Welcome to another instalment of our
“Living with Passion Interview Series”.
I know you like to be inspired as much as I do, so I’m bringing you some great people, and together we’re going to get to know why they do what they do, what ‘Living with Passion’ means to them, and hopefully take away some great insights.
Today’s guest is Victoria Lynes, certified Yoga and Children’s Mindfulness teacher and founder of Little Soul Yoga. Long before I met her I knew she was someone who lives passionately. When we returned from our great Costa Rican Adventure and moved to Ottawa, we introduced our kids to their new teachers. The first thing Qoy’s teacher said to him was, ‘There’s another world-traveling kid in our classroom that you might like to meet!” He was referring to a boy who, along with his older brother and mother, traveled the world for 5 months. What a great thing for a mother to do with her boys, I thought.
That mom was Victoria. Fast forward later in the school year and I find out that this same mother is in the school teaching mindfulness to Qoy’s grade 7 class! Tell me that is not just AMAZING. As luck (fate) would have it, Qoy ended up becoming great friends with this kid and I’ve learned more about Victoria’s passions.
She is a certified, international Kundalini Yoga Teacher and a Radiant Child Level 3 Yoga Instructor. Victoria has many years of personal yoga and meditation practice, and has been trained in the Mindful Schools curriculum for teaching secular mindfulness to students K-12.. She is passionate about empowering kids with the gifts of mindfulness and yoga and is on a mission to reach as many as she can. Her programs are offered in many public and private schools here in Ottawa, and she also does monthly Saturday public kids classes at a local yoga studio, PranaShanti.
Read on to find out why she does what she does, and what Living With Passion means to her.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Meet Victoria Lynes:
G4W: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE LIVING WITH PASSION? WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE, AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Victoria: Living with passion for me means living with intention, following your own path, doing the work that you are called to do. Not being on “automatic pilot” and not working every day to fulfill someone else’s dream is key. It’s about spending your days honing and crafting your own gift, whether this be in a way that benefits others or whether it be more solitary work. It’s living mindfully and truthfully. Whatever is food for the soul!
G4W: WHEN DID YOU KNOW THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?
Victoria: Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to children I think has been in the making for me for many years. I had a challenging childhood, this was in part where the seeds were planted I believe. And I have always loved being around children. After earning my Yoga Teacher Training it became apparent to me that children needed to learn these techniques too! Especially now, especially in this world of hyper connectivity and “on-line, all the time” culture they are being raised in. After teaching my first couple of Yoga classes to kids and watching them close their eyes and practice calming breath work – that was it – I was hooked! I knew there was a gap here that I wanted to fill.
G4W: CAN YOU TELL US WHAT KINDS OF OBSTACLES YOU’VE HAD TO OVERCOME WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT ON THIS JOURNEY?
Victoria: When first beginning this path almost 10 years ago, I wondered if I could indeed make a living out of being a Yoga/Mindfulness teacher? It can be lucrative for a few, but for many it is more of a hobby, or side income. I wanted it to be more. I knew it’s how I wanted to spend my days. It’s what I wanted to do with my life.
I wanted to build a business that was financially viable, but that could more importantly help me deliver to as many kids as possible, the benefits of yoga and mindfulness. I wanted to bring these teachings into schools. When I first started out the response was lukewarm. Many schools were “ok” with me teaching yoga at lunch, on a volunteer basis. So I did that for a while.
Many schools did not (and still don’t) have the funding or the budget for these types of programs. This has changed somewhat, as has the mindset about Yoga and Mindfulness for children – which was another obstacle starting out… Many schools were wary of offering a Yoga program in their schools because of the Hindu lineage that it rises from. The impression that meditation is “brain washing” or “a waste of valuable learning time” came up a lot. The fact that it may interfere with cultural beliefs and religion. Occasionally parents would complain, or ask to have their child removed from the class. There have been classes I have taught where because of the parents refusal to allow their child to be a part of the class, that child has to sit on the outside (in the same room however), wide eyed and just watch as we were all having fun, hopping on our yoga mats like frogs. Broke my heart.
