Yoga Teacher Training | My Takeaways from Learning Meditation by Lisa Kiss

My consensus of Module 3 in a sentence…Meditation is hard.


Module 3 was what I was most excited for in this YTT journey but, personally ended up being very hard for me to get through. I don’t know if it was because we were getting to the end of our learning before summer break or because I became disinterested in the subject. Regardless of my personal feelings toward meditation I learned a lot and will hopefully start a meditation practice in the future. The most valuable thing I learned was the difference between meditation and a mediation practice:


“The state of meditation is a full connection with the inherent spontaneity of all existence. The connection that happens beyond all of the layers of the personality, beyond all of the layers of our conditioning. True meditation is more of a state of mind.” You are choicelessly aware of the influences about you and free of every influence you come in contact with.

Meditation Practice

There are many philosophies as to the purpose and function behind meditation practice but, all with a common underlying goal; training the mind and heart to meet the present moment as it arises. It is thought the practice of meditation that we learn to see and work with our conditioning.

My Meditation Practice

Everything I learned in the 20 hours with Steve was extremely helpful but, my meditation practice is still something I’m working on starting. Through my YTT thus far, and I think just from practicing yoga consistently I have become much more aware about a lot of things including my body, mind and external awareness. However, I discovered that our thoughts usually relate back to approximately 3 themes. I figured out what my 3 were and am currently trying to understand why they keep popping up in my mind. A meditation practice would probably help but, it’s something I struggle with. For now, I acknowledge those thoughts and allow myself to return to the present moment.

How you can start a Meditation Practice

1. Find or create a quite environment

2. Pick an object of concentration (sound, breath, mantra)

3. A passive attitude toward content – Equanimity

4. Comfortable position (my feet used to always fall asleep by changing my seated position I was able to stop this and sit longer)

5. Take 4 breaths on purpose (Steve’s way of starting guided meditation)


Starting a meditation practice sounds very simple and it is physically simple to prepare for mediation; usually an asana practice before helps. The hard part is preparing your mind. During the training I was able to sit for 5 minutes comfortably. However, the 20-minute meditation was very hard for me to mentally sit through. So, if you’re just starting, set a timer for 5 minutes or go to a guided meditation class so your facilitator can help bring you back. Shelley is wonderful and teaches every Thursday morning at 11:15am.

And remember to always come to back to your breath.

Peace & Love,


More About IFF’s Yoga Teacher Training

Click here to learn more or contact Helena McKinney here.

More About Lisa Kiss

Find out more about Lisa Kiss, read her blog and explore her services here.

My Karma Yoga Experience by Sara Nixon

This summer at In Fine Feather Yoga, all the students enrolled in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course took the summer months off. Which meant they were out of the classroom and putting their training into purpose and action. They had a number of assignments and self study projects to complete throughout the summer, one of which was 5 hours of volunteering within the community. The intention of this exercise was to bring the moral principals of the Yamas and Niyamas into the volunteer work they did with an organization or charity that was not related to yoga. Specifically, looking to explore and exercise these principle to help guide them through the experience of volunteering. We felt really inclined to share Kelsi’s Karma Yoga exercise because it is the embodiment of how the Yoga practice should be lived and explored everyday to enrich our personal growth but also our connections to other people. If you aren't very familiar with the Yamas and Niyamas, you will still love this article, but we've also provided you with a link HERE to do some background reading if you feel included to know more about the philosophy.

A big thank you to Sara for allowing us to share her experience with the IFF community!


My Relationship to Asteya

I currently volunteer at the YWCA Hamilton Senior 55+ Active Living Centre. My volunteer work here is a directly result of my contemplation of the yamas and niaymas during Yoga Teacher Training. I came to this organization through my intent to practice aestya, or non-stealing. I’d like to share my story of how I got to this place: I came to yoga teacher training feeling restless and discontent. I had a hard time coming to terms with why. If I was to look at myself through the eyes of an observer, I would see a privileged life. I am married to the most loving and supportive partner and together we own a house and have a family of adorable cats. I have a career directly in my field of study, and not only is it fulfilling and rewarding, but I am paid benefits and have a pension. I travel and hike and camp and garden and surround myself with family and friends who love me and constantly build me up. I am living the millennial dream.

And yet, for many months leading up to YTT, this relentless voice told me I was not enough and that, in order to be enough, I needed to take more. I spent about a year almost obsessively searching for and applying to what seemed like better, more important and impressive careers. I’d get some interviews but never did I get the job. I also applied to volunteer boards and committees that I thought would look impressive. I wasn’t successful in these either. This was hard on my sense of self-worth, and further perpetuated the illusion that if I took more, I could be more. 

