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About Jivananda Wellness Centre


Howard Lipschitz
Christine Withiel
Nerisha Maharaj
Sam Jones
Angela Pieterse
Melanie Chetty
Birgit Brammer
Holly Hershell
Kamini Krishna
Prasha Doorgepersad

Preferring a life of solitude I tended to rarely enjoy team sports and in turn was constantly drawn to more individual sports and hobbies. From the outset I was blessed with the most amazing teachers that always seem to be at the right place at the right time to tutor me along life's journey. I started horse riding aged 6, archery at 12 and at the age of 17 I had earned my Springbok colours for archery. I also did karate, JKA style, and fencing. Today I still practice archery, non-competitively, and karate kartas in the Shotokan style.

After the 1961 world championship in Norway I travelled around Europe for 2 years. I moved to Israel in my early twenties and continued to compete in archery competitions all over the world. I was very inspired with the Eastern Zen way of archery. At the age 42 I suffered a back injury and was bed ridden for months. I resisted the prescribed surgery and tried every therapy available. Finally, I found Yoga and my healing began. A few months later I could touch my toes and stand on my head, after being told that without surgery I would lose the use of my left leg. I completed a diploma course at the University of Jerusalem studying sport for the disabled and once again was blessed with a wonderful teacher and went on to study Yoga Therapy.

On my return to South Africa in 1995 I was selected to coach the archery team for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. At the same time I opened up my massage practice and began teaching Yoga classes. The Yoga I practiced in Israel was strictly Iyengar, but over the years I have been exposed to many teachings and styles of Yoga and my own Yoga has evolved in its own direction. There is always something more to learn and I read extensively to increase my knowledge. My biggest inspiration, especially in the spiritual side of Yoga and the yogic way of life, has been my beloved wife, Christine. One of our favourite pastimes is researching Yoga and its philosophy. We travel extensively around the world attending classes wherever we go. For the past three years we have traveled to India where we stay in ashrams and study yoga.

My other passion is Chi Kung. I first began Chi Kung under the guidance of Max Weier from Switzerland ten years ago and today when Max is in South Africa we have the privilege of him staying with us, allowing me to further my training.

My Yoga classes contain elements of Chi Kung as do my Chi Kung classes incorporate elements of Yoga - the two disciplines complement each other.

I have always been interested in the philosophy of India but until the age of 34 I was drawn in other directions. At the age of 34 I was sitting at a dinner party wine in one hand and cigarette in the other and announced that I was changing my life. My aim was to stop smoking, drinking and eating meat and to begin meditating and find out what life was really about. It was an inner knowing that my life, as it was, did not serve me. Within the year I had accomplished all of these things and started Transcendental Meditation (TM). I continued TM twice a day for the next 12 years. From the day I decided to change, my life began to transform on the material and emotional planes. I found a group of Brahma Kumaris in Cape Town and studied with them for a while.

In 1990, the company I worked for transferred me to manage their Durban branch and it was then that my spiritual journey really began. I soon became involved in the Sathya Sai Baba organisation where I was exposed to the ancient teachings of Vedanta in a way that was understandable and practical. I spent ten years studying the teachings during which time I studied Ayurveda at a primary health care level, massage and reflexology, whilst diligently carrying out my job. In 1995 I joined a Hatha Yoga class with Monica Fairall, who was an inspiration to all. Two years later I met Howard, who is now my wonderful husband, through the Massage Therapy Association. I started attending his Yoga classes which were strongly influenced by Iyengar. One day Howard was ill and I had no option but to teach his class... I was hooked. Hatha Yoga became my passion. I attended every teacher's workshop I could find; I studied many books and learnt as much as I could from the teachers around me. One of my strengths was the anatomy and physiology I had studied for my massage course.

As a Yoga Alliance E-RYT, I run a Yoga Teacher training course. The emphasis is on alignment at the physical level and transformation at the mental and emotional level. It is important to create a safe environment for the mind and body to help students to move beyond their current boundaries and explore their possibilities. As the body releases tension so does the mind. We soften and become kinder, happier people.

