September 8, 2015

Living the Yogi’s Life with Kino: A Week of Inner Journey.

Photo: Agathe Padovani

Daily assignments for living the yogi’s life with Kino MacGregor.

To check A Week of Self Reflection, click here

To check A Week of Acknowledgements, click here.

To check A Week of Internal Peace, click here.

To check A Week of Contentment, click here.

To check A Week of Healing, click here.

To check A Week of Gentle Action, click here.

To check A Week of Self-care, click here.

To check A Week of Surrender, click here.

To check A Week of Loving Kindness, click here

To check A Week of Focus, click here.

To check A Week of Love, click here.

To check A Week of Calm, click here.

To check A Week of Direction, click here.

1. Authenticity.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say these words out loud: “I am worthy. I am enough. I am filled with unconditional love.” Say them again. It’s the truth. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is nothing you need to do to be worthy of love. There is nothing you can do to revoke your spiritual inheritance. You just need to open your eyes, soften your heart and let it all in. Give yourself permission to be exactly who you are.

Today’s yogi assignment is authenticity. The Sanskrit word Satya, usually translated as truthfuleness, can also mean authenticity. When you wake up one day and realize that all you need to be is yourself, you’re finally free. There is something so captivating about someone who unapologetically owns their truth. When you say yes to your authentic self your soul vibrates with the full power of your life force. Saying you’re sorry for who you are is like invalidating the power that made you. Don’t be ashamed of who you are because you are not a mistake. You are a divine creation, blessed, whole and complete. You don’t need to be the first, the biggest, the loudest, the best. You just need to be yourself. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Carve out the little niche in the universe that is specially designed just for you. Sing your song, do you thing, shine your own light.

2. Motivation.

People ask me all the time how I motivate myself to practice on my own at home and believe me, I have days where I feel uninspired, heavy, lethargic and simply do not want to practice. But I practice anyway. The feeling of being on my mat so dramatically changes my day and the quality of my life that it’s worth it.

I started this practice out of a sincere desire to live a more peaceful life. I traveled to India to meet Sri K. Pattabhi Jois 15 years ago in search of a steady light on the spiritual path. Guruji told me that I would find what I was looking for in “many years of practice.” Then, he said, “Shantih is coming, no problem.” Since that fortune meeting I have never doubted or wavered from the desire to get on my mat every day. When I’m tired, I get on my mat. When I’m injured, anxious, sad, angry, happy, joyful, jet-lagged, I get on my mat. Whether I’m practicing with my teacher Sharath (Guruji’s grandson) in Mysore, at home in Miami, in a random hotel room while traveling, I get on my at least once a day. Whether it’s a dedicated full 90 minute practice or just five minutes of meditation yoga is so much a part of my lifestyle that it’s not something that I question, it’s just a part of who I am.

Today’s yogi assignment is motivation. If I can’t conceptualize the idea of a full practice I just go and stand on my mat. Then I give myself permission to just do five minutes of Sun Salutations. But after that I usually want to do more and end up doing a full practice. When I’m feeling really uninspired to practice all I have to do is hear Guruji’s voice saying the magic words, “Ekam inhale” and my body is suddenly thirsty for the practice. Called Prayukti in Sanskrit, we all need a little positive motivation to drag ourselves out of bed when the alarm goes off and we’re exhausted. You could join a yoga challenge, practice with friends, read yoga books, join a class or watch yoga videos online. How do you motivate yourself to get up and practice?

3. The journey home.

I am not a very patient person. When I have an idea that I am excited about I usually want it to happen yesterday. But I can’t control everything that is necessary for my dreams to come true. I have to sit tight while the dream unfolds around me. Little by little, all things are possible.

Today’s yogi assignment is the Pratyagati, the journey home. So many students push their bodies towards an asana goal only to get injured along the way, myself included. Rushing the journey into the inner body only creates more of the same tension that caused the body to close up and lock down in the first place. The body heals when it feels safe. Pain, tightness and weakness are all messages from the body. Yoga teaches you how to listen to the body’s language and feel the subtlety and beauty of your inner body. Yoga is a road back to the center of yourself. You can run if you want to, but isn’t it nicer to stop and smell the flowers along the way, share a few moments of intimacy and cherish the journey?

