welcome to riverside studio


A peaceful yoga studio situated on the banks of the Eerste River in the historic centre of Stellenbosch.


Nicci Cloete Annette


Nicci takes her practice seriously but takes herself with a large pinch of salt (preferably Himalayan rock). Her classes are accessible, relaxed, and light. Laughter and softening is encouraged. Breathing is highlighted. Practising the pause is celebrated, on and off the matt. 

Practicing formally since 1997, Nicci completed her first teaching immersion through Yoga Life in California in 2007 with Patti Quintero and Billy Asad. She gained her 200hr YTT in the Integral Vinyasa style (originating from the Sivananda tradition) and Advanced Pregnancy YTT through Ananda Sangha, under the patient and knowledgeable tutelage of Anne and Martin Combrink in 2011. Whilst Nicci’s core yoga training is in the flowing Vinyasa style, her growing passion is the slow and meditative yin practice which she teaches on retreats across the country, having completed her Advanced Yin Teacher Training course in Goa, India in 2018 (Preksha Ashram). She loves to practice and teach a strong, slow flow, but increasingly feels that to tap into the truly transformative power – body, mind and soul - of the practice, we need to slow things right down, getting face to face with what lies beneath the distractions of movement: working deep into our deepest tissues and layers. 

As an Internationally Certified Infant Massage Instructor (IAIM), Nicci creates a safe space to walk the challenging and exciting journey of pregnancy and beyond with mums-to-be: from yoga for infertility, through prenatal yoga classes, and flowing into the baby massage courses that she teaches from 6 weeks onwards. Nicci’s own experience of healing from trauma and addiction have led to her specific interest and passion for yoga, meditation, mindfulness and touch therapy as tools in this ongoing recovery process. She trained and qualified as a certified M-Technique Touch Therapist at St. Luke’s Hospice, Cape Town in 2018 and is available for massage upon request (to existing yoga students). 


Victoria Albrektsen


Wildly in love with movement, Victoria shares this passion through yoga, meditation, deep breaths and an open heart. She fully believes in living a life that brings you closer to your true self and hope to inspire this through her classes and workshops. Victoria's style of teaching ((300h RYT, YogaLife and The Shala, Cape Town) is inspired by her constant yearning to keep learning and keep moving. She will encourage you to connect to what you need rather than mindlessly moving your body. Her classes are made of raw honesty, of everyday life and encourage individuality. Always holding space for you to be you, with curiosity, softness and deep breath. This Norwegian-born beauty also happens to play the harmonium and blows our minds when she occasionally accompanies classes with her sweet, lilting voice: an experience not to be missed. 


Barbara Seele


A magical human being whose bio will be uploaded ASAP!


Hanlie Laakman


Hanlie completed her 500hr Pranakriya Yoga Teacher certification under the kind, knowledgeable and wonderfully generous tutelage of master yogi Yoganand Michael Caroll in the tradition of Swami Kripalavandaji. Hanlie offers yoga as a meditative practice using movement and form as a catalyst for intelligent awareness and heartfelt discovery. Hanlie is also a certified Grounded teacher under the amazing tutelage of Amy Haysman and Cheryl Crawford. 

Swami Kripalu’s poem ‘My beloved child’ sums up her personal practice and teaching style: 

My beloved child, break your heart no longer.

Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart;

you stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.

The time has come. Your time to live, to celebrate.

And to see the goodness that you are.

You, my child, are Divine. You are pure. You are sublimely free.

You are God in disguise and you’re always perfectly safe.

Do not fight the dark, just turn on the light.

Let go and Breathe in to Goodness that you are.

~Swami Kripalu

Hanlie’s clear, concise cues and her incredible knowledge of the practise of yoga lead to a deeply meditative experience of movement and breath.  What you may not realise about her is that she has a wicked sense of humour that catches us off guard sometimes, and if there was a prize for the person winning at the usage of emojis, she would win it hands-down. 



Why yoga?

 Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. The original context of yoga was around spiritual development practices to train the body and mind, to allow one to self observe and become aware of one’s own nature; to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.

Yoga is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It asks us to bring our attention to our breath, which helps us to still the fluctuations of the mind and be more present in the unfolding of each moment. One of the gifts of a yoga practice is learning to notice when we’ve become captivated by our thoughts—and then knowing how to reconnect to the present moment and all it holds.

With time and commitment, we may end up being able to stand on our head or put our foot behind our ear, but its real purpose is to help us achieve greater self awareness, a more balanced outlook on life, a kinder and less competitive or critical attitude towards ourselves and others, and a focused, compassionate sense of serenity and peace . The saying goes: “yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down’’.

