Helpful Tools to Beat the Winter Blues by Meagan Santa

Spring hasn’t quite arrived yet, there’s still snow on the ground and I’m not the only one who is beginning to feel cooped up inside. Many of us experience “the winter blues” in various forms, some worse than others. For myself I’ve found that putting extra effort in taking care of my health, sticking to a routine and spending time in community helps me get past the winter blues and keep my spirits up.

Health

With the winter months calling us to stay in bed and not leave our warm homes, I’ve found sticking to my routine especially in the morning and evening a big help. The average adult makes 35 000 conscious decisions each day, according to multiple sources on the Internet so with  regular routines and healthy habits we can sustain our energy longer.

I’ve found consuming warm foods and beverages like soups and teas to be a great way to warm the body from the inside out. But in anticipation for spring, I’ve been sneaking in a few cold salads and entrees into my week because it acts as a pick-me-up and reminder that the warmer days will arrive soon! Ensure you’re fuelling your body well with whole foods and getting in all your vitamins to further support the body. This is a helpful article to reference here!

Routine

Get in the habit of practicing meditation if you may be, “feeling in your head” or “stuck in a rut.” Specifically a gratitude meditation is said to help ease symptoms of overwhelm and stress, not to mention, recognising what we have to be grateful for (big or small) is a good feeling that allows for a little peace and lifts my spirit.

Simply find a comfortable position seated or on your back. Tune into your physical body, relaxing from head to toe. Then deepen your breathe, following each inhale and exhale. When ready think of 5 things you are grateful for. Your morning cup of coffee can count or the short walk around the block with your dog. Observe what warm feelings arise within you. Keep focused on those feelings for 10-15 breathes.

Community

In Fine Feather Yoga has lots of workshops and events happening inside the studio. Specifically our March 30 Day Challenge is a perfect opportunity to get out of the house, connect with like-minded people and feel like you have conquered a productive day. We have planned a closing party for challengers as well as weekly inspiration and resources arriving to you via email! Getting a sweat on daily will allow for the stagnant energy to shake off, plus it’s good for you! Yoga for winter blues is my go-to form of movement when it comes to heating the body from the cool temps outside. I’m looking forward to pressing play on the weekly home practice videos lead by Nicole & Helena! You can sign up for the challenge here and learn more here.

Hamilton has lots of opportunities to connect with others year-round. It can be as simple as asking a friend for coffee, checking out a new store or going for a walk. Ottawa Street is filled with friendly shop owners, art, vintage antiques and places to eat. This photo is in front of the mural at Antique Detective on 137 Ottawa St N. I always feel better after going for a walk even if it’s a quick 15 minutes around my block. Grab an extra layer, listen to a podcast, take your dog, and enjoy!

One Last Suggestion

My last & favourite suggestion to beating the winter blues is watching funny movies/shows or reading comedic books. Laughing is said to be the best medicine, corny or not!

PS: It’s important you don’t ignore the symptoms of winter blues especially if you find yourself suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) aka winter depression. The article here is a great resource to learn more.

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. Check out her blog post where she shares her IFF Yoga Journey. Come meet Meagan on the mat at In Fine Feather Yoga by checking the class schedule HERE and find her bio HERE.

Connection & Community by Amy Gowling

One of my favourite things about practicing and teaching yoga at In Fine Feather is the community. Through movement and stillness we create and share space to grow stronger, to heal, to relax, and to reconnect with ourselves and others. There are times when I’m in class and I become overwhelmed with gratitude that we’ve all showed up, that we’re all working towards our best selves and sharing that with each other.

It’s About Connection

Yoga is about union, connecting within ourselves: mind, body, and breath. It’s also about connecting with each other. Before coming to this studio my yoga practice was mainly about shutting the world out and connecting with myself, finding my own light. What I’m learning here is the power of sharing our light with each other and how it can lift and strengthen you when you do. There’s an incredible healing power in connecting with others; of having a sense of community and belonging. We’re stronger together.

It’s About Community

In the month of January, Thursday’s meditation was about creating an anchor. A simple tool that’s available anytime to help you regain control of emotions. This is a powerful meditation practice and anytime is great time to start. The winter months can be emotionally challenging. There’s a greater stillness that can be found when meditating with a group. We connect through the simple act of holding space and stillness for each other. I’m so glad I attended last Thursday’s meditation, and am looking forward to more sits together! You can check out the schedule here.

