Kino Macgregor in Manchester – Workshop Reviews

On the 13th August, we were very pleased to host world-famous Ashtangi, Kino Macgregor for two fantastic workshops!

Two of our Yoga Manchester teachers, Kirstin and Charlene, have written a review of the day and evening workshops, which you can read below. We’d love to read your comments on the event – please add your voice to the mix by commenting on here and on Facebook.

If you missed Kino’s recent visit, fear not. We’re very pleased to announce that she’ll be back in Manchester next year! Keep your eyes peeled for announcements and further details.


A Day with Kino MacGregor 

We’re a really lucky lot of yogi’s in Manchester. Not only do we have fantastic teachers from Yoga Manchester ,  we also have amazing guest teachers who come to visit us and share their yoga wisdom. Last Tuesday was no exception when Kino MacGregor dropped in to town as part of her European tour. Folk travelled from all over the North West and beyond to spend a day immersed in Ashtanga yoga.

So who comes to a yoga workshop?  A mixed bag made up of teachers, long term practitioners and those who have only recently discovered yoga. We’re all there for the same reason; to discover more about the awe-inspiring practice of Ashtanga Yoga. I love attending these workshops, not only for the wonderful teaching but also to be in a roomful of people who share the same interest, dare I say passion?  The energy and enthusiasm is almost tangible.

This was the first time that I had studied with Kino MacGregor and I know that it will not be the last.  Her teaching style is straightforward and makes absolute sense.  Much of the focus of the workshop was about finding strength within the practice.  We spent a lot of time looking at the standing postures, working on activating the arms, rotating the shoulders, finding a sense of uplift from the core and an inner strength deep within the pelvis.  This clearly demonstrated how increased awareness and effort applied in the (seemingly!) simple postures is the key to accomplishing the more challenging asana.

This was all presented in a clear, informative and down to earth manner making it accessible for everyone regardless of experience.  We also had loads of fun helping one another locating the source of strength….or at least getting a sense of where it comes from.  I can’t speak for anyone else but I felt it highlighted how easy it is to go through the motions once the movements become familiar or habitual.  For me, the standing postures have taken on a new life of their own.  Oh, and I have found my ‘pelvic bowl’!!!  Many students I know talked of waking up to aching arms and shoulders on Wednesday morning.  They also spoke of a heightened awareness and motivation to get back on the mat and practice, practice, practice!

Kino is a warm, engaging and truly inspirational woman, yogi and teacher.  She shared stories of her own yoga journey, her travels to India and the time spent with her own teacher, the Godfather of Ashtanga Yoga – Guruji.  I’d take a guess at saying that every single student had her undivided attention at some point during the workshop.  She connected with us all.  On a personal note, I want to send a heartfelt thank you directly to Kino for dropping by and for confirming a return visit in September 2014.

By Kirstin Robertson – Kirstin’s classes with Yoga Manchester here.

A lesson in inner and outer strength with Kino MacGregor 

Less than two hours after finishing the day session with Kino MacGregor, I was at the beautiful Gita Bhavan temple in Chorlton ready and waiting for the next instalment of her Manchester visit. As 100 students filed in to the hall and strategically placed their mats to get the best view or to hide from view, I wondered what Kino had in store for us – “Probably Primary Series”, a few of us had concluded earlier in the day.

For those not familiar with Kino, she is one of the world’s leading Ashtangis, was taught directly by the late founder of Ashtanga, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, and is a senior teacher within the tradition. All this aside, she has authored two books, has gazillions of ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube, and Tweets to her 16,000 plus followers at least 10 times a day.

Kino opened the session by sharing her own experience on the difficult Ashtanga path, including one six month episode in Mysore. To summarise, this involved her being in a difficult posture from Third Series, and hearing her guruji, Sri K Pattabhi Jois repeatedly shouting an instruction. “Why don’t they listen to him?” she thought, only then to hear, “Kino!” and be told she needed more strength. Her embarrassment quickly gave way to realisation: she had become complacent in her practice, and needed to reignite the “fire that leads to internal purification”.

On reflection, this anecdote provided the theme for the session and inspiration we were all going to need to persevere with the wrist, leg, arm and core strength sequences, she was about to unleash upon us. Demonstrating each sequence before asking us to do it was deceptive: her effortless movement made every exercise look as if we would execute it with little effort and strength – how wrong was I.

Breaking down Surya Namaskar A to include a modification of high plank which involved being on our “tippy toes” before moving into Chaturanga served to highlight the enormous amount of strength required for this transition posture. Already my deltoids were crying and my abdominals were recruiting every active muscle within their vicinity. With over 90 minutes to go, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in mercifully thinking, “what else does she have in store for us?”

A few horrid core exercises, baby Bakasana, and fully-grown Bakasana later, we were on to an “approachable” version of a posture from Third Series, Vasisthasana. Whenever Kino said  “approachable/easier” I didn’t believe her as every muscle was begging me to stop.

Self-doubt must have been expressed in the eyes of the 100 people Kino was looking at as she then told all of us: “There is one thing you’re lacking right now” – “strength, balance, 10 years+ practice,”I thought – “you all need to have faith that you can do this.”

Working through the balance, bodies were falling down like flies, arms were shaking, murmurs and sighs interrupted her encouraging words, but despite every outward sign that we were about to throw in the sweaty yoga flannel, we continued to do as she said. We were all ignoring our whiny “please stop now” voice within to see what we were capable of – our internal fire was well and truly burning as we tried to have faith that we could see if the impossible was possible.

The energy within the room was palpable as people of different abilities shared the same aim of moving beyond our perception of what we can’t do, and move towards what is possible. “Attraction and aversion is what keeps us trapped in habit – keep the internal fire of purification burning by moving beyond this”, Kino told us as we were approaching the last push: backbends.

Lifting up into Urdhva Dhanurasana, something triggered within me as I suddenly realised that I too had become complacent in my practice as I believed I was ‘strong enough’ for the stage I was at. Whilst the Primary Series talk through was expected, the focus upon strength not only proved my expectation wrong but served to demonstrate how easy it is for complacency to set-in.

Ashtanga’s leading missionary used the small window of time she had at the Gita Bhavan to share with us the technique’s most powerful tool: continued determination to move beyond self-limiting thoughts to discover who we are and what we can achieve. Feeling like a weakling in need of some spinach, we moved into the postures of the finishing sequence exhausted from the lesson Kino had given us in inner and outer strength.

After the much-needed relaxation, we had a Q&A session with Kino before wrapping-up the evening with an auction of Kino’s hot-pink mat in aid of her charity, Yoga Gives Back. Starting off at £1, generous students sent the price up to £50 before it was sold for £60 to a man behind me. On that note, we exchanged our thanks with Kino before retiring for the night.

Leaving the temple, I wondered how sore I would be in the morning. My physical fatigue though was sharply contrasted by motivation and inspiration which was a result of Kino’s encouraging words and above all, everyone’s effort to go beyond self-doubt and burning arms to see what we’re capable of.

If you didn’t manage to make the session, or you want to relive the evening, Kino has uploaded a 10 minute version of the evening’s strength sequences here. Good luck!

By Charlene McAuley – Check out Charlene’s classes with Yoga Manchester here.


If you enjoyed attending or reading about this event, why not check out our future events?