Ninie Ahmad: Off her yoga mat.

Her daily AFFIRMATIONS of staying optimistic especially when she's (upside) down.

Archive for the ‘Legendary Yoga Teachers’ Category

This is how I thank my teacher and our female Ashtanga warrior – the mighty Kino MacGregor.

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I didn’t know how to even begin thanking Kino MacGregor.

Although I have never met her before last week,
I have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga with her DVDs almost everyday for the past 4 years,
I have been replacing my TV time with repeating her YouTubes preaching about yoga and life,
I have been improving my strength with her generous and genius practice techniques,
I have been trying to teach and heal by paraphrasing wisdom of her words and inspiration.

Kino MacGregor is the biggest rockstar in this world for me.

So when I finally got to meet her last week,
I held back my tears of unbelieving that there she was, standing in front of me,
with a welcoming smile, warmly asking my name and telling me to take the most front position and begin my Mysore practice.

The first day of Mysore with Kino,
I practiced ‘only’ First / Primary Series as my lower back has not been feeling happy :( since I returned from Bali.

The persona of a great teacher,
all of my pain, fear and insecurities seemed to disappear,
all my attempts to float in my Surya Namaskar, jump backs and jump throughs were successful that day as it I was granted superpower.

The power of a great teacher,
she recognizes the true potential in you.
At the end of my Day 1 Mysore with Kino,
she told me “Tomorrow, you practice Second (Series). Do you memorize the sequence?”

I hesitated before I answered because although I memorize every pose in Second / Intermediate Series,
my Second Series practice is embarrassing nothing to be proud of, as I have been avoiding Dwi Pada Sirsasana like a plague and usually skim through the leg-behind-the-head-poses and rush to arms balancing with the likes of (and my favourite!) Mayurasana, Pincha Mayurasana and the seven Headstands.

So I nodded a shy ‘Yes’ and came up with my excuse “But I injured my back while posing for a photo a month ago. Should I still practice Second?”

“Yes but with correct techniques. Whenever we get injured, don’t skip the practice, don’t avoid the poses but heal by keeping bandhas and correct techniques. I will help you tomorrow.”

And help she did.
I feel healed alright.

Now how do I thank her?

You know how they say,
give like how you like to receive?

I love making, giving and getting greeting cards.

My husband and I have this ritual of giving each other cards on every 11th of the month after we got married (we got married on 11th December). When I feel at my most creative, I’d personally handmake the cards.

And so I gave Kino my cards for every day I practiced Mysore and did workshop with her.

Day 1

Day 3

Day 4

My time in making the cards and money spent for the four days in Singapore
(God help me, Singapore hotels are crazy expensive!)
were nothing compared to THIS smile I got from Kino upon receiving my card again..

But words are easy and cards are just papers.

I felt the need and responsibility to do something more
as she has genuinely shared so much more with the world by sharing beautifully-edited DVDs and thoughtfully-made YouTubes.

What more can I do?

I stick to my best.

Pens and papers. And scrapbook goodness goodies my Canadian mother-in-law and sisters-in-law have been stocking me with.

I decided to start a scrapbook on Kino’s teachings on Ashtanga, yoga and life (my husband said I’m a Kino stalker groupie..) :roll:

Preview of a couple of pages:

And lucky me, Kino already signed her blessings on the first page!

I promised Kino

  • to show her the completed scrapbook the next time I see her, be it on other part of this world.
  • and to keep sharing, teaching and practicing, practicing and practicing. The rest is coming.

Thank you Kino,

for everything you are,
for everything I am
and for everything I will be.

I bow to the Lotus feet of Kino MacGregor.

Written by Ninie

May 3rd, 2012 at 4:41 pm

‘May leaders govern the world with law and justice.’ ~ASHTANGA MANGALA MANTRA

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One of the best things I love about daily (OK OK, six days a week..) Ashtanga practice is
the beautiful and meaningful Opening & Closing Prayers that we recite before and after practicing.

Since the mantras are translated from high-level Sanskrit,
they have different translations depending on who translates it.