Namaste

Amy

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More About Amy

Amy’s interest in yoga began in 2009 while working in Mental Health as a Recreation Therapist. After reviewing the research on the benefits of yoga for depression and anxiety, Amy decided to learn more by taking some classes. It didn’t take long for her to see the transformative power of yoga in herself and want to share this with others. She became certified to teach yoga in 2012 through Octopus Garden Yoga Center, and is also a Certified Senior Fitness Instructor through the Canadian Center for Activity and Aging. She believes yoga gives us the power to focus our attention on what we want to manifest in our lives and that in turn makes us limitless. With a mindful approach to both stillness and movement, she encourages students to cultivate the deep contentment that is available by being present, curious, and accepting.

Amy currently teaches Chair Yoga Mondays at 12:00-1:00pm and Gentle Yoga Sundays at 8:00-9:00pm.

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!

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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

Much Love,
Helena McKinney

5 Tips to Enjoy the Holidays Without Neglecting Your Health By Meagan Santa

I’ve gathered my favourite tips to support you in enjoying everything the holidays has to offer while avoiding the guilt and low energy that usually follows a busy holiday season. This isn't a time to neglect your personal health & wellness. Instead it's a time of year where it's crucial!

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  1. Stay hydrated!

    Drinking extra water will offset some of the processed sugar and alcohol intake that leads us to dehydration. We all have something we love to indulge in and this time of year it’s usually not foods that give our bodies nutrients.

  2. Recipe substitutions!

    This may not be a favourite trick but it can help with a sweet craving. An easy example is hot chocolate. Check out this healthier recipe to make at home here! Substitution examples can include white sugar for coconut sugar or sour cream for greek yogurt.

  3. Choose your splurges and treats ahead of time.

    Create balance by not indulging at every event or party. Pick a few that will offer you the best opportunity to fully relax and enjoy.

  4. Pre-plan your workout & yoga schedule!

    Commit to moving your body and clearing your mind every single day. This will allow you to show up as your best self. The holidays can be stressful but by claiming this time on your mat, meditation cushion, cycle class, etc will encourage you to go throughout the day with a positive attitude.

  5. An exercise to use in meditation:

    Shield yourself from negative energy by envisioning your body wrapped in a golden light. Additionally you can come back to this exercise for a moment before entering an environment that may seem difficult. Imagine this golden light protecting your from judgements or negative emotions.


I believe that no matter the season of life or the month we are in, it’s possible to find a balance of sorts. This comes down to creating healthy habits that work for you and your lifestyle. Not all of these tips may resonate with you but I suggest you pick a few that do and implement them. Happy Holidays!

More About Meagan

Meagan is a graduate of the In Fine Feather Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training Program and the assistant manager at the studio. Check out her blog post where she shares her IFF Yoga Journey. Come meet Meagan on the mat at In Fine Feather Yoga in Hamilton! Check out her bio HERE and find her on the class schedule HERE.

A few words... by Aldona

A Note For Our Newer Community Members

One of our long time community members Aldona wrote this piece for us making us laugh and feel filled with gratitude for the space we have created on Ottawa Street. At our 5 Year Anniversary party we celebrated Aldona having practiced almost 1000 hours of yoga at the studio with a gift that she shares below. A quick note for our newer community members who may not know who Gus is! The studio owner, Helena McKinney took an orange kitten in bringing it to the studio to stay for a short span of time until she could bring him home with her. In the short time he spent at In Fine Feather Yoga, many students found joy in spending time with Gus before class, including Aldona. He is missed well at the yoga studio but loves his home with Helena where he has lots of toys and sun rays to lay in.

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Meet Aldona

You've seen me at the studio.  I'm usually one of the first people to show up for a class.  You've probably seen me sitting on the bench in the front lobby talking to reception or chit chatting with another participant or casually pointing out directions to a new member.  Back in the day, when Gus was in the house, I'd be the one fussing with him. Either playing with him or brushing him or putting him in the back room just before we started our practice.  I really enjoyed my time with Gus .  It was my furry meditation prior to my physical practice. It seemed silly to some but to me it was important.

I first came to Yoga years ago when the fitness gym I was at started offering a single Yoga class. I was one of the first people who started coming to class and instantly feel in love.  Fell in love with what Yoga did for me, both physically and mentally. I knew Yoga would be part of my life for a long time to come.

When an athletic injury temporarily took me away from my mat, I knew in the back of my mind that I would return to my mat ...one day.   That 'one day' came in the form of a new Yoga studio opening in Hamilton on the comer of Barton and Ottawa St. It’s name, In Fine Feather and it’s director, Helena.   My first class at the studio was led by Helena and even though I could not do all the poses, I enjoyed  her style of teaching.  I knew that returning to my mat was the right thing for me. No matter what mood I was in, no matter how sore my body was, no matter if I could ‘do’ all the poses or not, practicing Yoga always made me feel better.

