by Cassidy Nunn –
At Seaside Magazine’s eighth annual Women to Watch event, Vanessa Lee, the Founder and Director of Storyoga, was honoured with the 2019 award.
“I always knew I wanted to teach but I never knew that I wanted to be a business owner or entrepreneur,” she says. Her entrepreneurial spirit has led her to a very successful career here on the Saanich Peninsula inspiring the next generation through her Storyoga programs and preschool.
Born and raised on the Peninsula, Vanessa left the Island to attend school at Capilano University where she studied Early Childhood Education (ECE). She also began practising yoga during this time and now reflects that she “could have used it sooner,” in her life. After completing children’s yoga training, she was inspired to bring yoga and her love of literature together. And thus, the concept for Storyoga was born. After working in the ECE field on the mainland, as so often seems to happen with islanders, she soon found her way back. “The Island has always been home to me,” she says. “There’s something different about the community here.”
With the support and encouragement of the Peninsula community, her business Storyoga was born in 2009. Vanessa began by offering the program and workshops at various locations and then in 2012 she was approached by several families to start a preschool at Greenglade Community Centre. The preschool was born out of the desire to share a unique and intentional approach to working with children. The program, for children aged 30 months to school age, is rooted in yoga, nature and mindfulness. Students are given the opportunity and freedom to explore the space, and the environments are filled with sensory-rich materials that provoke curiosity and a sense of wonder. “Fostering kindness towards each other is a daily practise that ties into mindfulness as well,” says Vanessa. Yoga and breathing exercises are woven into circle and story time. At snack time, they practise peaceful eating where the lights are out, voices are quiet and music plays in the background. The hope is that these practices can support kids through their growing years, to give them a sense of self to return to.
The second Storyoga location, a full-day program, was opened in August 2018 at the McTavish Academy of Art (MAOA) and both locations are full with waitlists. A second classroom at MAOA will be opening in July 2019 and Vanessa says they’re “proud to be continuing to meet the growing need for quality care.”
Committed to creating a rich overall experience for her staff, parents and children, Vanessa incorporates a lower teacher-child ratio, which means more one-on-one connecting and individualized care. She seeks to provide the space for people to be who they are when at Storyoga – and that’s across the board for teachers, students and staff.
Congratulations are due to Vanessa on more than one account! She and her husband welcomed their healthy baby girl, Aurora Rose Lee into the world on March 10. Aurora will soon be joining Vanessa to start her own Storyoga journey in the months to come.