Nerisha is on the "path less travelled" following her passion to guide others into awakening the light within themselves. Nerisha spent 12 years in the corporate world working in various roles for Deloitte and Unilever and based in various countries including London, New York and Botswana, before embarking on a new journey to follow her soul calling. Nerisha's exposure to senior leaders across a myriad of emotional, intellectual, cultural, spiritual and physical levels evoked a curiosity about what differentiated leaders as human beings, in terms of their ability to inspire themselves and others, and lead with greatness. Her curiosity, observations, personal insights and experiences led her to complete a research thesis on The Role of Self-Love in Leadership, and its importance to our happiness and success as human beings in fulfilling our potential. This work is being transformed into a book, in collaboration with Professor Kurt April, Professor of Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion at the UCT Graduate School of Business and world-renowned academic.

Nerisha's passion is working with harmonising the principles of self-love, yoga, meditation, business and self-knowledge to work with people across all walks of life in the capacity of life coaching, teaching yoga and meditation (both corporate and personal), writing and facilitating leadership workshops. Her coaching and yoga classes are focussed on helping people feel the aliveness, beauty and presence of who they are at a soul level, which awakens personal joy, creativity and effectiveness. She enriches the relaxation and physical benefits of yoga asanas to consciously tap into the self-development and healing power of yoga by incorporating chanting, music, visualisations, positive affirmations, philosophy and meditation to create a holistic experience, and finds her inspiration in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and Patanjali. Her yoga and meditation training includes 10 years as a practitioner, the completion of an intensive, holistic 9 month yoga teacher training course at the Jivananda Centre as well as training in advanced yogic techniques in Rishikesh, India. Nerisha feels blessed to be guided and inspired on her yoga journey by amazing teachers and hopes to share this blessing with others

I was first drawn to yoga in 2002 when I started attending classes at the Centre; I fell in love with it and have never looked back! I remember being so happy to have found something that was more than just a physical exercise.

I had the wonderful opportunity of joining Christine and Howard on their annual India trip in December 2008, where we stayed in an ashram in beautiful Rishikesh. It truly was a life changing experience and one that further inspired me to progress along my yogic path. Thereafter I completed my 200 hour Yoga Alliance teacher training course with Christine in August 2009, which equipped me with the skills to start teaching, and so much more.

I enjoy attending various different workshops and classes throughout the Durban area, including Bikram and Ashtanga yoga, and have the privilege of teaching at the Jivananda Centre... helping to spread the love of yoga one stretch at a time.


I have always loved yoga, from day one on my mat nine years ago. Yoga is much needed food for my mind and body. It has changed my life and has enabled me to achieve a sense of balance. Yoga is no longer just a form of exercise for me, it has become a way of life, changing the way I view myself and those around me. Becoming a teacher (in 2005) has just become an extension of my practice.

While pregnant in 2006, I continued yoga classes. With this personal experience and interest I started Pregnancy Yoga Classes. With a baby on hand I started Mom's and Baby yoga classes and then my interest expanded to hold separate Children's Yoga Classes.

Practicing yoga is a lifetime journey in which we learn from ourselves, our teachers and students on a daily basis. I am grateful to Christine and Howard for their immense knowledge and experience. As a teacher I hope to instill my love of yoga to my students and in turn use their energy as inspiration for my own personal yoga journey.


I began yoga 12 years ago simply exploring new avenues for fitness, what I gradually came to discover in this ancient science was a complete system to manage and purify mind, body and soul. Yoga brings a deeper understanding of life and an awareness of the supreme reality. The key to unlocking the latent hidden potential in mankind lies in accessing the vast and limitless Self, making that journey inwards to discover the hero residing in the heart, and this is the journey of yoga, the journey that, as an eternal student I take myself and as a teacher I faithfully guide others to embark on.

