Kinogate: snobbery and the 1% theory of Ashtanga

Published on September 7, 2011 by      Print
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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):

  1. Miami is hot.
  2. Kino’s legs are hot.
  3. 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.”

You can read more of Erica’s musings at or follow her on Twitter.

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  1. Kate says:

    Ugh! It’s disgusting how much women (and not just in the yoga community) beat up on each other! To me – she makes yoga feel accessible and interesting to a wider audience…if it wouldn’t be ok to bash a yogini with a heavier build, it shouldn’t be ok to do so to one who’s “hot.”

    • Jill says:

      I totally agree with you! Women have a hard enough time accessing ‘gurus’ and making it in the world of commercial yoga without other women sabotaging their success and obsessing about their bodies. Iyengar wore less than she does and know one says anything. Go Kino!

  2. nathan says:

    Perhaps the 1% theory view is part of the problem. When people don’t take the time to learn the philosophy and spiritual teachings behind the physical practice, and then actually allow that to become embodied in their lives, you get all sorts of junk coming out. Including a hell of a lot of flaky yoga, and sometimes equally flaky judgements.

    I’m not an Ashtanga practitioner, so I really can’t comment on the inside outs of whether Kino’s work is a problem or not. I support making practice more accessible, but also see how easily accessible turns into making it more commercially successful.

    Beyond that, though, I also wonder about focusing on challenging, elusive asanas. which you mention Kino’s You Tube channel does. That could be really helpful for some folks, but it also could easily play into the ego-driven achievement desire a lot of Western yoga practitioners seem to have. And I notice that whenever yoga teachers start presenting ways to access “difficult” poses, the numbers of interested practitioners goes steadily up. Whereas, people are much less interested in mastering the basics, and seeing poses as one limb of an eight limb path.

    A lot of people seem to love the idea of spreading yoga in any way possible. While a smaller cadre of others are so rigid in their adherence to their particular “tribe” or school of practice that they’ll criticize any modifications made. I think both of these views are faulty. Good intentions don’t always lead to beneficial outcomes, and those who are strongly attached to “traditional” forms and teachings tend to come off as snobs.

    • YYogini says:

      I don’t think the over-quoted 1% theory actually means to ignore all yoga philosophy. I think it’s to tell the students asking endless questions about alignments and asanas to just start practicing already. I can understand the exact details of alignments and proper muscle engagement for, say, a headstand, but until I do enough practice to get my core muscles to hold my balance, no amount of theoretical understanding will help me achieve the pose. In Ashtanga, by repeating the series over and over again, one automatically begin to understand the inner workings of some of the asanas and how the sequence works. Once a basic mastery is achieved, one tends to naturally become curious to the philosophy behind the practice. That’s a better time to delve into the philosophies.

    • Wendy Ness says:

      Ashtanga snobs, LOL. My personal experience with an Ashtanga (snob) teacher: My husband practiced Ashtanga, his teacher, female, Argentinian (deep latin voice), took a special interest in him (not too many men in the yoga class), KNOWING he was married. She has been practicing and teaching for 15 years. She would quote all the spiritual mumbo jumbo and then tell him in her deepest Argentinian voice after class, “When I am intimate with my boyfriend I am thinking of you. I have been your mother in another life. Can you give me $5,000 for a trip to Mysore.” She lived, breathed and SHIT Ashtanga, studied in Mysore (3times), studied with Tim Miller, Larry Schultz and many more; and what of the theory did she learn? 0%, notta, zip.

  3. Rachel says:

    so wait is this a a real reality TV show?

  4. Alice Riccardi says:

    These yogis were born into their flexibility. They are able to execute asana in a virtuosic manner due to body type and incredibly flexible and pliable connective tissue. It’s not a judgement, it’s a reality that exists in regard to differences in physiology and how that manifests in movement. That said, they decided to enter into the world of yoga to utilize their talent. Does that make them good teachers? Only time will tell….

    They appear genuinely interested in what it is that they are doing – is that because they are younger and less jaded by life experience? Will they continue to grow within their chosen field and continue to connect to their lives with youthful exuberance? Again, only time will tell….

    The thing I enjoyed about this video is that you see them in their lives, THEIR LIVES, not the lives that are determined by their teacher or master. They are shown teaching classes and connected to their students and in the classroom, not perched on a mountain top somewhere, on a beach, or on a table in a room with a fireplace… The video is slick in it’s filming but these yogis are not pretending to be anybody but who they are and I think that’s a good place to start if you would really like to teach yoga and not just be good at asana.

    Time will tell.

    • Erica Schmidt says:

      Hi Alice,
      Thanks for your comment! Not that I’m a Kino groupie, (!), but my sense is that she came to yoga without much athletic background. Although perhaps she didn’t struggle as much with flexibility postures, legend has it that she had a really hard time developing strength. There are many entertaining audio podcasts (see regarding her extensive journey towards lifting her butt of the ground. For this reason, I think that she does have a gift for breaking down arm balances and inversions for people who find it entirely impossible. At least from what I’ve seen on Youtube. HA.

