Our Team

Billie Lynn Hillis Founder & Director of Gaia Wellness, Senior Yoga/Mindfulness Instructor

Billie (Jugat Joti Kaur) is a Certified Yoga Instructor, trained in Kundalini Yoga, Hatha and Yin Yoga as well as Yoga for Addictions. She is passionate about Yoga, Mindfulness & Energy Healing and is a certified Reiki Therapist and Meditation Coach. As the Founder & Director of Gaia Wellness Retreat, Billie has a vision to create an environment that can support and inspire guests on their journey towards personal freedom. Gaia Wellness has been a life-long dream for Billie and she is very excited to share this dream with you.  Billie is known for her authentic, non-judgmental teaching style and compassion-centered philosophy. Availing herself to continuous philosophical education from various spiritual disciplines, Billie weaves thought-provoking meditations throughout her classes, applying ancient wisdom to our contemporary western world in a useful and understandable way. She encourages growth of the physical and spiritual self, citing the interconnectedness to each other, to the world and to the universe at large. Billie is a student of Insight Meditation and NLP. She is presently studying with Jack Kornfield & Tara Brach to become a Certified Meditation Instructor as well as studying NLP on her way to becoming a registered Master NLP Practioner and Life Coach. It is Billie's hope that our community will benefit by bringing these transformational teachings to Gaia Wellness.  Billie is available for private consultations, meditation coaching, reiki healing and yoga therapy. Please contact her at billie@gaiawellnessretreat.com to schedule an appointment.

John Armstrong Founder & Director of Gaia Wellness, Vegan/Vegetarian Chef, Corporate Programming

John is a graduate of Carleton University with a BA Honors in Social Science. In addition to academic studies, he was introduced to Buddhist meditation practices in the mid 1980s and has been following this spiritual path since. Over the course of his career in consultation, management and quality assurance John has succeeded in evolving and developing business models while maintaining a strong client service based structure. His primary interest is in combining client experience with enhanced customer service in a stimulating and rewarding environment From 2003-2017 he has been self employed as owner/operator of two restaurants - co-founder TRIO Bistro (Westboro) and founder JAKS Kitchen (Centretown). He possesses 20+ years of experience in business development, communications, marketing, recruitment, training and team leadership. He is comfortable with public speaking in both French and English and has substantial experience in developing and delivering training sessions to adults and youth.  

Robert Hay Founder of The Yoga Garden, Senior Yoga Instructor

Founder of both the Rama Lotus Yoga Centre & The Yoga Garden Retreat. As one of the most experienced teachers in Ottawa, Robert is available to lead Kundalini Yoga, Classic Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga and much more.   Robert Hay, M.A., is a Certified Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga Instructor and a 500-hour member of the Yoga Alliance and the International Kundalini Yoga Teacher’s Association (IKYTA). Robert has been practicing yoga and meditation for twenty five years and has taught over 3,000 yoga classes, workshops, yoga retreats, private consultations and 15 plus Kundalini and Hatha Yoga and Restorative Yoga Teacher Training programs. Robert is a fountain of knowledge and always finds a way to teach what is needed at the right time. Robert makes a great teacher for Corporate/Group Yoga Retreats and offers Private Yoga Instruction ($108/session).  

Chantal St Amour Executive Assistant/Senior Yoga Instructor

I chose to fully devote myself to my passion for yoga, mindfulness and wellness after working as a teacher for over twenty years. My personal and professional realities have proven to me that life’s challenges have a direct impact on the individual and his surroundings on psychological, spiritual, physical and emotional levels. Passion, joy, peace, love and gratitude are my priorities every day. Yoga and mindfulness are my antidotes to my daily challenges. I discovered yoga 14 years ago when a colleague invited me to join her in her yoga class. I was instantly hooked. I pursued my passion for yoga by taking yoga teacher training courses in yin, hatha and flow yoga. I am also certified in reiki, thai yoga massage, first aid, CPR and in mindfulness techniques. Yoga and meditation give me balance of mind, body and spirit.


Calista Haggarty Manager/Aromatherapy Consultant

Calista is very passionate about aromatherapy and all natural products. She is working on becoming a certified aromatherapist and has already started creating beautiful blends for all the minds needs. She also makes her own beauty and cleaning products. You'll be able to smell them all when we introduce the Gaia Aroma line in 2018. Along with offering her products and blends Calista will be offering Aroma-Massage in the new year. Her focus will be on freeing the mind through smell and touch. We are excited to have such a passionate person on our team.

