• Top Three Yin Yoga Postures to Relieve Stress

      Puppy Pose is perfect for stretching out tired shoulders and tight lower back muscles. Supta Baddha Konasana is a therapeutic pose that allows your mind and body to truly relax and heal. Viparita Karani is the ultimate pose for all over stress relief and healing.  

    Puppy Pose

    Puppy Pose is perfect for stretching out tired shoulders and tight lower back muscles. A nice long hold in this asana helps relieve tension in the body and mind. Start off in table top pose and then slowly extend the arms forward. Align the hands as close together as possible. Exhale as you send the top of the forehead towards the ground. Be sure the hips are slightly open and that your body weight is evenly distribute between the hands and legs. Stay for minimum five breaths but up to a few minutes. To deepen the pose, try sending your chest towards the ground instead of your forehead (but avoid pressing too much weight on to the chin).

    Supta Baddha Konasana

    Supta Baddha Konasana is a therapeutic pose that allows your mind and body to truly relax and heal. Start off in Constructive Rest pose with your sacrum resting on the ground. Place two blocks wider than your hips width apart. Exhale as you send your knees outwards and rest your thighs on the blocks. If you need a little extra support for your back, use a bolster under the spine. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold the pose for a minimum of 30 seconds but up to five minutes.

    Viparita Karani

    Viparita Karani is the ultimate pose for all over stress relief and healing. To practice this pose, lie on your back and slowly fold your legs in towards your chest. Extend the legs upwards, engage your quadriceps and point your toes. Relax your shoulders and be sure that your sacrum is pressing into the ground. If it’s uncomfortable to lift the legs in the air, then rest your legs and feet against the wall. Hold for minimum 30 seconds, but up to five minutes. This pose is great for long days of standing, sitting or walking. Viparita Karani calms the nervous systems and helps your body and mind release tension.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice LIVE with Kino MacGregor on Omstars!

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone. Learn more from and connect with Kino on Instagram!

  • How To Do A Handstand: Your 30-Day Journey with Kino

    It took me five years before I balanced in a handstand. That’s five years of failure where I tried with all my heart and soul only to come toppling down. I wanted to quit more times than I can remember.

    There so many moments that I thought my body with it’s thick thighs and short arms would never make it up. I blamed my past and wished I had been a dancer or gymnast. But there I was, staring down what felt like the impossible hurdle of a handstand and I built the strength. But… it was never about the handstand for for me.

    Sign Up for the Journey to Handstand Course Today!

    It was always about the journey. There was a major life lesson I’m not giving up on myself. I learned what it means to put in the work and stay the course, through the ups and downs, through the good days and the bad. I learned what it means to have faith. It’s not enough to say “I believe”. You need to meet that faith with your hard work. In fact the sheer act of perseverance is a demonstration of faith. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll quit before you really try. But if you can find the strength to believe in yourself even amidst great failure, then you have learned one of the lessons of handstand.

    It’s easy to ride the crest of success, but so much harder to pick yourself back up from failure with grace. Fall 1000 times on your journey to handstand, get up 1000 times stronger.

    You are the deciding factor that makes yoga a spiritual practice. If you come to your mat and focus only on the physical, then it will be just that—glorified calisthenics or b-grade gymnastics. But, if you come to the practice with a heart yearning for spiritual knowledge, then you can use the poses as a means to grow and evolve. The quest towards wisdom begins with yourself. You get what you put into the practice. Don’t critique yoga for being a physical practice. Critique yourself if you’re making it ONLY a physical practice. I’ve always said that yoga is a physical discipline with a spiritual intention. It’s up to you to get aligned with the deeper dimension of the practice.

    If, after many years of practice, you’re not growing spiritually, f you’re not a kinder person, if you don’t feel more happiness, then look closely at your own effort. This practice has survived since ancient times because of the promise of inner awakening. Yoga upholds its end of the promise. If you want to reach the true depth of the Spirit, then it’s up to you keep your end of the deal. Practice with all your heart and all your soul. Put every drop of your being into the spiritual journey. You will one day step into alignment with the grand eternal truth of all that is, and then you will be practicing yoga. Everything else up until that pivotal moment of awakening is there to prepare you for that Divine shift.

    I’ve got a brand new 30 day #journeytohandstandchallenge course launching on @omstarsofficial on July 1st. Are you ready to go on the journey of handstand with me?

    By Kino MacGregor

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone. Learn more from and connect with Kino on Instagram!

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

    This standing pose builds a sense of gravity, a sense of foundation through the center line. It tones up the legs, and energizes the whole spine. This is wonderfully therapeutic for when you feel low energy and you’re looking to stimulate the body. Sometimes can be treatment for headaches. If you notice yourself feeling a little bit dizzy, or woozy, this powerful standing pose can really help you bring yourself back into your center line.

