The Yoga Student

What an amazing workshop! Hard work but worth every aching muscle!

It was a true pleasure to work with Kino and Tim! There wasn’t an asana which didn’t feel more challenging than ever before! They definitely made us engage those bandhas from deep within! It’s amazing what a difference simple changes can make to your practice…pushing those elbows together in every Ekam position! Engaging that uddiyana bandha on every jump forward and jump back (…and every other asana!) Working that trochanter  into those external rotations in those hip openers! And not forgetting lifting that sacrum and ribs high, to elongate the spine for those deep backbends! Thank you to Kino and Tim for sharing their knowledge and techniques with us and with such infectious wit and humour! I’ve got to say…it’s pretty difficult holding those bandhas whilst trying not to giggle!

The way Kino and Tim talked about yoga philosophy through the Yoga Sutras gave some real food for thought! What I hadn’t realised when my body is ‘screaming’ holding Navasana and Utpluthih (Kino’s favourite asanas to count super slow!) was, just observe the body, observe the challenge, and recognise this as part of the journey to my inner self, my inner spirit! The workshop really helped to put some of the challenges in my personal practice into perspective. Since the workshop, it’s helped me to gain better self awareness, which in turn is enabling me to really focus the mind and truly feel the meditative qualities of my personal practice.

Kino and Tim are inspirational teachers and I loved their talk about the obstacles we all encounter on our yogic journey. It’s helpful to be reminded about why we committed to this beautiful, empowering, challenging, soul searching, lifelong journey. These reminders help to keep us inspired and to accept these challenges head on. It was encouraging that they were both so open about sharing their journeys, their own experiences and challenges, and despite there being 200 yogis at the workshop that did not hinder their ability give a personal touch to the experience. Their energy is contagious!

If you ever get the opportunity to work with Kino and Tim I would highly recommend it! No matter how long you have been practicing Ashtanga yoga, we can always deepen our practice, and what amazing, inspiring and vibrant teachers to do this with!

Thank you to all the Yoga Manchester ‘Warriors’ that assisted all us yogis! You made the whole weekend run swimmingly! A truly excellent workshop hosted by Yoga Manchester! Thank you!


I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga for the last 15 years under the supervision of Matt Ryan, I attend Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. I have felt a real transformation in my yoga practice over the last two years, since committing to a daily home practice and the monthly Mysore classes with Yoga Manchester.

Sapphire Raydon-Rennie


The Yoga Teacher

I’ve been a student at Kino and Tim’s workshops before, only when they’ve been operating as separate entities though, this time it was lovely to see them working together as a couple. They are both really warm people and even with their yoga ‘celebrity’ status there’s no need to feel intimidated. After-all, being told what to do with your anus on a Friday evening is certainly going to break the ice!

There were lots of wide grins at the sign-in desk – it was clear students were really excited to be there and as a teacher that makes me excited too! It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to assist Kino and Tim during the led classes, and to observe so many students practicing – shuffling the hands-width distance between the mats was certainly a test of my spacial awareness!

When talking about the practice Kino and Tim skilfully balance years of dedication and respect for the Ashtanga method with a good sense of humour. While there’s a thirst for technical instruction on the more challenging postures they offer consistent reminders to remain equanimous (‘equanimity’ was the word of the weekend with ‘anus’ following closely behind!) and stay on track with the focus of the practice – stay present.

During the Q&A Kino and Tim kept their answers grounded in reality while still referencing philosophical concepts and relevant texts, they weave philosophy into real life choices and experiences very well – rather than it being a subject that remains distant or separated from the practice and our lives. It was nice to see nods of agreement when Kino steered a question about what she eats into making ethical food choices and thinking about the impact that we as consumers have on the world.

I’ve done a reasonable amount of study over the years with some top teachers (although in the context of yoga study this constitutes a tiny, tiny tip of the iceberg). This includes a number of weekend workshops of a similar format, but I always learn something valuable – whether it’s a reminder about the fundamentals of the practice (which we all need from time to time!) or a new technique/point of view that I can use in my own practice or apply to teaching. After all a yoga teacher will always remain a yoga student.

Kino, Tim and their assistant Carmen brought a bit of Miami (and European) sunshine into the Gita Bhavan temple that weekend and I think we all took some of it away with us! I had three classes to teach after the workshop, I should have been shattered, but it’s testament to the enthusiasm of them, the students and the Yoga Manchester Team that I was raring to go!