My favourite version has got to be from Matthew Sweeney’s Astanga As It Is book
(did I tell you I attended his workshop THIS VERY MORNING? :cool: )

At Celeste Lau’s Back On The Mat, Singapore

स्वस्तिप्रजाभ्यः परिपालयंतां
न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः ।
गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनोभवंतु ॥

svasti-prajā-bhyaḥ pari-pāla-yaṁtāṁ
nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ
go-brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubham-astu nityaṁ
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino-bhavaṁtu

May all mankind be prosperous
May leaders govern the world with law and justice
May divinity and erudition be protected
May people of the world be happy.

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
auṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Om peace, peace, peace.

Ashtanga Closing Prayer / Mangala Mantra

Since I am in Singapore for Matthew Sweeney and Kino MacGregor’s Ashtanga workshops and Mysore classes, I don’t know what is on front page of local dailies back home but this is what I read this morning.

Singapore’s New The Sunday Times (29 April, 2012)

Power to the people.
Be the change we want to see in this world.

I accept and welcome opportunities, good fortune and blessings showered upon me.

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2012 has been too kind to me.

In April this year and this month alone,
I managed to study with Ashtanga Godfathers:
Danny Paradise
, Govinda Kai and Prem Carlisi (3 of only 35 certified Ashtanga teachers in this world).

I must have done something really good in this lifetime
(despite what some people say about me “What other people think of me is none of my business.“)
as I will be meeting another two certified Ashtanga teachers and also on the top of my list of five people I want to meet in my life,

all in the same weekend starting tomorrow!

Last week, in the spur of a moment, I decided to eliminate all Yogilates classes at Upward and had our scheduled changed to Intro to Ashtanga as I felt strongly that everything my Yogilates (Yoga + Pilates) class promises can be achieved with Ashtanga Yoga (with investment of more practice and patience).

After I officiated that (resulting Upward to have six Ashtanga classes a week now) – within the next immediate couple of hours, I received unplanned and unbelievable good news that I got the very last spot to study and practice Ashtanga with

THE Matthew Sweeney

the most advanced Ashtanga practitioner in this lifetime
whose ‘Astanga As It Is’ book is a bible to me and a thousand others.

AND the Kino MacGregor,

that I have mentioned only about a hundred times here and in my classes as my biggest inspiration.

All of her videos especially this YouTube speak for me in every level. From her ‘no background of gymnastics and dancing’, ‘wearing make-up and bright coloured coloured clothes’ and ‘always being the smallest person when she was young’, she worded my every issue with grace, compassion and kindness.

Her small frame executing poses that most people give up on even trying and thinking about – has been my strength on how ‘impossible is only an opinion’.

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

I am finally ready.

I don’t know if this is my calling to spread the legacy of Ashtanga to more people around me
but I accept and welcome good fortune and blessings showered upon me.

Til’ I come back in May,
(all classes at Upward GO ON when I’m gone, with the exception of Prenatal Yoga),
see all of you back at Upward with spectrum of Matthew & Kino’s light to be shared!

Love and practice, practice, practice.
Shanti is coming.

The more I teach yoga, the more I practice Ashtanga, the more I realize I am a just tiny drop of water in the ocean and just a small being with thoughts, sensations and muscles I never know I have.

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I might be a yoga teacher but I am NOT an Ashtanga yoga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know the difference of Bikram, Anusara, yoga classes at the gym and Ashtanga.

I might have been teaching yoga for 11 years this year but I am NOT an Ashtanga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might have no idea that there is a world difference between a yoga teacher and an Ashtanga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you must have no idea that there is a big difference between an authorized Ashtanga teacher and a ceritifed Ashtanga teacher.

I might be certified in teaching yoga but I am so NOT a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that there are less than 200 authorized Ashtanga teachers and less than 35 certified Ashtanga teachers IN THIS WORLD of 7 billion people and probably a million people having yoga teacher certificates out there.

Unless you practice Ashtanga in Malaysia, you might not know that there is only ONE authorized Malaysian Ashtanga teacher in KL and that she is taking a break from teaching this year.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that you CANNOT pay any body to be an authorized or certified Ashtanga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that 2 to 5 years practice and 200-hours or 500-hours TTC (Teacher Training Course) are NOT ALL IT TAKES to be an authorized Ashtanga teacher.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that you have to teach (and of course, practice before you teach) Mysore style EVERY MORNING for six days a week.