Since discovering and formulating a more secular approach to my programs, these challenges have subsided. Secular Mindfulness training is gaining momentum these days. It is offered in all kinds of settings to both adults and children. And the research on Mindfulness for Children just continues to mount.
G4W: WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE?
Victoria: Well, depending of what’s on my schedule for the day, I may start at 8:30am or I may not have my first class till 1pm! In which case I may spend the morning working on an online course, or class planning. I love the flexibility. I build my own calendar. Each day is completely different. My goal this year is to dedicate one whole day to one school, and this is shaping up nicely. But, there are days when I hop from school to school, so lots of driving, parking, carting yoga mats up and down stairs! Even though my own kids are now teens, I am usually home in time for them when they return from school and this has always been important.
G4W: WHAT MAKES YOU MOST EXCITED?
Victoria: So many aspects of my work makes me excited! Teaching for the first time in a new school. Whether I am teaching Yoga or in-class Mindfulness – feeling the energy of a full class of kids who have no idea what they are about to learn. The sense of relief (and confusion) on their face when I tell them we are going to learn to do nothing today. “Huh?” I love it! To watch the children trying to get calm and relaxed – eyes closed, breathing slowly. Such a great sense of satisfaction.
I also have to add here, despite my earlier obstacles, I am so excited about how many schools are wanting to bring in these types of programs now! Can you imagine? If all, or at least some children learn to meditate, learn that they have the tools for self-regulation and are able to make peace with their inner worlds – what kind of world we may just have? Exciting and hopeful!
“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” ~Dalai Lama
G4W: WHAT IS(ARE) YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK(S)?
Victoria: Too many to pick! But the ones that come to mind are:
- The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman (fiction)
- Meditation As Medicine, by Dharma Singh Khalsa MD (non-fiction)
- Care of the Soul, by Thomas Moore (non-fiction)
- One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (fiction)
G4W: WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT COUPLE YEARS?
Victoria: Firstly, to expand my program into as many school as possible! But also to continue to work with my current schools, further integrating Mindfulness more deeply into the whole school community, teachers included! Secondly, I currently offer a one day workshop for adults, teaching how to share the benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness with the children in their lives. It has been a great success and there seems to be a lot of demand for it! I am working on expanding this to create a Little Soul Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Training program. Excited about this!
Side note: Victoria’s next workshop for adults, “Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Children”, is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017 in Ottawa. More Info
G4W: IF YOU COULD MAKE ONE CHANGE IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Victoria: Give children more ownership over their learning in schools. And of course, to see Mindfulness and Heartfulness practices added to EVERY school curriculum, every school … every grade, everywhere!
G4W: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO DO SOMETHING SIMILAR BUT IS HELD BACK BY DOUBTS, FEARS OR NAYSAYERS?
Victoria: If you are doing this work from your heart – you will find the way. If you want to do this purely “as a business” – it won’t work. Children are intuitive, and they know if your intentions are pure. And importantly have a daily Yoga/Mindfulness practice yourself. It just won’t work without it!
G4W: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD BEFORE WE WRAP THIS UP?
Victoria: I feel so very grateful for being able to do this work. It is my dharma, my path, my great love. We are just planting the seeds of Yoga and Mindfulness when we work with children. Sometimes that seed will take root and sprout sometime down the track, maybe when they need it the most. But opening up our children to their inner landscape is as important as all the academics in the world. It prepares them for their lives, inspires compassion, kindness and generosity and helps them to gain a better realization of the interconnectedness of all things. We can at least hope, that this renewed sense of awareness will inspire us and them, to take action against injustice in the world.
Victoria, thank you so much for being with us today and inspiring us with your Passion! It’s so wonderful to meet someone who is truly living what they love, and not letting those obstacles stand in the way. You are not only an inspiration for us adults to drop the excuses and do what they love, but you are giving your gifts to the next generation so they can do the same!
I hope this interview inspired you, cause I know it inspired me! And if you want even more inspiration, sign up below and check out our GET INSPIRED RESOURCE LIBRARY, where you’ll find inspiring videos, printables and links to some of my own favorite mentors. You’ll be the first to hear when the next interview in this series is published.
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Till Next Time,
Keep Going 4Ward!
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