Marie Harris

I was somewhat filled with trepidation waiting at Manchester Piccadilly rail station with a bunch of flowers in hand awaiting the arrival of Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann. The trip to Manchester was the culmination of a transatlantic teaching tour for the couple. Kino was back in Manchester for the 3rd time accompanied by Tim who was yet to sample the delights of our fabulous city. The two of them together drew a crowd of students to max out the capacity of the weekend workshop. 200 participants were to be perfectly slotted into the Hindu Temple in Whalley Range, making a massive space intimate and cosy.

How does one greet a duo of international yoga demigods with a combined Instagram following of close to 900 thousand souls? Kino broke the ice by sending a text as the train was drawing in, to let me know that they were arriving with “a ton of luggage (smiley face emoji with blushing cheeks). Well she didn’t disappoint. The London train disgorged its late night commuters and as the throng thinned out, there at the far end of the platform was the endearing sight of the diminutive Kino completely dwarfed by the lofty Tim pushing a trolley piled to the rafters with luggage. Kino herself had two further suitcases a shoulder bag and two yoga mats slung over her shoulder. Once they had trundled to the end of the platform towards me, Kino gave a smile and confessed that she was glad we were not walking to their accommodation.

The next ice breaking challenge was to fit tall Tim, all the suitcases and Kino in my small car. One of Tim’s Nordic superpowers is spatial awareness and car boot packing. This is a skill taught him by his father. Apparently you are not a real man unless you can perfectly fit an unfeasible amount of luggage into the trunk of a hatchback. I left Tim to the packing and wheeled the luggage trolley back to the station concourse then returned to my car to find visible only Kino’s ponytail and the flowers she was clutching, as she was buried in my back seat under a pile of bulging luggage.

Now where do Ashtanga Yoga royalty stay when visiting Manchester? You may imagine they took a Penthouse suite at the Lowry hotel. But no, a humble AirBnB suited them just fine. They seemed to relish being in a city centre apartment and took time to wander round our civic spaces, particularly enjoying the Central Library.

No doubt much has been speculated and lots has been written about Kino’s diet. I hope she doesn’t mind me spilling the beans, but since I did a small grocery shop for her and Tim, I have some inside information on this matter. During the Question and Answer session of the workshop, Kino was asked about her favourite foods. Well I can endorse her answer. She lives for fruit of all kinds in all forms: fresh, dried and juiced fruits seem to be the mainstay of her diet. Right now a mono-diet of figs would have suited her down to the ground, but sadly figs are not in season in Manchester right now. Tim, being originally from Denmark would have his basic human rights contravened if her were not allowed to eat cheese. So they have softened their vegan aspirations in the interests of marital harmony. Re-hydration comes in the form of coconut water. This was very important for Kino who can get through litres each day. She has preferred brands of coconut water so a crack team of Yoga-Manchester yoga teachers scoured the supermarkets of our fair city to source this for her, but to no avail. Even Unicorn, Manchester’s cooperative health food grocery failed us. Well Kino took the news well. She and Tim treated themselves to Starbucks takeout for lunch as compensation. So Rock ‘n’ Roll.

You’d think that after years of teaching that Kino would have forgotten what it is to be nervous. I’m sure this is true to some extent but who wouldn’t have a slight frisson of adrenaline just before kicking off an event with 200 yogis hanging on your every word? In the car on the way to the first session I could detect that the usual equanimity of Kino was ever so slightly out of kilter. In fact she had forgotten something in the apartment, needed to go back and get it and then was anxious that we were going to be late. Goddamit she is human after all! However once she got going, her cheeky and slightly theatrical delivery held the attention of the crowd. A recurring theme of the sessions was the role of the pelvis and engaging of the Bandhas. Kino relished talking through the anatomy and created some mental imagery which I am sure had everyone blushing. But we had our eyes closed so who would know? Over the weekend I think Tim and Kino said “anus” about a thousand times. The concept of the rogue anus was new to me. One brave yogi ventured to ask what she should do with her tongue during asana practice. She felt she had a rogue tongue, so Tim set her straight advising her that it should rest gently on the upper palate with the tip positioned behind the teeth. With a sparkle in her eyes Kino chimed in that it was very important not to get one’s rogue tongue and rogue anus mixed up.

