Week 5: Sacred Space

11698696_10153454016497387_7081710779380592436_nWhen teaching us about abundance, Nischala Joy Devi – one of my favourite spiritual teachers – declared, “The Universe wants to give you stuff, but there’s no room in your closet!”

What do you want to make more room for in your life? Satisfying relationships? Meaningful work? A deeper connection with life/spirituality? Material abundance? Time for yourself and freedom in your schedule?

In a world of instant gratification and never enough, it’s good to remember that some things still require space, time, perseverance and a little patience to grow. A closet full of quick fixes and a schedule filled with busywork can actually work the opposite way we want it to, and leave us feeling scattered and unfulfilled.

Make room in your life for what really matters with these 4 tips:

1. De-clutter

Give away what you don’t need and make room for abundance. Our outer world is a reflection of our inner-world. The morning I got back from a 10-days silent meditation retreat – my mind purified and much clearer than usual – I cleaned and de-cluttered my house like a Disney princess on speed for six hours straight, happily packing up beautiful clothes and jewelry to give away to my friends. I felt generous, appreciative, abundant and loving. Naturally, my content and joyful inner-state was extending into my external environment. It was a magical day. On ordinary days, it’s good to know that the rule works both ways. De-cluttering and giving things away can help you feel amazingly clear, focused and ready for a fresh start!

2. Schedule Daily “Me” Time

IMG_4652Schedule one hour for yourself everyday to connect with something bigger than your day-to-day problems. What you do in that time is up to you, as long as it fills you up and inspires you. Walk in nature, take a yoga class, paint, write, play, create, dance and listen to music. Dream. Pray. Think Big. What matters is that you show up for yourself because you are the most important person in your life.

NB: saying “yes” to yourself will mean saying “no” to other people occasionally. However, when you take care of yourself first, you naturally have more to give to others. Give from the overflow of your energy well – not from it’s depths. Taking care of you is the most unselfish thing you can do!


3. Create a Sacred Space

IMG_3291_2Gather objects and pictures that spark your imagination and evoke inspiration, appreciation, love and devotion.
It could be pictures of Jesus, Bruce Lee, Krishna, Jay Z, Superman or your grandmother. It could be all of the above as long as each one has special meaning for you. Choose an area of your home, no matter how small, and set up an alter with these powerful personal and universal symbols. Spend time in your sacred space everyday. Soak up the good vibes and let your subconscious mind take care of the rest. Don’t be surprised is your life starts moving forward in new and positive ways.

4. Allow Extra Time

Allow an extra 15-30 minutes to get everywhere.

Not only will you avoid rushing, Lilykinsyou’ll create space in your day for serendipitous encounters. Being relaxed means being in the flow and open to signs from the universe. Trust that people and events come into your life at just the right time and in just the right way.

A perfect example of this is how I met my cat, Lily.

Driving down Saint-Jacques, I had just finished telling my friend that I wanted a cat when we stopped at a red light next to another car. In the passenger seat was a man holding a small kitten. He noticed me staring and smiling at the cat, rolled down his window and asked if I wanted to keep her. In disbelief, we both pulled to the side of the road. As it turns out, the kitten was on her way back to her foster home because the man
discovered his girlfriend was allergic (he considered giving up the girlfriend but lucky for me it was the cat that got the boot!). I adopted her later that week and now I can’t imagine my life without her!IMG_4560


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Week 4: Social Interaction

11221611_10153471867797387_5882837585928771459_oDo you ever feel like some social interactions leave you feeling full of energy while others leave you feeling drained?

Do you ever get a good or a bad “vibe” from someone?

In yogic terms, this is not something abstract; it comes down to our exchange of Prana.

Prana is the energy that permeates and sustains all life. It is believed that the quality of prana flowing in our bodies determines our health and vitality, disease being the result of blocked or stagnant Prana.

We can increase our flow of Prana through pranayama (guiding/controlling the breath), asana practice, meditation, as well as through intake of fresh natural foods, pure water and sunshine.

Another important source of Prana – so obvious it is often overlooked – is social connection. Relationships are an intricate dance between the giving and receiving of energy.

We all need to receive more at times and some of us are natural givers, but over time, a balance must be found for both people to thrive happily in a relationship.

What can we do to improve our exchange of prana, or energy?

