“I was never a dancer, never a gymnast, never naturally peaceful, patient or confident. I generally felt socially awkward, private, introverted, comfortable reading and studying but not talking, sharing. I never ever felt beautiful or elegant, always felt like the small girl in the corner. Then one day after many years of Yoga practice, I looked in the mirror and saw beauty. It was like suddenly I saw what other people said when they gave me a compliment. I could never let it in when they said I was pretty until I saw it myself. It was like I saw myself for the first time. Who was this girl in the mirror? It’s like all this beauty, elegance and power was right there waiting for me to discover it. I didn’t need to be anyone else, look any different. I just needed to drop down deep enough to see my true. Who are you really? Who are you at your deepest self? Today’s Yogi assignment is beauty. Look at yourself in the mirror and see your beauty. See it, own it, share it. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are exactly who you need to be,” so says the latest Facebook update from Kino MacGregor, an international Yoga teacher, author of three books, producer of six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, writer, blogger, world traveller, co-founder of Miami Life Center (www.miamilifecenter.com) and founder of Miami Yoga Magazine (www.miamiyogamagazine.com).
Her dharma, she says, is to help people experience,”the limitless potential of the human spirit.” She teaches all over the world and on Kino Yoga Instagram(www.instagram.com/kinoyoga) with over 650,000 followers and on Kino Yoga YouTube channel with over 60 million views. She is equipped with more than 15 years of experience in Ashtanga Yoga and is one of the select few to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysuru.
It all began for her when she attended her first Yoga class at 19. At 29, she received from K. Pattabhi , the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga.
I got interested in her life and work when I was initiated into Yoga by a young teacher who hopes to learn from Kino sometime next year.
For someone who has equated exercise with long walks, Jane Fonda videos, Zumba and short-lived stints at the gym, Yoga has been a revelation. If only because it has taught me to focus on the locks and keys hidden in our forgotten, neglected bodies. It has taught me that when you succeed in touching your toes by extending your back and feel dormant energy flowing through stiff limbs, softening and oxygenating them, what you get is not just an adrenaline rush but an epiphany that says, “I am alive..and I live in the small of my back, in my knees, in my calves, in some mysterious founts within me that I tap only when I stretch myself physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Kino’s updates are inspiring because she is a guru who was one of us many years ago but listened to her body, heart and soul and found her authentic self and is now helping others to do the same.
What Yoga does, I have learnt, is to bring to the surface all the stuff we leave unaddressed in our hurry to get on with life. Be it a small ache in your shoulder, an anger trigger, unarticulated emotions or more, the more you get immersed in your practice, the less time you have for inauthentic experiences. You want to steer clear of negativity. You want to eat healthy. And you no longer want to be oblivious to who you really are.
Another Facebook page that really goes into the heart of such life lessons is the one managed by www.YogisAnonymous.com. It is run by Ally Hamilton, a Yoga teacher, co-founder of YogisAnonymous.com, writer, and lover of dark chocolate and meditation. Sample one of her posts, “Sometimes we can get really caught up in someone else’s drama. There are all kinds of people in this world, and many of them are suffering in some way or another. You really have no idea about the interior world of another human being unless they choose to share it with you. There are people coming out of abuse, neglect and abandonment. People trying to overcome betrayal. People clinging and trying to control whatever and whomever they can so they don’t feel so afraid. People with personality disorders, people suffering from depression, people grasping onto their anger like a shield, people numbing out so they don’t have to feel anything at all. If you get too close, you’re going to get nailed. It’s just the nature of things. It’s possible that a person in pain has been that way for so long, it isn’t immediately obvious. Everyone has coping mechanisms, some are healthy, some are not. It takes a good long while to truly know another person. If we’re speaking romantically, it takes even longer, because you have to let the dust/lust clear before you can really see what’s there. Regardless, people will show you who they are, and/or where they are on their path if you give them enough time. Some people have walls up. Some people are angry and nasty because they’ve been hurt and disappointed so much, they can’t think of anything else to do but keep people out. You cannot negotiate with a caged animal.We can only manage our own side of the street.”
Stuff like this is both personal and universal and comes from a deep place that was once dark and soggy with pain but is now resplendent. Ally’s followers write long posts to her, asking for advice, thanking her for her wisdom. Ally grew up in NYC and in her final year at the Columbia University, began practicing Yoga. Two babies, a Yoga studio and a global following later, she was once quoted as saying, “I used to say things like, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ but I’ve seen things that are so incomprehensibly heartbreaking that I don’t try to wrap things up in neat little packages anymore. I do my best to witness what’s happening around me, and to witness the way I respond. I believe in personal accountability, and in doing the work to get right with yourself. I think the natural state of all humans is love. I’ve birthed two babies and I think we arrive full of love and curiosity and passion for life. Sometimes we learn fear and limitations and mistrust. Yoga helps us unlearn those things, heal what needs to be healed, and return to our natural state, again, LOVE.”
What I have learnt from these two women is to be unafraid and to look within without fear and doubt, own the truth and to be kinder to myself. It begins with taking care of your body. And then the nourishing glow spreads to the nerve ends of your spirit. The Yoga mat becomes a metaphor for life where you stand before a closed door or many, and then after months of fumbling, find the key to not just the door before you but many others.
Reema Moudgil works for The New Indian Express, is the author of Perfect Eight, the editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul-Indian Women, a translator who recently interpreted Dominican poet Josefina Baez’s book Comrade Bliss Ain’t Playing in Hindi, an artist, a former Urdu RJ and a mother. She won an award for her writing/book from the Public Relations Council of India in association with Bangalore University, has written for a host of national and international magazines since 1994 on cinema, theatre, music, art, architecture and more, has exhibited her art in India and the US…and hopes to travel more and to grow more dimensions as a person. And to be restful, and alive in equal measure.