Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ashtanga Yoga Method by Kino MacGregor

The Logic of the Six Day a Week Mysore Style
Ashtanga Yoga Method
by Kino MacGregor

In the Ashtanga Yoga method it is recommended that you practice six days a week. Traditionally the six day a week practice was meant to be done in what is known as “Mysore Style”. In this method of practice you follow your own breath and movement not the guidance of a teacher leading a class through the same movements. Named “Mysore Style” after the city called Mysore in southern India where the Guru of Ashtanga Yoga, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, lived and taught for his entire life, this method of practice is the safest and best way for students to practice. Memorizing the postures allows students to focus internally, which is the real goal of yoga. When you do not know what you will be doing next your attention will always be on your teacher rather than within yourself. Once you memorize the sequence of postures that your teacher determines is right for you the entire practice transfers deeper into the subconscious level. Practicing in the Mysore Style method allows you to have days where you go deeply into your practice and also days where you go gently into your practice while performing all the same postures. This natural variation prevents injury, trains you to listen to the body and increases internal body awareness. Additionally, Mysore Style is the only place to safely learn the most advanced postures of all the series of Ashtanga Yoga since very few individuals can perform and teach these highly challenging postures. It would certainly not be advised to try these postures casually just for entertainment. The advanced postures of the Ashtanga Yoga method are magical, intense and worthy of the respect that only a dedicated Mysore Style practice can give them.

Even if you never expect to perform any advanced yoga postures, the logic of Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga is best understood in a Mysore Style setting. The Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series builds sequentially in terms of flexibility and strength in order prepare you for some of the gateway postures in the practice. Starting with the Sun Salutation, aimed at both steadying the mind and warming up the inner fire, the practice opens the hamstrings, stretches and strengthens the back, increases core development and purifies the entire body. The test of the Standing Postures lies in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana where you must balance on one leg, lift your leg with its own strength, forward bend, suck in the lower belly and externally rotate your hip joint all in one posture. Once you can easily perform this posture the work of the Standing Sequence is generally well-integrated and it is safe to move onward in the series. The next series of postures that presents a gateway are the four Marichyasana postures that require a series of binds where you clasp you hand either behind your back or around your leg in a twisted posture and maintain either half lotus or a very strong extended leg. The careful placement of every posture that precedes this section of the practice is aimed at developing the internal strength and flexibility needed to perform these postures with ease. Marichysana D is the pinnacle of this portion of the series, being the most difficult twist and half lotus combination. Finally the grand crescendo of the Primary Series is half way through, Supta Kurmasana where internal strength, external rotation and forward bending are challenged to a high degree in order to get both legs behind the head. After this point in the series the postures help transition from flexion of the spine to extension so that Urdhva Danurasana or Backbending can be performed with ease. In this way the logic of the Primary Series builds up to certain postures that test alignment, inner strength and flexibility in order to make sure that the asana practice is solid and stable before moving on. I

The recommendation to take on a six day a week practice is often hard to accept for new students, so new students can easily build up to a full six day a week practice by starting with three days a week. Then once that level of regularity is established one additional day a week can be added every six months until the full six days a week is within reach. One other crucial shift must happen in order to facilitate the transition into full immersion in the yoga tradition. You must make the transition from a fitness oriented approach to yoga into a devotional one. By getting this subtle shit you will gain consistency and regularity in the way that you do your practice. A daily spiritual ritual where you take time to connect internally to a deep sense of yourself requires dedication. The requirement to practice six days a week is meant to develop the kind of mental, spiritual and devotional determination needed in order make progress along the internal path of yoga. If yoga is meant to be a life long commitment to inner peace it behooves yoga practitioners to practice as much as they can. If you only practice when it is convenient or when you feel good then yoga is more of a hobby then a lifestyle. But sincere spiritual practice has never been a leisurely activity if it is to produce the results of awakening. True spiritual practice is an unbroken commitment to do everything it takes to see the deepest truth there is. It is not something you can choose to look at only on Monday and Wednesday for an hour and pretend it does not exist for the rest of the week.