Connecting it back to Asteya

Asteya is not only concerned with stealing things that are tangible, but also stealing emotional, cultural, and social space. As a privileged, white female living the millennial dream, I take up a lot of this kind of space. Yet, through contemplation, I realized that my discontentment came from this compulsion to take up more space, and to ensure my spot at the centre of it. This was unhealthy and led to feelings of inadequacy, jealously, judgement, and competition. Instead of focusing my energies on taking up space for myself, I am now more mindful to consciously and thoughtfully give space to others who need it more than I do. This has become my practice of asteya.



I stopped applying to jobs and impressive committees, and instead applied to volunteer with the YWCA Hamilton Seniors 55+ Active Living Centre. I help run the outreach programming for the Senior Outreach Community Connections program, where older adults living in long-term care facilities all over the city are transported to the YWCA for a morning of singing, dancing, games, and other interactive programming. Older adults living in long term care facilities often feel isolated and forgotten. This program aims to connect older adults with others, to explore new things in a supportive environment, and to have fun.

I will also be delivering my own programming at the centre in Fall 2019, where I will lead conversation-based sessions on different aspects of local Hamilton history focused on memory-sharing and storytelling. In these programs, older adults will be at the centre, where they will have the opportunity to share, reminisce, and connect to one another. My role will be to facilitate and to listen – to create space for others. I do this work to engage members of the community who do not hold adequate social, cultural, and emotional space. I do this work to create a supportive space where older adults feel heard, appreciated, and valued. This is my practice of asteya.

More About IFF’s Yoga Teacher Training in Hamilton

Click here to learn more or contact Helena McKinney here.

My Karma Yoga Experience by Kelsi Salisbury

This summer at In Fine Feather Yoga, all the students enrolled in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course took the summer months off. Which meant they were out of the classroom and putting their training into purpose and action. They had a number of assignments and self study projects to complete throughout the summer, one of which was 5 hours of volunteering within the community. The intention of this exercise was to bring the moral principals of the Yamas and Niyamas into the volunteer work they did with an organization or charity that was not related to yoga. Specifically, looking to explore and exercise these principle to help guide them through the experience of volunteering. We felt really inclined to share Kelsi’s Karma Yoga exercise because it is the embodiment of how the Yoga practice should be lived and explored everyday to enrich our personal growth but also our connections to other people. If you aren't very familiar with the Yamas and Niyamas, you will still love this article, but we've also provided you with a link HERE to do some background reading if you feel included to know more about the philosophy.

Thank you Kelsi for allowing us to share your experience with the IFF community!

I chose to take this opportunity to volunteer with an organization that has been a big part of my life for the last 3 years. 


The Hamilton Victory Gardens is a not-for-profit organization that turns otherwise vacant spaces into flourishing gardens, growing organic vegetables to be donated to local food banks and hot meal programs.  When I first found this organization a few years back, I unearthed my love for gardening and interest in food security. While I have been privileged enough throughout my life to not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, this is not the case for many Hamiltonians.  In further, the nature of food banks results in many donations consisting of canned or boxed food items with little room for fresh and local produce. The Hamilton Victory Gardens works to fill this gap, to increase access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables for those in need. Organizations like this cannot independently disband food insecurity while cost-of-living and the housing crisis are prevalent issues at the forefront, however they play a vital role in supplementing the immediate need for improved access to nutritious options in our community.

My Past Volunteer Experience

For the last two years, until December of 2018, I became very involved in the Hamilton Victory Gardens.  I was so passionate about the efforts of HVG that I took every opportunity to try to help - I organized events and fundraisers, liaised with new volunteers, managed the web platform, curated social media and newsletter content, and completed large grant applications.  While I held this volunteer role very close to my heart, there came a time when my plate began to overflow from volunteer responsibilities, my full-time job, and family obligations. As much as I loved contributing to the organization, I found it was my health and personal well-being that was being compromised.  At that time I became detached from the reason why I started volunteering and the pressures of all my responsibilities, and felt it was best to step down from my active role within the organization.