As the studio grew, so did my practice.  IFF moved into it's present location and I  started coming more often. Whenever my schedule allowed, I would keep returning to my mat.  I saw the benefits Yoga provided  me and I knew that my mat and I would be friends for a very long time.

A Surprise Gift

A few classes later...... I found myself sitting in Gage Park on an unusually cool September morning  getting ready for a class.  I wasn't happy with the temperature outside but IFF was celebrating it's 5 year anniversary and I wanted to attend.  After the practice Helena stood to say a few words and all I could think about were how cold my feet were: I'm the one in the studio who never thinks it's too hot...EVER!!  She started talking about a participant that had done almost 1000 hours of  class time and I started to wonder how many classes I had done at IFF.  The more she talked, the more  I noticed that she was staring right at me.  When Helena announced that she was gifting  me a scholarship to one of the modules in her teacher training... well,  needless to say I was a little surprised.

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New Year Plan

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to  enhance my existing  practice,  to expand my knowledge,  to spend  time with fellow Yogis at the studio and to deepen my friendship with my mat.  I hope my appreciation for Yoga will grow so that I can experience even more benefits that a Yoga practice can provide.  It's given me so much up to this point and I'm certain that I will take in so much more...if I just keep coming back to my mat.

Helena, your idea of a scholarship was generous and I’m honoured to be the first recipient.

I look forward to starting the new year off on my mat in an environment that’s friendly, comfortable and what has come to feel like a second home.

Thanks so much for this gift.  It truly means a lot to me.

And if I’m lucky, there might be a visit from a certain furry orange guy....hint, hint.

-Aldona

Interested in Joining the IFF Community or Furthering Your Yoga Knowledge?

Find our class schedule here and start your own yoga journey with our New Student Intro Pass here. If you’re interested in joining Aldona in one or all of our teacher training modules, click here for more information.

Why I Didn’t Take Yoga Teacher Training to Teach Yoga. By Andrea King.

Wait, what?

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Okay, let’s flash back to 1995. I’m practicing yoga in my bedroom. Just a copy of Yoga Journal magazine and my bare feet on the floor, doing my best to follow the poses in the magazine, trying not to smash into my cat. The cat thing remains the same in my home practice, by the way.

My practice was solely mine. It was like my little secret. It took quite a few years before I told anyone I did yoga. After all, I was a punk rock girl and I honestly didn’t think it suited my image. I loved the magazines. I loved reading about the teachers and the sequencing they put together. I also loved to flip to the back to pour over the lists of schools and studios. I would sit and dream about immersive programs in Costa Rica or California. I became completely obsessed with all things yoga, but I never actually thought about teaching.

Practicing in a Yoga Studio

Yoga stayed a part of my life and eventually I started practicing in public. Gasp! I even let other, non-yoga people know it was part of my life. I still held onto the dream of teacher training, but it was something close to my heart that I didn’t share with anyone. I dove into my career as a hairstylist and continued my yoga practice. I even added meditation and dove deeper into learning about myself. Then I reconnected with a friend who was enrolled in a teacher-training program. I couldn’t believe the level of jealously that bubbled up inside me. “How could she be in teacher training!? She hasn’t even been doing yoga as long as me!” Oh, man. The stories that came up. Eventually I gained some perspective and asked her about the program and how it was going so far. Her answer surprised me.

Personal Development and Yoga

She told me she took the course to improve her practice but she wasn’t planning on teaching. Huh? She explained how she was learning so much about herself and the course provided a ton of personal development, all while nerding out about asana and yoga philosophy. I didn’t even know that was a thing. To enroll in teacher training, without the intention to actually teach!? But suddenly, my brain went into overdrive. I was working for myself, so I had the time flexibility to get super deep and nerdy about my practice. I could totally do this. I got in touch with the facilitator and sent my deposit immediately.

The Unexpected Outcome

One of the great things about YTT is that it’s set up as a self-discovery course, allowing the space for you get to know yourself better. Physically, it can reshape your practice and invite a sense of body awareness that is indescribable by my knowledge of the English language. The part I didn’t expect about this process is that I love teaching. I hope that’s evident if you’ve shown up to my classes! If not, I’d love to have you in one of my classes at In Fine Feather Yoga on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evening or Saturday morning. In Fine Feather is a huge part of my journey as a yoga teacher, I met my fellow teacher Jackee Desimone while I was in my own teacher training program as she was an assistant in the program. I found out she was also from Hamilton and that she taught classes at IFF. Still on the hunt to feel comfortable in a studio space, I started attending Jackee’s classes and the hunt was over, I found my yoga home. After practicing at the studio for a while, Helena offered me an energy exchange position and it was such an amazing way for me to immerse myself in the IFF community, connecting with members and enabling me to try more of the classes on the schedule. Eventually I made it on the sub list, and when needed I was able to hop in and teach the very community that I was a member of.