    Your own leg length.

    Move the legs apart about the distance of your own leg’s length. If you were blessed with long, beautiful legs go ahead and use that full length of one of your legs. Start off with the feet parallel.

    Feel that solid foundation.

    Rotate the right hip externally, aligning the right heel with the left arch. Then dropping the right femur into the socket, bend your knee over the ankle. Keep the belly in. Feel that solid foundation through the legs. Drop the right forearm on the right, inner thigh. Press into your left heel.  Find that connection through the left side body. Make sure the knees aren’t past the toes.  If your knees are past the toes, you need a wider stance. Belly in. Sitting bones, heavy.

    Roll through the rotation.

    Probably the most important thing to think about is how you raise your arm. If you don’t roll the shoulder around, then when you raise the arms, you can hike the shoulder up. You always want to roll through the rotation. Practice that a couple times. Let your arms swing down. Root into the legs, and then roll through. Let that shoulder blade drop down and around.  That’s the rotation that you want. Belly in, maintaining the rotation, then you can open the side body.

    Root the heel.

    Even though we’re leaning to the right, the work happens on the left side.  You’re working by grounding into the left heel.  You can choose to stay right here and go no further.  If you feel it, you’re going to glide your torso down on the outside. Fingertips press into the ground. Root the heel of the left foot down. And then, if you feel it, flattening that right hand, rotating the right shoulder forward.  And gripping deeply into the inner body.

    Calm the mind.

    Feel a sense of pressure, and push, using the strength to ground the outer edge of your left heel. This foundational standing pose helps calm the mind, and keep you real grounded. Put in the work with five deep breaths, in all the standing poses, and you’ll be able to keep your center in every breath. I hope you keep the seed of faith and inspiration to do your practice, every day. Namaste.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Learn More poses from Kino on Omstars.com

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone. Learn more from and connect with Kino on Instagram!

  • Five Tips to Turn Any Room into Your Personal Yoga Sanctuary

    Walking in through the doors of a dedicated yoga center transports your mind and body directly into that familiar yoga zone. The atmosphere palpably impacts your sense. The dim lighting calms the nervous system and provides an antidote to the perpetual blue glow of phones and mobile devices. Sanskrit chanting acts as a portal to a timeless past rooted in India’s rich history.

    Incense wafts through the air and the smell ignites something within your subconscious. Each step into the yoga center seems to mirror the inner journey until you’re standing on your yoga mat, in the yoga room. And then, you’re ready to practice. You’re in the mood for yoga. That’s all well and good if you have the luxury of going to a yoga center for practice. But what about if you’re traveling and on a busy work schedule and all you have is your hotel room? Or, what if you need to practice yoga at home? It is possible to transform any room into your personal yoga sanctuary. There are some DIY methods to recreate the feeling of sacred space wherever you are. As a home yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher who travels and teachers, I practice at home and in hotel rooms almost all the time. It is a rare and happy occurrence when I find myself practicing yoga as a student in a dedicated class. I cherish those classes because they will me up! But, I’ve learned how to make any room into a space for spiritual practice. I’m sharing a few of my tips below. Feel welcome to adjust as needed and add your own tips in the comments below.

    1. De-clutter

    Ok this sounds basic, but it really makes a difference. If you’re unrolling your yoga mat in a small hotel room the first and perhaps most important thing you can do is to clean up a little. The same goes for shared spaces at home. If you’re thinking of making your living into a mixed-use yoga space, decluttering is crucial to give you peace of mind while practicing. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world and it will be exceedingly hard to relax and turn your mind inward when you’re surrounded by a mess. For a mixed-use shared home yoga room, try finding some furniture that doubles as storage. When you’re not using non-yoga items like toys, magazine, hats, or shoes, store them neatly away.

    2. A Nice Shawl

    This may be entirely personal, but I travel with a large shawl that I wrap myself in for meditation and lie under for final relaxation (called Savasana in many styles of yoga). This blue woven shawl comes from India and having this item with me brings a feeling of coziness and safety to wherever I am in the world. Yes, I realize I’m basically saying I carry the adult’s version of a blanket around the world in my suitcase. But it really helps create that feeling of sacredness for me.When I unpack in a new hotel room I take out my shawl and fold it up near the spot where I will practice and mediate. When you walk into any room at my home you’ll see blankets and shawls folded up and neatly kept over sofas, and most importantly, stacked in my home yoga room. If your yoga room is also doubling as your living room, try keeping a neatly shawls close by the area where you’re going to practice.