To wind up the whole event Tim and Kino cooked up a scheme to give away their personal yoga mats that they had used on tour. They played Bingo, calling numbers from the list of people signed up to the workshops. Sadly numbers one, 200 and 108 had already left the Temple by the time the Bingo got going, so lost out on their opportunity to win the yoga mats. If you are reading this and are wondering if that was you, well you must be gutted and I bet you’ll never leave a Kino and Tim workshop early again! Once two winners were identified, a fight nearly broke out over which mat was the sweatiest. When asked why they where giving the mats away. Kino gave a warm smile and confessed that they were flying back to Miami the next day so by reducing their luggage the recipients of the sweaty mats were doing them a favour.

So we bid Kino and Tim bon voyage and hope to see them back soon again in Manchester to share their wit and wisdom with us.




We have now got the Kino MacGregor endorsed Wonderful yoga mat now in stock.

The highly durable Wonderful yoga mat is for students committed to a regular yoga practice. The mat is 180 cm x 60 cm and 4mm thick. A mat of this quality usually retails for over £60 , but we are making this mat available to Yoga Manchester students for just £40. Drop us on email on if you want more information or how to purchase.

Having a top quality yoga mat like this can really help support your yoga practice.A proper mat provides comfort between the body and floor, cushioning hips, elbows, and knees when flowing through the poses.

1. Does God exist?

2. Is there life after death?

3. Should Ashtanga Yoga students go to Mysore (to study at the KPJAYI)

Did you spot the ‘red herrings’ in the above questions? Was is that obvious? I like Buddha’s answer to the first two questions, he said something along the lines of “don’t twist your melon trying to prove or disprove the existence of God and life after death – it’ll probably send you doolally.” So I’ll heed his advice and try to make sense of question three only as God knows (or maybe doesn’t) I’ve been asked that particular question a million times.

I’m just back from my 8th visit to the KPJAYI (the Shala) and I now feel pretty comfortable with giving some kind of answer to question three. The place has changed over the years; physically changing in 2002 when it moved lock stock and barrel from the tiny 12 students at a time ‘Old Shala’ in Lakshmipuram to the much larger 50 students plus toilet space ‘New Shala’ in Gokulam. That was when the first murmurs of discontent started to rumble, the ‘Old Shala’ versus the ‘New Shala’ debate. I guess it was bound to happen as people always like to have a moan about something, myself included. And having studied at both shalas, my biggest moan about the old place was the two-hour daily wait to get on the mat. Still it taught me patience. Even Spiritual Awakening is subject to the laws of supply and demand, and for me my friend, I welcomed with open arms (and only a 20-30 minute wait to practice) the move to Gokulam.

When Guruji, the heartbeat of Ashtanga Yoga died in 2009, the flame was passed to his grandson Sharath. Guruji had been pretty poorly for a few years and had actually retired from teaching in 2007, but he lived upstairs at the Shala and his presence could be felt on the Shala floor even when he stopped teaching. In some ways the passing of Guruji marked a new era in Ashtanga Yoga as quite a few of the older students stopped making the annual pilgrimage to the Shala, and a ‘new generation’ of Ashtanga Yoga student was born. Like Guruji passing the Ashtanga flame onto Sharath, the student flame was passed from teachers like Richard Freeman, Tim Miller and Dena Kingsberg to the new kids on the block: Kino MacGregor, Luke Jordan and Mark Robberds. Despite the presence of some truly awe inspiring people in the Shala, people still wanted to moan; whether it was about monthly fees going up or the alleged ‘aggressive’ energy in the shala, there was always a ‘shala drama’ going down.

Having been there a few times, I have never felt this supposed aggression in students – what was that quote from Homer Simpson ‘Offence is only taken, but never given’. I guess people get too caught up in other’s people’s journeys rather than focusing on their own. Yes there is a definite energy in the room, but for me this energy is the power of the Ashtanga fire burning up egos and attitudes and transforming hearts and minds.

My latest trip to Mysore in March 2014 marked a personal ‘awakening’ in my internal and external Ashtanga journey. As mentioned above I like a good moan as much as the next person (I think it’s the human condition, to be human is to moan, I moan therefore I am,  maybe that’s what the Buddha meant in the first ‘noble truth’ not life is suffering but life is moaning). This trip, despite the heat and the Shala being busy, saw a ‘dropping off’ of the moaning, no shit. I got up I went to the Shala, I waited, I practised,  I went home – hallelujah, I finally ‘got it’.  Maybe some people ‘get it’ quicker than others. I’m pretty slow witted and it always seems to take longer for the proverbial penny to drop.