Connecting the Yamas & Niyamas


I spent my 5 hours volunteering at the Cancord Site behind the food basics on Barton & Mary.  Reflecting on my mornings gardening I felt a number of the Yamas and Niyamas were applicable. For me, Svadhyaya was the most prevalent for a number of reasons.  I was able to once again unearth my passion for gardening - which is something I truly miss now living in an apartment with only a few window herbs at my disposal.  I had forgotten how meditative a morning with the plants can be, how much I enjoy being outside, giving back, and learning about horticulture. I also found this a peaceful recluse to quiet my thoughts as I worked through the mundane tasks of pulling weeds, turning soil, and up-rooting plants that had gone to seed.  I applied the Niyama of Tapas as I pulled the various types of weeds.  I allowed myself to really be able to feel the  pricks of Dandelion poking through my gloves, the sensation of extracting a deep root, the hot sun beaming on my skin, being fully aware of each individual task I was completing.  Ishwaraprandihana was another relevant principle as I honoured forces larger than me that play into the success of community gardens.  As much as humans like to say “look what we did!”, there is so much more playing into the equation here. In my own belief, Mama Nature is the ultimate dictator of the success of each plant; the amount of sunlight, the quantity and frequency of rain, the nutrients in the soil, the insects or animals are present are out of our hands.  We, as gardeners, can help plants by creating a supportive environment, but the greatest part of the work is done between the plant and its immediate environment. Therefore, rather than focusing on the pride in what we have grown, the success of the harvest we reaped, we really should be taking more time to be grateful to the sun, rain, earth, and surrounding life that support the growth of our food.  The more time we spend in our gardens, we reinforce a better our connection to our food, and better our connection to the Earth.


I am grateful for the Karma experience to allow me to re-explore this closed chapter, and re-visit the reasons why I found myself so heavily invested in the gardens in the first place.  This opportunity provided some closure for my decision to step-down, where I had been harbouring feelings of regret and guilt. Becoming more aware of the Yama Ahimsa - I feel more reassured that it was the best decision for myself at the time to make the conscious decision to be ‘non-harming’ to my own well-being.  

I am looking forward to continue visiting community gardens across our amazing city!

More About IFF’s Yoga Teacher Training

Click here to learn more or contact Helena McKinney here.

Yoga as an Effective Cross Training Tool by Meagan Santa

I’m not the only one who has been spending more time outside than on my mat. Summer always encourages me to go on more hikes and walks on the beach. Many of my yoga friends and students have been sharing how sore they are from cycling or running the stairs. It’s great that we are physically active outside but it also means our bodies are using muscles that may not be put to work this hard year round. The solution: yoga.


My fitness routine includes primarily yoga and home workouts that range from strength training to cardio. I use yoga as a means to recover my body and keep me feeling grounded. Even athletes like Lebron James have shared how including yoga into their training regimen has enhanced their performance - physically and mentally. So let’s consider how cross-training with yoga 1-2x a week minimum will benefit you!

Mental Focus

Breath is a huge focus in vinyasa yoga where we move the body with the breath. This type of concentration keeps us present in the moment which allows us to practice mindfulness and increase our mental focus. If you’ve ever gone on a run or cycled a long distance, you know how it feels when the negative thoughts begin to flood in. Practicing yoga can help you overcome negative thoughts which is a huge benefit at the end of a marathon or half way through your sprint up the stairs!



Muscle fatigue is not uncommon when you are more physically active or using muscles you wouldn’t normally. Yoga is an incredibly healthy avenue for recovering the body. In higher impact forms of exercise, your body absorbs shock and repeatedly contracts muscles in use which causes a shortening in the muscle group. If not recovered properly, this can lead to injury. When following a well-rounded yoga class, the muscles will have been lengthened out and lactic acid removed. Many students leave class feeling like they have more space in their body because the shock wave absorbed has been able to dissipate.

If you include any inverted poses in your practice like legs up the wall or supported bridge, you are allowing the body to rest the valves within the circulatory system and encourage a fresh return of blood to the heart.

It’s important to keep in mind that yoga is about tuning into your self to find out what your own body needs on that specific day. There will be times where you can push yourself and other times where gentle movement would be more beneficial. This distinction is vital to know on a recovery day!

Additional Benefits

Pairing any other type of movement with yoga allows you to improve your strength, endurance and flexibility in both. Flowing from pose to pose with your breath as a guide trains your cardiovascular system for endurance and teaches you how to best communicate with your body. Yoga is also known to reduce inflammation at the joints and muscles, increase heart health, strengthen the nervous system, increase muscular strength, fight memory degeneration and oxygenate the blood.

I hope this information will encourage you to roll out your mat at least 1-2 times a week for all the health benefits above and to increase your performance in other sports and activities. If you can’t make it in studio as often as you’d like, check out In Fine Feather’s online classes to do from home HERE.


