Coastside magazine’s Emma Spaeth checked in with Swell Yoga’s yoga instructor, Antony Mills, about the mental and physical benefits of the practice. The ocean-view studio opened in 2020 and features yoga and meditation for all ages and ability levels. For more information about the studio, check out swellyogastudio.com.
Originally from England, Mills began his yoga practice here on the coast in 2015. He started teaching in 2017, with a brief break in 2019 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his training and teaching, Mills says he interweaves the therapeutic benefits of Yin Yoga with traditional Chinese medicine.
1 What drew you to the profession? I became interested in leading classes after a fellow practitioner suggested I should teach. I had no aspirations beyond my desire to strengthen my practice, but from the start I loved the experience and found it a way to deepen my understanding of yoga as well as my own practice.
2 How long have you been practicing yoga? I took my first yoga class in early 2015, taking a class here and there with mixed results for a few months until I had a conversation with an influential yoga teacher who made me realize that yoga was more than just a way to workout, but a way to make a mind-body connection creating pathways to wellness beyond the normal physical activities we associate with healthy lifestyles.
3 How has practicing yoga influenced your life? Yoga has strengthened my resilience. Resilience to physical decline as my body ages, and resilience to mental and spiritual challenges that exist as a result of our complicated lives and modern society.
4 Do you view yoga as more mental or physical? The Sanskrit translation of yoga is ‘to yoke’ or ‘union.’ This union of body and mind is something we strive for whether we are practicing a physical form of yoga like vinyasa and hot 26, emphasizing movement and strength, or a yin restorative style, focusing on stillness and relaxation. Similar to many things in our lives, creating a yin-yang balance with your yoga practice is an important fundamental.
5 How do you think yoga benefits people? There is no common path, everyone seems to find their own benefit to practicing yoga. Some find the physical activity primary to their practice while others look for an opportunity to let go and create a refuge from the overload of sensations and distractions that permeate their lives and our society in general. Others become drawn to the warmth and comfort of the community that exists around a studio, its students and teachers alike. Some look for a safe place to be themselves, to dream, be happy and find acceptance in their own body and mind.
6 Where does your passion for yoga come from? Beyond the commitment to my own wellness, which began my pathway of learning, I find it incredibly fulfilling to be a guide for other yogis’ journeys. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to share my love of yoga.
7 Are there any common misconceptions about practicing? Anything you think people should know about? Some of the most common misconceptions about yoga are that you need to be young, fit or extremely flexible to practice yoga or that you have to practice every day to receive some benefit. Those ideas are far from reality, though. Your journey begins with a commitment to show up for yourself whether you are practicing alone at home or with a dozen other yogis at a studio. Yoga is a never-ending journey. Every moment brings new perspectives to consider and new pathways to follow. Coastside