Goal Suggestions for Week 4: Social Interaction

  1. Be honest about how much you can give and how much you are willing to give up for another person
  2. Create clear boundaries and respect them. You teach people how to treat you.
  3. Have the courage to be vulnerable. Opening up allows us to relate and connect in a deep and meaningful way
  4. Work on your relationship with yourself: When you love and value yourself, the whole world will reflect it back to you

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Week 3: Nutrition

What we eat and how we eat impacts every single cell in our body; when we eat well, we feel well!bb162a8b-ca05-4561-9d89-6cb6c8ef821c

Intentions play a powerful role in how we choose to feed our bodies. Pay attention to your eating habits and patterns: Do you eat purely for pleasure? Or quickly and out of necessity? Out of boredom? As a source of comfort? For energy? When you’re happy? Sad? Stressed? To alter your appearance?

Our intentions drive our behaviours, and how we behave influences our destiny. When we view our body with compassion, love and gratitude, the way we treat it will begins to shift. Intend love and kindness toward yourself and the foods you choose will naturally support this.

My intention with food is to nourish my body and mind. The foods we eat are the building blocks of our bodies and when we eat clean, vibrant foods, we are nourished at the most fundamental level. I have noticed that when I eat with this intention, my body feels alive and healthy, my mind alert. I feel great – like I can accomplish anything!

In week 3 of HappyTree’s 7 Weeks of Summer Challenge, bring awareness to what intentions are driving the the way you choose to fuel your beautiful body.

Below are five of my favorite daily super-food staples. I hope these ideas will inspire you!

Why I love it:
• Spirulina is a natural algae that is harvested, dried and ground into a powder. It is INCREDIBLY high in protein and amino acids (65% of its net weight consists of this!), bio available iron, antioxidants and B vitamins (especially B-12 – fantastic for those who do not eat animal protein). It is also extremely high in chlorophyll, which helps you eliminate heavy metals from your system, a great natural product to assist in a daily cleaning, healing and detox of the body.
How I use it:
• Truth be told, spirulina doesn’t taste or smell that wonderful (it’s powdered algea, what do you expect!). My favorite way to use it is to incorporate it into my morning green smoothie (1 tsp per serving). The taste will be completely camouflaged and will allow you to enjoy all the great benefits it has to offer.
• Pay attention to where your sprirulina comes from, the cleaner and purer the water, the better. The best variety in my opinion is Hawaiian sourced spirulina. This ingredient is widely available in any natural food store.

Why I love it:
• If I had to choose a favorite oil, it would be cold pressed virgin coconut oil (organic please!). Coconut oil possesses antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities. Unlike more delicate oils such as olive oil, it can be heated to a very high temperature without losing the integrity of its nourishment. Studies have demonstrated that frequent consumption of coconut oil can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, boost your immune system, increase absorption of calcium and improve digestive disorders
How I use it:
• My morning oil pulling (an Ayurvedic technique which promotes oral hygiene and detoxes the entire body through the salivary glands)
• I cook and bake with it (it’s the only oil I use for cooking)
• A natural hair mask and skin moisturizer
• Natural makeup remover (this may sound counter intuitive but it works!)

Why I love this:
• The saying, “eat your greens” is on point! As with any other green colored plant, greens are loaded with chlorophyll. They also have a surprisingly high level of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Leafy greens are also very high in vitamin K, a vitamin critical at preventing age related conditions such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis
How I use it:
• The main ingredient in my daily smoothie is greens (fresh herbs, kale, etc. The possibilities are endless)
• Summer salads are the perfect opportunity to experiment with different variety of greens, add tons of fresh herbs too!

Why I love them:
• One of the most important hemp seed benefits is its high quantity of proteins, which are easily absorbed by the body. Moreover, there are a range of vitamins and minerals in hemp seeds, besides omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids
How I use them:
• I sprinkle hemp seeds on everything! In chia pudding, over fruit or vegetables as a snack, over salads, in scrambled eggs or an omelet, in my smoothie, in granola, in yogurt, in apple sauce. Everywhere!

Why I love them:
• High in fiber (keeping you satiated for longer), omega-3 fatty acids and calcium (1 TBSP of chia seeds has more calcium than a cup of milk!). The gel like quality of the seeds once soaked actually absorbs toxins within your digestive track
How I use it:
• The number 1 way I used chia seeds is to make my chia pudding with mashed banana, cinnamon, raisons and cashew milk, the perfect side kick to a morning smoothie or snack
• In baked goods, in bread recipes, and granola
• Added to smoothies
• As a nutritious addition to plain lemon water. When life gives you lemons, add chia seeds and water☺

Goal Suggestions for Week 2
1. Enjoy your food! Savouring each mouthful is more important that what you eat
2. Commit to nourishing yourself with one non food related activity per day
3. Eat mindfully: Take a moment to observe what’s on your plate and give thanks before every meal.
4. Create a new intention around food and repeat it out loud 10 times a day for 21 days
5. Cut out one portion a day of takeout/caffeine/sugar/salt/meat and replace it with one portion of fruit/vegetables/whole grains
6. Pack your lunches
7. Try a new recipe or take a cooking course
8. Go on a cleanse
9. Commit to eating local and organic food
10. Drink more water!