Fit Flow Class

Additionally if you aren’t someone who is regularly active off your mat or you just need a good sweat, fit flow is a great class to add to your schedule. IFF offers it twice a week - Tuesday evenings at 7:00-8:00pm with Andrea King (community class) and Saturday mornings at 8:30-9:30am with me.  Save your spot online HERE or arrive to class 10-15 minutes to get comfortable.

Fit flow will make you sweat and challenge the way you look at modern vinyasa yoga. This class will move through vinyasa flows with focus on the muscle groups that help strengthen your practice in a more obvious way. Feel the entire core engage, pulse through squats and lunges, and elevate the heart rate through higher intensity sequences. Don’t let the word FIT scare you, trust that your Fit flow is here to help strengthen your body and your mind and their connection in an unconventional way. Flow and sweat to fun playlists and leave feeling like you’ve left everything on the mat.

More About Meagan

Meagan is a graduate of the In Fine Feather Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training Program, the assistant manager at the studio, a lifestyle coach and yoga instructor. Learn more about Meagan HERE. Come meet Meagan on the mat at In Fine Feather Yoga by checking the class schedule HERE and find her bio HERE.

Yoga Teacher Training | My Takeaways from Yoga Philosophy by Lisa Kiss

I had no expectations going into Module 2. I was most excited for Module 3 and had just experienced a plethora of knowledge from Nat J in Anatomy. I ended up really enjoying Module 2 because every weekend was something different. As someone who gets bored quite easily, I loved that every weekend was a new yoga adventure! We covered quite a few topics which allowed me to decipher what I enjoy most about yoga and maybe some continuing education opportunities post YTT.


Knowledge and Topics:

  • Yoga Philosophy

  • Ashtanga Yoga and the 8 Limbs

  • Pre and Post-natal yoga

  • Ayurveda

  • Karma

  • Sanskrit

  • Metaphysics, Mindfulness, Astrology and Lunar Yoga

  • Life Path and Numerology

  • Yoga Nidra

  • Gods and Different Styles of Yoga

  • Business of Yoga – Community

  • Interaction at Sew Hungry, Ottawa St Food Truck & Street Festival

Reflection | Takeaways from Module 2

  1. Yoga Philosophy is not me for to continue to study. I’ve never been a fan of any kind of philosophy and I’ve learned I’m still not. I now have a basic understanding of the linage of yoga I practice and at this time that is enough for me.

  2. I’m stronger than I think. I survived the Ashtanga Class with Tim Smith. Probably the most challenging and longest practice I’ve experienced. I discovered that I can do certain poses, I had just never tried them before. Yoga practice is the place to experiment and challenge yourself to grow (on and off your mat).

  3. Ayurveda was the topic that has piqued my interest the most! We didn’t spend much time on it but, I was very drawn to it. I discovered that I have a deep curiosity to explore this ancient method of healing and other nutritional studies. I think I may get my Holistic Nutrition Diploma next year.

  4. I’ve always liked astrology as I really resonate with my sign, Gemini! Rachel’s weekends were my absolute favourite because we got to dive deeper into Astrology, the moon, and numerology. It’s very interesting to see how they all connect together and have influence over your life. I now let my intuition free and do certain things depending on where the moon is.

  5. If I teach, I will teach the more restorative, gentle and yin style classes. My style of yoga presentation was on restorative yoga and enjoyed researching the benefits and past of the practice. Helena knows I have a gentler approach when it’s comes to my practice, so it was nice to get a gentle style of yoga. During the presentation I lead a mini practice while I shared information on restorative yoga. It would take some getting used to (teaching only 7 poses in an hour) but, I would prefer to teach a slower paced class. I think it matches with my personality nicely.


I think I covered everything! Like I said, every weekend was different, and this was the most jam-packed module! In all honesty it ended up being my favourite. I explored a lot of topics of interest and have an idea what I want to continue exploring and educating myself on post YTT.

Peace & Love,


More About IFF’s Yoga Teacher Training

Click here to learn more or contact Helena McKinney here.

More About Lisa Kiss

Find out more about Lisa Kiss, read her blog and explore her services here.

Local Love for Farmers Markets by Catherine Switzer

One of my favourite things about living in downtown Hamilton is being in walking distance to the Hamilton Farmers Market.


Coming into the warm weather I instantly get excited about the abundance of fresh and local foods that will soon be on market stands and you should too. It has become a joke in our home that I want to be the unofficial queen of the market because I love the social aspect of visiting the people that literally grow my food. But what I love more is seeing the hustle and bustle, the options, the local foods, the surprise when you forgot that it was all of a sudden blueberry season. It’s a mindful practice that I cherish. Not only does local produce taste exceptional there are many reasons to benefit from taking the time each week to select and enjoy your food.