On a purely physical level a six day a week practice is both advantageous and challenging. You will perform the postures more often so will actually see results faster, building strength, stamina and flexibility at a far greater rate than if you were only to practice once or twice a week. In fact those individuals who choose to attend yoga class once a week are actually setting themselves up for an uphill battle each week where they must face the same weakness and tightness with little chance of hedging a path toward sustainability. It is no secret that if you do practice six days a week you will also be physically sore, but it will be a qualitatively different type of soreness than the once-a-week yoga practitioner. If you practice six days a week you are more likely to feel the pain or purification and learn the mental state needed to stay through the often uncomfortable healing phase. In Sanskrit the word for this type of endurance through challenging situations is “tapas” which literally means heat, but can be understood as the acceptance of pain that leads to purification. Practicing six days a week accelerates the rate at which pains that purify weakness and stiffness arrive and therefore also accelerates the rate at which the purified result of more strength and flexibility both in the body and mind also arrive.

On many of my trips to Mysore students would often share their elaborate stories of discomfort with Guruji and the majority of the time he would say “Pain good.” The second book of the yoga sutras begins with an axiom that defines a key element of yoga practice as accepting pain as help for purification, tapas. The only way that the inner fire of purification works is if you learn to stay in it and not run away. The natural human response to pain is fear, avoidance and denial, yet yoga uses pain as a method of awakening. By learning to accept pain within the safe space of yoga you learn to create a pause between the stimulus of pain and the response in your body and mind that wants to run away. In that powerful pause you are able to choose your course of action instead of being driven by reactionary patterns from the past. The store of accumulated reactionary patterns amount to what is called in Sanskrit the samskaras and these set ways of being, reacting and running create the negative karma that adversely affects our lives. If you are truly to use the yoga practice to whittle away at the store of negative karma and behavioral patterns then to practice as often as possible is a mandatory minimum requirement.

"Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes."
~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Friday, November 25, 2011

Give Thanks

Not believing in anything I just sit,
listening to my breathing
After thirty years
It still goes in and out.
Albert Coelho 

 December Class Schedule:
Saturday 12/03--- 8-9:30am Mysore Style Ashtanga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)
Saturday 12/10 *Full Moon--- 12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)
                            Full Moon Movement Class 4-5:30pm
Saturday 12/17--- 10-11:30am Mysore Style Ashtanga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)
Saturday 12/24 *New Moon--- 10-11:30am Dharma Yoga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)
 Saturday 12/31--- 10-11:30am Mysore Style Ashtanga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels) 

*Why aren't we practicing Ashtanga on Moon Days?---

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jaya Yoga Virginia

What is the purpose of Yoga? This is an idea I have been thinking about every since I first began yoga 14 years ago. Yoga should be for everyone. Everyone. Meaning no financial restrictions, no secret handshakes, and no special yoga pants required. It should be a way to embody our best expression on and off the mat by empowering the individual to live a healthy life and then creating positive change within our community.

I have found a great space where I work, Tidewater Staffing, to be able to provide the community with complimentary yoga offerings. The website is and the address is 5425 Virginia Beach Blvd.

Here is November's Schedule (please check often, subject to change):
Saturday 11/19--- 10-11:30am Mysore, Ashtanga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)
Saturday 11/26--- 10-11:30am Mysore, Ashtanga
                             12-1pm Community Yoga (all levels)

All classes are intended to be fun, light, and supportive. No worries if you are a beginner, everyone is welcome. Bring whatever makes you feel comfortable. You can substitute a towel for a mat and just where workout/comfy clothes you can move in. If you feel like you need to come and just take rest the whole practice, sit in the corner and meditate, or practice handstands---all is welcome as long as we are respectful of each other. These classes are for everyone--bring your mom, bring your girlfriend, invite your coworkers--  anyone that might dig it.

