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.

Getting Back Into the Flow by Meagan Santa

Make the Transition from Summer to Fall with Ease!

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The end of summer usually brings a melancholy feeling. There’s the excitement and anticipation of what autumn brings (cozy sweaters, pumpkin flavored everything, fairs) but also the end of those free-spirited warm months. It’s not a surprise we often fall out of routine and struggle to get back into the flow state this time of year. I’ve compiled a few suggestions to make the transition easier.

The Flow State

To begin, according to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the flow state is a “complete immersion in an activity.” It’s “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost.” By implementing any of these suggestions, my hope is it’s easier for you to find yourself back in a flow state with less worry and a lot more ease.

Raise Your Vibration

1. Raise your vibration by doing something you love and truly enjoy for at least one hour a day. This activity will immerse you in the flow state and/or keep you present. Going to a yoga class, listening to music and cooking, working towards a goal, reading a good book, coffee with a friend, painting, meditation, working out, etc. Ensure that this activity is beneficial for your body & mind. Watching an episode from your latest Netflix show may be enjoyable but it isn’t necessarily going to raise your vibration.

Gossip & Judgement

2. Avoid the gossip, don’t fall into the habit of judging and/or comparing yourself to others. Instead celebrate the good times summer offered, be compassionate of the struggles other may be going through, don’t assume others have it easier or better than you and stay in your own lane! Judgement and gossip will only cause you to feel negative. If you are interested in deep diving this topic, check out Gabby Bernstein’s article here. “I believe that judgment is at the root of all our problems, from the pettiest disagreements to the most catastrophic world events. Our belief that we are separate from one another leads to gossip and bullying as well as deep divisions and violent hate. Healing judgment is extremely urgent right now.”

Scheduling & Communication is Key

3. Simplify your schedule by planning ahead. This will give you time to access your week, prepare, schedule time for yourself to rest/recharge, ask for help, etc. By doing so, you are also encouraging clearer communication to those around you, family, partner, etc. Set yourself up for success by making this a Sunday night ritual followed by an act of self care. No one wants to start their Monday off feeling frazzled and unprepared.

Meal Prep to Save Time & Money

4. Meal prep! If you practice yoga, there’s a good chance you are mindful of your health. Nutrition is a major component to being healthy, feeling energetic and avoiding unnecessary stresses that come up when we are “hangry.” It doesn’t matter what day of the week you do this- although Sundays usually make the most sense. My favourite meals to prep that are quick & yummy include smoothies, soups, wraps, stir frys, cut up veggies, grab’n’go fruit, trail mix, and oatmeal/overnight oats. Imagine family dinners with half the stress and zero confusion as to what to cook, early mornings with a nutritious meal ready to go, and healthy snack choices. This will not only save you time but also money! Click the links to check out my favourite recipes.

Gratitude & Water in the AM

5. Start every day with gratitude and a litre of water (maybe with lemon)! By pairing these two together as soon as you get up, you are encouraging a positive kickstart to your physical and mental health. Think of 5 things everyday you are grateful for. It can be as simple as a good cup of coffee, taking the dog for a walk or as large as your last vacation. Tip - fill your reusable water bottle up the night before and leave it in your bedroom.

At the end of the day, remember that what we are experiencing is simply an energetic reset and a slow seasonal change where habits are affected, and new schedules are upon us. It makes perfect sense that we want to be going strong 24/7 and falling right back into our usual mode of go-go-go but that’s not possible. Give yourself a break as we all transition through this temporary time together.

Share with other Hamilton Yogis

Please share on social media if any of these suggestions helped you get back into the flow of things this fall. Tag #IFFyogis and #IFFbackintheflow.

More About Meagan Santa

Meagan is a graduate of the In Fine Feather Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training Program and an assistant Manager at the studio. Check out our recent 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.

2018 Yogis in the City Photo Contest with IFF!

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Calling all Yogis! In Fine Feather Yoga is hosting their 6th annual photo contest, Yogis In The CIty! It’s simple…Bring your yoga practice into the city, snap a pic in a pose and send them our way. We will be looking for creative submissions of all of YOU doing yoga all over YOUR beautiful city!

Submit your pics online and tag In Fine Feather on Instagram or Facebook, hashtag #YogisInTheCity or submit through email at info@infinefeatheryoga.com. The IFF team will be re-posting your submissions daily, so get involved, let’s make it FUN!

At the end of the contest, the pic that receives the most likes….WINS!!! The winner will take home a FREE $50.00 gift card to In Fine Feather Yoga and an incredible wellness gift from Love My Mat and more!

