Wednesday, 10 August 2022
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

It’s Sunday morning and I’m a starfish

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Jun 26, 2022

It’s Sunday morning and I’m a starfish.

Starfish is my word for the yoga pose known as “Savasana”.

I’m often taking the old Sanskrit words in yoga and giving them another name. This annoys the purists, but to me, I just feel that reeling off words that no one understands doesn’t really help people engage in what they’re doing.

The student is confused and the teacher feels smart because they have this sense they know something the student doesn’t. To me, that’s ego, the opposite of what yoga should be.

So anyway, I call it “starfish”, and I believe it’s more relatable, more meaningful, and what’s more it’s just perfect for getting into the mood for summer.

Basically it involves laying supine, arms and legs apart, allowing the body to melt down into the earth, without having to fight gravity. It’s the ultimate relaxation, and best done on a slab of rock next to the Adriatic Sea.

The starfish has no brain. It’s completely out of its head and in it’s body, at one with it’s environment, strong but soft, wild and free. When we embody the starfish we are our truest and most natural self.

When I bring people to Cavtat, I always invite them to find their own place to “starfish”. Let’s face it, there are so many places, and this is why, on day one, I take everyone on a tour of the three fingers, to show them the many possibilities.

Gone are the days of boot camp style retreats, like I used to run. Nowadays I’m teaching them “Polako” and “be a starfish”.

It’s about finding your bliss, being at one with nature, feeling free to be who you are, where you are, right now.

And this Sunday morning, at last, I have time to be the starfish.

There’s only one difference. I’m in Mlini. I’m staying there for the month, and it’s like we are embarking on a brand new love affair.

It has all the elements I need for my moment of bliss. I start the day walking down the path towards the sea, I breathe in the sea air and the smell of the pine cones, and I know where I am.

I stop for coffee at Gusar, my new favourite morning and evening hang-out, and I slowly contemplate the day and what I’m doing. It’s over coffee, looking out to the sea that I get my inspiration for my class that day.

I do my yoga from the beach, I swim in the sea, and then it’s time for my favourite moment before starfish. I watch the birds. It’s called my “seagull meditation”.

This particular Sunday I have a good friend with me from Zadar, and I’m having a moment where I’m missing the cormorants I watch from my favourite place by the water there. I’m just thinking this when there’s a little bit of magic….

A cormorant appears. Or rather it just pokes it’s head out of the water, ducks back in, travels a while underwater and pops back out.

My excitement at this vision seems over-the-top, but it’s a reminder of the secret to the starfish.

Don’t read the news, don’t spend time on the things that you can’t change, but instead look for the moments that remind you of how beautiful and magical this world is.

As my Croatian friend Sagi said to me that morning: “Life is too short to worry about the big things”.

So I watch the birds, I listen to the sea, I hug my friend, and the world doesn’t seem too bad after all.

In fact, it’s Sunday morning, and I am a starfish. All is well in the world.

Read more Gillie here...  


Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to


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