Kids Yoga Feature – Cassandra Taylor

Cassandra Taylor has a ‘bag of tricks” to help with hopping Trees, wriggling Lizards and fluttering Butterflies ! 

Cassandra Taylor - Yoga Steps

Cassandra Taylor - Yoga StepsCould you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?
Everything happened when I was in varsity. I started doing yoga during that time, as a way to maintain balance and a sense of calm, and also started my first job, which was au pairing. I enjoyed every minute of it. I was studying a BSc in Human Physiology, Genetics and Psychology (UP) and have since then done a BSc (Hons) in Life Science, Physiology Stream (UNISA).

After my undergrad, I continued to work with children and found myself teaching them little bits of yoga. I was doing the adult’s yoga teacher training at that time and think it influenced me. So, I went on to do my kids teacher training as well. I completed the children’s and adult’s training at around the same time and have been teaching yoga to both ever since! 😊

I enjoy bringing facts about the body into the classes and try to teach children interesting things about the lungs, brain, muscles, bones, heart and other organs. Yoga is a way for me to experience all the things I learn about the human body and I hope to share these experiences with children and adults alike – making yoga a practical part of our everyday lives. I teach in the Pretoria area, privately and at various schools and studios. I also started YogaSteps – a service that offers yoga to all ages and from all walks of life.

What’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
Any age really. I teach mom & baby, mom & toddler as well as prenatal yoga. So, technically speaking, children can experience yoga from being in the womb! 😊 Cassandra Taylor - Yoga Steps

What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
The benefits vary from child to child because each one will get what they need from the practice. Some benefit physically, some benefit more emotionally, while others benefit mentally. The benefits can include fitness, flexibility, strength, calmness, concentration, correct breathing and even becoming more confident.

Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
This depends on the aims of the parents – children can manage well on their own. Mom & baby and mom & toddler classes are lovely ways for moms and their little ones to bond. Family yoga classes are also great for that reason. However, children can act differently when their parents are around. Children might then enjoy a bit of both experiences.

Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
A little bit. Sometimes it’s best to separate the boys and girls as they get older because they are becoming more

Cassandra Taylor - Yoga Steps

self-conscious. The classes might then be slightly different in terms of subject matter, but otherwise, and especially in the younger classes, all the boys and girls would be in the same class.

Why do kids need yoga as a form of physical activity when I can sign them up for sports like soccer, dance or swimming to expend their energy?
Physically, yoga doesn’t need to replace sports like soccer, dance or swimming as these are also very important. Yoga meets a different need. Classes focus on breathing, awareness and relaxation. Yoga might help children find ways to balance their mind and emotions, while complementing other activities.

How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?
I have a bag of “in case” things that I always bring along to each class. This bag includes bunny ears, breathing activities, and extra yoga class cards. If the lesson I planned doesn’t suit the mood of the day, I’m very quick to change it. I suppose subject matter and how one engages with the children will minimize distractions.

One time, the students weren’t engaging in the class. It was a Safari Adventure class, which is normally quite popular. I put on my bunny ears and instead of using transport poses to go from one animal to the next, we hopped like bunnies 😊. No more distractions.

On the lighter side of teaching children

Teaching yoga to children has taught me that yoga can be light-hearted, fun and creative 😊. It is also very different to your typical adult yoga class.

Here is a list of poses and ways that children have experienced the poses in the classes:
Tree pose: If they fall over, they might express that they are a chopped down tree or begin to hop around and say that they have been changed, magically, into a hopping tree.
Lizard pose: Will probably try to be a real lizard and wiggle about the room (while amazingly maintaining the posture). They might also express that this pose doesn’t look like a lizard and ask why we are doing it. Some children have said that they would like to speak to the person who invented the yoga pose names, because they feel some names need to be changed.

Butterfly pose: Will tell you what colour they are (which is almost always the rainbow-glitter-sparkly colour) and might get up and run around the room, pretending to be a butterfly.

Cassandra Taylor - Yoga Steps

 You can contact Cassandra at:
Email : casstaylor@yogasteps.co.za
Phone : 076 457 5700
Facebook : https://www.fac ebook.com/YogaStepsSA

 

Kids Yoga Feature – Charney Engelbracht

Charney Engelbracht knows the ‘tricks of the trade” teaching kids yoga – a UNI-OM certainly helps! 
Om Kids Yoga and Mindfulness

Could you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?I suffered with anxiety all through high school and I remember leaving my first yoga class feeling so light and at ease. This belief in yoga as a tool for mental and emotional well-being is what made me take my first yoga teachers training and also the inspiration for starting to teach kids. I believe as kids yoga teachers we are imparting skills that kids can carry with them throughout their lives to enable them to manage stress, self regulate and feel at home in their own bodies.