The contest starts on May 20th- June 10th! You have three weeks to get your pics in! We can’t wait to see what you all come up with, There are so many beautiful spaces in this city, so get out there and happy posting!

30 Day Yoga Challenge!

IFF_30DayChallengeJoin us this April for our 30 Day Yoga Challenge! Everyday feel inspired to roll out your mat and share this yoga journey with the IFF community! This is an opportunity for any student of yoga to dive into their practice, experience a deeper sense of transformation on and off their mat while vibing off of the community energy. The intention is to do as many studio practices as possible in the 30 days! As a challenger, prepare for an extra layer of inspiration via weekly emails with content focused on health & wellness as well as challenger only meetings hosted once each weekend. In those classes, expect to expand your knowledge on self care, nutrition and informative ways to deepen your yoga practice. We know a 30 day commitment can seem a bit intimidating which is why we've created a challenger community with high vibes of energy to keep the motivation running strong. Over the 30 days watch how the body gets stronger and the mind experiences more clarity. Plus, enjoy a closing party to celebrate your 30 days of hard work with giveaways and prizes!! Do this for yourself- see what you can do on your mat in 30 days while meeting new friends, learning new things and transforming into an even better version of you. Costs: Regular Pricing: $135.00 Auto Renew Clients: $100.00

Included in Costs: -Unlimited Yoga -Welcome Wellness Bag -Weekly Inspirational and Educational Emails from the Team -Challenger Exclusive Classes -Closing Party with Prizes and Giveaways!

For more information or to register email info@infinefeatheryoga.com.

Yoga and Wine event with Between the Lines Winery!

25659294_1545422268840072_5894545600575890045_nShake Your Asana Party!With Between the Lines Winery and In Fine Feather Yoga!

When: Saturday, January 13th. BTL Back Barn Check-In from 5:30 pm Yoga Begins at 6:00 pm Tapas, Wine, and Music: 7:00 pm  - 9:00 pm Cost: $45 includes yoga, food, wine and a BTL Gift bag.

Join BTL and In Fine Feather Yoga for an energizing start to 2018.  It's Yoga + Dance + Great Food and Wine. After you arrive at BTL, Helena from In Fine Feather Yoga will lead you through a fun and electrifying flow practice with a live DJ under the twinkling lights of the Back Barn.  This practice will be invigorating and an empowering way to bring in the New Year!  Each student is encouraged to have a fun and playful practice, try new things, dance to the playlist and celebrate the joy of new beginnings together!

Following the Yoga Session, we will turn up the music and the evening continues with our abundant appetizer bar and delicious BTL wines. You're welcome to continue to dance or bring a change of clothes and sit back and relax. Namaste!

Purchase your tickets online HERE!

 

 

A Message from Kelley.

FullSizeRender-6In The Practice of Practice: A Note on Community This morning, I am sitting on the front porch of my little Hamilton home with a steaming cup of startlingly black coffee, a blanket wrapped around my body to ward off the morning chill, and a heart filled with gratitude. You see, I moved to Hamilton just two years ago with my husband: away from our Albertan friends, family, and community; so that we might take a risk together and start a new adventure on this side of the country.

I moved to Hamilton as a ‘seasoned’ Yoga practitioner. What I mean is, I have spent countless hours in seated meditation, at least double as many hours in physical asana practice, and had an encouraging and dynamic community of students and teachers back in Edmonton. I was comfortable in a Yoga collective that was supportive, stable, strong, and stimulating.

I moved to Hamilton knowing no one; I was sidelined from Yoga and physical movement due to a debilitating back injury that forced me to spend sleepless nights on the floor, and kept me away from participating in most things I loved. This physical pain, and the restrictions that it imposed, took an emotional and spiritual toll as I battled feelings of depression, anxiety and helplessness.

I moved to Hamilton as a bird with its wings clipped. I treated my body as a piece of clothing that was not fulfilling its purpose. It was used up, ripped and filled with holes; unwanted. My Yoga practice was a facsimile of what it had been; a shell of something that was strong and had given all it could. All the words that I had spoken as a Yoga teacher to my students of “treat your body with grace”, and “reacquaint yourself with your body every practice” sounded hollow and meaningless as I battled through my practice in a haze of anger.

I lived in Hamilton for a little under a year when I won a gift card at a silent auction for a local Yoga studio. The gift card had an expiry date, so I figured: what the heck? I remember nothing about the room, nothing about the instructor, nothing about the words. I just remember the rituals: coming into the space, rolling out my mat, assembling the props, smelling the familiar smells…(...all Yoga studios smell like something between patchouli and eucalyptus - or it is just me?)

