Kino MacGregor has over a million followers on Instagram. Her Youtube channel has 435,265 subscribers. She’s an international yoga teacher, author of three books, producer of six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, co-founder of Miami Life Center and most recently, co-founder of OmStars, the world’s first yoga TV channel.
That’s quite a résumé. And yet Kino MacGregor is so much more than merely a celebrity. With over 15 years of experience in Ashtanga Yoga, she’s one of a select group of people to receive the Certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India and practise through the Fourth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. Even with her incredibly busy schedule, Kino knows the importance of staying grounded, of discipline and tradition, humility and honesty.
We were delighted when Kino took time out to share with Yogamatters the importance of tradition and spirituality in her own personal practice and in the yoga world as a whole.
How would you sum up what it means for you personally to be a modern day yogi?
Being a yogi at any point in time means keeping the spiritual heart of the practice as your top concern. The main challenge of embracing the authenticity of the yoga life in our modern world is integrating two seemingly contradictory cultures—that is, one that seems materialistic and the other which seems spiritual. With my commitment to my personal practice, I always have a root in the sacred inner tradition of yoga, whereas so much of my life and livelihood is spent in the world actualizing my dreams. Without the grounding of a strong ritual of sadhana, or personal practice, I would not be able to walk the path of yoga life with integrity.
There don’t seem to be many yogis out there who have successfully managed to reconcile traditional yogic teachings with the reality of contemporary social media channels. How have you managed it?
My commitment to my practice is the thing that grounds me. If I am ever out of my integrity with an action, I will immediately feel it during my practice. My practice is a purifier that keeps me both true and strong spiritually. I also think that having a teacher and having my practice be Ashtanga Yoga, which is a very traditional practice, has kept me humble. I return to India each year and continue my studies with my teacher Sri R. Sharath Jois, just as I did with his grandfather Guruji for many years before. Taking time out to be a student each year is the single most powerful thing that I can do to keep myself aligned along my path.
Why is it important for today’s yogis to embrace a traditional practice? Is this being lost in our contemporary era? What can be done to bring us back to our yogic roots?
Yoga without a root in tradition loses its nourishment much like a branch that has fallen away from the trunk of a tree. If you divorce yoga from its spiritual foundations in practice, then it is just a branch floating in the world that will sooner or later wither away. But a yoga practice that is connected to the source will continually renew itself and grow in strength. More than anything, I think it’s important for us to remember that we didn’t create yoga, we received it like a sacred family heirloom. We may be guardians of the knowledge, but we are never meant to own it.
In what ways has today’s online yoga world diluted yoga’s depth and meaning?
The online world brings yoga to people who would perhaps otherwise not be exposed to it. In that way, yoga online is inspiring a new generation of yogis. That being said, I think it’s crucial that yoga students eventually develop a relationship with a teacher and a spiritual lineage. The danger with practicing yoga online is that you can essentially be your own teacher, flipping back and forth across thousands of online classes without any real sense of depth, progression or understanding of the spiritual journey. One of the things that we strive to create at OmStars is a place where a student goes on a journey with a teacher and signs on to practice in a full course. Since the teacher will continue to develop courses and classes, the student can continue to be guided through the full depth of their yoga path. We are also currently developing an online program to remotely connect teachers and students in an even more intimate way—stay tuned!
How has your personal yoga journey and life experience brought you to the point of creating Omstars?
I’ve been creating online videos for about ten years. It started with my DVDs, progressed to YouTube and finally culminated in filming full video series online on various platforms. Kerri and I created OmStars so that we would be able to fully curate the students’ journey. We realised that while yoga is widely available online, there wasn’t a channel that showcased the full depth and richness of the yogi life. We created OmStars to be the world’s first yoga TV channel. Our goal is to create a space that has fun, watchable content beyond the poses and shows what it really means to live the yogi life—everything from plant-based recipes to traveling the world as a yogi—kind of like Netflix for Yogis!
