Meet Itta Roussos

You either believe in your
own woundedness,
or you believe in the
infinite self

1974
yoga student

I began practising yoga as a child of twelve years. My teacher Jewel stayed in my life for 6 months. After her abrupt disappearance from the conservative little town in which I lived, I maintained a connection with the practice, never forgetting the impact it made on me through that first brief exposure. My journey to becoming a teacher was one of progressively remembering my true nature through the few practices maintained from that young age, particularly how to breathe diaphragmatically. Shortly after this, at age fourteen I was recruited into the anti-apartheid struggle when South African youth took to the streets in 1976, in protest against inferior education taught in the language of the oppressor. I joined YCS, or Young Christian Scholars, to better understand the needs of political transformation alongside my peers.

1982
yoga teacher, healer, activist and doula

I began teaching at age twenty, mainly to anti-apartheid activists in NGOs committed to the struggle in the South Africa of 1982. Due to the nature of the anti-apartheid struggle at the time, my focus on using yoga as a form of therapy began straight away. My fellow activists displayed symptoms brought on by trauma, depression, anxiety and long periods of highly stressful activity opposing the apartheid regime, suffering torture, solitary confinement and living ‘on the run’ from the oppressive regime’s security forces.


I slipped easily into the role of healer and teacher amongst my peers, and it was not long after that I found my way to the start of my lifelong work with pregnancy, attending my first birth at age twenty-two. In this way the doula was created, alongside the healer and teacher, out of the practice of yoga and meditation, and connecting with those of my very distant ancestors who were maÍes, (midwives). This was the first hint I had of doors of perception that have continued opening, revealing dimensions of experience beyond what is perceivable through the two eyes and ears.

Back then I found no teachers with whom I resonated in my immediate vicinity, after that first brief encounter with Jewel, and so the pattern of self-taught learning continued for the next decade.

There were some individuals who drifted in (and straight out) of my pathway, but none that lasted until I encountered the teachings of Yogi Bhajan in 1991.

1999
mentor and Kundalini yoga lead trainer

In 1999 I was grandfathered as a Level 1 Kundalini Yoga teacher and went on to achieve level 2 and level 3 status in 2004 and 2017 respectively. I hold Lead trainer and Mentoring Lead qualifications with the Kundalini Research Institute (KRI) and I have my own training school, AKYTTSA (African Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training of Southern Africa) for the purpose of training yoga teachers. Please see www.kundaliniafricarising.co.za for more information about this.

During the nineties I began to more seriously research the use of yoga as therapy in the work that I was doing with HIV/AIDS. I used Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan (KYATBYB) to work with pregnant women and others who had been diagnosed as HIV+ in antenatal public health and primary care settings in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

2000 and on
merging experience with research

In the early 00s I began studying Psychology and attained an Honours degree. In 2015 I applied to the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) to be recognised as a yoga therapist based on 2 decades of using yoga as therapy in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. I am currently registering my yoga therapy school with IAYT so as to certify therapists locally with the long term aim of preparing the ground for policy that officially recognises yoga as a form of therapy, and allows for yoga therapists to operate in primary health care settings.

I have recently completed a research study on pregnancy, PTSD and yoga therapy for a Master’s degree in Psychology. In the process of qualifying as a yoga therapist, teacher and trainer, I have also qualified as a family constellations facilitator with African Constellations, and a relationship coach with ORSC.