One of my teachers often talked about McYoga. At McDonald's the workers are given the recipe for making a great hamburger. They don't have to think about it. If they just follow the directions they were given in their training, their hamburgers will be consistent and in line with McDonald's hamburgers. They have no clue how to make a McDonald's hamburger from scratch. They don't know what is in the special sauce but they don't have too. They sell billions every day & many people find them tasty.
Many yoga teachers are the same way. Awesome classes but they really don't know much about yoga. Just like the McDonald's employee can stack the lettuce, tomato, two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun and make a damn good product. The McYoga teacher can pick music, set the temperature, call out the poses in the suggested sequence with a few variations, speak well, get people in and out of yoga poses semi safely and teach a rocking class but if you ask them specific questions you will get some really general answers.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for all the Big Mac trainings I have had & I have grown in leaps and bounds because of it. They grew my confidence and gave me great tools . I love having the ability to teach a great class without really too much thought. It opens doors for many teachers & gives them a strong foundation to grow their unique intrinsic talents. It also brings many students to yoga & opens the world to its many benefits. However, it is what it is & many teachers will never go beyond this point. They never step into the true roll of a teacher and are happy dishing out cool choreography with a few yoga words thrown in for good measure.
Then there are those who have a true understanding of what they are teaching. They know what the special sauce, the bun and the patty is made of, how to make them, & the benefits and risks of consuming them. Either they have put in the sweat equity with a daily practice and exploration of their chosen yoga, studied scriptures and texts for a better understanding, or have a strong link to,parampara, the lineage from which their yoga comes from. They embody the practice in their words, deeds and actions. In the words of another one of my favorite teachers, they embody the spirit of a true teacher. They are there to bust through that ego & remove the barriers to transformation rather you like it or not. They give you what you need and not necessarily what you want. This is what I felt from Kino Macgregor.
Kino recently did a 3 day workshop here in Charlotte, NC. I knew a lot of the attendees & it was amazing to watch her peg people, me included, immediately without even knowing them. Many talk about how Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga & Kino's teacher, had the ability to give students exactly what they needed. He was a stern fiery force for some & for others he was gentle and nurturing. Through being fully present with his students, he was able to read them & know exactly what they needed to burst through the ego and grow strong mentally and physically. Kino had the same ability. It was interesting to watch how her tone and stance shifted as she addressed individual students. For some, her words were tinged with humor, for others they were serious and full of purpose, & for a few they had a little bite. This ability only comes from being present while teaching.
She had a deep understanding of the asanas and taught us to approach them from an internal stand point. The poses were no longer just kick ass external shapes. We learned how to connect to them more deeply by using the muscles of the pelvic floor & engagement.
Unlike the McYoga teacher or McDonald's employee, who has to get everything in the class or on the hamburger bun in a short amount of time, she was not in a hurry. While every segment of the workshop had a physical focus, she took her time speaking on sutras & telling funny, encouraging and inspirational stories that introduced another layer to our asana practice. When we actually did move our bodies, her words melted together with the movements and brought clarity to the actions.
For me, she reawakened my love of Ashtanga. I am going to admit this on this post and hopefully it does not bite me in the ass. I have been practicing since World War I (joke, go ahead and laugh). I get my ass kicked often, but that is not the same as being challenged. Ass kicking comes from the sequencing, the holds, the heat, & the pace. Challenging comes from the poses, the breath and the technique itself. Challenges take you beyond the realm of your limits and give you a new threshold to reach for. Maybe it is a pranayama that blows away the thoughts, a text that opens the mind or a totally insane pose that humbles you.
A practice can be challenging, but not kick your ass. For me, ass kicking is a side benefit of the yoga, but not the main reason I come to the mat. It is the challenge that I like and grow from. As Kino says, yoga makes the impossible, possible. That is what floats my boat. Kino did this. I felt my understanding of the yoga and the practice grow.
My Second Series practice was stuck. I hadn't made much progress in it for years. My metaphorical balls were getting busted at the same poses every time. She gave me amazing pointers and extra homework to do to help me get past the plateaus I was hitting.
I highly recommend that you practice with her if given a chance. And don't just do the Led Primary series part of the workshop. The magic was in the individual attention that happened during Mysore practice and during the technique workshops. In the second part of this, I will list specific things she said that may resonate with you.
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