Stella Panagiotidis


Vancouver, BC

Ten years ago, I sustained an injury that landed me in the examination room of a hand specialist. My test results revealed that I had advanced premature arthritis and that surgery was inevitable. Fastening the buttons on my coat that winter was a challenge. I felt helpless and lost in a haze of gloom.

Countless miracle stories about the healing power of yoga rang in my ears and I knew that this might be the solution to my suffering. Intuition kicked in and I found myself in a yoga studio, fumbling my way through my first downward dog. Pain and doubt consumed my body and mind, but I was determined to keep on trying. Over time, the discomfort decreased and the mobility in my joints increased.

My yoga practice has now evolved into a yogic way a life. Multiple injury recoveries and stress management have been some of the benefits to my regular practice, where there is always something new to discover.

This past summer, I met Carolyne Taylor, Founder of the Victoria Yoga Conference (VYC) at international learning centre Hollyhock, tucked away on Cortes Island. Together, we participated in Mara Branscombe’s Summer Solstice: Yoga, Ritual, Meditation Retreat. As a regular yoga practitioner, I was thrilled to further expand my practice with this world-class instructor who fuses body, mind and soul with earth-based rituals and shamanic tradition. I’m equally thrilled to welcome the return of Mara to VYC 2019.

I like to think of myself as a self-guru advocate who defines wealth not in a quantitative context, but rather in a qualitative context. I define wealth as living YOUR life of purpose and doing whatever it is that makes YOUR soul feel happy, alive and free. For me, yoga contributes to that happy equation. Nothing pleases me more than witnessing droves of yogis and yoginis rolling out their mats collectively, in order to breathe, meditate and set into motion an exhilarating yoga community.

My yoga practice has been my best medicine. It’s kept me off painkillers and out of the surgeon’s room. The best part however, is the yogic journey, where the learning and growing never stops.