Ashtanga Yoga expert Kino MacGregor shares her thoughts on spiritual strength.
Kino MacGregor travels worldwide to share her love of yoga as a healing modality and a sanctuary to get through difficult times. She is honest, courageous and knowledgeable. Yoga editor Ella Isakov speaks to Kino about how yoga helps with depression and suffering, leading to inner freedom.
Parvati Magazine: In twenty years of practicing and teaching yoga, what has been its most profound effect on you?
Kino MacGregor: The practice of yoga has led me to more peace and joy than I ever imagined possible. Each day I am eternally grateful to have found this practice and for the years that I’ve spent immersed in the yoga lineage. I am more patient, more kind, more humble and more loving than I was before yoga.
Parvati Magazine: You openly share your struggles with depression. How has your practice helped you through these periods?
Kino MacGregor: Without my yoga practice I would never have been able to make it out of the deep, dark places I’ve gone to. It is with a combination of daily spiritual practice of yoga and meditation, a good therapist and a personal relationship with God that I’ve been able to heal the wounds in my heart and mind.
Yogis get depressed too
Parvati Magazine: What do you think the yogic community needs to better understand about depression in the life of a spiritual seeker?
Kino MacGregor: First, depression in the life of a spiritual seeker is not failure. In fact, I’d say that everything we understand about depression is a bit off base. Yoga and meditation don’t mean that you will never be depressed again. Instead, you will have the tools you need to figure out what your depression is trying to teach you. Rather than running away from the pain you will be able to dive deeply into it and eventually move through it.
Parvati Magazine: You openly speak the truth of your inner state, the yoga world and human suffering in general. What is your foremost intention in doing so?
Kino MacGregor: I want people to be brave enough to stop running from their pain and their discomfort and to learn how to grow their hearts big enough to embrace the good and the bad equally. We spend so much time trying to create a “perfect” world filled with “only good vibes” that we have become somewhat averse to suffering. We may even have guilt and shame about our suffering. I want to liberate people from the idea that suffering is bad. Instead, I want to lead people down a path of true freedom, a peace that passes all understanding and is transcendent of pleasure and pain.
Yoga helps you see the truth
Parvati Magazine: You speak of yoga guiding practitioners to the deepest part of themselves, so that they may experience peace, no matter what is going on. Why is yoga so well suited to this?
Kino MacGregor: Yoga is a mirror with which to see the inner world. What you see when you dive deeply into the inner realms is the universal truth of life. First, you will experience the basic truth of impermanence. Some days your body feels light, other days your body feels heavy. Some days you feel blissful, other days you feel angry. But, either way, it all changes. You are not practicing yoga to try and control the experience, but instead to cultivate equanimity amidst those inevitable changes.
Parvati Magazine: What guidance would you offer a yoga practitioner who is experiencing suffering at this time?
Kino MacGregor: Don’t run away from your pain. Recognize it, allow it, investigate it, nurture it. This is the Buddhist acronym RAIN and it really helps. Let suffering be your teacher and get comfortable with your own discomfort. Then you will truly find transcendent peace.
Kino MacGregor is the founder of Omstars — the world’s first yoga TV network. Kino’s message of spiritual strength reaches people globally. Sought after as an expert in yoga worldwide, Kino is an international yoga teacher, inspirational speaker, author of four books, producer of six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, writer, vlogger, world traveler, co-founder of Miami Life Center.