Please email me with any questions, feedback, or requests-
Thank you for your support.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Luminous Shabda-Manorama

Pearls of Wisdom from this Sanskrit course called the "Lumious Shabda" (sound as light & awareness) with Manorama:
  • meditation is when God talks with us
  • what is silence? the absence of thought. experiencing what you are beyond thought
  • love yourself, looking outside of yourself for love is fragile. we are the only ones that go all the way with us
  • when something negative happens, don't give it more power. finish your karma, and don't create more
  • language is everything
  • the contradiction of reality is existing in this realm 
  • the silence of unknowing is important to sit in to let the knowing come
  • there needs to be a fall to learn. let me give you a place to fall. you don't need to know everything
  • confusion is the partner of clarity
  • you don't need to solve the problem, just take the next right step
  • yield in the interest of harmony
  • stay engaged. do something. everyday
  • breath is the one thing that is always with you
  • seek to be aware of what is immediate and in our thought
  • the more common something is, the more you have to study what it means ex:the concept of "love"
  • slow and steady. you can't drink the ocean with one gulp
  • the difference between meditation and sleep is consciousness in meditation
  • practice being dead and you will transcend this form
  • sanskrit is the language of vibration
  • peace is within your own capacity. we have to be peace
  • attention without tension
  • tongue placement is how sanskrit is described/written
  • use what is needed and not more
  • the extent you can pull in is the most you can put out
  • be curious
  • patterns show everything
  • give a little time each day to study yourself, very few people really know themselves 
  • we are pure energy
  • intimacy is the grand union
  • to the extent you live is how you will die or shift out of this form
  • to learn of death, you must study life
  • sit with intuition born of wisdom to guide right action
  • thinking creates anxiety, focus energy beyond the mind
  • not the answer, but the next right question
  • strength to walk directly through something, there are no short cuts. you must go through the center of it
  • explore possibilities. how could the other persons point of view be true?
  • the key to happiness is yourself 
  • nobody like meditation. it is uncomfortable. take comfort in knowing this
  • conserve your energy and then skillfully decide how to expend it
  • step up- find your footing in what is needed
  • trust that it is enough to pose the question-the answer will be drawn to you
  • follow the threads of your deepest hearts longing 
  • yoga should never be a dividing factor
  • yoga is not a phase, it is a way of being
  • mind your own business- what is our business but to know who we are
  • if God wanted to straighten out someone else's ego, don't you think he would have done it a while ago?
  • learning is its own reward
  • what has a beginning, has a middle, has an end. AUM cycle is in everything
  • when you can see the cycle of something, you are no longer in it and there lies the freedom. you are beyond the cycle
  • life gives us plenty of practice partners
  • to the extent that sounds have silence, that's how powerful it is
  • word is associated with life, light, God, and manifestation
  • AUM is pure sound vibration. ocean of energy
  • the inner music is uncreated, uncaused, without an instrument or a player. it is spontaneous, silence, unstruck vibration of pure energy. it is the sound of life. the cosmic vibration-connection to true self
  • once you are interested in yoga, you are never bored again. any moment to yourself, you can listen to the cosmic music within
  • how can the darkness ever hold suite when the light of knowledge is there?
  • did you ever know a time that you were not? and we still don't know what we are at the time
  • energy that is united with consciousness is realized energy
  • when Shakti dances, she never takes her eyes of Siva
Thank you for sharing your light, Jai Ma!
Check out Ma's website:

Monday, September 12, 2011


yeah, yeah, yeah 
paint while jamming to techno blasting
paint while you wear overalls
paint with your dog
paint naked

I am a Vegetarian- by Shri Hamilton-Hubbard

I am a Vegetarian along with:

George Bernard Shaw
Charles Darwin
Sir Isaac Newton
Leonardo Da Vinci
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Albert Einstein
Thomas Edison
Paul McCartney
Princess Diana

As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
Leo Tolstoy

While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this Earth?
George Bernard Shaw

For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill eachother. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

When man is uncivilized, he kills poor animals and eats them.
Srila Prabhupada

Dear Nepal

I will be seeing you soon.....