    3. Mood Lighting

    Changing the intensity of the light makes a big change in the feeling of a room. If you crack up harsh fluorescent lights it can feel jarring for the nervous system. Try installing dimmers in your home, or, even better, smart lights that can change both color and intensity. If your yoga room is also your home office, you might find that you like a pure white light during work hours, but prefer a soft white or even amber toned light for yoga and meditation. When I’m traveling there are not often dimmers available, let alone app-controlled smart light bulbs, so my next best solution is indirect lighting. If I’m going to unroll my yoga mat for practice and meditation near the bed, I’ll turn on a light in a different part of the room, preferably one with a lampshade. Or, sometimes I’ll leave the light in the bathroom on and partially close the door. It really depends on the hotel and the lighting. They key with lighting is to find the perfect balance between so dim so you feel sleepy and so bright so your nervous system is not able to calm down.

    4. Smells

    I love scented everything. Whether essential oils, scented candles, incense or good quality perfume. But that also means I’m really sensitive to smells. There is one scent that I’m very picky about when I’m about to practice yoga or sit for meditation—food. I’m sure you can imagine why. The last thing you want to be while practicing yoga or aiming for a deep meditation is to be hungry. Sometimes smelling food starts an automatic hungry reflex. Whether I’m at home or in a hotel room I clear out the surrounding scent with fresh air, either by opening the windows or turning on a fan. I make sure that all food items are stored properly and all dirty dishes are placed in the dishwasher or cleaned. Then, I’ll either light a scented candle, burn some incense or diffuse some essential oil. If I’m traveling and I don’t have an oil diffuser what can also work is to place a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball near the fan or AC vent.

    5. Mat, Props and Cushions

    While I travel with a shawl stuffed into my suitcase, I do not often travel with a full set of yoga accessories. If I’m traveling and teaching I often borrow a yoga mat. Some hotels have yoga mats in the gyms. But there is a really great trick for yoga in hotel rooms—use a big bath towel right on the carpeted floor. Don’t let not having a mat stop you from practicing while traveling. Using a big bath towel is about as big as a yoga mat and will give you good traction and cushioning. For a cushion, grab a pillow off the sofa, chair or bed. For props, be creative—instead of a block, use a book or a bottle. Instead of a bolster, use a pillow. For your home yoga room, there is no need to go out and purchase the full set of yoga accessories. Instead, think consciously about what tools you actually use in your practice. Then choose the ones that will truly assist your practice and keep them neatly stored in a designated area along with your yoga mat.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Five Common Mistakes that Hold your Home Yoga Practice Back

    I saw the most progress in my yoga practice when I practiced at home, alone. When there was no one there to watch me I discovered who I really was in relation to yoga and I found out what this practice really was to me. When you face difficult poses without the guidance of a teacher to support your body, you are forced to find a way to make even what feels impossible work.

    Yoga really became an introspective journey of self-exploration after I got established as a home yoga practitioner. There are common mistakes that many students make when they’re trying to set up a regular home yoga practice. I faced many of them and I’m sharing some of my self-sabotaging moments with you so that you can hopefully avoid them.

    Decision Fatigue

    If you stand on your mat and have to ask yourself the question—what shall I practice?—you will have a harder time actually practicing. When you spend valuable mental resources just deciding on what to practice rather than on actually practicing, you can end up exhausted before you start. To alleviate that, try this. Instead of waiting until you’re on your yoga mat to decide what to practice, have a set routine that you do every day. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga then this is already there for you in the repetition of the same series of poses every day. But, if you’re looking to establish a home yoga practice with the support of online videos, that’s something else. Set time aside on Sundays to choose one video that you’ll practice for the week and then practice with that video every day for the whole week. So many people want something new each time they get on their mats. But if you only do a routine once you won’t give it time to integrate. Having a set routine helps you get better at that routine. Repeating the same thing over and over with intelligence targeted for improvement is the definition of practice. There are studies that show that reconsuming content relaxes the nervous system. Just think about watching a rerun of your old favorite show. If you cannot stand to do the same class every day, then try setting a playlist for one week of practice and repeating that week of practice for four weeks. At Omstars, we create playlists of the week to help guide students through their yoga journey.

    Distraction

    Let’s face it, being home is distracting. Between laundry, dishes, dust, and the mail, there is always something to do. Turn off messages apps and disable your phone function while practicing. If you use an online video streaming service to guide your practice, try setting the phone or device to WiFi only and quitting your messaging apps. That way you won’t get interrupted by phone calls during your practice. Don’t feel like you have to answer the door for every package that arrives. Some deliveries requires a signature, but most parcels can be left at your door. If you notice dust in the corners make a note of it, but don’t stop your practice to start cleaning. If you hear the ding of the washing machine, avoid the temptation to get off your mat and put the clothes in the dryer.

    Ease Friction

    Choosing your yoga clothes first thing in the morning can be daunting and lead to distraction. Lay out your yoga clothes the night before and place them by your bed. Then, the moment you get up out of bed put on your yoga clothes. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, they place your yoga clothes next to the shower so they are ready for you. Studies show that once you’re wearing exercise clothes you are much more likely to actually just do the activity. Similarly, unroll your mat. If you can in fact keep the mat unrolled in a permanent place that’s even better. But if not, then unroll the mat as soon as possible and go stand on the yoga mat in your clothes. At some moment the practice will simply start happening.

