For those who follow Kino MacGregor on Instagram will be familiar with her ability to make the most advanced yoga positions look totally effortless. But getting to the stage in her practice where she was able to make the shift from student to teacher, build her confidence to a point where she felt ready to open her own yoga centre and sharing her experiences with over 1 million Instagram followers has all been part of the journey in building her yoga empire.
Today, Kino is an internationally acclaimed yogi and influencer with a collective of 2.3 million followers across YouTube and social media. Having released several books, Kino is due to publish her fifth book early next year. Following the launch of her yoga centre and with experience teaching yoga all over the world, Kino launched her own yoga-inspired streaming platform for yogis, Omstars. Referred to as the Netflix for yogis, Omstars is a platform that hosts thousands of hours of content related to yoga, meditation and wellness, including yoga classes, anatomy lectures, meditation sessions, vegan cooking, talk shows and so much more.
Here Kino talks to The Style Edit about how her yoga journey began, her eureka moment behind launching Omstars and the most surreal moments in her career so far.
How did you first get involved in practicing yoga?
My first class was in a gym when I was 19 years old. It took a few years before I committed to a daily practice, but when I did, I knew that yoga was a path of peace and healing. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga Yoga six days a week for the last 20 years and it has changed my life in every way for the better.
What did the early stages of your experience with yoga look like? How did you feel during those first few classes?
During my first few yoga classes, everything felt magical, and in many ways, it still does. But then, it was like I was stepping into what felt like a mysterious realm of awakening where every pose brought me deeper into my body and every breath was a promise of peace. Practice felt like a rebirth and a renewal. I also didn’t feel particularly good at any of the poses! I remember struggling a lot and feeling frustrated with myself.
Did you always know you wanted to work within the yoga industry?
When I first started practicing yoga I only ever wanted to be a student. I did not choose to be a yoga teacher as much as it chose me. I was in graduate school at New York University pursuing what I thought would be a career in academics when yoga sort of took over my life.
At what point did you decide to take yoga from being a practice you participated in for your own benefit to being a business and integrating it into your livelihood?
When I first returned from my studies in India I would talk about yoga all the time. Hearing my enthusiasm for the practice people would ask me to teach them. This is how I got started teaching and for the first few years I felt like I wasn’t good enough. It was only after more years of personal practice, training and experience in teaching that I felt qualified to open a yoga teacher together with my husband, Tim Feldmann. After we established our yoga center, I slowly felt more confident in what I was teaching that I started to make videos, then write books and ultimately open Omstars, the world’s first yoga TV channel.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As soon as I wake up I ask myself to think of three things I’m grateful for and who/what I want to forgive. That sets my day off to a good start and prevents me from thinking about what’s wrong.
Then, I make tea and read a few pages of a book.
Meditate for one hour.
Practice yoga asana for 60-90 minutes.
Teach yoga, sometimes in a group class, sometimes online, sometimes by filming a video.
Make an IG post.
Answer emails, work on writing projects.
Go for a walk to get some fresh air.
Cozy time with my husband.
Mediate again, a minimum of five minutes but sometimes up to an hour.
As I fall asleep I return to the things I’m grateful for, reflect on the good things that happened that day and forgive the mistakes.
“As soon as I wake up I ask myself to think of three things I’m grateful for and who/what I want to forgive. That sets my day off to a good start and prevents me from thinking about what’s wrong.”
One of the biggest associations with yoga is its aid in entering a state of calm. Among your busy schedule, how do you carve out time for yourself to maintain balance and calm?
Without my daily devotion to my spiritual practice, I would not be able to maintain my busy schedule of traveling, teaching, and working. My practice is my foundation.
For people on the go, busy with everyday life, what advice would you give them for calming the mind in times of chaos?
You don’t need to practice intensively for hours a day to experience a substantive change in the quality of your life. With as little as five minutes a day, you can start to shift the habit pattern of the mind to a more peaceful place.
What’s your 30-second pitch for Omstars?
Omstars is like Netflix for yogis. We bring the tools of traditional yoga right into your home so you can practice with some of the world’s best teachers. We have classes for all levels as well as inspirational videos that tell the story of what it means to be a modern-day yoga practitioner.
What inspired you to start Omstars?
I was flipping through channels online and there nothing that spoke to me as a yogi. Classes available only scratched the surface of traditional practice and reality shows and sitcoms felt disconnected from my life as a yoga practitioner. Founding Omstars meant that my knowledge and study of yoga would be the foundation for our channel. We are both an online yoga studio and a spiritually oriented media company. You can find class content to support your daily practice, vegan cooking videos and philosophy studies for when you’re ready to go deeper and documentary series for when you just want to be inspired by yoga. With over 2000 videos and 100 teachers, there is so much depth in what we have to offer. More than just another online channel, we are architects of yoga culture.
“More than just another online channel, we are architects of yoga culture.”
What excites you most about your business?
I love seeing people inspired to practice. When I meet a student who says that they started yoga with my books and videos it makes me happy. When I hear from someone how they binge-watch Omstars instead of Netflix it makes me happy.
What’s been the most surreal moment within your career?
I was drinking coconut on a remote island in Thailand. The coconut stand was run by a local villager who lived in a straw hut. While he didn’t have running water or electricity, he did have a cell phone. While I was drinking my coconut, he kept sort of staring at me. After a few minutes, he looked at his phone and then looked up at me and caught my gaze. With a smile and in broken English, he said, “You Kino Yoga, YouTube, Kino Yoga YouTube.” I always knew that people in every single country watch my videos, but this was surreal. Never in a million years did I expect someone in a remote village disconnected from society to recognize me while drinking a coconut. It was then that I realized the kind of social reality that I had. I felt both humbled and a sense of responsibility to carry the message of spiritual practice forward in the world with integrity.
Tell us about some of the biggest misconceptions about yoga and life as a yogi
Some people think that yogis never get angry, depressed or upset. While yoga can certainly help with mental and emotional balance, it does so by teaching you the tools to better handle the triggers when they arise. Yogis still get disturbed and triggered, but what differentiates a yogi is the commitment to learn, grow and evolve through the hard stuff.
“Yogis still get disturbed and triggered, but what differentiates a yogi is the commitment to learn, grow and evolve through the hard stuff.”
How has yoga impacted your approach to life?
Yoga is my life. Yoga isn’t a hobby or an exercise plan. Yoga is a lifestyle.
What advice would you give those starting out on their yoga journey?
Just start! Don’t wait for the perfect time, start where you are, do what you can with what you have and plant the seeds for a more peaceful life.
Follow Kino’s journey for insights into the beginning and improving your yoga practice here – @kinoyoga
For more information on Omstars, click here.