Kino MacGregor: Passion on the Mat – Part IV

Final installment of Donavan Wilson’s interview with Kino MacGregor. Photos are provided from Kino MacGregor’s website. Contact Donavan at dwilson95 AT gmail_com.

The American Yoga Scene

Photo: portrait of Kino MacGregor with resting student in background
Kino MacGregor headshot

“I loved how many people are doing yoga today,” commented Kino as she offered her perspective on the direction of American yoga. “I think it’s great. What is really inspiring is how dedicated people are, not only in the U.S. but all over the world and how many people are getting turned on to it. The most inspirational thing about the American Yoga community is its embrace of yoga as lifestyle,” she said. “Also, what else that is exciting is the generation of children born into Yoga families and who have the exposure to a lifestyle committed to inner peace at an early age.”

Kino addressed the concerns of the yoga community, that the public thinks of Hatha yoga as asana only and ignores the philosophy of the practice. “Guruji used to say that we do asanas for many years before our minds could be open to the philosophy, the asana can be a gate to the philosophy. If you get turned on to yoga in the gym, you may say to yourself maybe I will take classes at a yoga center or meet someone who will inspire me to go deeper. I think what is amazing about people who do yoga at a gym is it makes yoga accessible,” she said. “It brings it to people who are interested in fitness and health. It may open people’s minds to the path of yoga as well. People can be inspired to go deeper by going the asanas for a few years. I think that is completely fine.”

The commercialization of the practice is another issue which concerns the American yoga community. “In the growth of anything, whether it’s painting or dance, there will always be a backlash,” she said. “There are always people that think it’s bad for the tradition, or bad for the heart of something. There will always be purists. The benefit of commercialization is that things move into the mainstream and can reach many more people,” she said. “I believe that when we take things to the mainstream and when we take things out there in order to somehow get the word out a mass amount of people, it’s O.K. to commercialize it a little bit,” she said.

“If yoga is only done by the super authentic purists in the quiet of their own home, how is that going to change the world?” she asked. “So, if you get exposed to a commercial version of yoga, say to a little bit of a less traditional dumbed-down version, say, in the gym. Maybe you would never walk into really traditional yoga center with chanting Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita because you are afraid of that. This might be a challenge to your religion,” she said.

“So, commercialization allows it just to reach a safe zone that hits a target group or a mass of people, and as long as there are options available for people who want to delve deeper it can be a fine entry point into the whole spiritual journey of yoga.”

Photo: Kino MacGregor adjust the pose of a yoga student
Kino MacGregor helps a student get deeper into a pose

“There are always going to be people who will be cheerleaders for the movement,” said Kino. “The interesting thing about commercialization when it comes to yoga it seems to be an ‘either/or’ mentality. We are going to be traditional or we will sell out and be commercial. I do not believe this to be true,” she said.

“Look at Guruji and Iyengar. They both kept true to their traditions and they were not compromised by their popularity. They reached millions of people. Both Miles Davis and John Coltrane were both popular musicians and at the same time they kept their integrity and stayed true to their form. As long as the teachers at the forefront of the movement maintain their integrity, the message of yoga can reach millions of people.”

Among her many projects, Kino is pursing a PhD in Holistic Health at the Clayton College of Natural Health (CCNH, Birmingham, AL). “I am in a bit of crux,” Kino said. “I have all the classes completed. I have a topic I can write about and at the same time, I have so many projects turning me on much more. So I am feeling this tug in both directions,” she said. “Am I going to do something that turns me on so much more? Or pursue something that once was really important? So I have to not really think of what I am going to do with that.”

On the difference between holistic health and Western medicine, she said the current model that dominates Western society treats diseases as they arrive. The holistic approach works to establish a balance from the beginning, which is more preventive. The holistic approach emphasizes a balance so an individual will not manifest the type of chronic diseases that currently affect our society. From her perspective, the best approach to healthcare and medicine is an integrative approach. This is an inclusive model that incorporates the best of the Eastern traditions and Western medicine to save lives. For instance, if someone has a serious heart problem, they can have access to a doctor, a healer, a yoga teacher and a whole panel of experts.

“I am very passionate about eco-consciousness and vegan fashion,” she said in describing another passion which is an outgrowth of her yoga practice. “I think that there is not reason why we should kill animals to look fashionable. I would like to eat fish, because it’s healthy and they come from a sustainable source, but they’re beings. Besides fishes are so beautiful; you wouldn’t eat parrot, you know what I mean?”

“The book I am working on is entitled Inner Peace, Irresistible Beauty,” she said in describing another project. “The main drive for is that real beauty comes from within. Real Beauty is the outward expression of inner peace. The book is focus on the process that led me to this in my own life lessons from the yoga practice and the spiritual path delivered to me.”