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About Jivananda Wellness Centre


Howard Lipschitz
Christine Withiel
Holly Hershell
Marc Kress

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.

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.

I got attracted to the yoga path while travelling through India in 2003. After five weeks of daily lessons with a local yogi I was hooked! I had discovered a path of self-practice and discipline that fulfils my desire to grow on a spiritual level by working with the body and mind.

Through the mental and physical challenges of yoga I have opened myself up, releasing those energy blocks that previously held me back. When I’m on the mat, I’m flying with an open heart and an open mind, at peace with myself and the world around me. Yoga has become an integral part of my life in which I incorporate everything that I learn into my own practice and teaching.

Yoga is a life-long journey of self-discovery in which I continue to learn and explore the endless possibilities of my own being. Through the deepening of my own practice my body has become healthier, stronger, more flexible, and my posture is improving. Mentally I feel more focused, calm, lighter, and better able to deal with the challenges of life.

In 2009 I returned to India for four months to study and practice with various teachers in different styles of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Sivananda and Astanga. ack in South Africa in 2011 I completed a 200 hour Hatha Teaching Training with the Jivananda Centre RYS 200 – Yoga Alliance. In 2015 I completed a 3 year Teachers Training course in the Iyengar system of yoga. I am now also a certified Iyengar yoga teacher.

As I continue to progress in my self-practice and studies I pass on what I learn to my students. My wish is that they may benefit as much as and even more than I have from the wonderful tradition of yoga. For me, yoga is one of the greatest gifts in life. Yoga has changed my life!



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