    Not Eating

    I know the yoga dogma says don’t eat before practice. This works well if you can get on your mat within an hour or two after waking up. But, if you’re a parent who has to shuttle kids to school before getting on your mat it can be hours between when you wake up until when you get on your mat. Trying not to eat before practice can lower your blood sugar and make your body too hungry to practice properly. The solution? Eat a small, healthy breakfast early in the morning that will be digested before you get on your mat later in the day.

    Going it Alone

    As a home yoga practitioner you may feel like island on your own. Your family may or may not support your decision to get on the mat from the beginning. Connecting with yogis in a virtual community can be a big support. Whether you decide to join a yoga challenge or get involved in some of the thriving online communities built around certain yoga channels or just cultivate a few friendships with fellow yogis that inspire you, building relationships in your yoga world means a lot. When a friend leaves a positive comment on your post it motivates you to keep going. Similarly, checking in with fellow yogis that you find inspirational can keep you motivated. Remember, it’s not about comparison and competition but genuine connection and community.

    What other obstacles do you face in your home yoga practice? Share them below!

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor, Backbending yoga pose, how yoga works

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Virabhadrasana A (Warrior I)

    Virabhadrasana is named after the Warrior Virabhadra who, in traditional Indian mythology, was created out of a lock of the Hindu God, Shiva’s, hair–one of his dread locks that he threw down to the Earth. And when that dread lock hit the plateau of the Earth, Virabhadra landed, holding the sword of Dharma above his head, making the shape of Virabhadrasana A.

    Energizing the Body

    Warrior One (Virabhadrasana A) is a really important posture for stimulating the cardio vascular system. As your arms are raised above your and your legs are firmly pressed into the ground, you’ll find your heart rate goes up and is challenged. This brings health into the heart organ while at the same time increasing circulation through the body. This posture also helps strengthen the legs, strengthen the back, and gives space in between each of the joints of the spine greater preparing you for back bending which needs that same strength in the legs and that same strength through the whole spine. Warrior One is a really important pose for energizing the body. It can be mildly therapeutic for light states of depression.

    Positioning the Legs

    Vira Bhadrasana A starts off with a firm foundation through the legs, and it is traditionally considered to be a balancing pose which means that by gazing up at the thumbs, as you maintain the solid foundation of your legs, you’re beginning to work on balance. Rooting down through the center line. First thing to think about is to really look at the position of the legs. You want to have the distance of about one of the length of your own legs in between your feet.

    Angle the Feet

    The warrior pose is best done with a back foot at about 45-degrees forward. If you go beyond 45-degrees forward what will happen is your heel starts to come a little bit off the ground, and we want to make sure that your heel is pressed into the ground. Your right heel aligns with the left arch. This is the most advanced foot position in the warrior poses. If you notice that you’re finding yourself a little off balance, you can align your heels with each other. Those are the two most common places that you would really keep your feet. Either heels aligned with each other, or heel aligned with the arch.

    Square Your Pelvis Forward

    Square your pelvis forward without any torque on knee. Take a step back about the distance of one of your own legs length. Strengthen through the legs. Draw the belly in. Press down through the base of your big toe, the little toe, and the heel. Lifting the knee caps up, and then square your pelvis as forward as possible.

    Allow the Natural Curvature of the Spine

    From the empty space of the inner body, start to push back from the belly button through the front of the left hip, all the way down through the base of the left big toe. Activating firmly the left leg, as your foundation in the pose will help you. We want to allow the natural curvature of the lower back, but not a hyper-extension of the lower back. Keep the tailbone in a neutral position.

    Let Your Energy Reach Down

    From the emptiness in the pelvic bowl start to pull the right femur in. If you feel that you can go a bit further down, you can allow that to happen. Never jut the knee forward, always pull the knee in. Let your energy reach down. The back heel should remain on the ground, that back edge of the foot on the ground.

    Hands in Prayer

    Hands in prayer. From the rib cage and up, start to lift the ribs up through the center line, draw the elbows towards each other, which is going to help externally rotate the shoulders.

    Rise Up Through the Center Line

    And then inhale, rise up through the center line. Gaze up at the thumbs.

    Modify if Uncomfortable

    If this is at all uncomfortable for your neck, you can open the hands and look forward. Your quadriceps should be burning. Allow it to burn.

    Back to Standing

    Exhale, hands down. Straighten the right leg, and come on back to Samasthiti.

