Hey there. I’m Stella Tomlinson: I’m a nature-lover, a moon-gazer, a tree-hugger; a cloud-watcher; a yogini and daily-meditator; and I’m a highly sensitive person.
I’m a teacher, writer, energy worker and Priestess-in-training empowering sensitive, soulful people to connect to inner peace by living in rhythm with the cycles and flow of life through movement, rest, meditation, guided self-enquiry, ceremony, and cycle and seasonal awareness.
I’m a lover of simple, joyful, mindful living; taking the radical option of rest and relaxation; showing care and kindness for all living beings; and living in connection with the flowing rhythms of my high sensitivity; my menstrual cycle; the moon; and the sun and seasons.
And I’m the author of Peace Lies Within: 108 ways to tame your mind and connect to inner peace.
I believe that the epidemic of stress, anxiety and depression in Western cultures is due to a profound sense of disconnection.
We’ve disconnected from our bodies: our need for movement and rest and we’ve disconnected from the messages our bodies are constantly giving us through emotions and intuitive feeling, and instead we’ve got stuck in our fretful minds and the voice of our inner critic and worrying about what other people think.
We’ve disconnected from the natural rhythms, energies and ebbs and flows of the menstrual cycle, the lunar cycle and the cycles and seasons of the year.
We’ve disconnected from the joy of simple, sustainable living in accordance with nature and become programmed to believe that doing and busy-ness and achieving and winning and growing and consuming more, more, more of everything is the way to happiness.
It’s the path to burnout and ill health … via stress, anxiety and depression.
So I believe that in our stressed, pressured, busy culture we need space and time to be; to reconnect to 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 to reconnect to our own needs; the natural rhythms and cycles of the day, month and year; and to live radiant, joyful lives based on meaningful connection.
This is how I try to live my life and it’s brought me so much more contentment and fulfillment now I embrace who I am: an eternal, radiant soul born into this highly sensitive, cyclic female body.
And I’d love for you to feel this same sense of coming home. Of reconnection to something that was there all along: the guidance of your sensitive, loving heart and soul, and the guidance of the natural rhythms and cycles of the moon and the seasons which will show you how to live your life in a state of flow (instead of resistance and stress and low energy).
I’d love for you to embrace your sensitivity, connect to flow and live life radiantly!
My journey to this place 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 the noise of my busy mind and lack of self-trust.
But I’ve come through. Movement, rest and meditation as well as charting my menstrual cycle and connecting to the elements and energies of nature was and is my lifeline to move from stress to peace, from tension to relaxation, from confusion to clarity and from self-judgement 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, reflective and artistic.
So, through my 20s and into my early 30s I spent a lot of time feeling I was wasting my life. I wound up working in web content and internal communications – communicating with people from behind a web page or computer screen.
But 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.
Beginnings of transformation
Looking back now, I can see that discovering yoga was the beginning of my transformation. I first discovered it 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 and totally disconnected from my body.
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.
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 (qualifying in 2012) and in 2011 I founded Living Yoga with Stella to teach yoga and meditation to ease anxiety and stress and to share my love of writing through my blog.
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 light).
But over recent years I’ve felt my own practices and approaches changing.
I’ve felt called to connect in a different way.
To connect to the inner guidance of my menstrual cycle; to follow the waxing and waning rhythms of the lunar month and the seasons of the year. To honour the divine feminine principles of flow and cycles. To explore freedom of movement because the structures of yoga which were codified by men often don’t feel nurturing for this highly sensitive female body (though the unique Dru Yoga sequences are beautifully flowing and nurturing).
Discovering high sensitivity and menstrual cycle awareness
In 2015 I read two books which changed my life.
The first was The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr Elaine N. Aron.
The second was Code Red by Lisa Lister.
So, let’s start with the trait of high sensitivity. Sensory Processing Sensitivity is a trait shared by 15-20% of the entire population (and all higher mammals).
This 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.
Oh, this is SO me! Reading the book, I felt this explained 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 practise and share techniques to slow down, reconnect to your body and breath; to ground your energy and connect to inner peace and heart guidance through meditation. Because this safe, loving, calming space is what HSPs need to thrive and come to accept their sensitivity for the gift it is.
And at the end of 2015 I read Code Red by Lisa Lister and discovered the power of my menstrual cycle. As she puts it: “know your flow, unlock your monthly super powers and create a bloody amazing life. Period.” Great advice indeed!
This offered another profound moment of awakening: why didn’t I already know this? Why wasn’t I taught about the natural and powerful ebbs and flows of the menstrual cycle? Why had I been disconnected from this ancient blood wisdom which flows through all women?
I got angry.
And I’ve been charting my menstrual cycle since the beginning on 2016 – every day I know which part of my cycle I’m at and make a note of the feelings and emotions I’m experiencing.
I know my cycle. I know my own ebbs and flows. It’s empowering. (I know that around day 25 I’ll likely feel like everything’s going to shit and I can’t be bothered anymore – and I know that this will pass and I don’t take any important decisions based on this feeling!).
How I live in rhythm
So, since 2015 I’ve been living differently. I’ve been recognising and honouring the cyclic nature of life, and of life as a woman – and a highly sensitive one at that.
I’ve been attentive to the seasons as they change. I’ve been marking the Celtic Wheel of the Year: the summer and winter solstices, the spring and autumn equinoxes, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain. I’ve been following the cycles of the moon phases. And I’ve been honouring the cyclic nature of being a woman: the monthly cycle. And alongside this I’ve been watching and noticing the ebb and flow of my high sensitivity and how it interacts with these cycles.