Lori Morrison B&B Manager/Senior Yoga Instructor/Youth-Family Programming

Lori is a RYT 235+ registered with Yoga Alliance, she has 60+ hours of specialized Children’s yoga teacher training. With a background in psychology and early childhood education she has a passion for introducing children to yoga and fostering movement, body awareness and creativity. Lori offers classes for children, families, prenatal and restorative classes. With her background and her personality, she offers a whimsy and lightness to her classes. There is always room for humor and after one of Lori’s classes you will always walk away feeling restored and rejuvenated. Lori’s training includes Yanumoja Yoga through Energies of Aliveness. Little Feet Yoga and Club Yoga. She is also a certified Doula and offers pre-natal care and wellness including pre-natal yoga classes.


Gopika Dahanukar Expressive Arts Co-ordinator

Gopika Dahanukar is an expressive arts therapist and mantra yoga teacher. Born and raised in India, she lived and worked as an arts facilitator and mantra teacher in the international community of Auroville, India for 16 years. She has many years of experience in leading groups in creative experience and is an advocate of wellness through the arts. She has also been a speaker at corporate events for the Young Presidents Organization that were held in India. Gopika has an MFA from PNCA, USA with her thesis in therapeutic art installations, a Diploma in Expressive Art Therapy from the Vancouver School of Expressive Arts and training in Vedic chanting from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India. Currently she is in the Advanced graduate studies program in Expressive Arts at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. She is also a singer and has performed worldwide with her family in a group called 'Ragamantra'.

Andrea Prazmowski Nature Programming Co-ordinator

Andrea Prazmowski is a Forest Therapy Guide, certified with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides & Programs, based in Santa Rosa, California. Andrea creates opportunities for people to connect more deeply with the natural world and, often, to re-awaken wonder and see with a new perspective. She is a certified Hike Leader with Hike Ontario, and is trained in Wilderness First Aid. She is a writer and a skilled facilitator who has studied Permaculture Design and Reiki and has practiced yoga for 15+ years.

Christopher Hnain Yoga Instructor

Chris’s yoga journey started around 2007. During that time, Chris was going through a difficult period and a close friend brought him to hot yoga class.  From then on, yoga has been part of his life for over 10 years, and his journey has helped me grow stronger, more flexible and more confident, both on and off the mat. Soon after, he completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training with Smith falls Yoga and Wellness Centre. The training furthered his yoga knowledge, and has deepened his practice. Aside from yoga, Chris also works as a mental health counsellor. Having an academic background in psychology and psychotherapy, has enhanced how he teaches, especially with students who are coping with various mental health issues. With looking at his classes, Chris aims to balance pranayama (breathing exercises) and asanas (poses) in a way that allows students to discover their own connection to yoga, but also giving them the opportunity to challenge themselves in an environment that is peaceful and free from judgement. Yoga is a gift that inspires Chris to live each moment more mindfully and with balance. And ultimately Chris hopes to share this gift with his students. 


Brittany Smith Corporate Yoga Instructor

Hello!  My name is Brittany and I’m a lover of all things yoga! I believe that dedicating my life to the study, the practice, and the teachings has been the single most challenging and yet rewarding adventure I have ever undertook!  I came to yoga on what was, I will admit, only a very superficial level, at first.   I was a desk-jockey looking for way to reduce stress and to get in some exercise.   Having always been interested in sport and fitness what drew me to yoga at was the beauty of the physical asana practice – moving from one form to another in an expression of strength and grace.  What I didn’t expect was that I would come out of each class feeling as if the universe was aligning in time with my every foot step!… but that feeling never lasted very long, and after I would walk out of the studio I would find myself right back where I started – stressed, confused, and lacking direction.

My study of yoga really began to find shape when I moved to the UK in 2013 and decided to do my 200hour teacher training.  It was being introduced to the practice of pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, and the philosophy of yoga that provided me with what I was missing in my practice, allowing me to create more of those Aha! moments well after I had left the studio.  After years of study, practice, and deeper self-inquiry, my practice has changed into a study of the connection between breath, movement and stillness: what I like to call the trifecta of self inquiry.

Being both an anatomy nerd and an aspirant for the deeper connections of mind / body / spirit, when I teach I offer insight into anatomical alignment and functions, ways of using the breath to deepen the mind body connection, and elements of mindfulness movements and meditation, creating a practice that will ignite the magic within your own self to create space, change, and and overflowing abundance of love not only for yourself but for every being.  I truly believe that yoga has the ability to change lives, and this is why I teach.

Through love, passion, determination, and some times down right perseverance and grit, I’ve found myself teaching all over the world, from well established studios in the UK to traditional vegan farms in the jungles of Thailand; at spectacular teacher trainings on the beautiful tropical islands beaches to the humble living rooms of my fellow yogis. 

After years of travel I have come round full circle to my home city of Ottawa, Canada where you will find me teaching at various studios, cycling about on my road bike, climbing walls (literally, not figuratively), and getting involved with just about as much as I can. I would love to share your practice with you so please do pop in and say hello!

♥ Brittany