    Keep in Mind the Spiritual Journey

    To be a warrior you must have patience, you must have endurance, you must have bravery.  And you must have a kind and compassionate heart.  To be a warrior of Dharma, a warrior of goodness in the world, you can’t just be fierce.  You need to, at the same time, keep wisdom and compassion in equal parts and in equal measure in your heart.  As you are finding the sense of stability that will help you stay in proper alignment for the full depth in Virabhadrasana A, you will notice that a whole spiritual wealth opens up to you at the same time. Keep these alignment pointers in mind, but really keep in mind the spiritual journey of what Virabhadrasana A means to you.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone. Learn more from and connect with Kino on Instagram!

     

  • Omstars Yoga Challenges of 2019

    When you practice yoga, you can literally help change the world. Part of being a yogi means giving back to the community, and here at Omstars, our favorite way to give back is through hosting challenges that allow us to collect and donate money to carefully selected causes that we believe are helping to make the world a better place.

    The 30-Day Yoga Journey with Kino MacGregor

    “Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention.”  –Kino MacGregor

    The path to yoga begins one day, one pose, and one breath at a time. The beginning of 2019 brought yogis all over the world together to experience different styles of yoga such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin, and more. Omstars and Liforme donated $1 to Yoga Gives Back for every person who joined the challenge in the New Year. This important charity is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to help impoverished children and mothers in India–the birthplace of yoga.

    Ashtanga Basics Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Experiences in yoga can change your life. In March of 2019, Omstars members joined Kino MacGregor for a 10-day yoga challenge. This 22-Class, Ashtanga adventure included live practices and on-demand classes that focused on foundational postures and movements found in the Ashtanga Primary Series. A few lucky winners of the challenge were treated to prizes such as an Ashtanga Yoga Card deck by Kino MacGregor and Shambhala Productions or a delicious tea set from Fifth Limb Wellness.

    Everyday Joy of Yoga Challenge with Kaitlyn Kreitzman

    May of 2019 gave Omstars members The Everyday Joy of Yoga Challenge. Challenge host, Kaitlyn Kreiztman, included invigorating flows and restorative yoga into this 9-day yoga journey. To kick off this challenge, Kaitlyn provided a gentle yoga blog sequence to supplement this course.  This challenge supported the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a foundation that supports families and individuals affected by mental health trauma. Omstars donated $1 for every signup to AFSP. A few prize winners were treated to subscriptions to In The Moment Magazine. The Omstars community came together to raise awareness for this outstanding foundation through the healing practice of yoga. Kaitlyn led members through a variety of yoga methods that focused on alignment, breath work, meditation, and yoga philosophy.

    Practice of Peace Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    “This challenge will guide you through contemplative and movement practices to calm the mind, open the heart and begin your journey into the inner world.” – Kino MacGregor

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor, brought the Practice of Peace to everyone in this 20-day yoga challenge. Featuring one yoga practice and one meditation each day, challenge participants were given the tools to cultivate a peaceful mentality in June of 2019. This challenge supported Yoga Gives Back. For every participant, Omstars and Liforme donated $1 to this charity which helps give young women and children in India the power to build sustainable livelihoods. Together the community helped to share peace throughout the globe.

    Ashtanga Home Practice Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor reinspired the home practice with the Ashtanga Home Practice Challenge in September of 2019. For 16 days, challenge participants were guided through courses that help develop and structure a safe home practice in the Ashtanga Yoga method. Challenge participants learned to honor their personal limitations by exploring physical, mental, and emotional capacities. As an insightful bonus, Shanna Small joined the challenge to teach five live classes that examined a variety of poses and movements, sharing variations to suit all shapes and sizes. Challenge prize winners were treated to prizes such as titles from Kino MacGregor’s book and DVD collection, Omstars by Liquido clothing, and vegan, hand-crafted soaps by Smithmade Essentials. Yogis all over the world shared the inspiration to keep coming back to the mat, everyday.

    Be Strong Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    “Learning how to be happy with failure is one of the lessons of strength.” –Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor gave participants the tools to safely progress in developing strength. Sharing personal experience from years of practice and exploration, Kino designed this 13-Day challenge in November of 2019 to integrate the mind, body, and soul. These 13 classes build you up from the basics and take you all the way to the peaks of the strength. Yogis all over the world were guided through strength-building drills that develop foundational strength while reinforcing the connection to one’s inner being.

    Yoga IS Challenge with Kino MacGregor

    Start the new year with a journey into the heart of yoga. Every day for 30 days, receive a new accessible practice designed to guide you on a process of inner awakening. Each class will be centered around a pose with modifications to make it truly accessible and offer key lessons about the meaning yoga can have in your life. This challenge is appropriate for all levels from beginner to the most advanced. Commit to the Yoga Is Challenge to experience more peace, happiness, and love in your life.

    Sign Up Today!