Ashtanga Yoga is a process a physical and mental journey, “a 100 year programme” as one teacher likes to call it. The problem people make when they go to the Shala is their expectation. They want it to be a certain way and then when it’s not like what they envisaged or hoped for then it’s a ‘waste of money’ or ‘I’ll never go back there’ moan. What made complete sense to me this time (I told you I was a slow learner) was it’s like the old spiritual cliche of digging a hole looking for water: you gotta dig deep baby to get there. Too many people give up after one shovel full of earth, which when you actually think about it is just plain bloody stupid.

If you’re after adjustment after adjustment then go to Freddie’s Fab Adjustment Clinic , Beach Side Hotsville. If you can be honest with yourself and want some personal transformation (this can be physical, mental and spiritual) then you got to start digging and keep digging and then dig some more until you find what you’re looking for.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve finally hit gold (am I carrying on too long with the digging analogy here?) but one thing’s for certain: I’m definitely onto something when I’m at the Shala, and that door’s open for you too as long as you can leave your bullshit at the Shala door.

Yes it’s a bit of a hassle getting there – even the booking process is a little convoluted these days, but see these kind of things not as obstacles but as part of the whole Shala process.

So in answer to the above question three YES, YES and thrice YES. In the words of Jimmy James & The Vagabonds ‘Now is the time’ – don’t delay get on t’internet and email the Shala today.

Fancy dipping your toe in the Mysore ‘Self-Practice’ method water? Check out Matt’s monthly Mysore intensive in Chorlton.

    ashtanga yoga mysore journey





Welcome to Yoga Manchester’s first Yoga Helpline  feature. Every month, we’ll be providing useful tips and advice on subjects relating to your yoga and meditation practice. Please send in any questions you may have and we’ll do our best to shed some light on your query!

Q: Should I continue to practise yoga when I’m injured?

A: To practise or not to practise asana during an injury is a difficult question and unfortunately is not straightforward. While we can suffer from similar injuries, i.e. hamstring strain or shoulder pain, the causes of these is almost always unique with the continuation of yoga practise to be determined by the individual.

It was only a month or so ago that I received my first yoga injury, and by this I don’t mean a twinge or ache – these are ‘normal’ sensations for regular practitioners – but rather a sharp pain that continued long after the practice was over. Like many people, there’s nothing that pleases me more than to be told how to ‘fix it’, a ‘top ten tips’ on how to solve a problem, which led me to search high and low for an answer to the conundrum of whether to continue, stop or modify the practice.

I could find was typically yogic responses of “it’s ultimately up to you.” Yes, this was frustrating at first but then I realised it was my Western mindset not the advice that was lacking clarity. Without the information available, I was forced to truly listen to my body and its actual capability as opposed to adhering to the prescribed one-size-fits-all advice. Without boring you with the details of my own trial and error experience, I honestly believe that our own inner guide is the most knowledgeable and in-touch with our needs right here and now.

So, while a straightforward answer does not exist, here’s some guidance from well-known and respected yoga teachers.

Matthew Sweeney writes in Ashtanga Yoga As it is:

The teacher may point the way, but you are responsible for your choices. If you do experience increased pain, modify you practice as necessary rather than ignoring it and pushing through. Possibly this may mean stopping completely, alternatively it may mean continuing but at a greatly reduced pace.

Richard Freeman advises:

Working carefully and intelligently with injury is an important part of any yoga practice. Yoga should make the body healthier rather than harming it. Though one has to be intelligent rather than fanatical and mechanical. Having a good teacher to give guidance and feedback, and listening carefully to the internal cues that your body is giving you is very important.

Kino MacGregor says:

If you find yourself faced with a debilitating injury one of the hardest things to face is your own ego. The egoic mind hates to feel like it is slipping from the front of the pack and will cringe and twist when you lighten your load to go easy on your body. Just let the ego bleed itself to death…If you face a battle of ego when you modify your practice to be pain-free in your joints you can rest assured that you are absolutely doing the deep work of the spiritual path of yoga.

Injury demands that you ask what your every-moment priority really is and requires you to be totally present. The question you must ask is at the core of your dedication to yoga. When you can no longer do the “cool” moves you must determine whether your motivation is truly finding inner peace or just the advanced postures.

