"After that afternoon I had faith in my own ability to make peace with myself through the technique of yoga. The most powerful words are not necessarily new words. They are the ones spoken from the lips of a person whom we can finally believe in, a person whose integrity is unquestionable and a person whose very being inspires greatness." - Kino MacGregor
During this period of time, yoga consumed my life. I lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept yoga. At night I dreamt my way into new yoga postures I had never seen before and took the inspiration to my mat the following day. I awoke ten minutes before my alarm for the first time in my life, refreshed from sleep and ready for the day. One fitful morning I had loads of extra energy and funnelled it straight into my yoga routine. I did everything to an extreme. From the first breath of what is called the sun salutation, or surya namaskara, I looked up at my fingers and knew that I was greeting a new chapter in my life. I lifted and reached not just from the physical level but from the deepest part of my soul. I was desperate, longing, yearning and dying to have my heart taken by yoga.
While I certainly felt better after spending nearly six weeks bending, breathing, twisting and lifting my body in yoga postures I did not feel totally, one hundred percent at peace. So I decided to ask my newly found eighty-five year old yoga master Sri K. Patthabi Jois where to really find it. The kind of availability that Jois allowed his students at the Old Shala is rare gift among such highly esteemed teachers. Every day of the week except Saturday he sat in the foyer of his building and invited all of his students to ask questions. Most people in a position of power guard their privacy, time and space with fierce boundaries. He was wide open. When I crowded into the small space where approximately twenty-five yoga students gathered that afternoon I called him “Guruji”in earnest.
The moist afternoon air held the room in its heavy, swollen thickness. Cutting the air with a languid spin, the cheap white plastic of the ceiling fan tinkered on the edge of falling down. All eyes were pointed at the grandfatherly Guruji reading his afternoon paper in the local dialect of Kannada. The room held its breath. The race of my mind formed the words of a question that sat heavy and urgent while awaiting delivery, hanging onto my tongue and tickling the roof my mouth. My heart was swollen. The burning desire of the moment’s immediacy magnified the afternoon heat and I was sweating. I felt like I had literally handed my heart and my faith over to the capable arms of my teacher.
Guruji, where can I find the inner peace?”
Rumpling his newspaper, he coughed and sat up straighter to look me straight in the eye. My heart skipped a beat. He barked back, “What?”
"And my question was indeed earnest. I did desperately want to find inner peace and that was my reason for starting yoga. My desire had remained unspoken throughout my life until the moment I uttered those words in his presence."
When I am nervous my speech pattern quickens and registers in at five hundred words per minute. Native English speakers often cannot follow my train of thought, let alone this aging Guru. Yet somehow he did manage to understand me, after a second try. There is something that happens when you have the desire to put everything out there in one instant and in these moments speech itself often impedes communication. While I prayed for a direct pipeline into the heart of my teacher, I simply repeated the words again, this time with a careful slowness to account for language, culture and age.
“Guruji, where can I find inner peace?”
Wearing the traditional outfit of South Indian Brahmins, a white piece of thin cotton with gold edging called a loongi and a Western loose-fitting yoga tank top, this man, my teacher, gave me the gift of his full attention. He could have waved off the question as being naive, coming from a crazy female Westerner with a shaved head and piercings in the wrong places who had been doing yoga seriously less than a year. But he took me seriously. And my question was indeed earnest. I did desperately want to find inner peace and that was my reason for starting yoga. My desire had remained unspoken throughout my life until the moment I uttered those words in his presence. As I gazed back at Guruji he was all I saw.
He said, “You take practice. One style of yoga, one teacher many years. You do three things: posture, looking and breathing. Then Shantih is coming, no problem.
He said, “You take practice. One style of yoga, one teacher many years. You do three things: posture, looking and breathing. Then Shantih is coming, no problem.”
After completing his response, he paused and studied me, holding me in his gaze and said everything once more. He didn’t raise his voice or gush with emotion. His presence was calm, steady, clear and to the point, perhaps a great manifestation of a strong steady mind. It contained the essence and simplicity of how he taught. There was no flowering verbiage from angels or demons hidden from the world. Instead, the answer lay in practice, filled with the fruits of one’s daily devotion, one’s very own sweat, spice and soul. And there was a teacher who always saw every one of his students, exactly where they really were. After that afternoon I had faith in my own ability to make peace with myself through the technique of yoga. The most powerful words are not necessarily new words. They are the ones spoken from the lips of a person whom we can finally believe in, a person whose integrity is unquestionable and a person whose very being inspires greatness.
Want to find out more about Kino?
Kino MacGregor an international yoga teacher, author of three books, producer of six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, writer, vlogger, world traveler, co-founder of Miami Life Center (www.miamilifecenter.com) and founder of Miami Yoga Magazine (www.miamiyogamagazine.com). Kino’s dharma is to help people experience the limitless potential of the human spirit through the inner tradition of yoga. She is one of the few people in the world of yoga to embrace both the traditional teaching of India’s historic past and the popular contemporary social media channels. You can find her teaching all over the world and on Kino Yoga Instagram (www.instagram.com/kinoyoga) with over 650,000 followers and on Kino Yoga YouTube channel with over 60 million views(www.youtube.com/kinoyoga). With more than 15 years of experience in Ashtanga Yoga, she is 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 practice through the Fourth Series of Ashtanga Yoga.
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