      • Yogini5 says:

        So does Krista Cahill on video. I didn’t believe it until I actually saw it.

        The truth is that Ashtanga is a very expensive proposition, and to do it right, it involves studio attendance 6 days a week for 2 hours each day, for starters.

        It is not for those who do not have the time to allot to it. (Not to mention the money).

  5. dave says:

    So many teachers rename themselves after gods and goddesses, whats the big deal if Kino calls herself a master? First of all she is a master. The audacious ones are the so called gods and goddesses. Thank you Erica for a good article. I think the obvious is that there must be some jealous haters out there. Besides, I haven’t read any negative things about Kino. Why don’t we have an article on them? Who are they and what exactly are they saying? Let’s have some web addresses please!!

  6. Isabelle says:

    Urggh, the yoga world and its uppity judging self strikes again.

    Love the way we keep telling each other that we are perfect just the way we are while on the mat, but then go on and on how so and so is being overly sexual/opportunistic/self-centered in conversations that often reek of pot-calling-kettle-blackness!

    Not sure how exciting running an actual yoga studio is, which could explain why they needed a super hot yoga master, right?

    • dave says:

      Kino and her studio already existed prior to the show, in case you might be referring to the reality show bringing Kino on because she is hot.

      • Erica Schmidt says:

        Hey Dave!
        Here’s some of the backlash. The comments are particularly interesting.
        Let’s read it with love and compassion for our fellows. Because otherwise I’d be hypocritical. Shoot.

        I enjoy many other posts by this blogger.
        Everyone is entitled to My Own Opinion.
        Thanks for your comment!

        • dave says:

          Oyyyyyy! That made my vrrti’s flare up in my citta.
          Brought up as a catholic, I would sentence the warrior princess to repeating
          Yoga’s Citta Vrrti Nirodha
          atleast 108 x for the next 108 days. ooooh.

          Well ashtangi’s sometimes have that reputation for their militancy. It all just sounds like jealousy issues and again, a flare up of vrrti’s.
          There are so many contradictions, like it’s ok for yoga dudes to wear loin cloths but no short shorts for the ladies! Then there’s the commentaries, where i think most people are pretty ok with Kino (and we all know yoga can be expensive) so she then excuses herself saying she’s ok with Kino, but sick of seeing her self promoting videos and blah blah blah. like she’s dealing drugs or something. yoga videos? noooooo.
          I’m happy the warrior princess is able to fly around the world to learn yoga. Everyone has their way. the princess was wrong and she was afraid to admit it and contradict herself. the learning never ends, is the good news!

          Anywho Erica, thank you for the short but sweet article.

        • Yogini5 says:

          Good for HER that she privatized her blog as soon as this post appeared on EJ and went viral!!

  7. Yogini5 says:

    The Yoga Girls of Miami (a.k.a., No Wonder they Need Kino)

    Sun and Fun!
    Plus everyday living
    … with a dash of Rehab!

    [It is Dade County, Florida after all ..]

    Miami—Ft. Lauderdale it still ain’t …*

    *I have a history (year-round, as a young adult) of living there in Miami …
    a long time ago …

  8. Liz says:

    This post actually surprised me because every other post here seems like it was written by women who are bitter because their youth and yoga has passed them by. Good job.

  9. patrick nolan says:

    i teach at miami life center, and i am very proud and grateful to have kino macgregor as my teacher and friend. the blog being discussed here actually has its origins on facebook in a comment thread. upon reading both versions the irrational, bilous, vitriol hit me like a smack in the face. where did this come from, really? i had planned to strike back with pointed words of my own, but having read the comment thread here (on recovering yogi, not on bindi princess’s blog) i see that it isn’t necessary. i want to thank all of you who have taken a level-headed look at this issue and seen the kino-bashing for what it is. that said, and at the risk of redundancy, let me say a few things for the record: kino is humble, and has always maintained the utmost love and respect for guruji and the ashtanga lineage. whatever you may think of her means of delivery (ie in an internet video while wearing makeup and perhaps in small shorts), what she says is always factual, and in keeping with the spirit of the ashtanaga tradition. authenticity is at the heart of our mission at miami life center, and i invite all of you, especially lisa hill, to come visit and practice with us.

    • Heather says:

      I wonder if the cattiness in the yoga world has to do with the dominance of females practicing yoga? Somehow I can’t see a room full of men trashing young male astanga teachers.

