East or West, yoga is the best

Alisha Shinde
Friday, 1 February 2019

Chatting up Ashtang yoga teachers Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann who are conducting a yoga event in Mumbai this weekend

For us, living in the East, yoga has always been an integral part of our culture. It is only in recent times that the West has learnt of yoga’s spiritual and healing properties and has embraced it, with many yoga practitioners and teachers emerging from that part of the world. 

Two such teachers from the USA, Kino MacGregor and her husband Tim Feldmann, will be in Mumbai on February 2-3, to be a part of the event presented by True Bay India, a yoga wellness retreat in Mumbai, in association with Deepika Mehta, a fitness expert. MacGregor and Feldmann, who are practitioners and teachers of Ashtanga yoga, are the owners and founders of Miami Life Center. The duo share with us their relationship with yoga. 

MacGregor recalls that she first took a yoga class when she was 19. But it was when she first practised Ashtang yoga for the first time at the age of 22 that she fell in love with it. “I travelled to India to meet my teacher in Mysore later that same year. Meeting K Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois changed my life. I learnt that yoga is a spiritual path and have since devoted my life to it.” 

On the other hand, Feldmann discovered yoga in 1992 after a big accident that he had. “I fell off a ridge in the mountains in Venezuela and almost died. It took me two years to recuperate because I had many broken bones in my body. That is when a friend took me to an Ashtanga yoga class in New York city and I loved it from the first moment,” he says.

When asked if they both have a different take on what yoga means to them, MacGregor replies, “One of the things that Tim and I both share is our love and commitment for this practice. It goes beyond the physical practice and includes the spiritual elements of yoga, which is something that I love and treasure.”

Feldmann points out that as a yoga practitioner they always live in an interesting space where he is not only teaching someone else the art of yoga but also making himself better with the extra practice that he gets while correcting forms and teaching the right asanas. 

“If a teacher can better himself at every practice or workshop, the students too will have a better understanding of yoga in general,” he explains. 

MacGregor believes that being a student of yoga is one of the biggest blessings that she has received. She says that there is something magical about giving all your heart and soul to the practice and surrendering to the inner experience that teaching yoga is. “I started off teaching just a few students and now I am traveling all over the world to share the message of yoga with so many different students,” she says. 

Feldmann says that yoga now has become very accessible, because every neighbourhood has at least one yoga centre that is helping people to heal and social media is helping the cause. 

“Many people’s first introduction to yoga is online and I see no problem with that. Not many have money to take classes or travel to where there might be a teacher, so for them, to start their yoga journey online is a wonderful thing. But true transmission of yoga happens face-to-face between a student and a teacher,” he says. 

MacGregor adds, “I developed an online channel for yoga because I wanted to provide a link to the traditional practice for people who may not have the means to come to India and meet the masters of the ancient lineages.” 

As we mentioned earlier, yoga is now the flavour of the West. It is being said that more foreigners are into yoga worldwide than Indians themselves. Sharing thoughts on this, MacGregor says that yoga is perhaps like a valuable family heirloom. “It is so much a part of your culture and being that you don’t really appreciate it until you see it through someone else’s eyes. There is an old saying, ‘Leave home to become famous, go home to share what you have learnt.’ This could be the case with yoga as well. It had to be re-discovered by another culture to re-find its value. However, I can see that yoga is thriving in India. I see it in Mysore, where more and more local students are coming to practise with our teachers. I also see many events taking place in various cities where hundreds and thousands of people are coming together to practise yoga. Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is practising yoga which is so wonderful,” points out Feldmann.

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