About Stella

Calming yoga and meditation teacher Stella TomlinsonHey there lovely soul. I’m Stella Tomlinson: a yoga & meditation teacher & writer.

I’m a lover of mindful living, self-care and kindness; taking the radical option of rest and relaxation; appreciator of life’s simple pleasures; and a highly sensitive person.

I believe that in our stressed, pressured, busy culture we need space and time to be; to reconnect with our bodies; to reconnect to our breath; to reintegrate body, mind and soul; and to quieten the din of external stimuli and our anxious, analysing noisy mind so we can hear the inner, intuitive voice of wisdom guiding us along the path to the best version of ourselves.

And so I founded Living Yoga with Stella, in 2011, to guide fellow sensitive souls to rediscover their innate body, mind and soul wisdom through mindful movement and breathing, relaxation and meditation to release physical tension, emotional/mental anxiety and stress, to avoid being at the mercy of their minds, and to rediscover inner strength, self-acceptance, stillness and joy.

But ultimately, I teach yoga and meditation to simply give you permission to slow down, relax and feel at ease in your body and mind… Why? Because that’s what yoga has done for me .

My story

Yoga teacher Stella - grounded and happy
Here I am now: grounded and content

My journey to yoga came from a place of stress and anxiety – and from being Highly Sensitive (and not realizing I was!).

I’ve been deeply stressed and anxious, and experienced the sweaty palms, dodgy digestion, chronic tension and lack of sleep which can come with it. I’ve lacked confidence and not loved myself nor trusted my intuition – not even hearing it, blocking it out through lack of self-trust.

But I’ve come through. Yoga and meditation was and is my lifeline to move from stress to peace, from tension to relaxation, from confusion to clarity and from self-loathing to self-love and acceptance

Let me tell you how it started.

Sensitive and misunderstood

A sensitive child, I loved my own company. I loved to read or to stare at the clouds. I loved to create music. But as I grew up I never quite felt I fitted into the norms of society. I was called shy – but knew deep inside that this wasn’t true: I just liked to watch and listen to those around me and take it all in and contribute when I felt I had something meaningful to say (to this day I’m pretty crap at small talk, hey, life’s too short!).

I realize now this discomfort in my own skin was about being highly sensitive in a culture which doesn’t seem to value emotions, intuition, soulfulness, quirkiness. School didn’t understand me. I had no idea how to take my place in the world. I didn’t know what career I should have. I was academically gifted but then got rejected from all unis I applied for – I didn’t shine in interviews because I had internalised the label “shy” and felt I couldn’t show myself because I didn’t know who I was.

Lost and confused

I went to University (twice – BA Hons in English and an MSc Econ in Information and Library Studies) and wound up a librarian – a noble profession if that’s your calling, but it didn’t let me be me: to sing my song, to shine my light and unique gifts in this world.

I didn’t know how to take my place in a world which valued loud, extrovert team players; where being successful meant climbing the ladder, stomping over other people and accruing material goods as a badge of success. I was creative, quiet, and artistic.

So, through my 20s and into my early 30s I spent a lot of time feeling I was wasting my life. I wanted to give, to help. I wanted to do something creative. I wanted to feel free and in charge of my life and my destiny. I didn’t like myself in this state. I was negative, stressed, snippy, cynical. Always looking on the negative side.

I experienced varying degrees of depression, anxiety and stress, which led to IBS, all under-pinned by feeling ill-at-ease in my body and a sense of low confidence.

Yoga beginnings

I first discovered yoga in 2000 aged 25, not long after I’d moved to a new city (Cardiff) where I knew no-one, for my first professional job in a large organisation.

I was tense, anxious, self-conscious and seriously stiff and inflexible.

But OMG, I was so totally disconnected from my body and all that breathing? I remember thinking I can’t breathe for that long!

But slowly and surely I felt years of suppression being released from my body – it came through as a lot of anger and tears! I realized how much I disliked myself. For no apparent reason I had such strong feelings of not being good enough.

Yoga helped me peel back the layers of physical tension, through the holding of my breath, to the self-sabotaging critical thoughts… It was like therapy using my body and breath to reveal my soul.