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

    Yoga comes from India, and especially India’s historic past.  If you have ever made the trip to India, one thing that is definitely ubiquitous on the streets of India are, cows. This is a pose that always brings me right back to the spiritual heart of the practice and the trips that I have made to study with my teacher in Mysore.

    It is traditionally translated as the “cow facing pose” or “the cow pose.” Another way to think about this posture is what the cow–the Go–actually symbolizes. The cow is the sacred symbol of the being, like the Earth, which is willing to give more than she receives.

    The Lesson of Patience and Kindness

    We could think about Gomukhasana as teaching us the lesson of patience and kindness, of respect and, really, sustainability. In the easy version of the pose, if you start off from a comfortable seated position, you will pick your knees up, and then layer your right knee over the left. Drawing the left knee in.

    First, the knees are elevated. Then, come forward until the knees kind of stack on top of each other. You can let the feet open as much as necessary, as to be comfortable for you.  If it is easier for you, you can grab your feet and bring them in.  This will increase the demand of the internal rotation of the hips.

    Even though your knees kind of point to the side, they are actually rolling towards each other in the ball and socket of the hip joint to create a foundation. It may feel like you want to tilt back, but to move into Gomukhasana, you want to lift your sacrum up and forward so you almost feel like you are about to lift your sitting bones off the ground. Don’t lift them off the ground, but feel as though you are about to lift them off of the ground.

    Then, place your left hand on top of the right knee.  Your right hand on top, and just a nice, easy chin down. Keep a little activation in the legs, and draw the belly in. Moving into this version of Gomukhasana is almost a meditative pose. There is a softness in the body. A softness. A calm, inner awareness. If you notice there is any tension in the front of your hip, see if you can soften a little bit, keeping the activation in the pelvic bowl.

    Creating Length and Space

    Work on challenging Gomukhasana. Take your right hand up, reaching it back behind you.  holding onto your right elbow with the left hand, and then just, layer it back. Then, drop the left arm down, and see if it is possible to reach your hands for each other, behind your back. It may not be possible, so you could just leave the hands in position, and we will hold here for just a moment. Nice breath in, soften through the shoulders, and create length and space through the center line. Let it go down. You are noticing an internal rotation of the left shoulder, and an external rotation of the right shoulder.

    Openness in the Shoulders

    If that was impossible for you, another option to create some openness in the shoulders, is to sort of do the Eagle arm position.  Your right hand, and the left hand layers, raising the arms up. In this version, you are going to look up at the thumbs, finding the center line.  This is that not-stressful version. Do not hit it too hard, just let your body kind of ease its way into the pose. If the easy Gomukhasana is not really comfortable for you, just work on whatever level is appropriate for where you are at.

    Work on the Balance

    The cow facing pose, Gomukhasana, from Ashtanga Yoga, comes at the end of the second series, which is a challenging series. We will start off in the relaxed cow position. The knees cross over each other, using that internal rotation. To get yourself into that full, kind of, elevated, lifted Gomukhasana position, you want to come all the way forward.  Your knees almost layer on top of each other.

    Cross at the top of the thighs. Instead of the feet apart, just bring the feet towards each other. Drawing the belly in, settle the hips gently down. As you settle the hips gently down, you will feel like there is nothing to sit on. You are actively squeezing the legs into each other, and you are squeezing the knees down. Settling your hips back onto your feet, avoid rounding your back, and then, perch yourself forward in the same way.  Keep your hips close to your feet. Take your hands down onto your thighs, work on the balance.

    Interlock the Fingers

    Only if you work on the balance, then, lean forward, and interlock your fingers under you knees. You can round your back to get the grip, but then, pop your chest forward. This balance is very precarious. Gaze down the bridge of the nose, holding it there for a moment.

    The Full Posture

    Then, you can layer yourself forward by squeezing the knees slightly forward, keeping your sternum oriented in line with the pubic bone. Pubic bone, forward.  Your legs should feel a little active. Your pelvic floor should be on. Avoid rounding the back, but pop the chest forward.  Like that easy version of Gomukhasana, right hand reaches back, left one around, and find that center line. Lift the chest up, and forward.  Now, the gaze up, here, is real precarious, because you feel like you do not have that stable foundation of your hips down.  You are really actively squeezing yourself into the pose. I always seem to almost lose the balance when I look up. You want to find a small spot and gaze at that spot. Then gently release it, taking your hands down. Come on down to that easy version of Gomukhasana.

    Gomukhasana, the cow facing pose, will help you find a calm and even center. When you have that tightness in your shoulders, what can happen is that, your shoulders kind of cave in and collapse the heart. As you practice Gomukhasana, your heart center opens. Your heart expands. The shoulders relax and you can find the happy freedom, the trusting heart of the spiritual center, really, of the sacred. Remember that when you are practicing a deceptively simple pose, like Gomukhasana, there are hidden benefits along the spirit that will start to shine through as you begin to practice. I hope you keep the seed of peace in your heart, and the inspiration to practice everyday. Namaste.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Why do you practice yoga? Kino Macgregor Ashtanga Yoga teacher, OMstars

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

    So, you want to try yoga? As a beginner, it can be both overwhelming and intimidating to start. You don’t know where to begin and all the people practicing seem to fit a particular mold. Well, this beginner’s guide to yoga is designed to help you get started safely and find the tools you need to begin your own journey.

