Not everyone has experience doing yoga on a paddleboard on water, so when Sylvie Lamothe got a call from a customer, expressing they had signed up for the activity but were nervous, Lamothe knew what to say.
“I said, ‘Hey, tonight’s class has four other newbies, so you’ll have a support system,’” said the Timmins woman who runs sessions of the activity, known as SUP (stand up paddleboard) Yoga, through her business, Rebel Soul. “I promise you it’s not scary. All you need to do is show up and if you decide it’s not for you, you can leave.”
The response was in keeping with the spirit of Rebel Soul. To use words from her own marketing literature, the business aims to help people “come alive, discover our passions and build connections.”
In addition to hosting SUP Yoga sessions regularly at Hersey Lake Conservation Area, she hosts winter “Snowga” sessions at Porcupine Ski Runners, where participants use snowshoes. She also runs a variety of different classes through the Yoga & Growth aspect of her business. This includes a series of sessions that coincide with each full moon, where yoga activities are done alongside discussions that foster personal growth.
The activities are meant to challenge people, but not in an uncomfortable way, Lamothe said. She sees her role as “coaching people through going forward and getting out of their comfort zone.”
“That’s where I like to meet people. You’re doing something new and you’re a little bit nervous and you’ve now decided you're going to go forward anyway. That’s the essence and the energy that Rebel Soul brings," she said.
She feels this is important, because when people learn to, as the analogy says, step outside their comfort zone, during a social or physical activity, they may also see the benefits of doing the same in their personal and professional life.
Because of this, Lamothe works hard to provide a positive environment for her customers. For instance, with the SUP Yoga, she makes it clear that falling into the water is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s part of the fun.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously out on the water, there’s a playful element to it,” she said.
Yet, it’s also a great exercise, both mentally and physically.
“It’s a different kind of challenge because your stabilizer muscles are activated. It’s harder to do some movements on the board, so it activates different muscles that work for you. And then there’s the whole zen aspect of it. We spend some time at the end, finding our centre and going back to a zen-like state, where you’re laying on the board. You can hear the sound of the birds around you, the ripples in the water. The zen aspect of yoga is magnified when you’re on the board,” she explained.
The Snowga sessions are also meant to be playful and inspiring. The yoga activities take place intermittently through a series of walks. She takes participants to a part of the trail where they can see the sunset and do another movement exercise. By the time the session is over, participants are using headlamps and walking under the stars. The session then ends with a hot tea.
Both the SUP Paddleboard and Snowga sessions are open to adults of all ages.
Lamothe also runs more traditional indoor yoga sessions and offers her services for birthdays, bachelorettes, school groups and corporate events.
The series that takes place around each full moon is called Soul Sessions and is held at Bodhi Tree Hot Yoga Studio. At these events, participants can bring a journal. In between yoga exercises, Lamothe may pose a question and encourage participants to discuss it or write an answer to it. The question could be, “What was the happiest moment of your life?” or “What makes you feel alive?”
It’s designed for people who may want support as they “find their purpose or go after the things that set their souls on fire,” Lamothe said.
A third aspect of Rebel Soul, is not related to recreational activities. Lamothe offers guidance for entrepreneurs on a variety of subjects, including marketing, social media, event planning and business development.
By offering all of these services, Lamothe is sharing knowledge and a zest for life influenced by the cultures around the world she has lived and interacted with. She grew up in Timmins, but as a young adult, she worked in international development and travelled to Brazil, Guyana, Dominica and Rwanda, where she helped local agencies develop projects and access funding.
When she returned to her hometown, she started hosting individual events that mixed recreational and social activities, such as paint 'n sips or beer-and-yoga events. She was having so much fun doing it, she realized she could launch her own business hosting unique events. She attended a session to learn how to be a SUP Yoga instructor and was instantly hooked.
She’s now been running Rebel Soul for about five years. Every day is about helping people work on their wellness, by exploring new activities and finding out what they’re passionate about.
“I’m somebody who loves connecting with people,” Lamothe said. “My passion is bringing people together and building communities. I bring that full force into this business.”