There are many different types of yoga, yogic philosophies, principals and practices which are the tools practitioners can utilise in order to make that inward journey and know the Self. I endeavour to work with all aspects of yoga, incorporating philosophies into the teachings and bringing together various paths and practices while teaching them in an integrated manner.
I see the various types of yoga as different petals of a beautiful flower. Each petal contains the divine essence of the flower, but when seen alone they fail to convey the full perfection of its form. The formless manifests into the outer form of the flower and from its becoming the divine fragrance emanates.
In order to experience the fragrance in its fullness, yogis should incorporate all aspects of yoga into their practices and daily lives. This is what I aim to bring to yoga, through the grace of my Guru and all teachers past and present in whose footsteps I follow. My own journey has taken me through many different teachings and lessons and it has been my good fortune in this lifetime to have found spiritual teachers who have been instrumental in my personal growth.

3 years ago I was initiated by my Guru and received my spiritual name, Madhavanandarupa, or Madhav for short. The basic meaning of this name is sweetness blossoming into form. With Faith in my heart, I share the teachings of yoga as a roadmap to the Soul, myself another humble pilgrim on the road to self discovery, learning just like everyone else on this path the inner terrain of body, mind and spirit.

Sarva Mangalam
May all be auspicious
Hari Om Tat Sat


Physiotherapy is my main profession but I love the knowledge, warmth, sincerity and diversity of the alternate and complimentary disciplines. My pursuit of aromatherapy, reflexology and yoga was simply because of a genuine love for something holistic that would change my approach to myself, my family and ultimately my patient management. They complement each other beautifully. I have been practicing yoga for the past 6 years and it has transformed me on many levels. It has now simply become a way of life for me. I did my teacher training in 2008 with Christine at the Jivananda Centre and I now have my own class in Chatsworth. I feel that I must humbly state that from everything that I have to offer my patients, yoga has the best holistic, preventative medicine recipe one can hope to find. I am proud to have rediscovered an ancient therapy that works like a charm in today's world. This is a do-it-yourself preventative journey that more people must be encouraged to embark on.

All things happen for a reason - there I stood, suddenly too pregnant to join my friend in our regular workout class. So I was forced - looking back I'd rather say 'guided' - to try a Hatha Yoga class.

Since that day more than 9 years ago, Yoga in some of its facets (pre-& postnatal, Kundalini, Bikram Hot, Gentle Vinyasa, Sivananda, Power, Anusara) has been a vital part of my life. Therefore I was thrilled to move from Germany to Singapore. This multicultural tropical hub wth its vivid Yoga scene was the right place to broaden my Yoga experience and become a teacher for all ages (200 h course with VYASA Yoga University in Bangalore and Karma Kids Yoga New York).

When we moved to South Africa in 2011 I was very happy to find Christine at the Jivananda Centre - opportunity to progress as a teacher. Additionally various workshops (Pranayama, Yoga therapy, Ayurveda in Yoga, Anusara, Acroyoga etc.) enrich my path from being a radiographer in the past to passing on my passion for Yoga as a holistic approach to my students today.

Hope that they enjoy every energizing step of this journey as much as I do!

Born in New Zealand, I spent 2 years in London where I met my South African husband, deciding to settle in South Africa in 1999. My mother has practised Yoga since her teens, my father has always been spiritually guided, with their combination of interests I was bound to eventually seek out how to express this influence in my own way. My mother had often suggested that I practice Yoga, however I sincerely believe we find Yoga or Yoga finds us when it should be in our lives, so at the age of 32 I was finally called upon after moving from Johannesburg to Durban in 2008.

The main catalyst that started me on the path to Yoga was; One morning I found myself bent over at a 90 angle and unable to straighten my back after a prolonged period of intense lower back pain prompted by an incredibly busy job as a Fashion Buyer/Merchandiser whereby I spent many hours on aeroplanes travelling all over the world, carrying overweight suitcases and working long hours. I have had a long history of lower back pain dating back to my late teens which at times in my life inhibited me from doing many activities and created much physical pain. After going for a CT scan from the latest issue I wasn't surprised to find I had a degenerated disc between L4 & L5 vertebrae.