Yoga helps me through

I attended weekly class, then from around 2005 I started to go on weekend and week-long retreats, I practised daily, and my interest in yoga began to deepen.

I discovered yoga as a way of life: a path to navigate the demands, stresses and busyness of my life.

It helped me stretch and relax my body, to find self-acceptance and peace of mind and offered a philosophy to guide me through life.

Coming home with Dru

Southampton yoga teacher Stella, standing on her yoga mat
My happy place

And in 2009 I discovered Dru Yoga – and came home.

At first it felt “easy” and like I wasn’t doing much. But quickly I felt and fell in love with the subtlety of Dru Yoga. The heart-opening, soul-nourishing, empowerment of reintegrating body, mind, emotions and soul.

The more physically demanding styles of yoga I’d experienced before often hit my “not good enough” button. But with Dru I felt good. I felt seen. I felt at home. It was accessible. It was full of heart and soul. It fed my soul. It let me hear the whisperings of my inner guide.

Dru Yoga became my life-line and my passion. I decided I wanted to help others to come home to themselves to find the ease of body and mind I had found in yoga. So in April 2010 I began to train to become a Dru Yoga teacher. I’ve been writing about yoga since 2011 via my blog, and have been teaching yoga since summer 2012.

And to this day this is why I love Dru Yoga & Meditation. It connects me to my heart and intuition – my sixth sense. It helps me to connect to joy; to stillness; to silliness; to laughter; to love; to all living things; to my sensitive soul; to source (which I experience as a vast, benevolent, life-giving, loving light).

And teaching yoga makes my heart sing! I love it. I feel alive. I feel connected. I feel full of love and gentleness. I dance a little happy dance after every class. I fizz and sparkle inside. It brings me right here, now, into this moment. YES!!!!! I am totally me – after years of feeling I had to pretend to be someone else.

My yoga clients have thanked me for my calmness, my kindness and soothing style. I teach with humour and with empathy. I create a calm and totally non-competitive atmosphere. It’s not just about moving your body. I also love to inspire and empower and encourage through my words: I’ve lost count of the times someone has said to me “you’re a mind reader, how did you know I needed to hear that today?!”.

I’m here for you.

Discovering high sensitivity

In 2015 I read a book which changed my life.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr Elaine N. Aron.  Sensory Processing Sensitivity is a trait shared by 15-20% of the entire population (and all higher mammals).

It means having a nervous system which is more sensitive to your surroundings and stimuli. In practice this means a tendency to be very aware of the subtleties in your environment, picking up on other people’s moods, needing quiet-time on very busy days, being sensitive to caffeine, being overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, startling easily, having a rich inner life. Sound like you? Then you’re probably a highly sensitive person (HSP) too.

OMG this is SO me! Reading the book I felt this explains so much of my life – the feeling of not fitting in, of needing to withdraw and have quiet-time. Because, let’s be frank we don’t live in a world which values quiet, thoughtful, kind sensitivity do we?!

And I have an intuitive feeling that those of us who often feel anxious, tired, and over-whelmed are probably HSP and shouldn’t judge ourselves for  feeling this way. If this is you too, realize it’s simply that your nervous system becomes overwhelmed more quickly than others’.

And this is why I teach slow, flowing, calming, grounding yoga and meditation. Because this safe, loving, calming space is what HSPs need to thrive and come to accept their sensitivity for the gift it is.

How I live yoga

cropped-Living-Yoga-with-Stella-Home-Page-Thumb.jpg
Communing with nature ;-)

Now, let’s just dispel some myths… I don’t waft around amidst a cloud of incense, in a constant state of tranquillity and enlightenment bestowing peace and wisdom on all I meet.

Sometimes I get tired and achy or anxious and fed-up. Sometimes I talk really quickly because my mind is so full of thoughts and ideas, sometimes I get my left and my right mixed up – particularly when teaching, oopsie!

I don’t claim to be the most physically flexible of people. I don’t practise headstand, the lotus position or those crazy pretzel-like gravity-defying postures which you see on the cover of yoga magazines.

I’m highly sensitive so I easily get overwhelmed by busy places, lots of people, new experiences. I pick up on vibes and energies and moods. I notice all the little details around me. It’s a beautiful gift, but it can be tiring! (And did, I mention, I’m crap at small talk? So if you first meet me and I seem a little awkward it’s because I’m having an HSP moment, ha ha!!)