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Week 2: Mindfulness

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

  1. You compulsively check your phone every few minutes and easily get IMG_6146distracted from the conversation or task at hand
  2. You make your grocery list and plan dinner while lying in Savasana at the end of yoga class
  3. While engrossed in a movie or TV show, you reach for another potato chip only to realize the bag is empty and think to yourself in shock and disbelief, “did I really eat the whole bag?!”
  4. When you’re working, you wish you were relaxing. When you’re relaxing, you feel guilty for not working.
  5. You keep attracting the same types of difficulties into your life and don’t know why

If you recognize yourself in any or all of these examples, you’re not alone. Feeling disconnected from ourselves and the moment is unfortunately the norm, which is why ‘mindfulness’ is such a buzzword these days.

What does mindfulness really mean?

Think of it as getting out of autopilot and bringing awareness to what you’re actually doing, saying, thinking and feeling.

More than that, according to mindfulness meditation guru, Jon Kabat-Zinn,“mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: On purpose, In the present moment, And non-judgmentally”.

So, why is mindfulness so important? I think Ferris Bueller said it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The mind lives in two places: the past and the future. The land of “Should Haves” and What Ifs”. When we fully identify with these projections of our imagination it takes a toll on our happiness because we are powerless to change the past or control the future.

Whether we fret about what could happen, resent what did happen, or resist our current situation, we are creating tension, leaking energy and depleting our health. When we observe our thoughts, however, we can no longer be completely identified with them and they can no longer control us to the same degree.

Non-judgmental self-awareness not only allows for greater self-acceptance, it creates the space and atmosphere needed for new possibilities to emerge. When we are so tightly wound up in our “story” that we can’t see past our pain, we get caught in a negative reactive pattern, repeating mistakes that keep us trapped in our limited self-concept.

Mindfulness literally opens our minds to new solutions and expands our self-image. It frees up energy, which boosts our immune system. Plus, it helps us live with more integrity and a deeper appreciation for the present moment, which in turn creates meaningful connections and a better quality of life.

The great thing about mindfulness is that it’s available to us in every moment. Something as simple as taking a deep, conscious breath whenever we catch ourselves thinking, or meditating for five minutes everyday can make a big difference. Persistence is the key.

Now is the perfect time to start.

Goal Suggestions for Week 2:

1. Meditate for 5 minutes first thing in the morning, or add 5 minutes to your existing meditation practice

2. Every time you notice yourself thinking critical thoughts about yourself or others, take a deep breath, smile and repeat, “I accept myself unconditionally”

3. Turn off your phone, computer and television while eating

4. Leave your phone at home while out on a date with your honey

5. Choose one specific mundane daily task (ie: biking, walking, commuting, cleaning, eating) and do it on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally

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Week 1: How Yoga Practice Changed My Life

11695015_10153469308887387_6892240578622829994_nGraduating university was life changing for me – in the worst possible way.

I had never felt more generic and un-special as I did sitting in that enormous auditorium at the Bell Centre along with nine thousand other students, waiting to receive my Bachelor of Arts diploma.

Before that, I thought I had my life figured out. Success was easily measured by grades, social standing and jean-size. But now I was nothing but a coffee shop employee struggling to pay rent while looking for a “real” job in the “real” world and my identity cracked.

There’s a quote by our beloved Montrealer, Leonard Cohen that says,

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I guess you could say my quarter-life crisis let in the light of Yoga.


I found a sweet, sunny yoga studio a stones-throw away from my one-and-a-half bedroom apartment and practiced almost daily for the next two years. Every day would start with journaling, followed by a meditation walk on the mountain, yoga class, lunch and then reading, writing and introspection of a spiritual nature before bartending at night.

Years later, I discovered yogis call this type of consistent, devoted practice, ‘Abhyasa’ though at the time, my parents just called it ‘Self-Absorbed’. Inside, a shift was happening.

