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What we love most about our work are the people we work with. We’re very proud of our natural play community here at Natural Pod and to celebrate some of the people in our community, we’ve started a short series we’re calling our Natural Play Community People Profiles. Short interviews with some of the great people leading the work of using natural play to inspire creativity, learning and compassion in our early learning, kindergarten, preschool and daycare communities.

Our featured Natural Play Community People Profile of the week is: Vanessa Braun from Storyoga/Storyoga Preschool

What inspired you to be an educator?

I always knew I had a yearning to work with children, I just didn’t know in what capacity. It was during my studies in Early Childhood that I had the opportunity to work alongside a very talented woman who was my first real inspiration for becoming the kind of educator that I am today. The idea of being able to use literature as a tool to connect and communicate with children in deep and meaningful ways was something I was immediately drawn to. Shortly after, I discovered my love of yoga and became passionately inspired to combine the two. And so Storyoga was born.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

Knowing that there is even a slight possibility that the work I am doing is making a difference on the lives of our future generation is an extremely rewarding feeling. It is even more rewarding when parents offer feedback that the teachings we have offered have extended beyond the walls of the classroom and into their homes. It is when we see and hear of the children becoming a little more mindful, a little more full of compassion, and a little bigger in themselves than they once were, that great joy of teaching is offered as the reward.

What best describes the unique aspects of the program that you offer?

Storyoga/Storyoga Preschool is a nature based program that strives to embrace and empower each child, exactly as they are. Yoga is practised as a way of being in the classroom and extends into the outdoors through our connection to nature and our community garden. The children are involved in planting, growing, and harvesting food from our garden and are a part of turning fresh ingredients into healthy snacks such as kale chips and green smoothies. At Storyoga Preschool we are committed to providing small class sizes with rich learning experiences to nourish and nurture their body, mind, and spirit.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change in your learning environment?

If I had a magic wand, I would wish for our outdoor space to be an enchanted forest and to have it connected to our indoor classroom. This enchanted forest would reflect the essence of childhood where children would be free to explore, climb tress, create hideouts, build forts, and revel in the magic of the natural world. Sun would shine in for warmth and natural light while the trees would provide shelter and shade. Worlds would unite from the outdoors in.