About Us

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This is where we practice!

Charmaine van Niekerk founded Life’s a Gift in 2004. This is not your typical run-of-the-mill yoga studio.  If you want a hard workout, you will get it. However; we have a lot more for you!

We value the relationship between teacher and student, with this purpose, we offer small, intimate classes. Our intent is build that sense of togetherness. We want to help you to push the limits of what’s possible, starting on your mat and spilling over into your life and the world.

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Yoga Teacher

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Charmaine van Niekerk was born in South Africa. She Moved to Texas in 2004. She founded Life’s a Gift in 2004 as a platform to help people live their lives more fully.

Charmaine is a certified Hatha Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance at the ERYT500 and continuing education provider levels. She studied Ashtanga and Power Yoga with Robert Boustany, Forrest Yoga with Ana Forrest, and Prenatal Yoga with Jacci Reynolds. She teaches all level classes. From gentle to hot, sweaty yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and Nidra (guided deep relaxation).

Trauma-informed Yoga

Charmaine van Niekerk studied under Ana Forrest, a trauma survivor, and creator of Forrest Yoga. Ana intentionally designed Forrest Yoga to bring healing to people. Charmaine completed a trauma-sensitive yoga training with David Emerson of the Justice Resource Institute in Massachusetts, and yoga to manage anxiety and depression with Amy Weintraub of Life Force Yoga. We believe that all areas of life impact one’s health and that staying healthy means having a sound mind, body, and spirit.

Certified Personal Trainer

Charmaine’s journey from a marathon and ultramarathon runner to weightlifting is an exciting transformation driven by a surprising health revelation. It all began when she underwent a routine bone density scan after reaching menopause and discovered that she had osteopenia. This health condition precedes osteoporosis, which can be debilitating.

This revelation highlighted the importance of weight-bearing exercises for maintaining bone density. Although running is excellent for cardiovascular fitness and endurance, it is not enough to keep bones strong. So, she decided to incorporate weightlifting into her fitness routine. Over time, Charmaine embraced this new facet of her fitness journey. She dedicated herself to learning and mastering resistance training techniques, gradually increasing the weights. To her delight, it improved her bone density. It also sparked a passion for weightlifting, offering her a new and rewarding fitness challenge. She became a Certified Personal Trainer, demonstrating her commitment to fitness and her desire to share her knowledge and experiences with others, particularly aging athletes who might be at risk.

Charmaine’s story is a powerful reminder that adapting one’s fitness routine to address specific health needs and passions is possible and can lead to remarkable transformations in one’s life.

Running & Run Coaching

Running is Charmaine’s abiding passion. Marathons and ultra-distance are her favorite distances. Her main annual event was the challenging Comrades Marathon in South Africa, one of the world’s top ultra-distance races. High intensity training often led to chronic injury caused by muscle imbalances and tightness. She credits Yoga for allowing her to continue to run marathons and ultra-distance races without being side-lined by injury.

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Run Coaching

Charmaine is passionate about sharing her 30-plus years of distance running experience to help you to achieve your fitness goals.

Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

This course is designed to teach participants how to apply mindfulness in their everyday life. You learn how to use mindfulness to manage the range of challenges arising from medical and psychological conditions and life stresses. MBSR includes intensive training in meditation, mindful movement based on yoga; the educational components of stress physiology and constructive responding to stressful situations. Participants practice bringing awareness to many areas of life, including communication, relationships, and making healthy choices.

Charmaine received her MBSR training at the Center for Mindfulness UC San Diego.

Health Educator & Practitioner

A.H.E. (Ayurveda Health Educator); A.H.P. (Ayurveda Health Practitioner). Charmaine is a California College of Ayurvedgraduate and a professional member of NAMA, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.

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Charmaine offers diet and lifestyle coaching in Sugar Land, Texas. We understand how hard it is, to break old habits; even knowing the benefits. We commit to guiding you with compassion on you journey back to health and vitality.

Ayurveda is a holistic natural health care system that originated in India’s ancient Vedic civilization around 5000 years ago.


I am truly grateful for all the reviews and feedback received from students over the years. They confirm that the work I do is fulfilling my dharma (life purpose), and they energize me to be more. Y’all are awesome!

I’ve had the immense pleasure of taking Forrest Yoga classes from Charmaine for the last 6-7 months. Today I observed her class for teacher training; I learned so much from Charmaine’s fluid and strong instruction techniques. I’ve never had a teacher who was so clear in her instruction. I could close my eyes and imagine the pose without first seeing it. She truly meets the needs of her students and is ever watchful of alignments and modifications. I can only hope to become this type of instructor as I continue in my Yoga journey! Thank you Charmaine! Elizabeth P.

Click here to view more Testimonials

Community & Work Trade

Life’s a Gifts offer students the opportunity to trade their energy and skills for yoga classes, run coaching, or health consultations. We look for friendly, hard-working and enthusiastic individuals who would be proud to be a representative of Life’s a gift.

Our work trades work a set number of hours per. Services may include administration, cleaning, sales, and other tasks and projects as they crop up. These could include creating signs for the studio, or working on the website. Or a project of your own creation, as a way to share your unique gifts with the community.

Learn more about our Work Trade Program