    What Time You Practice.

    Some basic things to think about are what time you practice, how often you practice, and how to choose a teacher. Practice is best done as a daily ritual, much like brushing your teeth. The body also responds to consistency with training. Choose a time that works for your schedule and then commit to that practice time for at least one full week, or ideally, one full month. Tradition yoga texts recommend to practice first thing in the morning, before breakfast and before the mind gets too stimulated.  However, if your best chance at consistency is to practice after work, at the end of the day, do that. In order to increase your likelihood of maintaining your practice, schedule “yoga” in your calendar and set a reminder five minutes before. Put on your yoga clothes as soon as you wake up in the morning. Studies show that just wearing your work-out clothes increases the likelihood of actually working out significantly.

    How Often You Practice.

    A big part of getting started is about taking the “shoulds and shouldn’ts” out of practice and really connecting to what feels right for your body, what works for your schedule and making conscious decisions that nourish your personal journey. At a minimum, I’d suggest to practice twice a week. But ideally it is recommended to practice six days a week. Five minutes a day six days a week is better than an hour once a week. The daily discipline makes a difference in how the practice integrates with your life.

    How to Choose a Teacher.

    Choosing a teacher or a class can be a big question. If you’re searching for a local teacher, find the most qualified well-trained teacher in your city and see if they offer beginner programs. if you don’t like the style of yoga that they teach after the course is over, try another studio. Remember, yogis are human beings. Don’t expect your teacher to be an enlightened master or a copy of the Buddha. They are people, just like you, who have been practicing and studying yoga for awhile. They have taken a few steps further on the yoga path than you have, but on a human-to-human level you’re equals. That being said, be open and hear what the teacher has to offer and be respectful while maintaining your personal boundaries.

    Joining a Yoga Challenge or Course is Another Way to Get Started.

    If you’re looking to start a beginner yoga program online, there are many offerings. A good way to start is with a program that takes you through a full 30 days of practice. It helps if the online system allows you to track your progress so that you can both hold yourself accountable and give yourself positive reinforcement for practice sessions completed. Just like searching for an in-person teacher, choosing the right online teacher requires a bit of research. Find the most qualified well-trained teacher whose style you connect with and see if they have a beginner yoga program. Joining a yoga challenge is another way to get started. When you’re practicing at home you’ll miss the feeling of community that you get at a yoga studio. But when you join a yoga challenge there is a virtual community of yoga that you connect with as you practice and share the experience together.

    You Don’t Need All the Gear to Start.

    You don’t need all the gear to start, especially if you’re practicing at home. If you have an area rug or carpeted floor you can just put on a pair of old sweatpants and a t-shirt and follow the videos. No one cares what you wear at most authentic yoga studios, but sometimes it just feels safer to start at home when you no know it’s just you and the practice. Try it out for a week or two and then if you fall in love with the practice, buy a mat.

    Allow Yourself to be Where You Are.

    Don’t expect to be good at yoga from your first class or even first 1,000 classes. If you think you need to be flexible and strong from the beginning then yoga will be utterly impossible. Instead, allow yourself to be where you are, which is at the beginning of your journey. In doing so you will learn your first lesson from the yoga practice—that is, how to be humble enough to admit the vulnerable truth that you’re a beginner. It doesn’t feel good to be the person in the room who seems not to know what pose to do, where to put your mat or have to modify all the poses. But, every single yoga practitioner has gone through just that. Even the master teachers whose practice seems to exist in an effortless gravity-free zone started off dazed and confused by even the most basic poses. When I first started the practice I couldn’t touch my toes in a forward bend, lift my body off the ground or say a single word in Sanskrit. Over twenty-years later and things look a lot different.

    You Don’t Need to be Particularly Good At Yoga To Experience the Deep Benefits of the Practice.

    It takes time. If you think yoga will be a panacea for all your life’s problems within your first class, you will be disillusioned. But if you commit to at least a month of consistent practice, somewhere between three to six days per week you will start to experience some small shifts that act like a beacon for the path ahead. You don’t need to be particularly good at yoga to experience the deep benefits of the practice. You just need to show up on your mat and try. It takes at least a year of practice before you will start to notice substantial life changes. Commit to the practice for the long haul and the practice will lead you down the rabbit hole of personal transformation, the end of which brings your life more peace, happiness and joy. That’s the promise that yoga makes to every single practitioner. All you have to do is keep practicing and put in the work.

