Kino MacGregor teaches Ashtanga yoga to a worldwide audience through her popular social media channels, yoga DVDs, vlogs and four published books. She also co-founded OmStars, a subscription-based streaming service offering video courses from 20 yoga stars. Originally from Miami, MacGregor now travels the globe leading classes honoring both traditional and contemporary ideas of yoga.
You have a firm grasp on the multimedia market that surrounds yoga. Why have such a diversified presence?
I believe in spreading the message of yoga to as many people as possible, so I adopt a variety of outlets. Plus, I enjoy it all. I love writing my books and blogs and sharing on social media, but more than anything else I love meeting real students in person who have practiced with me online or remotely. It feels like I’m bringing things full circle.
Could you give us some background on your newest book, The Yogi Assignment?
When I first started sharing short videos online to connect with my audience I didn’t know what to say. But I figured that I was a teacher and teachers give assignments, so I started giving yogi assignments. People connected with them and it started to be a small movement. Very soon people started asking me where they could find all my assignments and if it would become a book. And now, thanks to their support, it is!
How have social media and video streaming changed the yoga community, for better or worse?
Right now, there’s a big push in the corporate world to buy up yoga teachers on social media. While I love social media, I think we as teachers need to be very careful about selling our voices for someone else’s product or company. As students of yoga we must be savvy consumers and do the research to figure out what types of companies we want to support.
Yoga means something because the heart of this practice is the essence of the human spirit itself — limitless and eternal, filled with light and love. Yoga means so much to so many people because of its purity. Yoga has spread across the world because people are in search of something authentic and true, something real and unfiltered.
Why is it important to practice yoga every day?
Yoga is a daily discipline and it’s best if your practice is a ritual. This means you’ll be more likely to do it every day and it also means you’ll be more consistent in your practice. Anything you get as a ritual becomes a part of who you are, and for yoga to work it has to impact every aspect of your life.
Yoga is a personal practice; a daily sadhana, plain and simple. It’s not about the show, it’s about the sweat. It’s not about the fabulousness (although some days you may feel like you’re soaring), it’s about practicing through the days when you feel like crap. It’s not about competition or control, it’s about empowerment and being strong enough to rise up and fight the good fight. What does it matter if you can press up into handstand if you’re not willing to take a stand for what’s right?
How did studying in India inform your practice?
The whole foundation of my journey is my practice. Without a direct line to my teachers in India I simply would not have had the strength or faith to maintain my practice all these years. My teachers are my foundation and my rock.
This issue of YogaIowa focuses on the intersection of yoga and religion. Has yoga informed your idea of and belief in God?
Yoga is a path to truth. God and the direct personal revelation of the eternal divine is the ultimate truth. Some say that yoga exists to prepare you for the moment that you meet God, so that your heart is ready to surrender and open. The practice opened my heart and mind to the notion of God. I wasn’t raised with any religion so my understanding is entirely personal and experiential.
Can one practice yoga without any connection to the inner spirit or the divine?
Yoga works even when you’re not aware of it. You don’t need to have a concept of God to practice. Over time, your mind and heart will open to a direct and transformative experience of the divine. When the true light shines in your heart, you’ll be forever changed.
This article was originally published in YogaIowa’s Winter 2018 issue.