I found yoga, as most of us do, almost by accident. It was 2008, I was 15, very overweight, and struggling a lot with my health and self-image. I didn’t feel like my outward appearance reflected how I felt on the inside. I wanted to be loud, funny and outgoing, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I was beyond frustrated.
That year, my mom and I joined our local health club. Yoga was one of the fitness classes offered. I loved the way yoga made me feel. It seemed all encompassing as a workout. Every part of my body felt good. I was refreshed, not overworked. I felt successful, which was rare for me in the gym at the time. My first teachers, Georgina and Amy, made me feel like I belonged there. I kept coming back week after week because it felt so good to go to class. I knew it felt good, but there were much larger things at play as well.
Over the years, I started to grasp what yoga meant as far as a mental discipline. I came across power yoga via podcast. It was more physically challenging, and it brought me to my edge very quickly. I began to feel the emotions that I held onto in my body. Feelings that I had stuffed down for years and years, ideas that I wasn’t good enough, that I should punish my body for the way it looked, that I somehow didn’t deserve to feel free and happy in my own skin. Once those things start bubbling up to the surface, there’s no stopping them.
I had a teacher who said, “Your yoga mat is like a mirror”.
Everything that we face on our mat, all of those emotions, the feeling physically stuck, unworthy, weak, defeated, scared – those are things we face in our daily lives. And how we respond when those things come up on the mat, is the same way we respond in our lives.
Maybe at first we feel like yoga is a way to escape the stress of our lives, then we realize it’s a tool to help us sort through it. The fear that I came up against on the mat, my own insecurities, were things I battled with every day. And where I would usually ignore those feelings, there was suddenly no place to turn, no one to point fingers at, just me on my mat, left to take full responsibility for everything that I am and that I become. Bam!
My meditation began to center around choosing a new action when fear and anxiety entered my being. Through that revelation, I was able to become free from those self-limiting beliefs and my life became the possibility of self-love, happiness and love for others. For me, yoga was the experience of finally feeling my body, like really feeling it. After so many years, of being unhappy, overweight, and struggling with an eating disorder that followed, I got really good at stuffing down my emotions, and refusing to feel a lot of things. But whenever I came to my mat, it was the opportunity to get connected.
Soon after this, I found Baptiste yoga (Baron Baptiste’s method of power vinyasa yoga). The classes that I took were very similar in form to the power yoga I was accustomed to, but these Baptiste teachers dug a little deeper. Their intentions for class were rooted in possibility, inner listening and playing big in your practice and in your life. It was everything I loved about yoga, the physical and mental transformation, in one hot sweaty package.
I had the amazing opportunity to train with Baron Baptiste this past June in Sedona, Arizona. Level one lit me up! That connection that I was talking about before, multiplied by ten! I think often times we hold all of these ideas of what we should be like before we start practicing yoga. We should be more flexible, we should be able to sit still for more than ten minutes, we should be more patient, or we don’t have enough time.
You know, you’ve heard them– if not believed them to be true for you at one point. I came to my Level one training believing a few of these ideas myself. Then we find out it’s quite the other way around.
I truly believe that yoga is a practice that meets you where you are and takes you where you want to go. When we come to our mat, consistently, with any baggage from that day, the weeks, months or years, we open up a space for ourselves to get connected to our inner voice, our true north, and we gain the tools to sort through our lives. To choose what we want to create for ourselves.
Through this work, I now have a clear intention to teach full time and give back to others what yoga has sparked in me. I am wholeheartedly committed to the work ahead of me. And I am high on the possibility that anything we wish to create in our lives, we can!
It was through my training in Sedona that I learned about a 200-hour RYT training in Seattle. I applied for the teacher training at SHAKTI Vinyasa, currently the only Baptiste Affiliate studios in Washington state, and just got word that I’ve been accepted!!
This training is a BIG next step in my journey as a teacher, as an opportunity to refine my teaching, learn from a diverse group of teachers and students, and ultimately step into one of the largest yoga communities in the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve been teaching now for 3 years. My journey with yoga has taken me from Stanwood, Washington to the Canary Islands, and numerous places in between. While everyone’s practice and impressions of yoga are different, the one thing that remains constant is connection: connection to ourselves, to a larger community, and to the divine energy that connects us all in this universe.
I am deeply committed to this journey and to helping others find the happiness and connection that I have found through yoga and inspiring them as to the possibilities in life. The cost of training is high, but I am working as hard as I can to make this happen. I am also reaching out to ask for your support. If you would like to make a donation to my journey, no matter how small, I will be ever grateful and I intend to put everything I receive back out into the world in a BIG way.
I would love to hear from you – please connect to me by leaving a comment below and feel free to ask any questions or to share your experiences.
You can support my journey here. The link opens up the website ‘GoFundMe’, which is a site dedicated to helping people reach out to others for support, to move them closer towards their dreams. You’ll find some inspiring stories there, showing how much can be achieved when we get together.
I would also love to connect to you on my blog, Savouring Stella. This is where I post the best of my creative and wholesome recipes and share stories from my journey to living an empowered life. I hope it helps you in some way and if it does, be sure to let me know.
Namaste – the divine light in me, honors the divine light in you
About the author
|Stella Hutson started her yoga journey at just 15 and has found her world opening up ever since. She’s a much-loved guest member of the Azul team and has travelled to the Fuerteventura retreat all the way from her home in Seattle, America, to teach yoga and explore her love for nutrition and food in the Azul kitchen – all with an inspiringly can-do attitude and the aim to help others as much as possible. Visit her online at Savouring Stella where you’ll find a mouthwateringly juicy combination of beautifully photographed, wholesome food recipes and empowering stories about her journey to step up to the challenge of playing it big in the world.|