Kinogate: snobbery and the 1% theory of Ashtanga
By Erica Schmidt
A little background: Kino MacGregor runs the Miami Life Centre in Miami (obvi) and teaches Ashtanga Yoga. Kino, like most American girls, had a dream: to be on Oprah. She made a video, stuck it up on YouTube, and let her freak flag fly. Then, she made a bunch more videos. In the videos, she is earnest and bubbly, preaching the gospel of “helping people believe in themselves…” one pair of short-shorts at a time. Did we mention that she lives in Miami?
Well, the holier-than-thou yoga world ain’t having it. Poor sexy Kino has been slammed all over the internet, in one blog after another. It’s a bit of an uproar. Here’s an example. Needless to say, the fact that Kino is hot is not winning her many friends. “Yoga masters” are not supposed to be hot!
Recovering Yogi contributor Erica Schmidt has this to say about Kinogate:
There has been a recent uproar of criticism of Kino MacGregor. It seems as though Ashtangi bloggers are maxed out on their one-percent idea. (Remember folks, ninety-nine percent practice, ONE percent theory.) One Percent. I’m pretty sure Guruji didn’t mean for this theory to include your analysis of someone else’s short shorts. But if we must talk about short shorts, I have a few things to say about this. Kino has at least three reasons to wear the hot little shorts that she wears. So here we go: Un, deux, trios / Ekam, Dwi, Trini / Insert your favourite language, (knowing that Sanskrit is definitely the superior choice):
- Miami is hot.
- Kino’s legs are hot.
- It is actually much harder to perform arm balances when you’re wearing shorts and your legs are all sweaty, so Kino is showing us how adept at the practice she is.
As everyone knows, your practice is an offering to the Supreme Divine Brahman. If you require the traction of long lululemon pants to get into Bakasana, well, everyone knows what that says about your Supreme Divine Offering. If you’re lucky, no obnoxious blogger will say anything about it. I say, cosmic love to Kino MacGregor’s thighs.
The blogosphere has been particularly critical of the trailer to the TV show “The Yoga Girls of Miami” (above). The show was supposed to delve into the inner workings of the yoga studio “Miami Life Center,” run by “yoga master” Kino MacGregor and a team of attractive and charismatic ladies. The Highly Evolved Ashtangis of the blogosphere have accused this video of being vain, flakey, self-inflating and excessively commercial. Certainly, the tone of the trailer isn’t as down-to-earth as Kino’s wonderful articles and the audio podcasts of her excellent workshops. But let us remember that this sort of thing is often scripted. That is to say, Kino is probably not a self-proclaimed “yoga master.” And even if she is, we all know that yoga is about Loving the Self.
As my grandmother, an extremely advanced yoga practitioner, regularly repeats, “If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will.”
So toot away, Kino. Toot away. In any case, I feel like Kino’s underlying intention was to attract a more diverse audience, including tweens and entirely un-spiritual people who pollute their higher selves with corrupt indulgences such as reality television. In all honesty, I’m pretty sure that if the show hadn’t been cancelled due to the malicious online feedback, I would have watched it religiously. I’m okay with this fact, since honesty is one of the sought-after ethical precepts of the Ashtanga Yoga system. I’ve got it in the bag. Thanks be to God. And to Kino.
Harsh judgment is also being passed about Kino’s YouTube channel. Here, Kino futures enlightening videos on how to access elusive asanas such as Marychasana D, Kapotasana, Scorpion Handstand, and my personal nemesis, Karandavasana. If Kino were truly the egomaniac that bloggers are calling her, she would demonstrate these postures on her own, inserting cocky comments about your, the viewer’s, inability to honour the supreme divine Brahman by grabbing your ankles or maintaining your uddhiyana bandha. As it is, Kino features models of all shapes and sizes, and remains extremely light-hearted and empathetic in her explanations of each posture presented in the videos. I’m both a yoga teacher and an Ashtanga practitioner, and to be honest once again, I find the videos to be rather useful. Some of us don’t have the cash to fly around and follow Senior Ashtanga teachers on their international tours. One day I hope to become an un-kept woman and meet Kino MacGregor in person. But for now, I heart Youtube.
My one-percent theory of the day is probably up, so I won’t go on for much longer. However, I believe that as yogis who strive toward peace and compassion, we should be as generous in our thoughts and words as Kino MacGregor is in her sharing of Ashtanga Yoga.
About Erica Schmidt
Nearly eight years ago, Erica Schmidt moved from Perth, Ontario to Montréal, Quebec in search of Jesus, her bandhas and her tailbone. Her bandhas and tailbone remain elusive; however, she did find Jesus. Although the two were married, Erica now cheats on Jesus with Ashtanga Yoga, Atwood novels, and Ovarian Kung Fu. Just recently, she relocated from Montréal to Halifax to live with a boy she met on a boat. When asked for a word she loathes and abhors, Erica responds, “Vibes. For years, I have been sending good vibes to the universe, and so far, all I have received are pubes. It’s breathtakingly disappointing.”