Yoga: what’s the point?

The Yoga Path: Mindful yoga in Southampton and Eastleigh
The yoga path: often challenging but always rewarding

So, I’ve been rather confused about yoga and my place in the world as a yoga teacher of late.

Increasingly, yoga seems to be about challenging poses, contortions, arm balances, headstands and pushing through your fears – at least that’s how it’s represented and how many teachers teach it.

But to me, practising yoga has always been about “stilling the thought waves of the mind”  (as Patanjali, the sage behind the ancient Yoga Sutras states).  A practice of becoming aware and alive to the subtleties of my body, emotions and mind and to connect to my inner self and inner peace.

The yoga path most travelled?

So I’m left wondering what Down Dog after Down Dog into Planks and Chaturanga and Crows, Wheels, Hand Stands and Headstands, and articles about “perfecting” poses, has to do with this.

Obviously for some (*many*) people yoga is about the physical side: pushing your body to its limits and getting into gravity-defying postures. And perhaps that leads to a sense of achievement and in doing so quietens the self-doubting mind.

But that’s not my path – when I’ve been in such classes I find myself sitting and watching and wondering what’s going on and why on earth you’d want to risk hurting yourself by continuously pushing your body to its limits.

The subtle path

Southampton yoga teacher Stella, standing on her yoga mat
“Yoga is not about touching your toes… it’s about what you learn on the way down.”

My practice is about what I feel and learn about my body – but more importantly what I learn about my mind and emotions as I practise.

With yoga I create an oasis of me-time away from external demands and stimuli. A way to joyfully fill up the tank so I have the energy to be active in the world.

This quote sums that up:
“Yoga is not about touching your toes… it’s about what you learn on the way down.”

Over the years my yoga practice has taught me awareness of my body and where emotional tensions and mental frustrations get lodged so I can mindfully move and breathe into those areas and release the tension.

It has taught me to watch my emotions and thoughts rather than getting pulled about by them this way and that (although I’m definitely still working on that one!).

But then again, a yoga practice to me has always been about working with body, the breath, relaxation, meditation, and mindful awareness not just the Yoga Poses.

And to be frank, I believe that working with this honest awareness is more challenging and fearless than attempting to stand on your head!

Why I step onto my yoga mat

So, I step onto my yoga mat to give myself a respite from the demands and busy-ness of modern life, from the over-stimulation of our loud and pushing culture, and to create an oasis of calm to watch my mind and emotions.

I don’t step onto my mat to add more even pressure to my over-taxed nervous system and my busy mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying yoga which is physically demanding is somehow wrong (although if it’s taught without a focus on the breath and calming the mind I would question whether it’s yoga or just a fitness routine).

Yoga which breaks my heart

But it absolutely breaks my heart that it’s this physically focused, demanding, push-through-your-fears kind of yoga which seems to be so prevalent at the moment  – in yoga magazines and at yoga shows and representations of yoga in the mass media and in so many classes.

I know that it puts a lot of people off from even thinking about trying yoga.

How I practise and teach yoga

Southampton Yoga classes with Stella - Mindful yoga and relaxation
Yoga from the heart

So, that’s why I practise and teach mindful yoga.

Movement with awareness of how your body feels. Movement which shows kindness to where you are today rather encouraging you to punish yourself for your perceived physical limitations if tiredness, stiffness, confusion, aches and pains are present.

I practise and teach yoga which encourages you to look within: to learn about how you hold your breath if you’re tense. And how you can feel so much more enlivened, present, energised and calm by breathing deeply and smoothly.

I practise and teach yoga which enables deep relaxation – to let those tense muscles really relax. To calm your nervous system to bring it back into balance: to rest, digest and heal.

I practise and teach meditation to give the body and mind permission to be still – but also to give the mind permission to do its crazy whirlwind of jumping around all over the place and to watch it and smile and find freedom in that observation.

I practise and teach yoga which works with the mind with visualisations and affirmations to create new neural pathways to encourage me and those I teach to live the highest, brightest, most wonderful version of ourselves.