Unless you teach Ashtanga, you might not know that you have to go to Mysore India at least once EVERY YEAR to renew your practice, authorization or certification.

I am so NOT an authorized Ashtanga teacher.

And so when I travel to Bali or North America, I hunt for Mysore classes with authorized Ashtanga teachers like most Malaysian girls run to the nearest H&M.

And so when I hear any Ashtanga teacher stopping by Kuala Lumpur, I go beyond my means to have them teach a workshop or two at my humble little yoga studio.

And so I am blessed to have Elizabeth Derow who has studied with late Shri K Pattabhi Jois and assisted his grandson Sharath at Mysore last November conducting Ashtanga workshops at Upward twice for the past 4 months.

Liz Derow (UK) | KPJAYI Level 2 with Guruji (Mysore, 2001)

And so I am beyond grateful for Liz is not only a great and compassionate Ashtanga teacher, but for the past week of having spent some time with her showing her around KL, I realized that she truly embodies a walking Ashtangi in her every word, walk and breath. She sees beauty at every corner, she speaks highly of everyone, she sees the positive in everything  – humbling yoga teacher qualities that I am not embarrassed to admit I don’t have.

And so I am humbled when Liz reminded me and my friends at Upward during our last Ashtanga workshop last weekend of how we are of a person outside our yoga mat would truly show when we are alone and still on our mat. If we have been stingy, greedy, impatient, vulnerable, like to put blame on others, arrogant, highly likely we will be the same on our mat and chances for us to get injured, to rush our practice and to blame our ‘inflexibility’ and ‘incapability’ to be still on our mat and perhaps, our ‘incompetent’ teacher. With regular if not daily Ashtanga practice, it is easier to reflect within ourselves why are we behaving in such manners on our mat.

And so I am excited and blessed to have 2012 already filled and planned with visits and workshops at Upward from respected and authorized Ashtanga teachers from all around the world with sea of wisdom and legacy of practice.

Greg Nardi (US) | KPJAYI Level 2 at Upward in July 2012

David Robson (CAN) | KPJAYI Level 2 at Upward in October 2012

I might have been practicing yoga for 13 years but everytime I am on my mat for Ashtanga every morning before I teach, I feel smaller and smaller.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that to say that you practice Ashtanga, you have to practice the series you are practicing (and the previous) six days a week.

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that there are seven Series of levels in Ashtanga yoga with only two people in this world have completed the Seventh Series.

Primary / First Series with Kino MacGregor

Intermediate / Second Series with Kino MacGregor

Advance A / Third Series with Santina

Advance B / Fourth Series with Mark Togni

Unless you practice Ashtanga, you might not know that it takes many years to complete Primary Series, the ‘beginners’ series for Ashtanga and many people will just practice Primary Series for the rest of their life in the same body.

I might have been practicing Primary / First Series almost everyday for the past five years and Intermediate / Second Series almost every Sunday for the past two years and I am still humbled by how more flexible, strong and humble can I be (or not..) everytime I lay everything I have on my mat.

If you think you are strong, fit, perfect, beautiful, powerful, have full control over your body and everyone around you or in this country and could use a slice of humble pie, try Ashtanga (if you don’t mind Idiot’s Guide to Ashtanga with an unauthorized Ashtanga teacher, we have it three times a week at Upward).

Love, light and free breathing with sound.

Yoga 101: Anusara VS Ashtanga Yoga

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Well.. if you have to ask me what’s the difference between Anusara and Ashtanga,
I bet you also don’t know that,

  • Vegan is NOT the short form for vegetarian. All vegans are vegetarians but not every vegetarian is vegan.
  • Pescetarians though (muggles that eat only vegetables and seafood), ARE vegetarians.
  • Briohny Kate-Smyth from this most watched yoga YouTube ever

used to be a mega Thai teen popstar in Thailand, check these out!

Have a good weekend!

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