Yoga Teacher in Madeira


Melanie de Villiers

Hello! I am a Yoga teacher in Madeira, Portugal. My name is Melanie de Villiers. I discovered Yoga in 1995 when during my psychology studies I intuitively felt drawn to explore eastern philosophy as a compliment to my western understanding of the human mind. In 2022 I immigrated from Cape Town, South Africa, where I’ve been offering Yoga classes since 2009. I am an internationally certified Iyengar Yoga teacher through Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute and an internationally registered Vinyasa Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.

I am a dedicated Yoga student, whom has devoted more than half my life to research and experiment with various Yoga techniques in the laboratory of my own body and mind. I hold a BA Degree in Psychology and a Diploma in Journalism, which led me to work in the Photographic and Film industry for many years, before I finally committed to the Wellness industry.

With over twenty years of practical experience in both Iyengar Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, I have a comprehensive understanding of the traditional techniques in the Krishnamacharya lineage, and an ability to apply this subtle knowledge in a simple, integrative, anatomically informed and somatically oriented way. Beyond the rigidity of any particular system, my Yoga teaching style can be described as Align and Flow, a fusion of Iyengar and Ashtanga principles, with a solid foundation in Samkhya philosophy, as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, compiled around 250 BC.

My Yoga classes are much more than fitness sessions, although you will for sure gain agility, strength and flexibility. I support my Yoga clients to discover the deeper, life-changing benefits of Yoga. My knowledge of anatomy and postural alignment, coupled with my background in western psychology and eastern philosophy, plus my ongoing study of Yoga therapy, gives me the skills to work with a diverse client base, and adapt to a variety of physical and mental conditions.

Yoga has been a lifeline for me since the age of 19, and continues to support me through the challenges of middle-age. A pivotal moment in my Yoga journey was in 1999 when I found BKS Iyengar’s book ‘Light on Yoga’ in a tiny bookshop, while travelling in Cornwall, England. The book awakened such inspiration to change my life that I began to self-practice on the concrete floor of the ablution block in the caravan park where I was living at the time. As a dope smoking, emotionally turbulent youngster I felt great relief to finally have direction in my life. The transformation was unstoppable! On return to Cape Town I enrolled in regular Iyengar Yoga classes with Judy Farah, whom many years later became my Iyengar Yoga mentor, and guided me through certification.

A decade after my Yoga practice on that concrete floor with no sticky mat, yet lots of willpower, I touched the feet of Guruji BKS Iyengar in India, with tears in my eyes. In 2011 I had the incredible privilege to study at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune with BKS Iyengar present daily, and classes conducted by his daughter Geeta, his son Prashant and granddaughter Abhijata.

Controversially, in the same year I also travelled to Mysore in India, to explore the roots of Ashtanga Yoga. At the time it was not common for Yoga students to openly practice both these seemingly opposite styles of Yoga. There were politics within each system that prevented cross training, and yet I could not separate these two schools of Yoga, seeing that they perfectly compliment each other, and originate from the same source. So for years I discreetly practiced Mysore style Ashtanga, while continuing to attend regular Iyengar Yoga classes. 

My first exposure to study Yoga in India was in 2008 during a month long stay in Rishikesh. The profound personal break-though I experienced sent me off to complete a Yoga Alliance accredited Vinyasa Yoga teacher training in 2009. I immediately launched Yogaflow in Cape Town to teach at every possible opportunity, while still working in a corporate environment. After a five month period of Yoga study and travel in India during 2011, I settled in Thailand to teach at The Yoga Retreat in Koh Phangan.

In 2014 I finally felt ready to commit to the obligatory 6 year journey to complete my 1st level Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training, with the guidance of my mentor and other senior teachers in Cape Town, South Africa. All of whom were direct students of BKS Iyengar for many years, some since the early 1970’s.

Immersed in the pressure of the privilege to be able to continue my level 2 Iyengar Yoga studies remotely, I enrolled during 2023, completing the assignment and working through all the modules. Yet at exam time I recognised that I had developed a stress pathology, since coupled with the immigration process and opening a new business in a foreign country, it was too overwhelming for my nervous system to regulate. 

Huge life lessons learnt since then, and ongoing excavation of deeper personal power to take control of my own destiny. Life is not about labels and credentials. I am loving the relaxed, self study of Yoga subjects that interest me, rather than fixating on a single point of view. I guess I am a rebel at heart and nothing is more important to me than freedom! As I grow in my Yoga practice and teaching, I continue to cultivate an approach that is non-dogmatic and open to expansion.

My strong desire for direct self-knowledge has taken me on epic journeys through rural South America to explore indigenous plant medicines, through India many times, in pure devotion to the profound wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda, through Thailand, immersed in Buddhist meditation and Thai massage, and to Bali in absolute bliss of Yoga and Surf culture.

I draw inspiration from my own visceral life experience and the raw elements of nature around me, always curious to see how life unfolds. Through an intuitive understanding of the rhythmical ebb and flow of life-force, I creatively weave a tapestry of insight into my Yoga classes. Fully committed to authentic inner evolution, I believe in the healing power of Yoga as a strong soul medicine that can unlock our fullest life potential.

We are here on this planet to express our unique essence, and hold space for each others diversity to flower. As dr Seuss says: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

See INFO page for details about my Yoga classes.

What clients Say

“If I could give Melanie more stars I would. She brings her Heart into each class she teaches, her Openness, Love and Dedication to the practice of Yoga Radiates from her and her students are Transformed. I am extremely blessed to have Melanie as my teacher. Each class with her is a magical moment of softening and opening not only into the physical practice of yoga, but also into the Oneness between all aspects of this mysterious Being that we are. Her deep knowledge of yoga comes from years and years of self practice and study, and you Know and Feel that you are in the presence of one who embodies what she teaches. This is clearly seen in the Love all her students have for her.If you are lucky enough to come across Melanie don’t hesitate to sign up for her classes, you will be giving yourself a very special gift indeed.” – Ilonja Greyling

“When you practice non-exotic, everyday Yoga, looking deeply at the ordinary experience, becoming more honest and more kind, there is a sense of great relief. You are freed from fantasy, freed from contrived associations, freed from ego centered notions. This approach to Yoga is grounded in an understanding and experience of impermanence. It invites you to come into the present moment and intuitively know what is truly essential, so that you connect instinctively into a state that is called ‘jnana’ or wisdom ”
Richard Freeman