Nutrient Density

When you choose locally grown, vine ripened foods you are obtaining the utmost nutrient content from them. You see, the longer a fruit or vegetable has to ripen on the vine, the more nutrient dense it becomes. Once picked from a garden, a piece of produce slowly starts to lose its nutrient content. Combine that with imported produce that is harvested unripe and “ripens” on its way to a final destination, the beneficial nutrients are somewhat depleted.

Now don’t get me wrong, you can still benefit from fresh foods, but when you live in an area like southern Ontario why wouldn’t you want to reap the benefits while you can. Not to mention we all know how delicious that Grimsby Peach is when you sink your teeth in.

Here are some nutrients you may receive from fresh local produce:

  • Antioxidants

  • Calcium

  • Fiber

  • Folate

  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Potassium

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin Bs

  • Vitamin C

Should you buy Organic?

I think it is important to understand why we choose organic foods. To narrow it down, conventional farming and grown produce lives in environments that use hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or are GMOs to ward off disease, insects and protect against environmental factors. Even though these practices have been deemed safe for human consumption, they are also known to put tremendous pressure on the natural detoxification processes in the body.

Shopping purely organic can be costly. There are a few things that I follow that can help ease the pressure on your wallet while nourishing your body.

  • Follow the Dirty Dozen & Clean 15!

  • Get to know your local farmers practices, as some are not certified but may practice sustainable farming

  • In peak season eat, preserve & freeze

  • Frozen foods in off season are a great choice as they are frozen during peak ripeness

Healthy Economy & Ecosystem

By supporting local farmers you not only are supporting the economical impact on your small community businesses, but it enriches the ecosystem that surrounds us. Healthy soil has a domino effect in providing nutrient dense foods, safe habitat for birds, critters & more. Preventing erosion of the land and healthy water for us all.


Local Markets

I love checking out all the different markets in Hamilton and surrounding area. I encourage you to check them out too. Here is a list of our local markets! *please note that most markets are seasonal

Hamilton Farmers Market

35 York Blvd, Jackson Square

Tues, Thurs & Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 7am-5pm

Ancaster Farmers Market

37 Halson St

Wednesday 3-7pm

Durand Market

165 Charlton Ave W

Wednesday 3-7pm

Dundas Farmers Market


Hatt St & Millers Ln

Thursday 3-7pm

Heritage Green Farmers Market

360 Isaac Brock Drive (the Family Church)

Thursdays 3-7pm

Ottawa Street Farmers Market

204 Ottawa St. N

Saturday 8am-2pm

Waterdown Farmers Market

79 Hamilton St N

Saturday 8am-1pm

More About Catherine

Catherine is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Labor & Postpartum Doula, 200Hr Certified Yoga Instructor (with IFF!) and owner of BabyBeets. You can find out more about Catherine at or on her Instagram here. You can also find her teaching at IFF occasionally and hosting many yoga programs in the community.

Environmentally Friendly Tips by Meagan Santa

We celebrated Earth Day on Monday and this inspired me to reflect on what habits I have in place that are environmentally friendly.

At the same time, I unfortunately noticed that I have a few bad habits causing a negative impact. Don’t we all? Let’s decide as a community to make the small changes that we can on a regular basis that will allow for a ripple effect. It starts with one person- that’s you!

In studio, about a year ago we eliminated paper cups and switched over to beautiful blue cups for students to fill with water before class. We encourage students to take good care of their mats so they have a long life, bring their own reusable travel mug for coffee at Cannon Coffee Co. down the street and we use reusable bags whenever we shop for the studio necessities.

I’ve put a list of 10 tips together that you can implement now. How many are you already in the habit of doing?

iff_environmental_tips (3).jpg
  1. Reusable Water Bottle

  2. Reusable Grocery/Produce Bags

  3. Reusable Travel Mug

  4. Reusable K-cup or Metal Tea Strainer

  5. Hang Dry Clothes

  6. Dryer Balls

  7. Glass/Metal Food Containers

  8. Bamboo Toothbrushes & Hairbrushes

  9. Beeswax/Plant-Based Wax Food Wraps

  10. Metal/Paper Straws

Find a few more helpful resources from other friends below. And click the IFF image above and save it on your phone or send to a friend as a reminder to make eco-friendly changes in your day-to-day routine.

Have you heard about our May Photo Contest- Yogis in the City?

