It is an ancient science that was crafted by the gods with the purpose of keeping all human beings fit and healthy. This science makes a person “aware” of oneself by uniting the body, mind and soul. It is known around the world as “Yoga“.
In today’s fast paced world, each one of us has so many desires and wishes and the only way one can work towards fulfilling them is to stay away from all kinds of health problems. One of the ways to stay fit, healthy and content is to become aware or as people would like to say become “yogic“. The word yoga has many mis-conceptions associated with it and many people think that “being yogic” means to shed all desires and lead a plain and simple life. Well, it’s time to clear those mis-conceptions and give you an insight into how you can become a Yogi In The 21st century.
As promised earlier we are delighted to bring to you an exclusive two part interview with the world-renowned American Yogini Kristin McGee (read all about her in our introduction article here). We asked Kristin a range of questions about what she thinks about yoga, what it means in today’s world, her role in spreading the knowledge of yoga and her interest in coming to India. Ofcourse, we also peppered it up with some personal questions about herself and her life in one of the most happening cities of the world, NYC.
DelhiPlanet(DP): Namaste Kristin Ji, A very warm welcome to you from the entire team at DelhiPlanet and all the people of India. How do you feel about talking to us and connecting to the people in India ?
Kristin: I am super excited!
DP: Have you or anyone from your family ever visited India ?
Kristin: Unfortunately, no!
DP: So then, what places would you like to visit in India and how well do you understand Hindi ?
Kristin: I would love to visit Mysore since it is the home of Astanga and Patabi Jois. Iâ€™d also love to go to Pune where BKS Iyenger has his home. I would love a full tour of the country actually and am open to experience every part of the wonderful history and culture that you have. What are your recommendations for me?
I believe Hindi is the language still spoken by many Indians and it is a direct descent of the Sanskrit language which I use when I teach yoga asanas.
DP: Well, I am sure you would like to go the Taj Mahal in Agra. You should also visit Rajasthan, Kashmir, Kerala and ofcourse our city Delhi :-). Tell us something about your initial interest in acting. How were you drawn to it and what kind of roles did you enjoy doing the most.
Kristin: I wanted to be an actress from the day I was 4. I used to sing Shirley Temple songs like â€œon the good ship lollipopâ€ to my dolls and perform in my bedroom. Iâ€™ve always loved live theater and musical theater and I think I would adore the glamour and beauty and drama of the Bollywood films produced in India. I like taking on any role that challenges me to open up more and find something new about myself. I think acting and yoga are very similar in that respect.
DP: Have You Seen Any Bollywood Movies. If so, please tell us which ones have you seen and which one is your favorite ?
Kristin: One of my all time favorite movies is Monsoon Wedding–I’m not sure if it is considered a Bollywood film or not. I love Mira Nair as a director. I love the colors and the sights and the beauty and the humor. I love how happy the Indian culture is and how they love to make things larger than life. They don’t settle for dull or mediocre. Please introduce me to some more Bollywood films that you recommend.
Recently, I just ordered 4 dvds from Hemalaaya all on Bollywood Dance. I can’t wait to try them!
DP: While still studying Acting at NYU you decided that you also wanted to master Yoga. What caused this sudden transformation ? Was it a desire to stay slim and fit or something else ?
Kristin: We were doing yoga in the morning to open us up and help us connect to our breathing which is very important for actors. I actually realized that staying slim and fit was just an added bonus to the focus and flexibility I was getting from the practice.
DP: Today if I were to take you back in time by 10-12 years and offer you a choice of being “Kristin McGee – The Great Actress” or “Kristin McGee – The Great Yoga Guru”, then which one would you choose.
Kristin: Most definitely Kristin McGee the Great Yoga Guru but I feel unworthy of such a title and feel like I donâ€™t quite deserver the title of Guru how about Kristin McGee the Great Yogini !
DP: The past few years have seen the development and introduction of new yoga techniques in India where more time is devoted to intense breathing exercises than doing asanas. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art Of Living Foundation has made Bhastrika and Ujayi breathing a part of his yoga workouts while Swami Ramdev teaches Kapalbhatti breathing. Do you constantly update and innovate with your Yoga workouts to include such elements or do they stay the same for long periods of time
Kristin: I completely agree with both Swami Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that the breath is the foundation of the practice and itâ€™s important to incorporate pranayama such as kapalabhati and bhastrika in the asana practice. Iâ€™ve recently been doing an hour long pranayama class every Wednesday before a two hour asana practice and it is incredible. I love alternate nostril breathing.
DP: Yoga was like Love at First Sight for you. You were able to do the most difficult asanas after only a few classes. For the average person who is slightly above the recommended weight how long would it take to see the benefits of yoga, provided regular practice 3-5 times a week.
Kristin: Yes yoga was love at first sight for me but I definitely couldnâ€™t do the most difficult asanas after just a few classes! I actually was good at the headstands and arm balances but itâ€™s taken me years to get more open in my hamstrings and to develop strength in my core and lower back. I think the beautiful thing about the yoga practice is it is a life long endeavor and there is no end result we need to achieve. If you start doing yoga, youâ€™ll feel so good youâ€™ll want to do it as often as possible. Any time you do any asanas, even if itâ€™s just 5 minutes a day, your body will feel and see the results. 3 to 5 times a week is great as well. Listen to your body and youâ€™ll know when and how often you like to practice.
DP: The Girls and Women of today, around the world are highly influenced by Media and Television and choose unhealthy eating habits inorder to appear like the models and actressses that they see. What message do you have for such girls and women. Can one achieve the perfect model figure by healthy eating and yoga.
Kristin: I think there really is no such thing as â€œperfectâ€ by other peopleâ€™s standards. I try and tell everyone to just realize they are already perfect just as they are. The yoga practice helps us get more connected to our self and eventually we do what makes us happy as opposed to trying to fit some unreal image that they plaster in Hollywood magazines. I really hate to see what it does to people and I myself have struggled with eating disorders in the past and when I discovered yoga, I found that I need to love my body from the inside out first and foremost. The rest will start to take care of itselfâ€”I promise !
DP: You yourself are an extremely attractive and fit person, so do you ever worry about putting on weight or ageing ?
Kristin: I am a woman so of course I worry about all those things! But I look at the yoginis in their 50â€™s, 60â€™s and even 70â€™s and theyâ€™ve aged so gracefully and beautifully. I think laugh lines are gorgeous and I think even a little tummy filled with love is attractive. Iâ€™m trying to embrace more of myself everyday and do what feels good as opposed to worrying about the external fears and pressures.
DP: Many people in India and around the world believe that in order to enjoy the true benefits of yoga or anything spiritual one must completely abstain from all forms of non-vegetarian food and alcohol. Please share with us your thoughts on this.
Kristin: I try not to be too dogmatic in my approach and believe spirituality and diet and lifestyle are all very personal things. I donâ€™t like to preach to my students and I think ultimately itâ€™s best to do what makes you feel good. If you prefer to abstain from alcohol and red meat I think that is fine and if you like to eat hamburgers and drink a beer I think that is fine too!
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Read Part 2 of this interview and our other features on Kristin Mcgee at the links below: