A holistic approach to wellness 

A yoga class with Kelly Toffner of Consciously Shining is unlike any yoga class you have experienced before. Toffner more aptly describes the sessions as “movement classes” rather than traditional yoga. These classes, which take place in various locations throughout Hamilton, do not just focus on getting into specific yoga shapes, but rather take a holistic look at the body, incorporating intention and wellness into every movement.

Kelly and her daughter finding playfulness and a joy while practicing yoga

In fact, the whole concept of Consciously Shining is geared towards a holistic approach to health and wellness. Toffner is situated in a unique position as she works part-time as an MRI Technologist, and therefore tends to see a lot of patients with diseases, sickness and immobility. This perspective allows Toffner to view the dichotomy of the wellness spectrum. 

“Working in a hospital has opened my eyes to all of the possible things that can go wrong with the body. Some things are out of our control, but a lot is within it,” says Toffner.  She sees wellness as an investment, citing things like therapy, movement, and nutrition as ways to empower ourselves, a kind of medicine. 

Toffner turned to yoga after her life fell apart. She had always been an active person but had a negative relationship with food and body image. It wasn’t until after she had a child, got divorced, and moved back to Hamilton, that Toffner started to take yoga seriously and began a journey of self-realization. 

In 2013 Toffner completed her yoga teacher training and since then has been teaching yoga in Hamilton to share what she has learned. She’s taught in parks, clothing stores, restaurants, and even out of her own home, preferring the vibe of a community-based setting, and movement in everyday places. Toffner understands that walking into a yoga studio can be intimidating, which is why Consciously Shining classes are open and accessible to anyone who has a willingness to invest in their own wellness. No gym membership or fancy equipment is needed.  

Toffners movement classes are a mixed bag, no class is ever really the same. “The focus now is more on being strong, moving intentionally and really considering what’s going on in the body,” says Toffner. There’s a lot of movements like jumping, getting up and down, working on stability, and finding your balance. Toffner has a focus on longevity in her classes, she often says that her goal is to be 85 years old and be able to travel and live independently, “It’s movement that makes sense for the body, and movement for life.” 

Part of her yoga philosophy is influenced by being a mother. Toffner is a co-parent of a young girl and strives to be a strong role model to her daughter. From watching her daughter learn and grow, Toffner has learned a lot. She says, “Children are a mirror, they mirror the part of yourself that you’ve forgotten. A lot of adults are disconnected from the world and from the part of themselves that was playful, messy, and curious.” She strives to bring a sense of playfulness and a joy of movement back into the lives of adults. 

However, Consciously Shining is not just about yoga. Toffner also offers styling services featuring curated clothes from thrift and vintage stores around Hamilton. The idea is to use clothes to help highlight the parts that you love about yourself. Toffner is also working on an online course which combats self-hate and is a strong advocate for reducing the stigmas associated with STI’s and sexual well-being. Her goal overall is “to help people feel amazing and free in their body.” 

If you are interested in working with Consciously Shining in any of these capacities, you can visit the website www.consciouslyshining.com. You can also visit Instagram @consciouslyshining for updates on class schedules or to book a private yoga class.