It’s our 7th year running and we are looking forward to the photos from our community members. Click here to learn more!

Cultivating an at Home Practice with Michelle Smith

It’s hard to replicate the magic of the right in-studio class, however it’s not always possible to make it to the studio for an hour-long class. I feel you, I get it.


Enter, the elusive home practice. At home sessions give you the opportunity to explore your personal practice at your own pace, in your own time. If you stay open to it, it can be an empowering experience. Here are some tips to make the most of your time on your mat.

Schedule it:

Make a date with yourself - and don’t cancel! Find a time that works with your schedule and stick to it. If you don’t have an hour, or even 15 minutes to carve out, work to meditate for 5 minutes in the morning, or do some stretches before you get out of bed. It doesn’t have to be grand - but showing up can start your day in a big way!

Create an atmosphere - or don’t:

Find the atmosphere that works for you and your lifestyle. The ideal is to find a quiet, tidy space where you can find focus. It helps to de-clutter the mind when your space is de-cluttered. Set up a Spotify playlist or move in silence. Your space, your rules. Maybe you have 4 kids running around, the TV blaring and your mother-in-law visiting. That’s okay too. Accept that your practice will be different than in-studio. Maybe today it looks like pausing before reacting, maybe it’s taking 5 minutes to focus on your breath in the morning before you get out of bed. Maybe it is throwing down your mat amidst the chaos and finding 10 minutes of movement. Heck, invite them to join you! Own your practice, however it happens.

Warm up:

Once your space is set up, take a few moments to connect with your breath and check in with the physical body. As you begin to quiet your mind, turn your attention inward to the emotional body and pay attention to your inner voice. Choose to set an intention for yourself if it feels right. This is a skill that pays dividends off of your mat. Take a few moments to warm up the body. Think about the movements your instructors guide you through at the beginning of class. Start with gentle postures and gradually increase the movements.

Make this practise your own:

In your home practice you can focus on your specific movement and mindfulness goals. Not sure where to start? Start with your favourite poses. Go through the poses you know, try different transitions. You’ll likely find you know more than you think! Get creative and enjoy the process. As always, listen to your body and stick with what feels good. There are plenty of online classes you can access at home. Our In Fine Feather instructors are always happy to chat, and you can also draw inspiration from our Flow Progressions on In Fine Feather’s Instagram & IGTV.

Stick with it:

Last, but not least - don’t get discouraged. Practise does not make perfect, because there is no perfect. Use your home practice to get curious, find some moments of connection, and move your body. If in the end you find in-studio sessions are what works best for you, we’ll see you on your mat in class.

Practice at Home with IFF’s Online Yoga Classes

Beginner Yoga Series

Finding your home practice with Helena. For the first time ever In Fine Feather Yoga is offering online classes. These videos are 20 minute practices that you can take from the comfort of your home. These online classes will also offer proper alignment and important cues to safety support you while you practice at home, as if you were practicing inside the studio. Helena will be guiding you through five different classes; each session is suitable for yoga practitioners of all levels and is beginner friendly. These five videos will explore different elements of the practice:

-Finding Mobility
-Finding Balance
-Finding Strength
-Finding Heart Centre
-Finding Your Flow


More About Michelle

Michelle found yoga after a lifetime of organized sports gave way to post-secondary student life. Struggling to keep a steady gym routine, she enrolled in a yoga class. She quickly found herself continuing to return to her mat after noticing a sense of focus, steadiness and ease in her chaotic schedule. The four corners have remained the space where she can slow down and reconnect with herself.

Looking to strengthen her personal practice, Michelle enrolled in 200-hour teacher training at Anjeli Teacher Training Academy with Diana Lockett and Daniel Horgan in 2017. She quickly felt the call to share her passion for the healing properties of yoga and thoughtful movement with others. Michelle’s teaching and practice take a light-hearted approach to an alignment based and heart centered class that encourages exploration of the body and spirit. It is her goal to guide herself and her students to be present and connected with one’s self, surroundings and Universe.

Find Michelle on Saturday afternoons at 12:00-1:00pm for an Intermediate Flow class. Register here!

Yoga Teacher Training | The Start of a New Journey by Lisa Kiss

Last year in July I got together with Helena to grab a coffee at Planted in Hamilton and interview her for my blog. I was featuring ‘Fempreneurs’ in Hamilton and obviously Helena came to mind because she’s been running a business successfully for the last five years!