I leaned on those rituals and the rhythm of the breath from the practitioners around me. I relied on them to carry me through my practice. It was the first time in years where I truly treated my body with grace. The first time in years where I reacquainted my body, welcoming it even for its bruises and breaks. Truly, this was the first time where I was in the practice of my Yoga practice. I felt my body respond with a: “finally, I’ve been here all along, where have you been?”. I continue to revel in this relationship with my body and Yoga practice. I continue to work on an  approach to my mat that is with curiosity and without pride. I spent the subsequent few months ‘dating’ different studios in the Hamilton region, sampling classes, looking for a studio that resonated with me and a community that would hold a bit of space for me. Which I found through In Fine Feather. (Hi there, have we met? I’m Kelley and I teach Wednesday evenings at 8:30 and Friday mornings at 6:30 am. Happy to know you.)

I wanted to share my story because before this adventure of injury - and if i’m honest, a bit of a loss of identity - I understood my practice to be bound within certain physical guidelines of strength and flexibility. After undergoing rehabilitation, and building back my practice layer by layer through careful work at our lovely yoga studio on Ottawa street, I have come to truly value being in the practice of my practice. For me, what this means is treating my Yoga as a mark that is never fixed - it bends, moves, stretches, contracts, changes - and that is ok.

I wanted to share my story because in our lovely yoga studio, our teachers meet students every single day with their stories imprinted on their bodies: stories of injury and rehabilitation, of triumph and of success. As teachers, we also have our own stories embedded in our bodies, which then allows us to communicate with you in a shared language, textured in the discourse of experience. When we share our practice together, we are truly in the practice of our practice. So, on the days where you limp, drag, push, pull, saunter, skip, or run to class; know that you are met, and know that you are seen. Rest, as I did, into the expression of community in our space, maybe let yourself be held by the rituals that accompany it, and know that we are doing this good work together.

Looking forward to connecting more with each of you in our community, Kelley Jespersen

A Message from Helena on Gratitude!

give-thanksThis year has been one of incredible transformation for myself and the whole studio. When I have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the growth and development that has occurred all around me I am incredibly grateful to be witness to it all. On a day to day basis, it is very easy to overlook the wonders of your own life. We tend to dwell on the negative things going on around us, we let the small things bring us down and consume us with worry, fear, anger, regret and doubt. When I look back at this year, the studio hosted their first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training program and we are about to host our second. I recently became a Lulu Lemon Ambassador and community partner. My niece turned two and her loving nickname for me is "B". Yoga in the Park this summer introduced me to so many new and wonderful souls. I have the incredible support from a dedicated team and the unconditional love from family and friends. The sun is shining today and you know what, all is well! This short reflection allows me to see that I am on track, producing good in the world where I can and am able.

This weekend, I encourage you all to do a similar reflection. What do you have to be grateful for, what are you proud of, what can you continue to do to enrich your own life and the lives of others? This exercise is an opportunity to check in with yourself, acknowledge the good, recognize the great or even explore an area of your life that needs more mindful attention. Give thanks for all that is whole and happy in your life and take time to enrich the areas that could use more love.

Also, a million times thanks to each and everyone on of you who continue to support my dream and believe in the community at In Fine Feather Yoga.

Love and Gratitude, Helena

Meditate. Move. Music.

18118727_10203568585372985_2211767236312076236_nMeditate. Move. Music.An Evening with Helena and Brock

Date: Friday October 27th 2017 Time: 7:00pm- 8:00pm Cost: $10.00

Join us for an evening of Meditation, Movement and Music with Helena and Brock. Through this practice you will enjoy the soft lighting of candles, a guided meditation, a healing flow practice and the soothing sounds of live music in the studio. Rejuvenate your body and mind, take in the warmth of the room and the vibrations of the music.

To register online click HERE or email info@infinefeatheryoga.com!

A Message from Kiah. The Important Thing Your Yoga Practice is Missing

IMG_3135We hear this word all the time in yoga classes, but what does it actually mean? Mindfulness.

In a literal sense, most people consider mindfulness to be a sort of state of being or may relate it to meditation. In the context of this article, I mean it in the physical sense. I’m talking about body awareness.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ll watch students get into a pose I’ve instructed and look physically uncomfortable or even in pain. It drives me nuts, especially because I very deliberately offer modifications and say things like, “Just because I’m demonstrating this does not mean you should be doing this, especially if [insert contraindications/bad sensations here].” And then there are the students who demand I spike the heat in my hot classes so they can sweat and feel like they’ve done a lot, even though they practice sloppily and fail to get the most out of each pose. Yes, sweat is an indication of physical effort. But when the room you’re in is pushing 110°F, you’ll be sweating when you’re on your back in savasana.