Why is Kerri Verna a great fit, the perfect partner for you in this project?
Kerri is my best friend! When the idea came up to make OmStars, we knew we were going to do this together. We are perfect complements in terms of what we bring to the table. My journey has been very traditional steeped in yoga’s Indian roots and very connected to the inner journey. Kerri’s journey began in the US and has taken her through the American yoga world and deep into physical healing of chronic pain. We support each other, love each other and laugh together, so of course we had to do this together too!
How do you both feel about becoming reality TV stars and allowing a spotlight to shine on your personal life, your families, your travels…? Why are you taking on this role?
We believe that in showing the reality of the yogi life, we will inspire more people to practice and take on the mantle of the spiritual journey. In a world where more and more content is commercially crafted to give an image of perfection, we want to show the real, raw struggles of the yogi life. We believe that in transparency and honesty, there is truth and power.
How did you come to the name OmStars?
OM is the holy vibration, the closest name of God in the yoga tradition. All yoga is really meant to be a path to discover and experience directly the Divine. So OM is the heart of yoga. It is also the sound that begins and ends the practice.
Stars—because we believe when you practice, you shine! The real stars are all the students. We like to think of the students as the yoga stars of the world, shining the light so that they practice yoga and change the world!
Within OmStars, you include Practice, Insight, Wellness and Culture? How important are each of these four categories to the yogi life?
Practice: This is the foundation of yoga philosophy. Yoga is first and foremost a personal practice, one grounded in the reality of our direct experience. Here we give you the tools to create your own sadhana, your own daily disciplined practice.
In our practice section, users accumulate points which accrue like frequent flyer airline miles, except it’s about creating accountability and incentives for students to get on their mats every day. The more they practice, the more they unlock higher and higher user levels. The points, when tallied, will generate a coupon that can be redeemed at our online store, where people can choose to purchase some of our products or donate their points to charity.
Insight: This is the study component of yoga where viewers are guided into the rich spiritual tradition. Courses include meditation, anatomy, yoga sutras study and more.
Wellness: Here you will find plant-based recipes and healthy living tips to support the yogi life.
Culture: This is the reality component where you’ll find elements of what it really means to live the yogi life. We have a yogi hairstyles video and the Global Yogi series already available!
These four different categories of content give you a well-rounded view of the yogi life.
How can an online channel transform lives and create Sangha? Is this channel to accompany a face to face practice or replace it?
OmStars is meant to support your daily sadhana. We are developing a component of our channel which will more directly connect teachers and students, but we’re not ready to reveal that just yet! We believe that the online world of yoga is great tool for the enrichment of personal practice, especially for students who live remotely without access to teachers or cannot afford the monthly fees of a yoga center. We believe that OmStars offers a unique space for students to discover the spiritual journey. We are also working on creating a community forum where students connect with each other, essentially creating a virtual sangha where practitioners can develop yoga friendships and support each other—hopefully coming very soon!
It’s clear that Kino MacGregor is super-excited about this new project of hers and we can see why. After all, on her website, Kino describes her dharma as this: ‘to help people experience the limitless potential of the human spirit through the inner tradition of yoga.’ She’s reaching out to people all over the world and sharing this inner tradition of yoga far and wide.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, OmStars was launched in Spring 2017. With access to countless hours of amazing videos and tutorials from an elite team of yoga masters, including Kino herself, this Yoga TV channel is the first of its kind. OmStars is the best way to enter into the living, breathing world of Kino MacGregor and become an OmStar in your own right.
Thank you, Kino, for continuing to inspire many of us with your dedication and honesty, as we all learn what it is to shine like stars wherever we find ourselves.
To find out more about OmStars, visit www.omstars.com
For more information about Kino herself, visit www.kinoyoga.com
With OmStars you can watch, practice and build points everytime you log online. Now enjoy your FREE month trial with code KINOYOGAMATTERS at their checkout.