    • Erica Schmidt says:

      Hi Patrick!
      Thanks for the first-hand account. Kino’s sincere and beautiful dedication to Guruji and the Ashtanga lineage is clear in her podcasts and writings. I especially enjoy her stories about Guruji which are endearing and often hilarious. As for the blog that inspired this article, I feel like Princess Warrior has had ample opportunity to re-think her words. She’d mentioned she’s been overworked and overtired so maybe she was having a bad day… In any case, I’ve heard many accounts that Miami Life Center is a wonderful place to practice and perhaps some day I will make an appearance. Great job on the Mayurasana video, by the way. I look forward to Nakrasana!

  10. dawn says:

    I have known Kino for four years. As a teacher she is gracious, giving, sincere, consistent, really everything that is good. As a boss she is fair, honest, helpful, full of guidance, available at all times, the best boss I have ever had. as a friend she is always there when I need support, laughter, a hug. I know Kino, if you know her you would only write good things. She is a powerful female force, we need as many as possible– help celebrate her.

  11. Renee says:

    Funniness! Humor!

    Very little of it seems to rattle around the yoga community

    What I love most is that no matter what…. the ancient science of the mind Yoga!!! still rules no matter how much the west mutes, futes and waters down the science.

    Why don’t people complain about CorePower if they are going to complain about anything as they churn out mediocre teachers.

    What I love is the cool stuffs happening around the world because of yoga!

    I stay away from yoga studios pretty much all the time these days……..unless I need a date.

    Lastly, “kind thoughts and kind words”……….a notion to live by

    ~ your fellow recovering yogini

  12. Harry says:

    Kudos for Kino! Brava, Erica!

    From where I live and work in Houston there are no less than 10 yoga studios within a 10 minute drive, and that’s not counting the gyms offering classes. More of each are coming soon, I’m sure…

    Kudos to Kino for being confident enough to market herself and tell her story. Sometimes being able to tell who and what you are makes all the difference in the world. The unfortunate aspect of doing something like this is the spin that makes people say that you’ve “sold out” – really? It’s an opportunity, maybe they’re just jealous.

    The reality of the situation is that we’re in a recession, with an explosion in yoga studios. We all have to eat and provide for our families. Sometimes we put it on the line and do things that others don’t agree with… Oh well, what are you going to do? I’m going to do my best to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.

    Brava, Erica! Thanks for so boldly sharing the story!

  13. andy says:

    Kino is actually accredited by Pattabi Jois himself.

    After taking a led Primary Series class from her and a couple of her teachers on, it’s plain to see Kino is a very good teacher with a sincere dedication to the Ashtanga Vinyasa lineage and practice.

    It’s also not -all- about the craziest asanas. A lot of her videos are breaking down simple postures, such as Trikonasana, and the commom, essential Ashtanga things like the jump-thru.

    She may be 32 and beautiful, but well, she is a yoga Ashtanga master. There is no real disputing that, given who she was taught by.

  14. Kinogate: snobbery and the 1% theory of Ashtanga. ~ Erica Schmidt | elephant journal says:

    [...] 1% theory of Ashtanga. ~ Erica Schmidt  Originally published by our elephriends over at Recovering Yogi on September 7, [...]

  15. Wayne Colburn says:

    I think i learn a lot from watching her on youtube.Plus when i dont feel like working my Ashtanga yoga pratice,i sometimes watch her and others on youtube and feel much more like putting a lot of effort into my pratice.She can wear her shorts in this context because it shows the inpact Ashtanga had on her body.I dont think she doing it to be vain .The eyes of other can see purity or it can goggle someomes body.She does look good but its up to me to be pure in my thoughts.

  16. Ivana says:

    i like kino and like her youtube channel and her videos and find them very useful. but this trailer was so poorly done and no wander it got slashed. it felt like watching beverly hills series trailer ;-) i think someone has badly managed the girls

  17. 2011: top 15 yoga blog posts says:

    [...] Recovering Yogi, Kinogate: snobbery and the 1% theory of Ashtanga ~ While I generally find that RY falls into the “it’s all about me” category (just from the satirical self-absorbed POV, which is a little more bearable), this post is one of the instances where a writer is able to respond to something happening in the greater yoga community. I wasn’t privvy to the Kino McGregor drama until I read this, but it’s a great perspective. [...]

  18. Q says:

    I haven’t seen the trailer, but I have met Kino. She’s my teacher’s teacher, and I have no qualms calling her a master teacher. She’s good at what she does. From what she’s said, it hasn’t come “naturally” (she told us that one of her teachers told her to “come back next life-time, with a better body”). She works hard and she shares her knowledge freely. I can’t speak to the trailer (looks like I never will see it) but in real life, she comes across as someone whose spiritual practice is on a par with her asana practice. She is humble and giving. I appreciate her you-tube videos immensely. They are clear, easy to understand and easy to apply. And they’re free.

    I think she is a lovely being. I cannot imagine how anyone who has met her would describe her differently. Thanks for the post.