The universe responded by guiding me to a physiotherapist who not only healed me physically, but taught me that the spine is emotional and healing of the heart needed to take place as well, in order to wholly heal. I will be forever grateful to him for being a stickler for posture as well as his (strong) suggestion to practice yoga in order to strengthen my core especially if I was to continue working in my industry which required so much travel.

Soon after moving to Durban I searched the internet to find a local studio and found Christine and Howards Jivananda Centre for Well Being. I called in advance to get some further details and arriving at the studio for the first time, I knew straight away this would be my 'yogic' home. Walking up through the lush gardens on a winding path, being welcomed by Christine and the beautiful old farmhouse, it felt like coming home.

I immediately took to the Yoga classes, initially seeking the physical aspects of the discipline in order to heal and strengthen my back and started attending classes three times a week. I found it took me over three months to start becoming 'Yoga' fit (meaning I didn't shake like jelly when in plank for longer than 10 seconds!). I found that with more time, patience and self love my back pain all but disappeared through consistent core work, strengthening back and leg muscles. I eventually stopped 'protecting' my back with my mind, I let go and trusted that my body through my effort was now strong enough. Through Christine's teaching method's I was gradually made aware of the other limbs of Yoga and since finding out she also taught teachers I had wanted to complete Teacher Training with her, but I had a very demanding career that left me with little time of my own.

Again the universe answered in 2012 by making way within my career to allow for the time & dedication required to become a Yoga Teacher & I graduated with my 200 Hour Hatha Yoga Teaching Qualification the same year. When I began training, I initially wanted to understand every aspect of what I was 'doing' when practising Yoga and not necessarily to teach, but through the process I realised I did want to teach in order to share my experience with others of the possibility of healing physically and spiritually through Yoga.

Yoga and Meditation Teacher,
Specialized Environmental and Property Law Practitioner

My yoga journey has been and continues to be a discovery that my body is simply a medium for my unfolding spiritual awareness. Having begun my practice of yoga some nine years ago and having completed the teacher training course at the Jivananda Centre for Wellness last year I feel blessed to be able to share the gift of yoga through my teaching practice.

In the words of Georg Feuerstein however much we maybe able to increase our physical strength and flexibility, augment our body's health and beauty, or extend our life span, we still have to face the fact that the wellspring of happiness lies not in the material realm but in the spiritual dimension of our being. It is the realization of who we truly are that infuses everything else with meaning. When we have realized our ultimate nature we discover that we are the eternal background of all bodies – past, present and future. So long as we are obsessed with our body/mind , the ego is intact, which means that we are estranged from our true self, and thus genuine happiness and freedom eludes us.

I believe that our interest in yoga should extend beyond the body, to deepen the intention to simply build the body's strength and health, even though we ought to take good care of it as it serves the platform from which we can realize our true nature. These are the ideas I wish to bring into my yoga teaching classes.

I am an admitted attorney specially qualified in the practice of property and environmental law. I have a masters degree in environmental law and I am currently completing my masters in environmental science.

My journey in yoga began in 2008. Reading Eat, Pray, Love inspired me to place a picture of a yogi on my vision board. I eventually made my way to the Jivananda centre in 2009. My first class with Christine was a truly spiritual experience, and I have never looked back.

I have always been an active person gymming, running and doing pilates, but in yoga, apart from achieving a level of fitness I've never before thought possible for myself, I found myself on a journey of self discovery exploring the question 'Who Am I ? '

I completed my yoga teacher training with Christine in 2011 and feel very blessed to be able teach at the Jivananda centre. I approach each class I teach as both a teacher and student, imparting my knowledge and experience in yoga while allowing the students to be my teachers. This has helped me grow tremendously, both personally and spiritually.

Yoga has helped me cope with my stressful job as a paediatrician, and I am now able to deal with my patients, their families and my colleagues from a more grounded, spiritual centre. I am very blessed to have discovered the ancient science of yoga, and am eternally grateful to Christine, Howard and all my teachers who continue to inspire me.

"Yogaschitta vritti nirodhah - Yoga…stilling the fluctuations of the mind" Patanjali. I strive for this every day . Aum



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