Above all I practise and teach yoga to reconnect to the inner peace which is my birthright and yours.

Yoga reveals us to ourselves

Yoga can still the thoughts waves of the mind to reveal your true self and your soul.

Yoga helps you to hear the quiet whispering of your intuition which will lead you on the right path in life.

Yoga enables you to live with truth, joy, contentment and love.

Yoga stills the ego-based, fear-filled mind to reveal the inner strength, stillness and joy which has always been within you and always will be.

My vow

Yoga of stillness - mindful yoga classes in Southampton
My promise to the world

So I vow to make it my life’s purpose to share that yoga is food for the soul (not a form of gymnastics).

I vow to enable as many sensitive souls as possible to come home to their spirit, their soul, their intuitive inner wisdom, their inner strength, stillness and joy through the gentle but deep power of mindful movement, connecting to the breath, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.

And I will do this by sharing the gentle, transformational, heart-filled power of Dru Yoga and Meditation.

Would you like to join me?


Over to you

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Why do YOU practise yoga? I’d love to hear.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

What next…

In the Southampton area? Come to a weekly class for regular calming mindful movement and relaxation in a supportive atmosphere. I teach several public classes a week and monthly workshops – check out my yoga class timetable and workshops schedule to find out more and make a booking enquiry.

If you would like regular tips, insights and wisdom delivered to your inbox, and to receive a 17-minute guided relaxation, then please leave your name and email address.

7 thoughts on “Yoga: what’s the point?

  1. Hi Stella, what a beautifully heart-warming article. As a Yoga teacher in Cornwall, the “surf capital” of England where Yoga is often taken up or seen simply as part of a fitness regime, I resonate with all that you so eloquently express. I love your vow and my heart sings for joy at the thought of all the students who will get to share and delight in your mindful soulful way of teaching. Namaste!

    Julia Poole
    Oceanlight Yoga
    M: +44 (0)7810 882281
    http://www.oceanlightyoga.co.uk
    “We are not a drop in the ocean
    We are the ocean in a drop” Rumi
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    1. Hi Julia,
      Thank you for your lovely comment! Let all of us who see so far beyond the fitness side of yoga unite and spread the word … and change the world for the better :) xxx

      1. We are all different.. I, and so many of my friends like two types of Yoga. One kind for relaxation and breath the other for a good yoga flow ( fitness Yoga) we love getting hot, sweaty and pushing ourselves into postures.

  2. Hi Stella, this was a beautiful article straight from the heart and very honest. This resonates with me very much as I have asked myself the same question. We are bombarded with images of ”perfect poses” and every yoga magazine and social media image of yoga are usually difficult poses with very little emphasis on breath awareness or that stillness that yoga can bring. I questioned my own ability as a yoga teacher when I seen what was being offered but then after much searching and asking what type of teacher am I? I got my answer and realised my truth and my truth will continue to unfold as I travel along this path of self discovery and self awarness. I stopped getting trapped in the manamaya kosha and moved through all the layers as this is what Dru has though me to do. I love trying many different styles of yoga and I take some things away and leave what doesn’t resonate with me behind. I’m sure my style will change but I will always try to teach from my heart and offer my students the very best of my teachings, the exchange of learning that goes on between teacher and student is endless and Dru yoga being the yoga of the heart drew me in the very first time I tried it and continues to inspire me and my students. I believe the students who come to us are meant to be with us and at different stages in our lives and in theirs.
    You sound like a wonderful teacher who has an abundance to offer, please continue to do so the world needs more compassionate teachers in all areas of live.
    Namaste
    Kelly Molloy
    Dru yoga teacher Ireland xx

  3. Hiya Stella
    Thanks for sharing! I am a student teacher of dru yoga – have you heard of it? It is very much how you describe and is truely beautiful gentle and stilling! They have a wonderful centre in snowdonia where the world peace flame is and various centers all over the world! If you haven’t already heard of it then I think you would love it! Xxx

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