CORNER BROOK — Having spent much of her 20s in a blur of dressing rooms and stages the world over, Melanie Caines is finally learning the value of stillness.
An actress who graduated from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University’s theatre program in 2003, Caines performed over 400 shows with the successful production Tempting Providence between 2002 and 2009. She also spend nine summers working with the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in Cow Head.
But it wasn’t until discovering yoga that she took the time to catch her breath; to learn to harness her breathing in order to bring stillness to her mind and body.
Like beginners, Caines came to yoga as means to exercise. But as owner/operator of the recently opened Nova Yoga in St. John’s and host of the half hour instructional program the Nova Yoga Show, — which airs Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on Rogers TV— she’s now helping spread the word that there’s much more to the discipline than simply stretching and contorting one’s body.
She offers a variety of classes at her studio, from those which include meditation and specific postures designed to improve mobility, to those which help detox the mind and body through twisting and compression to rid one’s internal organs of toxins.
The classes typically follow the traditions of vinyasa yoga in which the movements and breathing are linked so that the postures flow into one another.
“It’s just been a great healthy shift for me and it’s really changed how I feel and live,” Caines said in a recent interview from St. John’s. “It’s a way to live with kindness and compassion; a way to give back to yourself ... that’s why I feel so passionate about sharing it.”
She has studied with yoga masters in New York and Los Angeles, where she works with world renowned prana flow founder Shiva Rea. These regular visits have served as inspiration, fueling her passion to pass on what she’s learned.
She received her yoga teacher training at Sonic Yoga in New York in 2008. She also offers free online yoga videos on her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/melaniecaines as well.
To her, the most rewarding aspect of teaching and of hosting the instructional show is the chance to help her students do extraordinary things with themselves and their bodies.
“I see the impact it has on them from the moment they walk in at 5:30 and the difference when they leave at 6:45,” she said. “To have someone say ‘I haven’t slept this well in two years’ or ‘This is the most mobility I’ve had in my shoulder since the accident’ ... it feels incredibly fulfilling.”
While devoted to her studio, Caines has also remained active as an actress in film and on television. She has worked for four years as a voice actress on the “Republic of Doyle” and played lawyer Neve Carmichael in an episode last season.
She also appeared in an upcoming Liz Solo-directed short film “The Machine” and has a part in Martine Blue’s film “Desperate Scribbles,” which is running at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.
She said yoga has given her more focus through breathing and meditation, something she believes has made her a better actress.
“When you are acting, a lot of times you can push ahead and anticipate responses,” she said. “So the ability to live in the moment and to react to what the other character is saying, that’s pure present moment awareness.”
As someone who has embraced yoga as a lifelong learning tool for everyone, she said the biggest challenge is fitting the practice in to one’s increasing busy schedule.
“The hardest thing is getting on your mat, and that applies to me as well,” she said. “There’s always that sink-full of dishes or that phone call but the moment you make the time and sit down ... you realize this is where I need to be and I have to carve this time out for myself.”