What style of yoga does Riverside Studio offer?

Vinyasa: a flowing style of hatha yoga where asanas (poses) are intelligently sequenced to follow on from one another. The focus is on building internal heat, increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, as well as stress reduction.

Yin: a introspective, slow-paced style of yoga with asanas (poses) that are held for longer periods of time than in Vinyasa - five minutes or more per pose is typical. Yin yoga poses focuses on the connective tissues of the body (the tendons, fascia, and ligaments) with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. This grounded practice is wonderful for relaxation and stress reduction and is the perfect antidote for our busy lives.

Power Yoga: a general term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to Vinyasa (flow)-style yoga. It incorporates the athleticism of Ashtanga, including lots of vinyasas (series of poses done in sequence) but gives each teacher the flexibility to teach any poses in any order, making every class different. Prepare to work hard and to work up a sweat!

Prenatal Yoga: Pregnancy is a time of embracing transitions: a changing body, shifting priorities, and a different relationship dynamic. Practicing prenatal yoga during this time can significantly enhance the roller coaster experience: through pregnancy, birth (whether natural or caesarian section) and beyond into parenthood. Universal benefits of yoga apply, like greater flexibility, a calmer nervous system, enhanced immune function and the focus on mental, energetic, and spiritual health, as well as the opportunity to bond with other pregnant women. 

What is the vibe at Riverside studio?

Peaceful, rustic, friendly, welcoming, relaxed, down-to-earth, with no airs and graces, no politics, no mirrors and no ego.

What sort of people come to Riverside studio?

Real people with real bodies and a bunch of different reasons for wanting to have this beautiful ancient practice in their lives: they want to carve some ‘me-time’ out of their busy lives, get fit or lose weight, make friends with their body, work through emotional stuff, see what all the hype is about, explore that coveted mind-body connection, meet like-minded people, tone up, get more flexible, cope with loss, grief, depression, anxiety, help with exam or general life stresses… the list is endless.

Why do people come back to Riverside studio?

We feel very privileged when our yogis tell us that they feel it’s a really safe space where there’s a sense of being accepted as they are, where they are, and it’s not an uber trendy place where you feel worried about whether you are wearing the right gear or doing or saying the wrong thing. It is also small enough to mean that you are assured of personal attention, and not just treated as a number.

What is Riverside Studio’s background?

The original Riverside Studio was based just a few blocks up from its current location, in the heritage building that Nicci grew up in. Built in 1781, the space was used back in the day as a barn for the Mayor’s animals. It was a wonderful cosy spot and became a safe and happy place for many yogis over a number of years, but we needed a bigger space to practice in and to welcome more yogis and offer more classes.

Nicci had had her eye on the Landbousaal as a potential yoga spot for a while before the opportunity arose to rent it from the indefatigable and wonderful Stellenbosch Trail Fund, and the rest is history. The original space has been converted back to a playroom for Nicci’s children (as it was when Nicci and her sister were growing up) and we are over the moon to have our fabulous new studio even closer to the banks of the Eerste River: we didn’t even have to change our name, so we believe it was always written in the stars that we should end up here!

Which class is right for me?

We will indicate whether a class is going to be more physical or advanced than usual, and if in doubt, just ask the teacher before you book. Typically, though, whether you are a seasoned yogi or just starting out with your yoga practice, you are welcome to join any class (see ‘caveats’ under the Power class before you book for that one). The whole premise of yoga is that you modify the practice according to your individual circumstances and how you are feeling on any given day, so a skilled teacher will be able to guide you in ways to either strengthen or soften your practice to ensure you get the most from whatever class you join. Rule of thumb: watch your breath, listen to your body and rest when you need to, even if it’s for the majority of the class. It’s all good.

What is your cancellation policy?

If you book a space in a class and then cancel less than 2 hours before the class is due to start, full payment will still be due. Separate cancellation policies will apply for workshops and extended classes. Repeated late cancellations or no-shows will be blacklisted.

A few studio do's...

  • DO arrive early. Getting to class about 10 minutes early can help you settle in and align your attitude with the purpose of the class. While you’re waiting you can practice a pose, do a few stretches, or just sit or lie quietly, breathe, and get centred.

  • DO let your teacher know – before the class starts – about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice. If you are injured or tired, feel free to skip poses you can’t or shouldn’t do, or try a modified version.