Michelle Dorer writes:

If you have an injury you should maintain practice, however, you should accommodate your practice in a way that facilitates healing. If you immobilize the injury too much, the scar tissue will lock up. You need to keep your blood flowing for healing to occur.

If you overstretched something, continuing to overstretch will not facilitate healing. You may for a time have to change your approach to your practice, do not go as deep into the postures, modify them in some way, or leave certain postures and / or transitions out. Find the middle ground. Yoga should heal your body, not harm it. Talk to your teacher about the best way to work through a specific injury.

It is important you do not stop practicing. There is also a mental aspect to the injury and if you do not keep moving and breathing you may not move through this. Breathe and move forward slowly and steadily with loving awareness.



Following on from our monthly Light on Yoga Manchester People  feature we were fortunate enough to get the amazing Kino MacGregor to answer our questions.

Kino was in Manchester recently to teach a couple of workshops and I can confirm that she’ll be back next year September 19-21 2014 for a weekend workshop.

Please feel free to add in your thoughts to Kino’s answers at the bottom of the page in the comments section.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My home, my family, my yoga center and my heart are all in Miami Beach. I think of myself first as a student of yoga and then as an Ashtanga Yoga teacher, author, writer, vlogger and YouTuber. My husband and I have a cat called Neffie, a stray that we adopted who now loves nothing more than to lie on top of us whenever she gets the chance. We have a big mango tree in our yard that brings a bounty of sweet, juicy mangoes each summer. I love the ocean, the eternal sunshine of Florida, long walks by the sea under the multi-dimensional, rainbow colored sunsets of Miami Beach, the feeling of endless white sand under my toes, swimming in the crystalline, turquoise waters of the beach and seeing how the shore is never the same.

What are you currently listening to? Tell us about it

Lately I’ve had a Classical music revival. Beethoven, Bach, Chopin and Mozart are all in the “now playing” list of my iPhone. Some others at the top of my list are David Gray, Lady Gaga, DJ Sasha, Danny Tenaglia, Jack Johnson, Chet Baker, Miles Davis and Sigur Ros.

What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising?

I started yoga out of a desire to live a more peaceful life. The full answer to this question is so big that I wrote a book called Sacred Fire about my journey into yoga, from my first class in Miami all the way through to my first trip to India and back to Miami again.

What is your yoga super power?

My yoga super power, if I have one, is discipline. I practice every day, follow the method of Ashtanga Yoga truly and rarely deviate from a daily practice. Some people find it challenging to adhere to the regularity of the practice, but the discipline of Ashtanga Yoga gives me peace of mind and I find it easy.

If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why?

I would be Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings because I love his good intentions, the power that he wields and the transformation that he goes through over the three films.

Where in the world is heaven?

Heaven for me is sunrise over the ocean’s horizon (which is absolutely gorgeous every day on Miami Beach). There is a sacredness to the beauty of the sun peaking up above the deep blue of the sea that seems to renew hope and rebirth possibility. There is the promise kept each dawn that no matter how dark the night may be the sun will indeed rise again the next day. Divinity manifesting as light, breaking through the shadows to reveal the truth– the simple purity of this experience is heaven for me.

If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

It’s easy to re-write the story of your life and re-cast all your mistakes as successes, so easy in fact that I don’t think I could fit them all in here. Perhaps what’s more telling than something external I would change it something internal. I would go back in time and give my younger self the self-confidence, strength and self-assurance to trust my dreams and go for them against all odds, regardless of how impossible they might seem. After many years of yoga I realize that we are born with all our grace, power and beauty and all we really need to do is trust that it’s there, follow it and let it lead us through life.


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?

If you’re reading this review, then the chances are you’ve already been acquainted with Kino MacGregor’s work. With hundreds of ‘how-to’ clips on YouTube and a schedule that spans the entire globe, Kino’s missionary work to spread Ashtanga Yoga far and wide is well and truly under-way.

As with any discipline though, Kino’s method of promoting Ashtanga has drawn criticism not from those of other traditions but within Ashtanga itself. Her effervescent personality, groomed locks, and not to mention teeny shorts have led a minority to accuse her shamelessly self-promoting to ‘cash-in’ on the Ashtanga tradition. Kino is more aware of these criticisms than anyone, and posted a rebuttal on Elephant Yoga to address the most popular critiques of her and the Kino ‘brand’ which was a very yogic way of showing the Vs to all the haters.