Never would I have thought six months later I would be on route to becoming a yoga teacher. I danced my whole life for about 15 years and loved the community feel. After I turned 18 you have to stop and start adult level dance classes to continue dancing. I was craving a community to be a part of again and in 2016 I tried my first yoga class. Coming from a dance background I was able to do most of the classes and I loved it. It felt just like stretching! I took a little break from yoga because of school but, started doing some classes at a different yoga studio. It didn’t have the small community feel I was looking for.

Stepping into the IFF Community

Now circling back to that meeting with Helena, I mentioned wanting to start practicing yoga consistently again so, she suggested doing an Energy Exchange. The next week I was being trained and the week after I started on the desk. Helena moves fast with things, #bosswomen! But I’m glad because I was able to start my yoga journey that much sooner. I was on the desk Sunday evenings for six months and Sunday mornings and Monday mornings for three months. Working on the desk was great because I got to meet and talk to so many great IFF community members.

Yoga Teacher Training Progress

After practicing weekly for a few months, I decided to learn more about IFF’s Teacher Training Program. After talking to Helena for about 10 minutes I said, “Yes! This is something I really want to do.” I patiently waited three months to start the training and now we’re already done Module 1! It’s going by so fast!


Out of the four modules I was the most excited for Module One Anatomy and Asana’s. I didn’t study science in University, so it has been amazing thus far to learn about something different. It’s crazy how everything in the body is connected and works together without you having to do anything. It has most definitely helped me with my own practice and now I notice things about people randomly when I’m just walking down the street. It is great preparation for observing bodies while teaching a yoga class. Natalie J is great source of knowledge and I’m so glad Helena has her teach the first Module! It’s been great to take this knowledge with me into Module Two which has officially began!

I’m very excited for this whole year of learning more about yoga, deepening my practice and being involved with such a great community! I’m extremely happy that I chose to start this journey with In Fine Feather; they are a community that you want to be a part of!

Peace & Love,

Lisa Kiss

More About IFF’s Yoga Teacher Training

Click here to learn more or contact Helena McKinney here.

More About Lisa Kiss

Find out more about Lisa Kiss, read her blog and explore her services here.

My Story As A Yoga Student and How You Can Begin The Practice By Helena McKinney

There is No Time Like the Present. 


My name is Helena McKinney and I took my first yoga class at a studio in 2008; with no idea of what to expect. All I knew is that something was missing from my life whether it was movement, fitness, focus, mindfulness or more, I truly feel I went to my first class out of curiosity, a drive for change in my life and honestly because someone invited me. I have to admit, I was pretty sore after my first class. It introduced movement I was not used to, but I felt very intrigued to go back because of how I felt the days following. Muscles I did not even know I had were awakened and I quickly realized that yoga was something I wanted to do again. I appreciated the combination of the challenge, the strength, the balance of stretching and relaxing. The first class created a shift and each class since has continued to everyday of my life. 

I am writing this piece to share my yoga story with you, but also to dismantle some of the misconceptions of this practice. I’d like to encourage everybody, of every body type to find a practice that works for them! Over the course of 11 years, I established a daily yoga practice with the guidance of my teachers, I completed my yoga teacher training in 2011 and opened my own yoga studio in 2012, In Fine Feather Yoga on Ottawa Street in my home town of Hamilton. At one point, I too was a total beginner, but I want this practice to be more inviting to those perhaps uncertain of how to get started. We all have different reasons for starting yoga, often it is to find better work/life balance, to help work through an injury after physiotherapy, for more peace and ease in our mental health, to get in better shape and build more strength. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to make change, I assure you the practice will improve all areas of your life. These are some of my tips and tricks and ins and outs for finding the right yoga studio practice. 

Why do you want to start yoga and what do you hope to achieve through practicing? Let’s find the right yoga for YOU!

This is am important question because different classes and styles of yoga can achieve different things for the body and mind set. Some classes are meant for stretching, de-stressing and relaxing the body, other classes invigorate the body and are more of a physical workout. You want to ensure that the first class you are attending meets some of your expectations and that you are prepared for the pace of the class. Most studios in the area will have a variety of classes, with different levels for total beginners, to more advanced students. Gentle and Intro classes tend to be slower paced where stretching, breathing and a guided relaxation will be integrated. These classes will also teach you the basics for alignment and teach you the foundations of each pose. This is a great place for beginners to start to feel more comfortable in a guided yoga class. Flow or Vinyasa classes will take you through yoga postures at a quicker, more fluid pace. These classes will integrate yoga poses that encourage more strength, mobility and balance which would be more suited to students who have some experience with fitness or yoga. These are things you might want to consider before taking a class at a new studio. Perhaps call in/email first and consult with a studio manager about their class schedule and your interest in beginning classes. They will be able to direct you to the right class based on your specific needs and expectations. For the first year of my practice, I consistently stuck with beginners classes and established a strong understanding for the postures. So it excited me when I moved into the more advanced classes with confidence and felt prepared to try more difficult poses safely. You can check out IFF’s class schedule here.