4. Long time.

Students often ask me, “How long will it take before I can do a handstand, backbend or full lotus?” I wish I could say a few weeks, but it’s more likely going to be a long time. It took me five years to really feel stable in handstands. The journey into backbends is a descent into the emotional body that seems to never end. If you have a long habituated pattern of stress and tension that results in a near chronic pain, expect to commit yourself to a longterm life transformation.

Today’s yogi assignment is Dirga Kala, a long time. My teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said, “The practice of yoga is very difficult, while lifetime take practice, some small benefit there for you.” Far beyond attainment of any asana, Guruji judged success in yoga by the amount of much peace in the someone’s heart which makes handstands and backbends look relatively easy.

Think of the spiritual journey of yoga as rebuilding the innermost temple of the true self. After a period of neglect and emotional warfare, reverence and sacredness were lost in the rubble. When you start the practice with an intent to live a more peaceful life, you are essentially restoring yourself to your pure state and rebuilding the temple walls. It takes time. Commit yourself to daily practice and with patience and devotion, you will find not only handstands and backbends, but a life of inner peace built around the sacred temple of the true self within. Never judge yourself by whether or not you can do a yoga pose. Instead, ask yourself if you are living a more peaceful life.

5. Ritual.

I hit the snooze three times this morning. When I did manage to drag myself out of bed I was more interested in online shopping that doing my practice. I procrastinated for nearly three hours but I finally made it on my mat. I don’t know if it’s the rainy day, the jet lag, general malaise or what but I barely made it to my mat. I’m glad I did though.

Practice doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be the full-on 90 minute sweat fest that many people think it should be. It doesn’t have to be super deep or super strong or super anything at all, it just needs to happen every day. Like brushing your teeth, the practice is a daily ritual of self-care without which you start to get a little unclean.

Today’s yogi assignment is ritual. Establish a practice ritual that incorporates yoga practice into your daily routine. If you start practicing at around the same time or in the same place every day, there is a momentum that draws you forward and you won’t have to question whether or not you’re going to practice. You just do it because it’s a part of who you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, sick, sleepy, grumpy, happy, sad, lazy, whatever. You just get on your mat and practice. There is a humility that comes from just getting on your mat every day.

6. Intuition.

There is a quiet voice of wisdom coming from your heart center. This deep stillness is waiting for you to learn how to listen. It is infinitely patient, loving, forgiving, never judging. Once you truly hear this eternal voice you will know that it has been guiding every moment in your life.

The practice of yoga teaches you how to quiet the stream of inner commentary so that you can tune into this ancient voice. You could call it intuition, you could call it the higher mind, you could call it Grace. In Sanskrit it is sometimes called the Buddhi so today’s yogi assignment is intuition. How many times have you ignored this voice only to find out it was right? If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Decipher between your intuition and your ego with the power of yoga. Stillness speaks. Yoga teaches you how to listen.

7. Laughter.

Respond to every situation with a mix of humor and goodwill, especially the difficult ones. Share a laugh, a smile, a hug. Yesterday I got kicked off a spot by a security guard. Then later I got scratched by rogue pigeons trying to land on my arm. My response? Laugh. Smile. Find the humor in every situation. When I first started the practice I was so serious that it felt like a sin to break inner gaze to say hi to a friend, let alone laugh at myself. How silly. I obviously took myself and my practice was too serious.

Never get so focused on any goal that you loose sight of what really matters. It’s not the perfect asana that matters, but how you treat yourself and others. Love yourself, your body, your whole world. Today’s yogi assignment is laughter. Find your humor. Laugh at yourself at least once a day. Let yourself off the hook. Don’t bother trying to be perfect, just be yourself. One important part of the journey to enlightenment is learning how to lighten up.


Author: Kino MacGregor

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Agathe Padovani/Instagram

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