner self, that yoga has a spiritual path; that’s what matters.
It doesn’t matter if you can do a handstand or you could do backbends or arm balances or whatever. It doesn’t matter how deep you are going in the practice what it matters is that you take time each day to build the bridge of the awareness of the heart center, that you take time to listen to the inner body and you take time to feel the inner wisdom and you quite your mind enough to be able to recognize who you are on your deepest level and integrate that into moments in your life.
So, not just because someone is naturally strong and hey, they can boost a bunch of handstands or someone is naturally flexible, they can do a lot of backbends; somebody was a former olympic gymnast, ok, they are gonna have a beautiful Asana Practice but, it doesn’t make them better, we are human beens in a spiritual path. So, this is for me the Essence of Yoga.
Every time I practice I surrender my will to God’s will and I do that every day and I feel like that’s the message that I want people to understand that each of us is a spiritual been that when we can make contact with the true self, the spirit within ourselves and once we locate ourselves and feel the greatness power in our inner been and we know who we really are. If we can get that heart connection to grace then it changes our life completely.
You know, you do a handstand you don’t do a handstand. It doesn’t matter because you are on your mat, you do what you can do. That’s enough because as soon you root your sense of identity and the truth of who you are then your whole life changes.
Because you are not longer fighting to get self worth from achievement, you are not longer fighting with other people because you think they are going to take your success away from you because you know who you are; it is a powerful, brilliant spiritual been and you know that your spirit shines with the light of the thousands suns.
AF: Going back to handstands, any functional tip you would like to share to the athletes from Fit Yoga Vienna ?
Kino McGregor: Absolutely, if we want to do the handstand, alright, the number one thing is like any pose; it is to focus on the journey rather than the shape. So, you have to ask yourself:
Why are you doing a Handstand? Why are you doing a Backbend? Any pose, What lesson does this posture contain from my body?
You can look at that in a physical level. Where is where I am week that I must become strong. the athletes will understand that very well. If I am a shoulders week, which muscles on the shoulder should I strengthen those to become more stable. Or on the emotional level what emotions do I feel when I’ve been challenged in this pose. How is it that I can cultivate equanimity in the base of those emotions, what spiritual lesson does this posture contain for me? and How is it that I can learn that lesson and make my heart receptive to hear the lesson of what this pose represents for me and going that journey. It’s that journey the final spiritual journey that will produce the biggest transformation through the practice of yoga.
I believe it is possible for people to learn the lesson maybe they do the posture or maybe they don’t do the posture but, no longer matters because they learned the lesson. Every posture is a lesson that is trying to teach you. All strength poses will develop a strength in life. I remember this morning the yoga sutra that I mention “tatra sthitau” so we have steadiness of mind or sthira; where you are lacking steadiness of mind it is not always evident. Let’s say, you try to do a lifted up position and you lifted it up and you can’t do it and you start crying or you feel like oh, I can’t do it, my arms are to short or I am to old, all these excuses come up. And, the moment you say, you know what, I am just gonna try anyway, I am going to take five breaths where ever I get to; in that moment YOU ARE STRONGER, in that moment, you have chosen to believe in your greatness over believing in your doubts. We can take more moments like that in oir practice it will accumulate to make us literally more stronger human beens.
AF: Talking about stronger human beens, which role nutrition plays in your life?
Kino McGregor: Good question; for me when I started the practice of yoga 15 years ago, very shortly when I began the practice I became vegetarian for me was a moral and ethical choice to become vegetarian, I understood that the cows are not different from the dogs, that they are creatures, when I thought about the meat industry and I started to think how animals are threaten it kind of broke my heart so I felt like I can’t do it, I just can’t do it so for me, plant base diet is for ethical stands in the world, people ask me all the time if I am vegan, I am vegetarian, the reason I don’t say I am vegan first of all, I eat honey, I like honey so honey is not technical vegan because it is an animal product. I love honey and I also believe that honey can be part of a positive symbiotic relationship with bees because a sustainable bee farming it is a necessary component of successful agriculture. Whether or not if you are going to eat the honey the bees have to be cultivated in a sustainable way make agriculture function; you know the pollen, the plants that sort of thing; sort of unknown component of sustainable agriculture. I honestly believe in honey; the other part about saying I am vegan it is that I will be strict about it; for me vegetarian is strict enough. I do not cross any lines in that; I don’t eat any fish or chicken. No beens. I can be a little more flexible those moments when I go to my mother’s in law house and she has made a terrific cake, I can be more flexible. For my daily diet I am primarily vegan, I do not eat that much diary. I never cook eggs or anything like that. My diet is primarily Plant-Based Diet but I can not say I am a vegan because you know if I have to go to someone else wedding you know, there is a wedding cake somebody made it with a little bit of eggs and a love, I am not going to be like..”No, it’s not vegan I am not eating your wedding cake” I do not saying is bad that people that, it is not just right for me. If I think about my diet before and now I think I am more conscious about my food choices. If you eat your meat be informed where it comes from and how it is processed, what kind of life the animal lives before. The more ethical and sustainable way possible.
For more information about Social Media Yoga Rockstar, Kino McGregor check out her webpage. Kino travels around the world catch her in any side of the planet. Namasté.