I’ve also become drawn to feeling and working with the subtle energies of the body through the energy block release sequences of Dru Yoga; energy healing with Jikiden Reiki; and improving emotional and energetic understanding and flow through Energy Medicine and Energy Emotional Freedom Technique.
And in the last year I felt my soul calling me more deeply to honour the feminine principles of flow and rhythm … calling me to the Goddess. To the Goddess Brighid to be precise – and I am currently in training to become Her Priestess. But I won’t say any more than that because I’m currently spiralling inwards on this journey exploring this just for me … the spiral outwards will begin in 2019 – I may share more then.
And what has all of this brought me?
It’s brought me home.
It’s brought me in touch with Mother Earth and the cycle of the moon, months and seasons.
It’s brought me in touch with my needs and has connected me to my inner landscape.
It’s brought me home to my sensitive nature and to love how I can tune into the subtle energies of the shift in light and energy in nature and the shifts of my energy and focus as they change throughout each month and season.
It’s a reclaiming. A tuning in. A recalibration.
A reclaiming of my inner power and wisdom – to deeply know what I need to allow myself and give myself to nurture and honour my needs.
It’s brought me in touch with my power as a woman: cyclic, wise and intuitive.
It’s reminded me (what I intuitively saw as a sensitive teenager but almost forgot) that this planet is not a resource to be used up and wrung dry. All living beings and systems are intimately connected – even if most of humanity seems to be ignoring that inconvenient truth.
We are part of nature. Its rhythms and flows are our rhythms and flows – and reconnecting to them offers us the medicine we need to heal from the depression, anxiety and stress which so many of us (particularly sensitives) feel.
And this is what I wish for you too.
What I wish for you
I’d love for you:
- To understand and embrace your sensitivity so you can thrive in this often insensitive world.
- To feel your body, mind and soul are connected and to help you feel at home there.
- To know that you can rebalance your nervous system, release tension from your body and feel at ease and relaxed in body and mind.
- To connect to the monthly cycle and flows of your menstrual cycle and the lunar energy cycle (if you don’t or you no longer menstruate you can attune to the lunar monthly cycle).
- To come home to the natural world and honour the cycles and seasons and their energies and gifts of connection as a grounded, embodied spiritual practice.
Above all, I want to empower you to feel grounded, empowered and living in sacred connection with your sensitive body and soul and the natural rhythms, cycles and flow of life.
Is this what you’d like in your life?
Here’s how I can help
As of autumn 2018 I am currently realigning how I work to focus very clearly on being a guide to fellow sensitive soulful women to empower you to understand, care for and love your sensitive body, and to reconnect to and live in accordance with the rhythms and flows of the cycles and seasons in order to come home to themselves and a more natural way of living.
In the meantime this is what I offer as in-person teaching, in the Southampton area, Hampshire, UK:
Weekly Dru Yoga & Meditation classes to feel more positive, peaceful & present
I run calming weekly yoga classes in Southampton and Eastleigh, in Hampshire, you can see my current timetable here
Essential Rest Restorative Yoga Class: Receive the healing power of rest
A monthly class in Eastleigh, Hampshire incorporating deeply relaxing restorative yoga to calm body and mind + the soothing, balancing effects of essential oils. Exactly what high sensitives need to ground body and mind and rebalance your nervous system.
Find out more about Essential Rest here.
Moving into Stillness: Move your body; quieten your mind and connect to calm
Taking place the last Tuesday evening of the month this is a 90 minute class offering a combination of mindful movement, relaxation, teachings on the mind/body/spirit and guided meditations. Each class has a theme related to finding emotional balance and healing, connected to the energy of the season we’re in.
More info about Moving into Stillness here.
Soul Space for Sensitives: Space your soul is yearning for
Space to slow down, rest and connect to yourself and to connect to the rhythms, seasons and cycles of the natural world of which we are a part.
Find out about Soul Space for Sensitives events.
My writing: ‘Peace Lies Within’ book and ‘Soul Wisdom’ blog
Read my first book ‘Peace Lies Within: 108 ways to tame your mind and connect to inner peace‘ and take a look at my Soul Wisdom blog – I’ve been blogging since 2011 so there is lots of wisdom to help you here.
My certifications & courses
- Dru Yoga Teacher Training: 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.
- Member of the Dru Professional Network DPN (Y) since 2011. Membership requires ongoing Continuing Professional Development each year through attendance at Dru Yoga workshops and additional training.
- Postgraduate Back Care Foundation Course with the International School of Dru Yoga (March – May 2013).
- 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. Certified Restorative Yoga Teacher.
- Hormone Harmony (Red School Online) 2017.
- Menstrual Cycle Literacy (Red School Online) 2017-18.
- Jikiden Reiki Zenki (Shoden) Attuned – July 2017, certified by the Jikiden Reiki Institute.
- Energy Emotional Freedom Technique Foundation (Guild of Energists), November 2017.
- Energy Emotional Freedom Technique Master Practitioner (Guild of Energists), April – June 2018.
- Priestess of Brighde/Brigantia Training (with Priestess Marion Brigantia / Goddess Temple Glastonbury) January 2018 – present.
A bit more about me…
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 and practising cycle connection and awareness since 2015 – devoting myself full-time to this work 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 gin, red wine and chocolate, following the Buddha’s advice in this area: “everything in moderation, even moderation” …
When I’m not teaching or writing you’ll usually find my head in a book or wandering around appreciating the beauty of the land, sea and sky.
I’m also a lazy gardener; an enthusiastic photographer; an incorrigible tree-hugger; a dreamy cloud-gazer; and an occasional painter (of sunsets and seascapes and goddess figures).
And I have a phenomenal crystal jewellery collection!
And don’t forget to check out my Soul Wisdom blog
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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