Cami Barausse is the brains behind Yogi Bears. She is a Durban girl who is changing the world with yoga, one child at a time! Yogi Bears is her way of teaching her love of yoga, to little people, a niche market that really makes a difference.
Tell us a bit about your background in Durban?
I was born and raised in Durban. I’m a daughter to two Italians, sister to two brothers. Currently finishing off my Masters in Genetics and Evolutionary Biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville campus.
When did you start your business/craft/brand?
In 2010, my matric year, I walked into my first yoga class at my local gym and something clicked that day. Quite frankly, since that class I’ve never stopped. Yoga just made sense. The class was led by a lady by the name of Jen Chapman, whom after that class, I tracked down and found out where her studio was and enrolled myself. I couldn’t get enough. I’d practice 4-5 times a week. 7 years later now and I still work with Jen who is a very dear friend of mine. It’s just something that had to happen, I guess.
Tell us about your business/craft/brand?
At first, I didn’t really know much about yoga other than it seemed that my body and mind harmonised after each class. In 2014 I had finished my BSc Honours in Biological Sciences. I allowed myself some time to explore yoga in more depth by living in India for two months to practice Ashtanga yoga with Sharath Jois at Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI). Perhaps the best way to explain the beginning of my deeper relationship with yoga is to give you an extract from my journal after my last practice at KPJAYI in India in February of 2015.
‘’Initially, I think we are all intrigued by the beauty and elegance of the asanas. More so by how gracefully the advanced practitioners execute them. But for me, yoga is not always this elegant, beautiful practice. On the mat, old wounds are opened, dark corners confronted and sometimes you find yourself in a glimmer of light. For me, these are the gifts of yoga. To me yoga is about digging deep, confronting, acknowledging, accepting and ultimately surrendering to one’s self. My favourite piece of advice I received on this trip was from a friend who told me ‘’ Nothing else matters, as long as you show up’’. I showed up then and I hope to continue to show up’’.
So after India I returned home and started studying towards my Masters in Biological Science. My bond to yoga was burning strong, and I was afforded the opportunity to apprentice under my teacher 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 much more stressed in today’s fast-paced world, with hardly a moment to just be still and breathe. Children imitate this. I do not believe the general school system adequately teaches children how to cope with and manage stress and this is a part of life that they are destined to encounter! My passion ignited when I realised that I wanted to give children the gift that keeps on giving, no matter at what age, background, culture or religion, I wanted to teach children consciousness and how to connect movement to breath. I became excited at the idea of helping children learn how to understand and control their emotions, instead of allowing their emotions to control them and how to become present by simply focusing on their breathing. Teaching a child how to breathe may sound silly at first, but breathing and being conscious of your breath is not the same thing. In times of stress, trauma, excitement or any emotional state, your breath is the one tool you always have to bring you back to the present moment and 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.
Yoga aids in establishing and growing confidence in children through the realisation of both their current abilities as well as their current limitations. By learning to accept and appreciate both their mind and body and through a consistent, conscious and mindful approach, we are able to improve at absolutely anything we set our minds to. This improvement breeds confidence. The human mind is still largely a mystery and is undoubtedly our most powerful tool, so we need to learn to use it with care. Self-confidence grows when we break through barriers we might previously have not thought possible. Yoga is the practice of connecting the mind with the body whereby we don’t only overcome our physical constraints but our mental ones too. Being still, learning to meditate and being truly both present and conscious at the same time, helps to focus a child’s attention on what is important and what is just noise. By learning how to exercise, breathe and meditate, children learn to overcome any fear of limitations, understand the idea of patient acceptance and that by approaching a task diligently and deliberately, anything can be mastered.
With the support of those nearest and dearest to me, and after completing a Kids Yoga Teacher Training, YogiBearsZA was born in 2016. I currently run kids yoga classes in Kloof (Astanga studio), in Westville (Monsoon Wellness) and in Durban North (House of Calm).
What is your favourite thing about your business/craft/brand?
My favourite aspect of teaching kids yoga is their complete lack of ego. They do not care what the person next to them thinks of them. They are just ready to try and do the work without even knowing they are doing it. My favourite moment in a class is when I see a child have their moment of stillness, depending on the age group these moments can last seconds to minutes. But in these moments of stillness the magic happens. The journey inwards begins.
What would you like people to know about your business/craft/brand?
YogiBearsZA’s dream is to get Yoga accepted as part of school curriculum across South Africa. The rest of the world is already doing it, we may be a little slower to catch on, but we are here to make it happen.
What do you love about living and working in Durban?
The weather is such magic and we have so many rad spaces to explore, be it on our coast or in the mountains. I love a good adventure, and Durban definitely fulfils the little adventurer inside of me. What do I love about working in Durban? THE PEOPLE! All the different colours and cultures makes the people the most interesting accepting humans out there.
How can people support you?
We host connection classes which are awesome adventure filled classes for Parent and Child. It is a very special way to play and connect through breath, yoga poses and play. Or share our story with friends that might be interested in bringing their children.