Yoga has been found to provide many wellness benefits, especially if you’re having a bad day! 889, a Toronto yoga community founded in 2007,  brings together yoga, pilates, barre and meditation classes in a positive environment suitable for all levels of experience. Signy Gissurardottir, the owner of 889, aims to inspire happy, healthy lives through her studio.

We wanted to chat with Signy about the benefits of yoga if you’re feeling stressed out, what you need to know if you’ve never done yoga before, and her favourite pose to banish stress ASAP.

WEHL: What’s your philosophy on wellness?

SG: Our philosophy on wellness at 889 is total well being, from the physical body to the mind. To live up to your fullest potential, a combination of the two is essential. Everyone has a different story and stage where they are at in life, but when practicing in class together, we become one. The oneness creates community in a way that’s difficult to describe – it’s so special. 889 truly fosters a space where everyone feels accepted and met where they’re at.  Going inward is often the best medicine.  Wellness is a lifestyle, we aim to inspire happy, healthy, peaceful lives – every day. We all need to unplug, and focus internally by allowing time to grow and unplugging from the external world.

WEHL: How did you first get involved with 889 and how did you end up becoming the owner of the studio?

SG: One of my best friends introduced me to 889. After attending only a couple of classes I fell in love with the space and the community, and a year or so later – I started working with the community. I’m from Iceland originally, and growing up there with a deeply spiritual upbringing, 889 felt like the perfect home – allowing me to deepen my journey. My role transpired into a managerial role quickly, after managing the studio for about three years, the opportunity arose for me to take over and immediately it felt like the stars were aligned.

WEHL: What are some benefits of having a yoga routine?

SG: Outside of the obvious physical benefits of a regular yoga routine, just a few minutes of yoga a day has proved beneficial in many ways including increased energy, reduction of tension and stress, increased flexibility, posture and endurance as well as a drastic increase in mindfulness and concentration. If anyone is interested in furthering their knowledge or practice of yoga, we have an incredible Yoga Teacher Training program, which is a crucial educational component for our community.

WEHL: If someone has never done yoga before, what should they know about their first class?

SG: We get it, joining a class for someone who has never practiced yoga before can be intimidating, but here at 889 we pride ourselves on being totally inclusive and fully supportive whether it is your first class or your 1000th class with us. We encourage you to dress comfortable and come prepared to move. Once you’re in class our talented and experienced instructors will guide you through your experience. Just remember, have fun!

WEHL: Do you have a favourite yoga pose that helps you banish stress? 

SG: Our favourite yoga pose to help banish stress in a simple Child’s Pose. It’s accessible to almost everyone and feels so good to reconnect and ground back down to the earth if you’ve had a hectic day. Knees wide and arms reaching out in front of you will help loosen up any tension you may be holding in your neck and back. Finally, if you’re feeling called to and your forehead reaches the mat, roll your head from side to side massaging out your temples and front of your head. Say goodbye to any remaining stress as you massage that stress headache away!

WEHL: Why is yoga so helpful if you’re having a rough day?

SG: Yoga teaches us how to use our breath, and how to connect mind and body via that conscious breathing. This is especially helpful when we’re having a rough day, or consumed with the hectic thoughts and emotions. If ever in a day you feel disconnected or too emerged in negative feelings, you can practice your yoga off the mat by simply connecting to your breath and taking a moment to re-align.

WEHL: Why is it important for athletes to practice yoga?

SG: Yoga is for everybody, and every body. Yoga works on strength, flexibility, balance, agility, endurance, core, and overall strength, among other things. Any athlete could benefit hugely by adding yoga to her or his training regimen, as flexibility in general also helps to prevent injury.

WEHL: Do you have any tips to help someone create a simple home yoga practice?

SG: We love the idea of creating a simple home yoga practice by setting out a small bit of time each day to commit to yourself. Although it can be hugely beneficial, a home practice doesn’t always have to look like a full vinyasa sequence, it could be as simple as sitting with your coffee or tea in the morning and closing your eyes for a few minutes of quiet meditation before you begin your day. Be kind to yourself and listen to what your body needs, maybe that looks like joining us for a full and vibrant class in the studio or a quiet and solitary individual practice in the comfort of your own home before bed. You decide!

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