Mindfulness is one of the best things a new yogi can develop to improve his or her practice faster, however even some long-time practitioners don’t practice mindfully. For those who come to yoga to aid physical ailments, this is going to ensure you don’t exacerbate an existing issue. For those taking yoga classes for fitness, it is going to allow you to get the kind of exercise you’re craving even if your class does not involve any advanced poses or vinyasas.

Next time you’re in class, pay extra attention to the sensations you’re feeling in the body. If there is any pain or discomfort, you should be adjusting or grabbing your props to support yourself in your pose. Listen to the cues your instructor is giving you and always assume he or she is directing that cue at you specifically — most instructors cue to what they are seeing in front of them, which means that correction very well could be intended for you. If it’s not and you still try to correct it, you’ll only become more familiar with how that pose should feel. And if something your instructor says doesn’t resonate with you make sure you talk to them about it after class. Asking questions gives you the opportunity to get some more in-depth information and is a great step to ensuring you’re practicing better and safer.

Check out my top three tips for getting mindful in your yoga practice:

1. Arrive to class ten minutes early to stretch and move on your mat. Take some time to open areas that feel tight.

2. Sit in Easy Pose (Sukhasana), with legs loosely crossed. If your lower back starts to round, place a block underneath you for added support. Rest your hands on your knees or thighs and get as tall as you can through the crown of your head without losing the natural curves of the spine. Take a few deep breaths and begin to scan the body from the crown of the head to the feet, taking note of how you’re feeling.

3. Tell your instructor about any pain or injuries you have recently been experiencing. If they know what you’re working with, it is a lot easier to suggest modifications in class that will benefit you specifically. This is especially important if you are new to yoga.

Meet our Community Partner, The Doula Tree!

TheDoulaTree-Social Icons-01At In Fine Feather Yoga we want to ensure that our students have the resources available to them to maintain a healthy and whole lifestyle on and off the mat. Throughout pregnancy women have more specific needs to guide them through this really transformative experience. We want to introduce you to The Doula Tree, one of our community partners in Hamilton. At the Doula Tree they want to provide women and families in the Hamilton area with labour and postpartum support. Here is some more information on what a doula is and how they can provide you with support through this incredible journey of child birth. See the Doula Tree online HERE and contact them for any additional information. T: 905-869-2069 E: thetreedoulas@gmail.com

What Is A Doula?

Provide physical support:

As a trained Doula, we have endless comfort techniques to use with you during labour.  These may include massage, position change, walking, swaying, slow dancing, breathing techniques and mindfulness.   We will happily show your partner or loved one all of these techniques so they can support you in the best way possible.

Connect on an emotional level:

We are here to remind you just how fierce you are, in your moments of self-doubt.  We want to talk about your fears and concerns before they happen so you feel confident along your journey.

Share information:

Sometimes this process can be really confusing.  We are here to ensure you feel comfortable with your decisions by proving you with any information and resources you request.  You’re steering the ship while we navigate the sails!

Join your team:

We work with your care providers including midwives, doctors, nurses and all other medical staff you may have present during this experience.  We recognize them as the medical experts and respect their advice.

Believe in your plan:

Whether you wish to birth at home or at the hospital, breastfeed or formula feed, vaginal or caesarean birth – we know you have made the right choice for you and we want to be a part of that! We will always offer our judgement free support because it’s your body, your birth and your baby.

Provide continuity of care:

From the moment we join your team, you will receive phone and email support whenever you need it.  When we are closing in on your expected due date, we will provide 24/7 on call care.  We will join you at home or at the hospital when you are in labour and stay with you in the postpartum period.  Once you and your precious bundle are back at home, we will meet with you again to answer any questions, tidy the house, make you lunch, boil some tea or care for your newborn so you can get some rest.

Never leave you hanging:

If for any reason I cannot attend your birth, you will always have another trained, compassionate Doula to care for you in the way that you deserve.  You will have the opportunity to meet throughout your pregnancy if you choose to.

 

A Testimonial from YTT Graduate Meaghan Bell!