    Expect to be Sore.

    Expect to be sore. I still remember the morning after my first yoga class. During and immediately after the session I felt amazing. My mind was calm in a way that I hadn’t known possible and my body felt light and free. The next morning, however, I could barely walk. My hamstring muscles were so sore and achy that I could hardly move at first. I started off practicing two days a week. That lasted for about four months before I jumped into a six day a week practice. Each time I increased the frequency, length or intensity of my practice I got sore in new places. A healthy dose of muscular soreness that leads to increased strength and flexibility is part of the practice of yoga. Twenty-years later and I’m still sore!

    There is No End to the Journey.

    Think about yoga as a slow steady progression towards a more mobile body, a happier and more peaceful life. The more you give to the practice, the more it gives back to you. There is no end to the journey, just more steps to lead deeper down to center of yourself. Much more than just a bunch of poses, stretches and power moves, yoga is a true spiritual path that opens the door to deep life learning. At first you may not make the connection between body, mind and soul, but that’s ok, that’s why you’re here on the mat and why you want to start yoga. Whether you’re interested in beginning yoga because you want to heal your body, relieve chronic pain, decrease anxiety, lift depression, manage your temper, or whether you’re on a spiritual quest from the beginning, the practice can be for you. All it takes is that you show up, unroll your mat and practice every day you can.

    Ready to get started with yoga?

    Learn More About Kino’s NEW 5-Week Online Beginner Course today!!

    Over one full month, you will get fully established in your yoga journey. Build up from the basics of yoga poses and learn healthy anatomical technique to be sure your body is safe. Calm your nervous system with breathing techniques and meditations that you will return to over and over again. Learn the basics of yoga philosophy and be happier and more peaceful right after your first class.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Why do you practice yoga? Kino Macgregor Ashtanga Yoga teacher, OMstars

    International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga & 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga & practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram & over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube & Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world. To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center & experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, & ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone.

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

    This is the pose that is dedicated to the Sage known as, Matsyendranath. Sometimes people call this pose, Lord of the Half Fishes Pose.  You can take those individual words, Matsya, meaning fish, and Ardha, meaning Half. Contained in, Matsyendranath, is also the word for King, or ruler.  You have all those put together for quite a powerful posture.

    This seated spinal twist brings you into the center of the body, and helps you access the deep space of the pelvic bowl.

    Foundation and Alignment

    In a twisting posture, the hips are your foundation. You want to avoid twisting from the pelvis, and instead, empty out the pelvic bowl. Twist from the thoracic spine.  In this posture, it is very important. To enter the pose on the right side, fold your left knee underneath. You want to make sure that your knee feels good.  If there is any discomfort in the knee, there is a modification (below). Close the knee joint and bring it all the way in.  You will notice that the knee lines up with the sternum. Right foot on top. Take a moment, and settle your hips in between the open place between your left foot and the left hip–both sitting bones are on the ground. You want to see both of the knees lined up along the center line.  Make sure that you can see your toes ahead of your right knee. 

    Entering the Twist

    Inhale, as you suck the belly in. Drop the right hip, down. Allow a gentle, internal rotation of the right hip. Hug your torso close to your thigh. Gently wrap your left arm around, holding onto the right side, looking over the right shoulder. Pointing the left foot, both sitting bones down, look over your right shoulder. This is nice and easy.  If you don’t want to go any further, all is good.

    Pivoting Deeper 

    Slowly suck the belly in. Begin to lift the rib cage all the way around the right thigh. You can press on the thigh, and pivot around. Take your right hand on the ground. Drop the left shoulder in front of the right knee. Reach down. Hook the shoulder under, spinning the armpit, up. Grab the foot by spinning the armpit, down. If you can’t reach your foot, you can hold onto the knee, or leave your hand on the ground. Lift your chest up, keep your left shoulder down. Lifting the chest up, reaching around. The second option, is simply to leave your right hand behind you, looking over the right shoulder.

    The Full Posture

    If you feel comfortable, inhale, lift your chest up, and exhale. Reach around, taking your right hand and just kind of wiggle it around until you can find the top of the left thigh. Look over your right shoulder.

    Modifying When Necessary

    This is a way that you can repeat this pose, and relieve any burden that may be too stressed on your knee. Simply cross the foot over, leaving a relatively big space. In this version of the posture, I would keep it relatively simple. Work on bringing your chest close to your thigh, and twisting along the center line. Don’t worry about binding your hands.

    Remember the Journey

    Remember that yoga is a journey into the center of your self. Never judge yourself by the success or failure of your body, to make a shape. We’re interested in the journey.  So, regardless of what shape your body is able to make, dive down into the inner experience.  And tune in to the power of the ancient tradition of yoga, which is really what this pose represents. Keep the seed of inspiration to practice, every day.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.