  • DO listen to your body. It doesn’t matter how many times you have come to our studio or how well we have got to know you and your body – no one knows it better than you do, so please tune inwards and listen carefully to what it is saying to you. A cardinal rule is ‘NO PAIN’ so if you are getting close to that, rather back off and take a break.

  • DO create an intention before you start your practice: it can be helpful in giving one a point of focus. This might be to keep bringing your awareness to your breath, to practice ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) or to focus on your alignment during the class. Or it could be more general – to become more aware and understanding, more loving and compassionate, or healthier, stronger, and more skillful. Or it might be for the benefit of a friend, a cause—or yourself.

  • DO be quiet. It’s great to share a class with people you know, but it can be distracting to yourself and others to have an extended or loud conversation. And more often than not, people are coming to yoga specifically to tune out and experience some peace and quiet. This is especially important after a class, when most students are feeling very peaceful after Savasana. It is respectful to give them the opportunity to carry this feeling away from the studio with them, rather than crashing back to earth by initiating a loud conversation directly after class.

  • DO bring a towel or your own mat if you sweat a lot, and arrive clean and free of scents that might distract or offend others.

  • DO pick up and neatly put away any props you use, including rolling up and packing away your mat if you borrowed one.

  • DO take time afterwards to think about what you did in class, so you can retain what you learned. Review the poses you practiced, and note any instructions that particularly made sense. Even if you remember just one thing from each class, you’ll soon have a lot of information that can deepen your own personal practice.

  • DO take your shoes off outside the studio. Many yoga studios have a place for your shoes by the front door. Since people will be walking around the studio barefoot, it is most hygienic if everyone takes off their outdoor shoes first thing. Please make sure you don’t walk over other people’s mats! And speaking of feet, it is considered polite to have clean ones.

  • DO turn off your phone.  Make a habit of doing this as soon as you get to the yoga studio. You will wish the floor would open up and swallow you up if your phone rings during class, or if an alarm sounds halfway through. If this happens (and it happens to the best of us), we advocate owning up and going to turn the thing off immediately, unless your teacher prefers that it just be ignored and lets you know of their preference.

  • DO go to the loo during rest poses. It is fine to leave class for a few minutes to go to the bathroom: there is no need to ask the teacher’s permission. The best time to go is when there is a period of rest, either in Child’s Pose or Downward Dog. You will not earn your teacher’s respect if you routinely dodge out during difficult poses or skip part of Savasana.

  • DO feel free to quietly ask your yoga teacher for help if you don’t have enough room to practice or if you are having trouble doing something. A quick mention to the teacher can be the difference between having a horrible time and being comfortable enough to focus on your practice.

  • DO wear comfortable, form-fitting clothes—something that allows free movement of all joints without being too baggy.

  • DO remember to be present. Be patient. Keep your focus on your own mat and try not to be self-critical. Your body may feel different from day to day. That’s okay. You do not have to keep up with the class. Unlike aerobics and other exercise classes, nobody will blink an eye if you sit down on your mat and rest a bit. Again, yoga is non-competitive. Just listen to your body and respect that every step forward takes time.

  • DO smile! Yoga can simultaneously be serious and light-hearted. As you face small challenges, keep your energy in a positive place so the overall experience is fun and enriching.

  • DO keep yoga in your life, even when you’re not on the mat. It may soon become part of your daily philosophy of health and well-being. If you can’t make it to class, consider doing some asanas (yoga postures) at home or work to promote strength, flexibility and peace of mind. Hold good posture while sitting at your desk or driving the car. Focus on deep, conscious breathing to alleviate stress and refresh your brain. 

A few studio don'ts...

  • DON’T eat for one or two hours before class. If you practice yoga on a full stomach, you might experience cramps, nausea, or vomiting, especially in twists, deep forward bends, and inversions. Digesting food also takes energy that can make you lethargic.

  • DON’T push it. Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You’ll go farther faster if you take a loving attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be.

  • DON’T skip Savasana.  Your final relaxation in Savasana is an important part of your practice. Don’t plan to leave class early – it can also be extremely disruptive to the other students.  If you must, tell the teacher in advance and take a short Savasana before you go. Don’t make a habit of this.

  • DON’T compete. First and foremost yoga is non-competitive. This wonderful quality often attracts people from many levels to the same classroom. Nobody is watching or judging you. Progress is personal and more about being mindful than doing the best pose.

  • DON’T compare. There will always be someone bendier or stronger or or or. Whether on or off the mat, comparisons are odious and pointless. It can be tough to stop sizing yourself up next to everyone else in the yoga studio but it is worth remembering that yoga isn’t about comparing your poses to those of other yogis.


yoga citta vritti nirodha