External events didn’t whip me around emotionally with the same intensity they used to. I started to feel something that was all at once brand new and strangely familiar: a remembrance of my True Self – Vairagya.

Abhyasa and Vairagya are the two core principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. Abhyasa (devoted practice) elevates our consciousness, while Vairagya (remembering the Self) helps us release identification with our attachments and aversions.

Though my life was totally unstable from the outside and I didn’t have an ounce of worldly success, I had never felt more confident or whole. The astounding discovery that the two states could live independently from each other blew my mind and it was life changing for me – in the best possible way.

Yoga practice opened a door to my inner-world that changed my outer world forever. I’m reminded of it every time I walk into my beautiful studio – HappyTree.

Goal Suggestions for Week 1:

  1. Add one extra yoga class a week to your schedule
  2. Start each day with 12 Sun Salutations
  3. Choose a yoga pose that you avoid or dislike and practice it everyday
  4. Choose a yoga pose that challenges you and make it your goal to conquer it

Goal Setting Tips:

  1. Choose a goal that excites you, and even scares you a little
  2. Create a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-targeted)
  3. Write your goal as an affirmation in the present tense. For example, rather than saying, “I will not miss a single day of yoga practice” write, “I will practice 12 Sun Salutations every morning before breakfast, from July 13 to August 31.”
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7 Weeks of Summer Challenge

Welcome to HappyTree’s 7 Weeks of Summer Challenge!

Dear HappyTree Community,

I just got back from an incredible two weeks in Greece and can’t wait to keep the good vibes going with our annual 7 Weeks of Summer Challenge. The timing is perfect!

If there’s one thing I was reminded of on my trip, it’s that happiness can’t be forced. Nothing and no one can make you happy.

All we can do is cultivate the internal and external environments conducive to the natural bubbling up of joy.

Our yoga practice sheds tension and creates a strong and spacious body for the current of happiness to flow freely; mindfulness gives us the the tools to navigate the highs and the lows of our lives with grace and equanimity; enjoying the sensual pleasures of simple, nutritious foods fuels our being; social interaction with likeminded, supportive, loving people inspires and motivates us; having a sacred space offers an uncluttered, safe and beautiful place in which to dream and create the life we want; gratitude swallows up fear and resentment whole; and nothing invites happiness in like knowing that you are worthy of it by caring for yourself with the same love and respect you would like from receive from others.

Join our 7 Weeks of Summer challenge at the studio or on Facebook and Instagram

 and see how making seven small lifestyle changes can have one huge impact on how good you feel.

Each week I’ll be sharing videos, stories, tips and inspiration in our newsletter, blog and on  Facebook and Instagram.

To get started, follow these 5 simple steps:



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NEW Yoga Birthing Workshop

birthing workshop-2










How can we bring yoga into the birth room? This 3-hour workshop will help couples prepare for the exciting time ahead—one that is virtually unknown to first-time parents and still just as exciting for subsequent pregnancies! Wherever you intend to have your baby, learn how to bring yoga postures and breathing into your labour and birth. Your partner will learn how he can best support you using pressure points, massage techniques and conscious communication. We will talk about possible hospital interventions and pain relief options. You will leave feeling confident in your body’s ability to give birth!

Jenny Berthiaume is Happy Tree’s Prenatal, Postnatal and Children’s yoga teacher. She is a birth and postpartum doula and mother of two. Having given birth once, medicated in the hospital and once naturally at home, she’s experienced two very different births and happily draws on her personal experience to help pregnant women and their partners in this exciting time.

Sunday 5 July 2015, 1:15-4:15pm

$60 per couple + tax

Register now


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Coming Soon: Yoga Myth Busters!

We are working on a very special project called Yoga Myth Busters.

We have already shot four short videos now in postproduction debunking such myths as, “I
can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible”, and “I can’t do yoga because I can’t relax
my mind”.

Each video features a different local celebrity: Hip Hop sensation, Annakin Slayd, CTV reporter, Rob Lurie, professional football player, Ky Hebert, and international, award-winning DJ, Jojo Flores.

One video is up already as well as a few others we’ve stored up over the last couple years. Check out our video page – HAPPY TREE ON SCREEN AND IN ACTION!

If you have a yoga myth you would like busted or a local celeb to nominate for my Yoga Myth Busters series, please email me at melanieAThappytreeyoga.com

Stay tuned to find out more!