Present Day at IFF

Fast forward to now where I teach 4 classes on the schedule and have even had the honour of helping out with the 2018 YTT program. In Fine Feather asks only that you do your best, and I’m so happy I get to do my best with them. So, if you’ve been looking for a way to deepen your practice beyond attending classes, or you’re feeling stuck, I urge you to consider YTT. If you’re looking for a deeper way to connect with yourself and your community, this could be your way. And remember, you don’t even have to have an end goal in mind! This could be something just for you, like it was for me. Who knows what will happen? Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions by email here.

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More About Andrea

Andrea King doesn’t just love to teach yoga to yogis , she also has an intense passion for teaching yoga teachers!  Quickly after graduating from her own teacher training she was signed up to volunteer with the next group of future teachers and hasn’t stopped since. She is also a 2019 YTT facilitator at In Fine Feather Yoga; beginning in January. From this passion of teaching teachers, Andrea has began offering mentorships  to new graduates as well as advanced training to new and experienced teachers. You can contact her for more details here.

Two Year Chair Yoga Anniversary at IFF! By Amy Gowling

We're celebrating two years since In Fine Feather Yoga started offering Chair Yoga!

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I began teaching Chair Yoga in 2012 while working as a Recreation Therapist in CAMH’s Geriatric Mental Health Program. I was aware of the many physical and mental health benefits of yoga and wanted to make it more accessible for my clients. This prompted me to take additional training, attend workshops, read, and really think about the purpose behind each pose to develop a program that is safe, adaptable, and therapeutic for a variety of people.

Chair Yoga in Hamilton

When I moved back to Hamilton I wanted to continue offering Chair Yoga to the community. After talking to Helena, the owner of In Fine Feather Yoga, she happily offered her space at the studio to host classes following our discussion about Crown Point’s need for accessible programs in the neighbourhood when the YWCA was due to close for renovations.

Reasons to Practice Chair Yoga

It's been wonderful to see the diversity of people coming to this class. They've joined for many reasons such as: looking for something more accessible while they recover from injuries, wanting to learn more modifications as a teacher, looking to build strength, balance and flexibility for healthy ageing, or to learn sequences that can be done at a desk during work. A chair as a prop has so many uses!

Benefits of Chair Yoga

Often people are surprised by the level of physical strength and intensity in this class. It's challenging while being accessible to all levels and physical abilities (getting down onto the ground is optional). Components of the class include: core strengthening, range of motion exercises for all the joints, balance poses, flexibility and strength, breath work, gratitude, and mindfulness. Golf ball foot massages and self-acupressure techniques are sometimes thrown into the mix just for fun (and their great therapeutic benefits).

Above is a pose you can try right at home, Seated Crescent Lunge:

  • First grab a sturdy chair with a straight back.

  • Sit relaxed but upright with feet grounded.

  • Close your eyes and take a few nourishing breaths to focus on the sensations in your body and commit to moving mindfully.

  • Walk your feet to the right, turning the whole torso so that only the right bum cheek is on the seat.

  • Right knee is bent with foot planted, ankle inline with knee.

  • Place right hand on the chair back for support and balance.

  • Keep shoulders inline above hips.

  • Moving onto the balls of left toes guide the left leg back until you begin to feel some stretch in front of the left hip. (There is no benefit to making this an intense stretch, keep it comfortable and look to your breath as a guide; a strained or restricted breath is a sign of going to far, encouraging you back out a little.)

  • Feet firm into ground, squeeze inner thighs toward each other, and squeeze belly toward spine. Keep this muscular engagement, and if you’re feeling steady, inhale to lift left or both arm(s).

  • Hold for 1-4 rounds of relaxed breath.

  • Exhale to release effort in arms and legs, bring left leg forward beside right.

  • Walk legs to the left to repeat pose on opposite side.

If you've ever been curious about this class, come check it out on Mondays at 12:00-1:00pm. It's a wonderful group of people in an inclusive, supportive space. All are welcome!!

Chair Yoga is listed as a Community Class meaning it’s Pay What You Can with a suggested cash donation of $5.00; making the yoga practice more affordable and accessible to everyone.