Charney Engelbrecht -Om Kids Yoga and MindfulnessWhat’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
Kids can start doing yoga and mindfulness from age 3, although in some of my schools my students have been around 2 years old. At this age we really ‘play’ yoga and at the same time are planting seeds for a practice later in life.

What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
There as so many benefits, we see kids improving concentration and focus, becoming more social, better able to self regulate and manage emotions, increased flexibility and strength. Yoga is also great for the core as we sit on the floor – this is great for kids who start sitting in chairs from such a young age already at school.

Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
We encourage parents to stay for the first class for the child to settle and after that for kids to attend on their own. Kids react differently when parents are around and it has been my experience that participating in class by themselves helps establish autonomy and confidence especially in the kids who are more introverted.

Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
Yes and no. As with most things it really depends on the child’s personality and interests. We include many different activities, poses, games and exercises in kids yoga classes so there’s usually something for everyone 🙂

Charney Engelbrecht -Om Kids Yoga and MindfulnessWhy do kids need yoga as a form of physical activity when I can sign them up for sports like soccer, dance or swimming to expend their energy?
Yoga is unique in the sense that it is not only about physical activity, the kids are learning breathing, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and self regulation. It is a holistic form of physical activity that looks at the whole child.

I also find that it’s great for the non sporty kids as the environment we create is non-competitive and so there is no pressure to achieve.

How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?
Tricks of the trade  I incorporate art, song, games, voice and fun and sometimes a challenging yoga pose into every class and find that these keep the kids engaged.

You can contact Charney  of Om Kids at:
email : ommmkids@gmail.com
website:
https://omkidsyoga.com
facebook : https://www.facebook.com/ommmkids
instagram : https://www.instagram.com/ommmkids

Kids Yoga Feature – Cami Barausse

Cami Barausse founded Yogi Bears ZA and her vision is to have yoga part of the school curriculum (and equip them with a yogi super-power!).

YogiBearsZA - Cami Barausse

Could you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?
In 2010 I decided to try out a yoga class in a gym. There were no fast-paced moves to master, and there was something pulling me to the fact that it was just me on a mat in there, it seemed like a comfortable space to be in. There was a calmness that even from the outside drew me in. That first class was like a missing puzzle piece, something clicked. Yoga made sense, and it felt intrinsically right for me. I was 18 years old and that is how it all began. I then got my honours degree in Genetics and Evolutionary biology in 2014.

In 2015 I went to India for 3 months to deepen my own practice of yoga and on returning to South Africa, I dived straight into my Kids yoga Teacher Training and 200 hour Adult yoga Teacher Training. In 2016 I founded Yogi BearsZA Yoga for kids, which is dedicated to serving the needs of the next generation of yogi’s out there, working with children aged 3-16 years old. My vision is to have yoga a part of the school curriculum in South Africa.

I believe that using yoga in a fun, interactive and adventurous way we make the yoga practice accessible to children. School coupled with family dynamics and social pressures makes growing up extremely tough. My goal is to remind every child that they are equipped with a super power, and that super power is their breath. It gives them a moment to pause and react as opposed to reacting and then pausing.

YogiBearsZA - Cami BarausseWhat’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
Children will mimic adults from a really young age, so practice if you around your children, let them join in, however they can, for however long they would like, do not worry about their form, let them just move and breathe with you. In terms of Yogi BearsZA yoga classes, I would say as a blanket statement from the age of 4, however I do assess children from the age of 3 and more often than not allow them to join our classes.

What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
Most children find fascination in the smallest things. Sometimes something can catch their eye and it can alter the way they see life. Children’s minds are like a sponge causing them to retain information based on what they observe around them. That information can either have a positive or negative effect on their lives into adulthood. Teaching yoga to children feeds a young child’s need for order, movement and sensorial exploration.

It aids in constructing their confidence from the inside out. Kids Yoga creates a space that provides a fun filled and creative educational journey using yoga as a tool to promote the physical, emotional, and social development in children. It aids in constructing their confidence from the inside out and develops each child’s conceptions of many subjects while remaining active and fun. Children always feel successful in yoga; there is no competition, just individual progression. Any child can enjoy yoga and thrive from its benefits.

Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
It is tricky especially if the little one is anxious or nervous but generally we ask parents to just step outside the classroom. Children love to act in front of mom, dad or caretaker so it just proves to be a distraction to the class and the child.
YogiBearsZA - Cami Barausse

Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
Absolutely not.

Why do kids need yoga as a form of physical activity when I can sign them up for sports like soccer, dance or swimming to expend their energy?
In such a fast paced world, where senses are constantly been bombarded- yoga can really help one calm down, pause, breathe and manage whatever task/situation/crisis is in front of them. It is a non-competitive space, where acceptance, patience and love is cultivated.