Yoga Mythbusters videos

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Family Yoga Programs

Our family programs have been gaining momentum! On top of our weekly Mom (or Dad!) & Baby Yoga and Kids Yoga (ages 2-5) classes, we’ve added Prenatal Yoga and Kids Yoga (ages 6-11).

New this year: bring your Mom to yoga for FREE on Mother’s Day and stay for homemade tea and treats!

Check out our family programs for session dates and fees.

Family Yoga programs HappyTree Yoga

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Our spring line-up is underway and in full bloom!

With spring comes the promise of renewed hope, possibility and optimism. Potential
that has remained dormant throughout the winter months begins to awaken and the
vibrant energy of growth, intrinsic to the season, gives us the strength and momentum
we need to break through personal blocks and unleash our full potential.

Couples yoga Hot yoga Yoga Nidra Meditation
HappyTree has designed a spring season that will support you through this transformation. From new Hot Detox Flow classes, to The April Challenge, to Shedding Fear, Anxiety and Insecurity with Bram and learning the Fundamentals of Ayurveda with Dominic, we’ve got an incredible lineup for you!

Sold Out Couples’ Yoga with Bhaskar and Melanie, back by popular demand.
Register Now for our next Couples’ Yoga on Friday, May 8th from 6:30-8:00

This winter, Yoga Nidra workshop and the Meditation series both sold out, so we are pleased to bring them back for spring, along with Brian’s Advanced Posture workshop, Kirtan, and our Healing Yoga Retreat in Sutton.

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Melanie and Brian Featured in Concordia University Magazine

Did you know that both Melanie and long-time HappyTree teacher Brian Tuck are both Concordia University grads?! Melanie graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2002 and Brian with a B.A. in Human Relations in 2011.
And thanks to their incredible contribution to the yoga and wellness community of Montreal, they were both featured in the latest issue of Concordia University Magazine along with other notable Montreal talents – many of whom you probably recognize as guest teachers at HappyTree events, workshops and teacher trainings!

Concordia Magazine featuring melanie and Brian

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Melanie Richards interviewed by Barry Morgan on CJAD

On february 13th, 2015 Happytree owner Melanie Richards was interviewed on CJAD’s the Barry Morgan Show about the Valentine’s Couples Yoga Class being held at HappyTree. Check out her interview! And feel free to join us at HappyTree for another couples yoga class back by popular demand on Friday May 8th from 6:30pm – 8pm. Registration is now open.

HappyTRee couples yoga

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Kirtan with the Bhavan2 Saturday April 11th

Bhavan2 is back to share their songs & spirits


Saturday, April 11th
6pm – 7:30pm
Suggested Donation: $15

RSVP here.

Kirtan comes from the Sanskrit root kirt, meaning *to name, to communicate, to celebrate, to praise, to glorify*, and is as much a part of yoga as are stretching, postures, meditation and breathing. It is a fusion of sounds from various instruments and mantras that remove energy blocks, heal the spirit at deep levels, and allow for a heightened sense of awareness.

Bhakti means “devotion”. Bhakti yoga, or “union through devotion” connects us through our love to the universe as a whole.

Instruments will be on hand, but feel free to bring your own. Bring a smile, bring a friend, leave with a full heart. No singing skill or experience required; an experience not to be missed!

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Melanie and Brian are teaching at the 2015 Yoga Festival Montreal

Yoga festival montreal 2015Yocomo is eagerly getting ready for the fourth annual Yoga Festival Montréal, June 5 to 7, 2015!

Yoga Festival Montreal (YFM) is an opportunity to come together and celebrate as we learn from each other and grow stronger as a community. The programming of the festival will be a reflection of Yocomo’s vision: diverse, open to all seekers, empowering, supportive of different practices and lineages, and above all, committed to bringing the community together.

Registration for YFM 2015 is open!

Registration for the fourth annual Yoga Festival Montreal is open! The weekend will span over 30 styles and 50 hours of workshops, classes, performances, discussions and panels, guided by many of Montreal’s shining teachers.

Find them on Facebook

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We’re #1 on Mtlblog.com’s Best Montreal Yoga Studios

We’re so proud to have made this list. 7 years and still going strong. Thanks to all our loyal clients and dedicated, caring community.

Best Montreal Yoga Studios from MTLBLOG.com

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HappyTree Featured on Living Social

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A sneak peek of a HappyTree Yoga class

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Melanie on We LOVE Montreal by Tuja Wellness

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Melanie at TEDxMontrealWomen – Intention Setting

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Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at HappyTree – Promo video!

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