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!).
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.
What’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.
Are there any differences when it comes to teaching yoga to boys and girls?
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.