Many of you out there probably already know by now that Kino has written a lengthly--and, in my opinion, well-balanced and well-thought-out--response on Elephant Journal to the negativity directed against her in the most recent episode of Kinogate. The response is so comprehensive, and covers so many aspects of what her haters hate her for (her short shorts, her high public profile, her teaching through Youtube videos, to name just a few), that I have a feeling that people might even start referring to it in the near future as the "Kino Manifesto" ;-)
Since most of you have probably already read and thought quite a bit about said Manifesto, I'm not going to reproduce and say anything more about it here. But I would like to think a little about an interesting aspect of Kino's work that Boodiba over at Queen of the East Village has brought up: Her high-profile traveling teaching lifestyle, which leads her to teach workshops at many places around the world to the virtual exclusion of teaching a regular Mysore program (from what I understand, she has a highly capable staff of teachers who teach the regular Mysore program at MLC).
Of course, many people think that this is not a bad thing: Together with her Youtube videos, Kino's intense and tireless traveling teaching schedule (I honestly often marvel at her ability to stay healthy and mentally sound with such a gruelling schedule) have enabled many that would otherwise never have encountered Ashtanga to form a connection with Ashtanga, and take benefit from this practice.
But Boodiba looks at this matter from a different perspective. She writes:
"However one cannot deny that to entirely remove oneself from the
realm of running a regular Mysore room in favor of high priced, short
term workshops, changes things. Not only does it limit availability to
those with a certain income, but it also severely curtails the ability
to deeply transmit knowledge the way it was traditionally – since
we’re all so concerned with that merit badge – intended to travel,
slowly, over a period of time, in a one on one fashion.
I came back from a workshop in Miami, with Kino & Tim last
October, with a game changing, hidden injury that announced itself right
after I returned. This was “the straw that broke the yogi’s back” and I
Do I blame the teacher? Not exactly, but I DO blame the workshop. I only
wanted to experience practice with Kino, so I signed up for this 6-day
thing. If I’d had the option to do a stint of just morning practice with
her, I’d certainly have chosen that option. We were all assisting each
other, pretty “cold”, practice wise, for hours in the afternoon. Plus I
was getting cranked deeply in morning Mysore every day.
Most people who know me are aware I love the deep cranks, however,
IMO it’s just not safe to do this on consecutive days, for a week,
unless you know the person & their practice quite well.
But if you’re charging $900 a head for 20 people, you’ve gotta give ‘em something.
So I’d say, if a teacher is really concerned about tradition more
than ego, career & profit, they might not want to exist on expensive
I think Boodiba brings up many valid points here. But I'm not sure if it's fair to blame the workshop, or to blame anything or anyone at all, for that matter. Now, in an ideal Ashtanga universe, in which shalas are as ubiquitous as MacDonald's restaurants are in ours, none of this would be a problem. Kino wouldn't have to travel so much, and more people will be able to have access to this wonderful practice regularly and hopefully, affordably. (Btw, I do understand the inappropriateness of this MacDonald's analogy, especially in light of the fact that Kino is often criticized for contributing to the McDonaldization of Ashtanga. But I guess what I am saying is, if it is possible to have a traditional Ashtanga shala on every street corner, just like we now have a McDonald's on every street corner (well, we don't, but you get the point...), then we would be able to get the message of Ashtanga out to so many more people, and so many more people will be able to take benefit).
But we don't live in that universe. Which means that many of us (including yours truly) have to practice mostly by themselves, interspersed with trips here and there to workshops to study with teachers like Kino and (hopefully soon, in my case) to Mysore. And Kino is providing an invaluable service by offering these workshops and by making her Youtube videos.
There is, of course, the problem of injuries. As a matter of fact, I sometimes ask myself if at least some of the injuries and pains that I have experienced through the course of my practice could have been avoided if I have had the better fortune of practicing regularly at a shala. The answer to this question is probably yes; but this is a moot answer to a moot question, given the universe we live in. Given the universe that we live in, it comes with the territory of being a home practitioner that we have to find a way to look out for ourselves more, even if this means letting go of the idea that we need to get more out of the workshops we attend by receiving more cranks/strong adjustments from the teacher while we are there. Given the universe that we live in, we have to find a way to be more aware of what is going on with our bodies, and perhaps even to refuse poses offered to us at workshops if we really feel our bodies are not up to it; for instance, I once had to refuse Karandavasana when Kino offered it to me at her workshop, because I was just recovering from a tweaky right knee.
But to put a more positive spin on all this, perhaps we can see this as all part of our sadhana as home practitioners. Maybe part of the sadhana as a home practitioner is to not get too attached to the idea of having to get the most bang out of our workshop buck by getting as many deep adjustments and/or postures as possible. In any case, when all is said and done, there is (or should be) more to workshops than getting deep adjustments/cranks, right?