5 minutes with yoga instructors Anesu Mbizvo and Banesa Molauoa Tseki

Anesu Mbizvo and Banesa Molauoa Tseki

Anesu Mbizvo and Banesa Molauoa Tseki created a wellness space for black people through The Nest, their yoga studio in Greenside, Johannesburg. They chat to us about it. By Kwanele Mathebula 

Anesu: My love for yoga was rekindled during my last year at university in 2015. I studied medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT), which was tough. I needed to do something to keep active, but still flexible enough for my studying schedule. Yoga became the best choice. I started off by attending classes at Living Yoga in Woodstock and eventually did a teaching course. Around the same time, I met my business partner Banesa through a mutual friend who knew that we were both forging new ground in yoga.

Banesa: I started yoga as a way to cope with depression. At 15, I was diagnosed with depression and bi-polar disorder. The medication I was taking numbed me to the point where I couldn’t do anything. In to study at UCT. I had stopped taking medication because I was looking for alternative ways to cope with my condition. During my first year, I joined a non-profit organisation – The Art of Living – that offers programmes such as yoga to help eliminate stress. I learnt a powerful technique called Sudarshan Kriya, where you channel your emotions through your breathing. This helped me to manage depression better, and introduced me to holistic living, yoga and meditation.

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Anesu: Practising medicine did not turn out as I had expected. I began my internship at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg, Johannesburg, in 2016. I was excited, but I spent little time with my patients because of the long queues. I would see a patient, diagnose them and dispense medicine. Being a doctor quickly became unfulfilling. I then moved to paediatrics hoping to find some sense of fulfilment from working with children. Although it was great, it still did not feel that need. After my internship, I took a break from medicine for a year to figure out what I wanted. In 2017, I taught yoga at Telkom, but the inflexible hours were not ideal. This was when the idea for a wellness centre came about. Over a year later, I quit my job to open the yoga studio.

Banesa: The more I got into holistic living, the more I got informed. In 2008, I attended vipassana meditation, a 10-day silent retreat in Worcester, Cape Town. I’ve been doing it for 10 years. In 2013, I moved to Johannesburg to attend a teaching course at the African Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training South Africa. The school only teaches black people so that they can practice and share yoga with others in their communities. Kundalini yoga has a spiritual element, such as raising consciousness, working on your digestive system, anxiety, mental disorders, etc. I then started teaching yoga until I realised that my classes were filled with white people. This inspired me to create a studio that would cater to people with no previous access to yoga – blacks. So, when I found out that Anesu was working on a studio, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

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Anesu: The Nest has been operating for five months. After leaving Telkom, I got a job as a yoga teacher at a preschool in Johannesburg. The hours were flexible enough for me to start my own business. I then opened the yoga studio. Three months into it, Banesa joined as a partner. The studio is a wellness space for people who have previously been unable to access yoga.

Banesa: The studio is an inclusive space. We wanted to create a safe environment for everyone who wanted to do yoga, especially black people. This included the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer [or questioning] and intersex) community. The classes are small so as to create a sense of community within. The support has been amazing, with 90% of our classes being filled. This year, we’re working on growing the studio.