I aim to live with kindness, awareness and mindfulness.

I use the compassion, focus and discipline that yoga has given me to release tension from my body and to observe my thoughts and not get caught up in them and end up in a negative spiral.

And this is why I want to help you.

What I wish for you

Peace and clarity: mindfulness classes in Southampton & Eastleigh with yoga teacher Stella
Find peace and clarity with yoga

I want to enable you to feel your body, mind and soul are connected and to help you feel at home there.

I want you to know that you can release tension from your body and feel at ease and relaxed.

I want to help you through confusion and distraction to find clarity and perspective.

I want to give you tools to overcome overwhelm and experience the inner peace and calm within you.

Above all, I want to empower you to feel grounded, confident, and excited about your present life and the future.

Is this what you’d like in your life?

Here’s how I can help

Weekly yoga classes:  press pause in your busy week with mindful movement, breathing and relaxation with weekly Dru Yoga classes in Southampton, and Bishopstoke (near Eastleigh).

Monthly Essential Rest Restorative Yoga Class
A unique monthly class incorporating deeply relaxing restorative yoga  to calm body and mind + the soothing, balancing effects of essential oils.

Yoga workshops & events: give yourself the time and space to breathe, open, relax and let go with yoga, relaxation, mindfulness and meditation.

Writing: to inspire you and to help you understand your body and mind a little better. I’ve been blogging since December 2011 and add a new post every fortnight, so there’s oodles of information and inspiration around the following themes:

And, here’s my latest blog post.

My credentials

  • Registered Dru yoga teacherYoga qualification: 200 hour teacher training course (Dip DYT) with the International School of Dru Yoga, April 2010-April 2012, accredited by Yoga Alliance and the Independent Yoga Network.
  • Postgraduate Back Care Foundation Course with the International School of Dru Yoga (March – May 2013).
  • Member of the Dru Professional Network – DPN (Y). Membership requires ongoing Continuing Professional Development each year through attendance at Dru Yoga workshops and additional training.
  • Dru Meditation Teacher Training with International School of Dru Yoga. (November 2014 – July  2016.)
  • Indian Head Massage (VTCT) August 2016
  • Restorative Yoga Teacher Training (30 hour immersion, September 2016) with Adelene Cheong, Senior Assistant to Judith Hanson Lasater. Certifed Restorative Yoga Teacher.
  • Jikiden Reki Zenki (Shoden) Attuned – July 2017, certified by the Jikiden Reiki Institute.

And more…

  • Dru Meditation Advanced Course (November 2016 – present: 18 month course)
  • Yoga Nidra day-long workshop with James Reeves of Restful Being (November 2016)

A bit more about me…

Tree hugger
Tree hugging again!

I live with my husband in Eastleigh, near Southampton, UK.

We relocated here in late 2011 although I’ve lived in various places over the years: originally from the West Midlands, uni in London, postgrad in Aberystwyth, eight years working in Cardiff, then three in Staffordshire and now here I am in Hampshire.

I’ve been teaching, practising, studying and writing about yoga, relaxation, meditation and mindfulness since 2011– devoting myself full-time to this since June 2016 (before that I worked in digital and internal communications in three universities over the years: one where I was a lost soul, one where I was a deeply stressed and unhappy soul and one where I was happy enough but felt my vocation calling stronger each day).

I’m a committed veggie and partial to cake, red wine and chocolate, following the Buddha’s advice in this area: “everything in moderation, even moderation” …

When I’m not practising, teaching or writing about yoga you’ll usually find my head in a book!

I love my labradorite ring
Labradorite: my favourite stone

I’m also a lazy gardener; an enthusiastic photographer; an incorrigible tree-hugger; and a dreamy cloud-gazer; and an occasional painter (of sunsets and seascapes).

And I have a phenomenal crystal jewellery collection!

Check out my pics on Facebook and Instagram.

And don’t forget to check out my blog and my In the Media page for my writing about yoga.

Let’s keep in touch

Phew, that was a long-read wasn’t it?!

Thanks for checking me out! Now let’s stay in touch.

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