Namaste and GO – Five steps to find Zen while travelling, including on a weekend train trip to Niagara Falls

Helena McKinney, a yoga instructor who teaches classes within the cool mist and midst of the legendary Falls with Niagara Parks’ Namaste Niagara series, offers up a helpful prescription to destress while travelling this summer.

It doesn’t matter how big that new BPA free water bottle is.

You can’t just bottle Niagara Falls.

Carry it around and suddenly, on the hottest Ontario July day or during a muggy commute home, uncork the reenergizing rush of 3,160 tons of water falling each second.

But there may be some other ways to drink in a bit of mindful tranquility while you’re aboard one of our GO Transit vehicles.

We’ve seen the return to our popular Niagara weekend GO train service, which runs to Sept. 2 – as well as the Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 12-14). So as many of our customers, and our attention, has been turned toward sights and sites around Niagara Falls, we wanted to offer up a bit of Zen, even if you can’t make the trip. So we’ve turned to an expert on mind and body.

Helena mcKinney holds a yoga pose.

Yoga instructor Helena McKinney says conducting classes on the lower observation deck of Niagara Parks’ Journey Behind the Falls in the perfect place to get in touch with nature – and yourself. Photo courtesy of Infinefeatheryoga.com

Helena McKinney owns Hamilton’s Fine Feather Yoga. On weekends from July to September, she and her fellow instructors work with Niagara Parks, and their Namaste Niagara program, to run remarkable classes on the lower observation deck of Niagara Parks’ Journey Behind the Falls, within reach of the epic Horseshoe Falls.

Students stretch while water from the Falls cascades behind them.

Participants stretch within reach of the Falls. Photo courtesy of Niagaraparks.com

Droplets of water soak participants, and the roar is so loud, McKinney has to yell her peaceful commands. Words are powered by exhilaration rather than by adrenalin, she adds.

The backdrop of rushing and crashing water puts the world into perspective, she says. It’s the perfect place to stop, and carve out a bit of calm.

A woman holds a pose - hands high in the air - as the Falls pound nearby her.

Not your typical yoga studio – A participant holds a pose while looking toward the falling water. Photo courtesy Niagaraparks.com

“Pressure makes us move fast all the time,” she explains of almost everyone’s life. “Yoga makes you slow down.”

The Namaste Niagara yoga classes at the Falls connect body and soul to something bigger and eternal and just freaking awesome.

“Mother Nature takes over, and you have no choice but to…surrender,” the 32-year-old former dancer says.

A class goes through poses as an instructor leads them. Behind them is the American side of the falls.

Like a postcard – A class reaches high, as a steady mist falls around. Photo courtesy Infinefeatheryoga.com

But not everyone can stand and hold the rare repose, while on a welcome yoga mat next to Niagara Falls. So we asked McKinney what are the ways she tries to create moments of physical and mental peace, especially when she’s on a GO train or riding other transit systems around the world.

Here’s her serenity list to inspire your own stillness while on the GO:

  1. She uses transit time to journal – putting her thoughts to paper – as well as create ‘to do’ lists to challenge tomorrow.
  2. She constantly stretches her legs, including working her hamstrings.
  3. She has trusted meditation apps loaded on her phone, including a current favourite called ‘Calm’. “It’s just 10 or 12 minutes where you pick your themes,” McKinney says.
  4. Neck stretches. She does them often.
  5. Like many travellers, she creates music playlists that enhance her mood.

And she reminds herself, she doesn’t have the stress of actually driving to her destination. That, she believes, is a significant reason to breathe easy, saying: “It’s nice to check out and know someone else is taking care of that.”

Or you could head to Niagara on our weekend service. Buy an inclusive Niagara Parks Travel Package online. Packages start at $35 per person and $65 for a group.

The price covers your round-trip GO train fare plus a connecting WEGO bus pass that you can use for the weekend.

An instructor, eyes closed, meditates next to the roar of the Falls.

An instructor holds a pose next to the Falls. Photo courtesy Niagaraparks.com.

Trains depart from Union Station and stop at Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

And find your own Zen anywhere you can.

Discover more at gotransit.com/Niagara

A yoga instructor looks at her class as she takes them through poses.

A yoga instructor watches her class, as the water swells nearby. Photo courtesy Niagaraparks.com

You can find out more about the Namaste Niagara yoga program – each class culminates with a group brunch – and register, by clicking here.

Click here to visit Helena McKinney’s Fine Feather Yoga.

And if you want to see how Niagara Falls features some world class magic, as told in a previous Metrolinx News post, then go here.