More About Amy Gowling

Amy believes yoga gives us the power to focus our attention on what we want to manifest in our lives and that in turn makes us limitless. With a mindful approach to both stillness and movement, she encourages students to cultivate the deep contentment that is available by being present, curious, and accepting. Read her bio here and read Amy’s past chair yoga blog about how accessible it is for anyone to practice here.

Meditation - Why you need to be practicing it right now. By Meagan Santa

Meditation is proven to reduce stress, improve sleep, enhance self awareness & promote emotional health. So why aren’t more of us practicing it daily?

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I was first introduced to meditation in my yoga teacher training in 2016. I learned 3 key points that encouraged me to explore different types of meditation and work it into my daily routine since graduating. The idea of meditation can seem overwhelming, intense and it carries stereotypical weight. Before I walked into meditation training, the vision in my mind when I thought of it was a man sitting cross legged for hours somewhere tropical. But I had also heard of many successful people, mentors, and teachers finding incredible benefits from this practice. So I walked into class that day with an open mind and open heart to what I could learn. These 3 key ingredients stand out to me and helped me build my meditation practice- explore various types until you find your meditation match, know you don’t have to be in easy sitting pose to mediate and remember it takes practice!

Find Your Meditation Match

I remember feeling overwhelmed when reading the various types of meditation. Some included mantras, others focused on mindfulness elements, walking meditation, chanting, vibration or sound, morning meditation, etc. So where do you start?

The first three types that I practiced were guided, sound and mantra. I suggest you try one each day for 5-10 minutes. After those three days, reflect back on which type of meditation felt the best. Which would you be more willing to try again? All three variations can be found on Google, YouTube, and various local classes, including In Fine Feather Yoga.

Guided meditation is a voice leading you through either by recording or in person. It’s helpful to stay focused on the present moment and voice with this tool as well as providing you the chance to explore various topics covered in guided meditations, like gratitude or relaxation depending on the recording or class. Sound meditation quickly became one of my favourites. A bell or singing bowl is often used in classes or recordings to provide a guide to come back to the present moment when the mind gets distracted. I found this type of meditation to be simple and relaxing. Mantra meditation is the practice of chanting or repeating a word/phrase out loud that holds meaning. It gives the mind something to focus on when it would normally get distracted. “Om” is known to be the most basic and powerful mantra. Many chose to combine the words “Om” and “Shanti” as it means peace in Sanskrit. It can be repeated as many times as you’d like or followed along with a recording.


How To Sit in Meditation

Contrary to belief, easy sitting pose isn’t the only way to meditate. Traditionally yoga was practiced first, followed by meditation because it prepared the body to sit for a longer period of time. With this in mind as a beginner, it’s really important to take time to find a comfortable position. That could be seated against a wall to support the spine, laying down, using blocks to support the knees, sitting on a meditation cushion, hand weights for grounding, etc. The more often you practice in a seated position, the better your posture will get and the quicker you’ll find yourself relaxing. Lighting candles, using essential oils, or soft lights are not necessary but can help to create a more relaxing environment wherever you chose to mediate. What I believe is so powerful about this practice is that it can be done anywhere for any length of time and you are bound to feel better afterwards. Whether that be 5 minutes in your car on your lunch break, 10 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up, or after your yoga class.

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It Takes Practice

I could give you a list of meditation techniques or what my meditation practice looks like. But at the end of the day, you just need to start. Even if you sit for 5 minutes. Build from that number and eventually it’ll be 10 minutes, than 15 minutes. We scroll our phones or watch numerous TV commercials in that same span of time. It’s a choice and a commitment we must make to ourselves. The long term benefits are worth the time put into practice! You may feel more immediate benefits like stress relief, less anxiety, body awareness, lower blood pressure and/or better focus. My favourite app to support my meditation practice is the Insight Timer which offers lots of resources, guided meditations, a timer with a sound/bell tool as well as a tracker to motivate you!

Our Intro to Meditation Classes

You can find me leading the Saturday morning Intro to Meditation class at 11:15-11:30am with a $5 drop-in. Additionally, we are hosting classes on Thursday and Sunday mornings at the same time. Check out the schedule HERE. These classes are designed to teach students how to sit comfortably, breath deeply, release the body & still the mind. Each week we'll explore new methods of meditation, some with full guidance and some in silence.

More About Meagan Santa

Meagan is a graduate of the In Fine Feather Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training Program and the assistant manager at the studio. Check out her blog post where she shares her IFF Yoga Journey. Come meet Meagan on the mat at In Fine Feather Yoga in Hamilton! Check out her bio HERE and find her on the class schedule HERE.