IMG_6080Everyone has a story about how they came to find and love the practice of yoga. Can you remember the first time you rolled out your mat? Can you remember how you felt, emotionally, physically and mentally before, during and after your first practice? Looking back on that journey, how has it changed? How have you changed? How has your mind, body and soul changed? I began practicing yoga in 2007 but did not come to form a regular consistent practice, until 2012. For me, yoga was my self-care activity, nourishing my mind, body and soul, fostering mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. In 2016, I found myself in what I refer to as a dark season of my life. During that time, I craved yoga more than I ever had in the past, desperate to find some balance in my life again and restore my overall wellbeing. I wanted to immerse myself in the practice and reap the benefits; I wanted to focus on me. So I enrolled in the yoga teacher training program at In Fine Feather. The course has transformed my yoga practice in so many ways, and has resulted in a journey of self-discovery and self-compassion.

At the time of enrolling, I was familiar with the Sanskrit term, asana, meaning the movement of the body or the poses of the practice. Since taking this course, I have gone back to the very beginning, to the foundation poses, finding the correct alignment in my body first, before exploring more advanced variations of the pose. At first, poses I have done for years, felt foreign to me. I now know that to receive the maximum benefit of any pose it is not how deep I can go into that pose or what advanced variation I take, but correct positioning and alignment while in that pose. For many poses this means the use of props; the use of props alone have helped lengthen, open and support my body exactly where it is needed. Now starting with a solid foundation and correct alignment, I am receiving the full benefits of the poses, and my yoga practice has advanced faster in one year than it has since I started practicing. I know understand which poses are challenging for my body and why (i.e. tight hamstrings), and what poses will benefit my body and help overcome these challenges. My own awareness of the physical movement of my body, has created a more mindful, intuitive, safe practice.

The asana is only one part (or limb) of the practice of yoga according to Pantanjali’s yoga sutras. The sutras, contain the eight-limbed path, a “guidebook” for daily practices to nourish and cleanse our own mind, body and soul, bringing happiness and peace into our lives and perhaps one day, enlightenment. Most of us are familiar with asana, but the practice of yoga extends way beyond our mat, into our daily lives. The philosophies behind this practice are worth exploring, not only to gain an understanding of this ancient tradition and how it has changed over time to what most of us are familiar with, but to make sense of the dialogue that comes with the practice and how that might translate to your own life, bringing about self-discovery.

In addition to the asana, most yogis are familiar with the Sanskrit term, prana, meaning energy or life force. One way to restore prana is through breathing exercises, in a practice known as pranyama, another of the eight limbs. The breath, is a constant, often used as an anchor or focus to bring us into the present moment. The awareness of the breath is often practiced through meditation. As global awareness of mental illness increases, mindfulness and meditation practices are gaining popularity. And rightfully so; meditation has been shown to decrease blood pressure, assist in times of anxiety, calms the body, relieves stress and can help prevent relapses of depression. Not to mention, having a fellow yogi lead you through a loving kindness meditation, or a room full of yogis chanting in Sanskrit, reverberates deep. There are many forms of meditation, that you may not have been introduced to before, worth experiencing, as I am sure one will speak to you and you will carry it with you, and return to it.

What happens when you combine the knowledge around the philosophies, the movement and the meditation that make up yoga, with your own passions, experience and voice? That is what is discovered when you complete the course, with the final module. Since taking the yoga teacher training certification course, I am living yoga the best way I know how. Although, I am not teaching yoga within the community, I have developed a passion for mindfulness and hope to share that passion with those around me. I am living mindfully, with my breathe as my anchor to the present moment, and with intention and self-compasion, trying to be the best version of myself. I am doing this for myself, and my own wellbeing, and for those around me, in my inner circle and those in the community. I am filled with passion and joy, excited for my yoga journey ahead.

Whether you take one module or all four, I am confident that your awareness, your way of thinking, the way you see the world and the way you practice yoga will change in a positive way, and take you on your own journey of self-discovery.

Namaste, Meaghan

Sun Standing Still: Yoga At the Field!

18582505_1655813494446706_7388968975488198944_n As you walk through the stadium doors, you'll experience the silence of 2000 individuals laying in savasana, a silence that is filled with the feeling of endless possibility and opportunity that this practice will bring. The sea of yogis move as one as they flow into Warrior II pose. One hand behind them acknowledging the past, one hand in front as they gaze into the sun’s light that is standing still on this equinox night.

lululemon Burlington is celebrating International Day of Yoga with instructors Johanna De Castro, Helena McKinney, Trish Dingman, and DJ Carmelinda.

This event is complimentary, however donations will be accepted with proceeds going towards the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton. To learn moreabout this organization please follow the link below. http://www.kboysandgirlsclub.com/index.html

Tim Hortons Field 64 Melrose Ave N. Hamilton, Ont. Gate details to come

Wednesday, June 21st from 7-8:15pm social to follow

RSVP @ https://sunstandingstill.eventbrite.ca/