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

 

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