James Happe

yoga and meditation instructor

James Happe is just a man. A man that teaches "the yoga" and "the meditation". He wonders if it's important to take yourself seriously. He thinks about why he does yoga and why other people do it. He asks himself and his students these questions. Sometimes he doesn't like the answers he gets so he keeps practicing.

If you have any questions you would like to ask him (or yourself) or would like to come and practice with him, fill-in the form below or check out his teaching schedule or upcoming retreats.

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James Happe - Yoga Teacher in Johannesburg

Articles and musings

March 13, 2018

To headstand or not to headstand

A lot of my students ask me about if I think that headstand (sirsasana) should be taught or not. My general answer is a diversion: "headstand is a very complicated posture with many moving parts and considerations and it's very difficult to do it correctly without some distortion or subsequent damage."
December 2, 2015

Mindfulness: more than stress-reduction

In this video, Sam Harris says that stress-reductive benefits of meditation are rather trivial compared to the insights one can discover about the nature of the […]
April 29, 2015

The difference between yoga and asana

A great post about the difference between yoga (as a broad discipline) and asana (as one of its components). “Are you always doing yoga in an […]
November 3, 2014

99% Practice, 1% Theory

I recently received a coffee cup as a gift with the message, “Yoga is 99% Practice and 1% Theory” printed on the side. I’ve been thinking […]
September 22, 2014

The difference between practicing yoga and doing yoga

There’s a big difference between practicing yoga and doing yoga. From my perspective here is how I would describe the two.* Doing yoga is fun. It’s […]
September 3, 2014

To guru or not to guru

With the passing of Mr. Iyengar last week I have been thinking about how I responded to his death and some of the implications of having a […]
August 10, 2014

Silence of no self

A Zen story: “Once a group of monks were practicing their morning meditation when the sound of construction that was taking place outside the meditation hall […]
July 27, 2014

…but is it yoga? : Seeking a definition of yoga

There is an increasing trend of new activities being branded with the word “yoga”. This is usually included as part of a more marketable name (kite-flying […]
July 14, 2014

The usefulness of tolerating discomfort

In his lecture series “The Science of Enlightenment“, Shinzen Young discusses the possible implications of not being able to sit with discomfort. In a nutshell the […]

Obligatory photo shoot of me teaching people yoga


  • 2018Bachelor of Honours in Psychology

    Completed my honours degree in counselling psychology through UNISA. Modules included: Research Methodology, Psychopathology, Developmental Psychology, Psychological Assessment, Ecosystemic Psychology, Therapeutic Psychology, Community and Health Psychology and a research report on Moral Development in Adolescents.
  • 2017Completed Iyengar teacher trainingcertification

    Completed the final year of the 4 year Introductory Certificate teacher training in the Iyengar method of yoga instruction.
  • 2016A.C.T. Therapist Certification

    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy certification obtained under the instruction of Russ Harris. A.C.T. is a mindfulness based coaching and counselling methodology. Tell me more. Book a session
  • 2014Certified Recovery Coach

    Participated in and completed the Recovery Coaching training through the Foundation Clinic (formerly SHARP recovery centre).
  • 2013BSC Psychology - University of South Africa

    Got a degree after reading a LOT of stuff about how everyone is basically not OK. No exceptions.
  • 2012Advanced Thai Massage certification

    Level 3 certification obtained in therapeutic Thai massage techniques. Totally legit.
  • 2011300 hour Jivamukti yoga teacher training

    Obtained my second certification in the Jivamukti yoga method under the mentorship of Jules Febre. The course was facilitated by the founders of the Jivamukti school, Sharon Gannon and David Life.
  • 2008Introduction to Ayurvedic Principles certification

    Completed an introductory course in the basic principles of Ayurvedic thought to supplement my yoga training.
  • 2006200 hour Hatha yoga teacher training

    Certification obtained through the Yoga Vidya Dham School under the tutelage of Cherryl Duncan.

What is "the yoga"?

"I started yoga by mistake. I was interested in a Tai Chi class at the Lim Rim buddhist centre and thought the yoga would be a great warm up since there was a yoga class scheduled before the Tai Chi. The yoga kept going and the Tai Chi fell away. That was 18 years ago.

It has always seemed like such a natural practice for me that still to this day I don’t identify myself as a “yoga” person. It’s just a part of my life like eating or sleeping. I definitely think about the system a lot and have spent a lot of time learning and refining my perspective of what yoga is, but I don’t think I’ll ever have a strictly definitive answer. For now I see it as a life system, a method of training the body and mind to make life a little less coarse and a little more fluid.

I do, however, see yoga as a discipline and not as entertainment. It’s hard work, not for hard work’s sake but because it requires effort. It’s a practice of will-power (intentionally directing the mind and body), a practice of self study (watching the response of the mind and body), a practice of compassion (initially for the self) and ultimately a practice of surrender (finding out when not doing something is more effective and impactful than doing something). The discipline results in freedom because there can be no true freedom without discipline.

In the context of my practice, discipline is the act or process of intelligence, of understanding what is good for you and what isn’t, of compassionate restraint, of learning when to work hard and when to be soft. This is what yoga has taught me and what yoga is for me. For now.”

Atha yoga anushasanam (Now this is yoga as I have perceived it in the natural world.)
—Yoga Sutra 1.1

Stuff my practice has taught me


If you've completed your yoga teacher training, you're currently on a teacher training and need more guidance or you just want to have some personalised feedback on your practice, consider a part-time mentorship. Mentorship has a broad scope, is tailored to each mentee's specific needs and includes:

  • Feedback and "another set of eye" on your physical practice
  • Working through obstacles in your practice and/or teaching
  • Teaching coaching
  • Learning more hands-on assisting techniques and in-depth usage of props
  • Meditation coaching and additional training
  • In-depth sequencing for specific needs and goals
  • Planning and executing workshops
  • Online marketing ideas, tips and tricks

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