Keeping Mindful and Moving with Helena McKinney

To say there’s been a lot happening in the world is an understatement. With so much going on and the added pressures of everyday life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Yoga and Medication are known for their many rejuvenating benefits. Targeting the mind, body, and spirit, today we’ve called on Helena McKinney, Owner of In Fine Feather Yoga, to help keep us mindful and moving during these uncertain times.

Tell us about In Fine Feather Yoga:

In Fine Feather Yoga was founded in 2012. The studio has proudly been located on Ottawa Street in Hamilton, Ontario, for over 7 years. Daily yoga classes are offered to the community to encourage mindful living and a healthy lifestyle. It is our mission to make the yoga practice accessible to everyone. Our teachers are inspired to share accessible movement and mobility practices. We are passionate about creating a supportive space for students to explore yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and self-awareness. We have a bright and welcoming community of staff and students; authentic connection is found here.

What are some of the physical and mental benefits of Yoga?

There are so many benefits to practicing yoga. Science has proven that consistent practice will help reduce overall stress, anxiety, physical pain and improve your quality of life. Every yoga practice that we offer begins with slowing down the pace of your breath. Then softening all muscles of respiration around the shoulders, ribs, and belly to take deeper, longer inhales and exhales. When the body receives more oxygen, it invites our muscles, tissues, and joints to release tension. This action also calms the nervous system, which invites you to feel safer, calmer, and less panicked. Your heart rate will begin to slow down, and you can often physically feel when this shift happens.

Movement is the body’s friction. Scientifically, movement gets fluid moving in the body, releasing all the ‘happy’ hormones and improving your overall mood. This is often why you feel fired up, more positive, and lighter when you finish a workout or a class. When you stretch or build heat in your body, you can process physical tension, tightness, and discomfort that is often associated with localized stress and anxiety.

Every class encourages you to pay attention to a heightened level of movement. This limits the mind’s ability to wander off into the experiences of your current life. When you focus inward on your body, you turn off your brain’s quick reactions and responses to your stressful experiences. This allows you to enjoy being in the present moment doing what you’re doing. This can lead to a general sensation of feeling more content, centered, secure, and simply OK.

How has IFFY evolved over the years to support the community?   

In Fine Feather Yoga values serving the community. Over the years, we have done our best to make yoga practice affordable by offering Pay What you Can Classes. We’ve made several community partners like Niagara Parks, the City of Hamilton, McMaster University, CoMotion, and more so our teachings can be received by new members. During the pandemic, IFF has transitioned all of our programs to an online platform. This has enabled participants to tune into our classes from all over the globe. We are lucky to have such amazing support from our students and that they are able to receive the benefits of the practice from the comfort of their home.

Any tips on how to stay active during these uncertain times?

Consistency is key to holding yourself accountable. It is all about establishing a pattern and habit to include movement in your day. Even if it’s just for 10- 20 minutes a day. Movement doesn’t always need to be strenuous for it to be effective; take a brisk walk and breathe deeply. Self-care should be a priority, especially during these uncertain times. We are all trying to process an unusual amount of stress, which takes a toll on the body and mind. As I plan out my day, I schedule a time for movement to make sure I fit it in.

How can we promote mindfulness in our everyday lives?

Mindfulness is really about creating more self-awareness and listening to the mind and sensations in the body. This helps us to be more conscious of our reactions and responses to our inner and outer environment. Take 10 minutes out of your day to sit quietly with yourself to notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Reflect on what comes up for you; bringing whatever it might be into your awareness gives you the opportunity to create gentle shifts around it or a change in perspective. Mindfulness does not mean sitting with a completely quiet mind. It means becoming more aware of the inner workings of the mind.

Namaste Helena! If you’re looking to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your everyday life, Helena will be hosting Mindful Monday sessions during May for CoMotion Members.  As part of 5 Days for Good we would like to extend these classes to anyone who could use a break.  Feel free to register here for this class and to check out the rest of her classes here!


Larissa Drobot

Director of Operations, CoMotion Group Inc