  19. Graeme McLennan says:

    As an Ashtanga practitioner, and vinyasa teacher, I find kino’s you tube vid’s really helpful. As for the outfits , maybe some of the critics should attend a hot yoga class if they want to see skimpy. Kino would be classified as over dressed in a bikram studio.

    There are elitists in Ashtanga that’s for sure, perhaps it has something to do with the Mysore style of practice that it attracts hard core practitioners. The point though is that any practice and lineage can only survive if there are new practitioners joining and continuing to advance their own practice. In this regard any teacher that attracts new students and helps intermediate students stay on the path, is a great teacher. She is doing a very good job in my opinion.

  20. Kate says:

    I like Kino and have found her videos very helpful, but I hate to say it, I do sense some narcissism there, especially on facebook. Part of me likes that she is real and the other part of me was put off tonight that she was posting about her upset that people who were in a Mysore video with her were upset that she released that and they are in it. It’s not in the best form to publish a video without permission of those involved and she is feeling sorry for herself and still hasn’t taken it down?

  21. Amie says:

    VERY well said, Erica. I applaud Kino for spreading consciousness to the world. She makes the sometimes elusive world of yoga very accessible (and attractive, I might add). I think that fact is probably threatening to some yogis because they see themselves as being supreme–and well, if everyone else can do what they do then how can they continue to believe they are supreme?

    Well, written article. And good luck with your tailbone. ;)

  22. danny says:

    This thread is a few years old but I wanted to say thanks for posting this article in defense of Kino. I have never been fortunate enough to take class with her but I love her videos. They are always easy to follow and very helpful. It really bums me out to see the comments on her youtube videos, they are almost all negative or inappropriate in one way or another. She deserves better than that, and I’m glad to see that lots of people appreciate her skill and knowledge.

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  24. Monique says:

    I just completed an intensive with Kino in Europe and I am highly disappointed with the integrity of this instructor. She bills herself much differently than her true self. I’ve never seen an instructor look at herself in the mirror nonstop… I wanted to believe she was different than her horrible reputation but she is not.

    She is so insecure and self obsessed you will not take anything away from a workshop from her other than a delusion that super short shorts are “so miami”. This woman is a nightmare.

  25. Lavender says:

    First of all, props to Kino for sharing her passion and knowledge of ashtanga yoga. She deserves a lot of credit and respect for what she’s doing. I understand there are lots of people who object to her image, but I don’t have a problem with that at all. My issue is more of her hypocritical manner when talking about “ahimsa” or the principle of “not harming.” She talks about this at length in her book and in interviews. But check out this Youtube video ( where she totally contradicts herself. HelloYoga in Japan did an interview with Kino on September 29, 2011. Around the video’s 13:00 to 14:00 minute mark, she says she doesn’t consume meat bc she loves animals and abides by ahimsa, therefore she’s vegetarian. Then around the 16:42 mark, she talks about how she loves shopping and how many beautiful shoes she’s bought on her trip to Japan. I guess she has no problem with how the leftover skin of animals killed for food is used to make beautiful shoes…as long as she doesn’t actually consume the meat herself. Rather hypocritical, if you ask me. Or maybe all those shoes she bought are made of pleather. Somehow I doubt it.

  26. Taylor says:

    I like the varying opinions here. I personally like the way Kino breaks down the asanas in her videos, and I there are other yoga teachers I have also found helpful in their explanations. Imo, I believe what Kino is doing is selling a ‘brand’ of herself…so it may not be entirely be who she genuinely is….such as what business is about and the American way. But I still like it that I can learn from her videos, and that she teaches more than just asanas. I do however find her products costly…for example, the price she charges for a pair of shorts is a tad high. I think she wears her short shorts to promote her image and therefore her business. Odd that she posts photos of her giving gifts to Guruji, which does to some degree confirm her narcissistic intentions…yet I see no photos of her mingling with the people of Mysore. Imo, Kino is very adept at marketing…which leaves people confused when they meet her in person. Well… this is just my opinion.

  27. hey says:


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  29. salome says:

    Kino reminds me of my Inspiration, BKS Iyengar. He too travelled around the world, performing before any and every camera in a pair of shorts, notwithstanding distance, difficulty, jetlag, missing family and home, etc, performing the Ashtanga routine he had learned in the Shala as a teenager. He said he was the world’s most photographed and filmed yogi, and I reckon Kino is going to beat his record (if she hasn’t already). All he wanted was for people to be inspired to do yoga. He didn’t care what kind of school or yoga, he didn’t care what they said about him.
    Kino has that holy spark. No matter what, she’s in front of us, with her smile and her enthusiasm, assuring us that we, too, can to do it. And yeah, as a practicioner, I know how much harder it is to do bakasana with no stretchy fabric on arms and thighs to help the friction! Shine on, Kino.

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