Oozing warmth and genuine compassion, Cami Barausse connects with children through yoga, instilling calmness to give them a break from the chaos of everyday life
story katrine anker-nilssen pictures luca barausse
My definition of happiness is connection. Connection to one’s self, to others and to nature. Connection is a powerful driving force for me,” says Cami, the youngest of three siblings in a close-knit family of five. “We are Italian, loud, loving, chaotic and connected,” she laughs.
“In 2010, my matric year, I walked into my first yoga class and something clicked. Yoga made sense on so many levels, and it felt intrinsically right,” explains Cami. The class was led by Jen Chapman, and Cami enrolled herself at Jen’s studio. “I was instantly hooked and took up practicing four to five times a week.”
Four years later Cami finished her BSc Honours in Biological Sciences and allowed herself some time to explore yoga further by visiting India for two months – practicing Ashtanga yoga with Sharath Jois at Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI).
“On the mat old wounds are opened, dark corners confronted and you often find yourself in a glimmer of light. For me, these are the gifts of yoga. You dig deep, confront, acknowledge, accept and surrender.”
Returning to SA, Cami started studying towards her Masters in Biological Sciences. “My bond to yoga was burning strong, and I was afforded the opportunity to apprentice under Jen Chapman. It was during this time that I realised I wanted to share yoga with everyone who wasn’t already doing it, especially children.”
“Adults are so stressed in today’s fast-paced world, with hardly a moment to just be still and breathe. And children imitate this,” says Cami. “My passion ignited when I realised that I wanted to teach children mindfulness by connecting movement to breath. I became excited at the idea of helping them understand and control their emotions, instead of allowing their emotions to control them.”
With today’s stresses of homework, juggling extra murals and family dynamics, Cami believes yoga helps childen find moments of stillness, peace and rootedness among the chaos. “Yoga allows children to process with perspective, it gives them a break from competition.”
“Your breath is the one tool you always have to bring you back to the present moment. By becoming mindful of this, you’re able to calm the mind and approach any given situation with a greater sense of rationality and clarity,” says Cami. “I secretly hope that through teaching children yoga I can positively shape the way they handle life’s challenges in a more serene way
In 2016 Cami completed her 200-hour kids yoga Teacher Training programme and soon thereafter Yogi BearsZA was born. She runs classes in accordance with school terms for ages 4-7 and 8-12 at the Astanga Studio in Kloof, Monsoon Wellness in Westville and House of Calm in Durban North. “I also host Connection Workshops – a fun way for children and parents to connect, as well as holiday clubs during school breaks.”
Since undergoing kids yoga training Cami has also completed her 200-hour adult yoga teacher training, and decided to call off her masters degree. “This was not an easy decision but I believe I have really found my path. Science will always be close to my heart and I am grateful for all the lessons it has taught me, but yoga has allowed me to find my true self. I have found my passion and through that, my purpose.”
Advice to other yogis and young entrepreneurs? “Network, reach out to people in the same industry and be prepared to work hard. Follow your heart, and if it feels right, flow with it,” says Cami. “Self care is also so important when running your own business. Know when to shut down, to close that computer, or to say no to taking on another class.”
Going forward Cami hopes to get Yogi BearsZA into schools and getting involved in charity by working with children and families from underprivileged areas.
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