A Message from yoga studio owner, Helena McKinney!
This idea was shared with me a few months ago and it was an incredible exercise in reflection. I was able to honour my past achievements while eagerly awaiting the future! I sat back and explored 10 things I’ve achieved this year personally and professionally. The second part of this journaling practice was to path out 5 things to look forward to in 2019. Let me see if I can paint a little picture for you, I hope you don’t mind if the year isn’t in exact order!
My Ambassador Proposal with Lululemon!
1) On a regular day in June, I thought I was heading to the studio for a meeting with one of my instructors. Rather, I arrive to a practice room full of balloons and champagne, with the overwhelming surprise of being asked to be an ambassador for Lululemon. This was a goal of mine for years, so I of course said YES! They later went on to tell me that I received this great honour for my work within the yoga community. This type of recognition and acknowledgment was incredibly validating that I am on the right path. We have gone on to create awesome events in the community over the last year, some of which I will share below, but this particular moment meant so much to me.
I Hired a Yoga Studio Manager…Thank You Meagan Santa!
2) This journey started with a particularly ambitious and talented yoga student who decided to take teacher training at In Fine Feather. Megan Santa, now our studio Assistant Manager, approached me about helping with registration forms and answering some emails. Her and I have developed a friendship, a mentorship, an active role for her in the studio and a sisterhood that is invaluable. I often find myself saying… “Everyone needs a Meag in their life”, and I even have a hashtag for her #EveryDayWithMeag! Together, her and I have big plans for the New Year, we can’t wait to share them!
New Yoga Programming and Classes Excite Me!
3) We opened the Wellness Room; our smaller, cozy back room in the studio. This created the opportunity for so many new programs. Yoga is a unique practice, where there is a style for everyone. Opening this second room, we were able to make more styles available to our community.
4) This past April we started offering Prenatal Yoga classes for all the soon to be moms. I look forward to the mamas coming in each week because they bring such an incredible warm energy to the space. I feel as if we have some small part in their journey towards bringing a baby into this world and this is a blessing for our staff to witness. See what people have been saying about prenatal yoga with IFF!
5) Over the last year, when connecting with students, we kept hearing a similar story of elevated stress, anxiety and experiences of difficulty in their lives. This led us to understand, that as a collective community, we would all benefit from having a more regular meditation and mindfulness practice to counter balance some of the challenges we are all going through. We now offer meditation classes three times a week, along with classes that invite us to slow down. Find out more about meditation and how to start a practice!
Community Partnerships and Collaborations are the Key to Making More Happen!
6) Where do I even begin to thank all the incredible community partners we have worked with this past year. It is important to acknowledge the places we’ve been, the people we have connected with and the awesome energy we generated. To name a few; Niagara Parks and the Namaste Niagara events at Journey Behind the Falls. It is truly unreal practicing yoga right beside one of the world’s greatest wonders. We collaborated with Lululemon and Collective Arts Brewery at the Liquid Arts Festival; how hysterical was the yoga and beer class we hosted! We worked with The Hamilton Tiger Cats and Lululemon and practiced yoga on the field before the football game at Namaste Ticats. A very nostalgic class for me because I used to be a Ticats cheerleader back in the day. Who didn’t love the yoga and wine events at Between the Lines Winery, could Mother’s Day be any more beautiful and celebratory? We hosted the most lovely holiday staff party designed, decorated, furnished and catered by a local start up business, Every Golden Moment. We had a magician and everything!
All the while the studio continued to host our annual 30 Day Challenge, our 6th Yogis in the City photo contest, our second round of yoga teacher trainees graduated and we hosted countless workshops and educational programs throughout the year. Busy, busy bees!
Making Yoga History on Ottawa Street North!
7) Sew Hungry, the annual food truck rally was hosted on May 5th and the studio, with Lululemon and the Ottawa Street BIA decided to make something special happen for this event. Yoga Now and Feast Later was the first time a huge group of people gathered on Ottawa Street to practice yoga. Ottawa Street is a historical shopping district in Hamilton and this is the neighbourhood I grew up in. I have fond memories of taking dance classes as a kid on Campbell St, going to the Farmer’s Market with my dad and fabric shopping with my mom. Ottawa Street is not only the location of the studio; its my home, its my heart and I was proud we made this possible for the neighbourhood.
Rebranding and Creating a New Vision for IFF!
8) If you know me, I love when things look pretty! I was craving a rebranded presence for the studio. This gave me a reason to get all the staff together for a photo shoot. The set was beautiful, floral and everything I envisioned. Not only was the website completely reinvented but we redesigned the visuals for the entire studio. The front facade was replaced (we kind of had to because of that epic wind storm), we rebranded our workshop posters and online newsletter. I couldn’t be more please with the fresh look and take pride in how IFF presents itself.
Mindbody Training and Two Conferences in California!
9) Another huge goal for me was travelling and attending these two business conferences. I knew I would flourish, gain huge insight and come back feeling inspired and motivated. I can truly admit that all 10 of these accomplishments might not have been possible if I didn’t invest in this type of training for myself. I had never been to California and the west coast is beyond stunning. The sunshine lit something up inside of me. I was able to bring Meagan with me for the second trip and we had the opportunity to see guest speakers, Michelle Obama and Bille Jean King, as well as many other motivational speakers and leaders in the wellness industry. Mindbody also reached out to myself and IFF to do a social media take over for their company; literally, how incredible to be asked to take part in this!
Celebrating our Five Year Anniversary at Yoga in the Park!
10) We all love Yoga in the Park; students always express that this practice is the highlight of their summer. Celebrating our five year anniversary at Gage Park was an absolute must. On Sunday September 9th, an abnormally cold, windy morning, we were overwhelmed with the attendance and appreciation from the community. So many of you showed up for this special occasion! We did giveaways and acknowledged some of our founding members, reminisced on the journey of the studio and had some sweets and treats. Another huge thank you goes to my community partners at Lululemon for hosting this party to recognize my contributions to the yoga community. 5 YEARS….WE DID IT…as a small business owner, this is a huge milestone.
Five Visions and Intentions for 2019!
1) Hosting our 3rd year of yoga teacher training and graduating inspired instructors who can continue to pass on the traditions of this practice.
2) Launching a new mentorship program for entrepreneurs in the wellness industry and consulting with them to share some of my insight on establishing a successful business.
3) Going on our first yoga retreat, Om in India! We can not wait to travel across the world and experience the birth place of yoga with a group of like minded souls!
4) Creating online programs and classes for our yoga friends that have moved away so that we can maintain a connection even if we can’t see you in the studio anymore! We miss you!
5) This is a big one for me, I would like to develop my career as a keynote speaker. I want to start sharing more about my unique journey and experience of life. Telling my story is important. Every moment that has developed me as a person has contributed to my role as a female entrepreneur and community advocate in my home town, Hamilton.
Hopefully, this time next year I will be doing a gratitude recap on these goals; right now they are just visions but I know that with focus, perseverance and dedication they will be brought to life. I am grateful for the support of my staff, my family and friends but most importantly the community that shows up to be with me. Thanks for giving me strength and for giving me so much purpose. I invite you all to take some time over the next few days to explore your 2018 accomplishments and write them down. Acknowledge your achievements and take that positivity every with you into the New Year! We learn through sharing, so feel free to post your gratitude list online, tag us and #IFFYogis2019