We believe giving children the ability to connect mind, body and breath will really aid in all life decisions children will need to make. Yoga is just as important as all the other activities mentioned above and really works beautifully in conjunction with them as they have a symbiotic relationship, teaching children when to push and when to pause is an incredible life lesson.

How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?
Kids yoga classes are fun adventures packed with moments of stillness. We make sure our classes and the content within our classes are relevant to the age group we are teaching. 

You can contact Cami and her Yogi Bears at:
Instagram : @yogibearsza
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/yogibearsZA
Website : https://www.yogibears.co.za 
Email : yogibearsza@gmail.com

YogiBearsZA - Cami Barausse

Kids Yoga Feature – Elizabeth Beer

This week we are featuring Elizabeth Beer who works with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds with her “Mindful Living” programme.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

Could you tell us a bit about your yoga journey and how you ended up teaching yoga to kids?
My yoga journey started in 2008 where I was suffering from depression, anxiety and insomnia due to trauma experienced in an abusive relationship. I turned to yoga when I felt that taking medication for the rest of my life or even for another month was not an option. I started yoga classes with an incredible teacher in Harfleld Village, Cape Town in 2010. I loved yoga and was soon addicted to how it made me feel and how it transformed me. I was happier, had more energy and was sleeping better.

I went to Thailand on a month long retreat in 2010 and after I returned my teacher said to me, if you wanted to study to become a yoga teacher, you are ready. I studied with Sandra Smith at the Durbanville Yoga Centre and completed my yearlong TTC in 2013. I also became a Breath, Water, Sound Teacher during 2013 which is a course presented and facilitated by the sister organization the International Association for Human Values. It is a free programme we as volunteers teach in disadvantaged communities.

I continued to practice yoga and focused on teaching small groups of women and clients who had health problems. All along I kept my events business going and felt that the yoga practice assisted me with managing stress in a very stressful industry. In 2016, I traveled to Gauteng and studied with Bill Herman from the Art of Living Foundation NGO from USA.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus ProductionsThe course was called Yes 4 Schools and it was a life changing experience. I was taught how to teach mindfulness, yoga and breath work in a class room environment and became a Yes 4 Schools teacher. I worked events and took time off each day (coming in early and leaving later) so that I could take an hour and a half to go and teach in Bonteheuwel, a community in Cape Town where there is on-going violence and gangsterism. In 2018 after working with the Western Cape Educational Department for many years, I developed my own programme called Mindful Living.
Our programme teaches children in the classroom in disadvantaged areas how to manage their stress in healthy ways through yoga, breath work and mindfulness.  Our programme was piloted, tested and after the incredible results obtained from educators and learners alike, we taught for 3 years in the school system until Covid-19 forced us to rethink and re-look at our teaching model. We developed an hour long online Grade 12 intervention programme and taught stress management to educators online during lockdown. I have also completed my Yoga Therapy Certification this year through Durbanville School of Yoga who follows a long lineage of traditional Hatha yoga masters.


What’s a good age to start yoga with kids?
We have been taught that you can start Asana practice with children from an early age, I have been teaching my granddaughter yoga since the age of about 18 months. For Prananyama practice we only start working with Grade 4 – Grade 12.

What are the benefits of kids doing yoga?
Kids love the activity, they are natural yogis. It assists children of all ages with managing their emotions and relaxing their minds.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

Shouldn’t parents be in a yoga class with their kids? Especially at that age and in the initial stages?
No, not at all necessary, as I’ve said children are natural yogis.

Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
I have not experienced this. In the environments I work in, the girls can sometimes be more talkative than the boys.

Why do kids need yoga as a form of physical activity when I can sign them up for sports like soccer, dance or swimming to expend their energy?
Yoga is not a sport, it is so much more than a physical activity, it helps with the management of the mind and emotions, it is the only sort of physical practice that works to eliminate toxins, massages your internal organs and revitalizes the entire mind, body and soul.

How do you keep the kids focused and not getting distracted in class?By keeping the yoga practice fun and interactive, depending on the age of the child you can theme the classes accordingly, bring smell, colour and nature into your classes. Kids are the most amazing audience.

We moved to Barrydale during Covid in order to have a more holistic and healthier lifestyle. I have taught 2 Breath, Water, Sound Programmes which are free yoga programmes under the International Association for Human Values of which I am also a teacher. The youth in Barrydale are not unlike any other young people living in townships and communities in South Africa. They have ongoing challenges to face and really loved doing yoga and breath work for the first time ever. I have taught over 25 youth in Barrydale since we’ve gone into Level 1 and shall continue in 2021.

The Mindful Living Programme was about to launch in Cambodia this year with 2 schools booked to receive the trainings, due to Covid we have rescheduled for 2021.

Elizabeth Beer Lotus Productions

You can contact Elizabeth at:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/yogawithelizabethbeer
Website : https://yogawithelizabeth1.wixsite.com/lotusproduction