How to continue a regular practice and fit it into your lifestyle?

Reminder yourself that healthy growth in life is gained over time, patience, persistence and practice. Most studios will have some type of introductory special for new students that offer you one month unlimited. Take advantage of this offer over the 30 days, its a great personal investment. This gives you the opportunity to try all the classes on the schedule and the different styles of classes. You will get more flexible. You will be stronger throughout your whole body. You will notice other differences in all aspects of your life. After a few months of my regular practice, I noticed myself more relaxed in the day to day, patient at work, my sleeping patterns were more consistent, I slept well and actually rested at night. My eating patterns became healthier, my body naturally wanted to eat foods that fuelled and energized me. My mind felt clearer to prioritize my day. Some of my closest friends even noticed a difference in how I held myself. I stood taller and walked a little lighter. I had to keep up with this practice. 

The Common Misconceptions

But…Yoga at a studio is expensive! This is something I have often heard. The variety of class passes offered at studios are an investment because of the unique technical instruction that each teacher provides the class with. Saying that, it is very common that the local studios in Hamilton offer Karma Classes or Community Classes available daily or at least a few times a week. These sessions are accessible at a pay what you can rate or donation based. Find our community classes on the schedule here. These community classes were the foundation of my practice when I started. I feel blessed that they were offered at De La Sol in Hamilton and this allowed me to really develop my practice in my early years. My personal practice was so important that making it to those classes became apart of my weekly routine.

You don't need to be flexible, yoga helps you with this, you don't need to be in shape, movement helps with this, you don't have to be a certain age, classes are always mixed ages, you don't need to find the perfect time to start practicing yoga. The time is now, the present moment. It is yoga practice, not yoga perfect. If you feel the calling to make some type of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual change in your life, reach out to your local studio. Ask yourself this important question, what do you hope to achieve through practicing yoga? Know, that the answer does not need to become present to you right away, but trust that through the guidance of a knowledgeable yoga instructor and your own ambition- anything is possible. I am overwhelmed with how far I have come through practicing yoga and on a daily basis I get to share this everyday with my students. Yoga truly encourages us to live healthy, more self aware and whole.

I invite you to reach out if you have any further question about starting and maintaining a yoga practice. Please email

Be Well Always and with Gratitude,



More About Helena

In 2008 Helena attended her first yoga class, unaware of the incredible journey the practice would lead her on. Helena comes from a professional dance background, trained in ballet, contemporary and acrobatics. Her teaching career began over 12 years ago instructing students in dance at the competitive level. Helena has always had a passion and knowledge for movement, but through yoga she has discovered how to move more mindfully and live more consciously. Dedication to her practice has led her down a path of greater health, strength and peace. Feeling compelled to share this passion, Helena completed her 200 hour Teacher Training at De La Sol in 2012 and has continued her studies in Yin-Yang Yoga.

Helena established In Fine Feather in 2012 just after receiving her Teacher Training certificate. Recognizing the unbelievable benefits of the practice, Helena immediately began to reach out to her community, offering pay what you can classes at a community centre in downtown Hamilton. As her passion for teaching continued to grow, she branched out into other areas of the city doing corporate wellness in the workplace. Teaching in all these different and unique settings of the city has directly contributed to Helena creative teaching style as well as her desire to open this space in central Hamilton.  She is very excited to share this journey with her students.

Teaching brings Helena the most joy because it encourages people in her community to live with greater stability, mobility and happiness on and off the mat. Her classes look to inspire a deep connection with self awareness while integrating breath with movement, to leave feeling strong and restored.

More Blogs By Helena….

2018 Yoga Gratitude Flashback with In Fine Feather and Helena McKinney: In Fine Feather Yoga has done some incredible things in Hamilton this year and we wanted to share our rendition of a 2018 Gratitude Flashback!

The 8 Limbs of Yoga by Helena McKinney: I am inspired to share more behind the philosophy of the yoga practice. Yoga has purpose beyond the physical asana/movement to transform our overall life perspectives and increase our capacity to have contentment. Let’s explore the 8 Limbs of Yoga, which have greatly deepened my understanding of the practice.