When I went on the hunt for my first ever yoga book, there was a plethora of male-authored practical guides, with David Swenson’s The Practice Manual ruling supreme, however, female-authored books were more to do with the subtle aspects of the yoga practice than asanas. Don’t get me wrong, the meditative side of yoga is now a firm part of my practice, but three years ago, I wanted to know the quickest way to bind in Marichyasana C not how to stimulate my chakras.

So why do I make the identification between male and female-authored books? In an Ashtanga class, students will notice the usual 70/30 (give or take) ratio of women to men, but the literature, workshops, and figureheads of the Ashtanga tradition is probably 80/20 men to women, which in no way represents actual practitioners. Given that the practice of yoga is aimed at uniting the masculine (Shiva, consciousness) and feminine (Shakti, energy) parts that make us who we are, the resources on the Ashtanga tradition as it stands is firmly governed by Shiva with Shakti occasionally getting a look-in.

And this is where The Power of Ashtanga Yoga steps in.

Taught directly by Pattabhi Jois during her countless visits to Mysore, Kino is one of only 14 people in the United States to receive Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga, so is well-placed to be writing a 217-page book on the practice. Split into Part One: Theory, and Part Two: Practice, Kino’s knowledge of the former and its application to the latter is thorough, academic but experiential. In her trademark colourful style, she explains the history and tradition of Ashtanga Yoga before highlighting how the method taps into and cuts through our habitual modes of being to help us reveal who we really are.

In less than 57 pages, she shuns the airy-fairy rhetoric often written on yoga but stops short of bogging the reader down in detail to convey the complicated and subtle side of Ashtanga Yoga. Her explanation of the tristana method (gaze, breath and posture) unique to Ashtanga clearly explains before emphasises the importance of not getting so fixated on the asana that we forget to breathe and focus our gaze, thus miss the point on what Ashtanga is working us towards: the balance of the Shiva and Shakti within to create union and end the incorrect idea of dualism.

In Part One, Kino goes to great lengths to highlight the physical and spiritual benefits of a disciplined practice. Including her own experiences to encourage the reader to stay on the difficult Ashtanga path, it is almost as she is providing as much inspiration as possible before moving to Part Two which is the asana practice itself.

Forming the largest section of the book, Part Two is dedicated to the Primary Series, with illustrations of the posture and modifications included. The ‘how-to’ descriptions are thorough, with the occasional anecdote alongside a list of benefits included which act to spur the reader on whilst shouting: “Practice and all is coming!!!” Kino’s descriptions command attention to detail whilst labouring the points of breath and gaze, just in case the reader forgot/skipped the Theory section.

In the appendices, Kino goes that extra mile to include ‘cheat sheets’ including the vinyasa (breath and posture), gaze (drishti), and the Sanskrit count for every asana of the Primary Series, as well as the opening and closing chants. This added bonus at the end of the book is probably a good indication to the reader that they’re taking the practice up a notch when they begin and end their practice with an OM, and are concerned with the correct vinyasa.

Her dedication and passion for Ashtanga is truly conveyed in The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, however, in terms of usability, David Swenson’s The Practice Manual for me is still number one as the formatting allows the practitioner to quickly check the next step whilst attempting a new posture. That said, once a posture is familiar then this is where Kino steps in to provide more detail to Swenson’s instructions thus allowing us to fine tune the posture.

Perhaps as an act of recognition to the imbalance of gender representation in Ashtanga Yoga, Kino includes a small section entitled ‘The Quiet Strength of a Woman’s Body’ which explains the differing but equal strengths of the male and female physique. The inclusion of this small but important section works to encourage the female practitioner to modify the posture if the bosom is too large to do the binds, keep working on the lift-ups to increase strength, but most of all, embrace her femininity as part of a balanced yoga practice.

If the aim of Ashtanga Yoga is to create strength and flexibility in equal doses whilst working internally to maintain the balance between our inherent masculine and feminine aspects, then The Power of Ashtanga Yoga is a great resource to all practitioners, and a worthwhile contribution to the outward portrayal of the tradition itself.

Kino MacGregor is in Manchester on 13th August to teach a yoga workshop for everyone.

We will have copies of Kino’s book ‘The Power of Ashtanga Yoga’ available to buy at the workshop.

Charlene McAuley teaches the beginners workshops and yoga for sports class for Yoga Manchester.

Charlene McAuley