Thursday, February 26, 2015

Outdoor Excursions

We are fast approaching our annual Men's Week Yoga Retreat at Blue Osa in Costa Rica. The intention of our week together will be to focus on the connection with ourselves, with each other, and with all things. The yoga practices will focus on this theme, but the intention of the yoga retreat will shine through many parts of our experience at Blue Osa.

One way we will connect to all things is through our connection with nature. The Blue Osa Resort sits right on the beach. We will be surrounded by beautiful trees, hills, animals, flowers, fruit, and of course, the ocean.

Another way we will connect with nature is through some of the various excursions that are offered through Blue Osa. Yoga attendees will have the option to take a kayak trip, hike through the jungle, go on a chocolate tour, and my two personal favorites, waterfall repelling, and the jungle zip line adventure!

These last two excursions are wonderful ways to see the natural surroundings and be a part of it. For the Waterfall Repel Excursion, it begins with a horseback ride up a mountain. You will have your own horse with which you'll form a personal bound. (You'll find that the horses all have their unique "personalities.") It's amazing, too, how well they know their surroundings. The mountain trail is steep, yet these horses are sure-footed and will assure that you will make it safely to your mountain-peak destination. The next part of the journey is by foot. You will hike a ways into the high mountain jungle to reach the waterfalls. You'll be surrounded by the lush jungle foliage and the wet ground. You'll encounter tropical flowers, birds, bugs, trees, and perhaps even a water snake!

When you reach the waterfall, you'll be astounded. It may seem intimidating at first, but here is an opportunity to face your fears, try something adventurous, and find a deeper connection not only to your surroundings, but also with yourself. First, know that you will be safe. The guides are wonderful and are pros. You'll also be among friends who will encourage you along the way. Once you step out onto the those rocks, rope in hand, water rushing at your feet, you can't help but just stop....take a breath...and take it ALL in. It's remarkable! The view is breath-taking! Then thejourney begins down the cliff. The water rushing down around you as you guide your way down the rock. It's an invigorating feeling. You'll experience the freshness of nature and YOU are a part of that natural setting.

Once you set foot in the pool below, the unbelieveable sense of accomplishment is amazing! You'll be so proud of yourself! It's a time to celebrate!

The whole retreat is a time to celebrate. You'll honor and celebrate yourself and all things around you. A yoga retreat is a the perfect opportunity to stop and appreciate all that you have and all that you are.

Consider joining us in Costa Rica or find a yoga retreat closer to you. You can even create an adventure at home. Go for a bike ride. Go swimming. Try snowboarding for the first time. Take a nature hike. The list is endless on how you can connect to nature and ultimately, with yourself.

Visit for more information about the upcoming retreat in Costa Rica From May 23rd through May 29th.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thai Yoga Massage

Have you ever heard about Thai Yoga Massage? Have you ever received one? If you haven't, they are incredible. It's a wonderful way to experience a different type of yoga.

Thai Yoga Massage, or simply, Thai massage, is a system of massage that was developed in Thailand that has influences from traditional medicine systems of India, China, Southeast Asia, as well as yoga.

The massage recipient wears loose, comfortable clothes and lies on a large firm mattress on the floor. It can be done solo or in a group of a dozen or so students in a large room. The receiver is then positioned in a variety of yoga-like positions during the course of the massage, but deep static and rhythmic pressures form the core of the massage.

The massage practitioner leans on the recipient's body using hands and usually straight forearms locked at the elbow to apply firm rhythmic pressure. The massage generally follows designated lines in the body. Legs and feet of the giver can be used to fixate the body or limbs of the recipient. In other positions, hands fixate the body, while the feet do the massaging action. A full Thai massage session typically lasts two hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body; this may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient's back, and manipulating the recipients body into many different positions. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to the massage, which the practitioner will adjust to fit each individual client.

The benefits of the Thai Massage are many: relief from multiple ailments ranging from asthma and migraines to sprains, bruises, and anxiety. More generally, the recipient can gain greater range of motion in their lims, flexibility, and overall peace of mind and body. The giver also benefits from the practice because they, too, are positioning themselves into therapeutic physcial postures while giving the massage.

A variation of the rhythmic flow of Thai Yoga Massage will be offered during the Men's Yoga Retreat that John Cottrell is leading in Costa Rica this summer at Blue Osa Yoga & Spa: May 23-29, 2015. One can still register for the retreat which will offer yoga, of course, as well as other wonderful excursions for a well rounded experience, at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Walking Meditation

One thing that is probably true for most people is that we are very busy in our lives. We are busy with work, family, school, and home practically from sun up to sun down. We devote much of our time "getting the job done." Unfortunately, we forget to devote some of that time to ourselves.

You may have heard your yoga instructor (if you even have time to get to a yoga class) state that we need to slow down, breathe, meditate. But you think to yourself, "I don't have time. I barely made it to this yoga class!" Here's the adendum to those yogic suggestions: make it simple and enjoyable. Slowing down, breathing, and even meditating don't really need to take that much time. A typical yoga class is likely an hour. Speaking as a yoga instructor, I don't expect most people to add an additional hour to a breathing or meditation practice. Each of these can take only a few minutes.

Here's something very easy for you to try. If you're at work, for example, take a moment to stop what you're doing, sit down, close your eyes, and take 5-10 deep breaths. Try it. See how long it takes and notice how you feel afterward. You may experience an immediate clarity and rejuvenation after taking that short moment for yourself.

Do you have a little more time? Try this. You're at home. Stop what you're doing, step outside, take a few deep breaths. Better yet, take a walk to the end of your walkway. Or, weather and time permitting, take a short stroll down your block and back. This doesn't have to take more than 3-5 minutes. While walking, just take deep breaths. To stay focused, create a rhythm of breath that matches the pace of your steps. This can be very meditative. And it didn't take that long. And it was probably enjoyable, too. You can incorporate simple practices like this on a daily basis. Even do it several times a day. It can help to clear the mind and calm the body so that you can return effectively to your work at hand.

I am offering a weeklong retreat in Costa Rica in May. Now, I know that not everyone can take a trip like that, but one of the yogic exercises we will be doing is meditative walks on the beach. Simple practicies like this can help you feel more centered, focused, in tuned, alive, and the list goes on. So, even if you can't get away to an international yoga retreat, create a retreat-moment right where you are, right now. It's as simple as taking a breath or going for a walk. Try it.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yoga With Intention: A One-Day Yoga Retreat

As we enter into the new year, we begin to look forward. We make our new year's resolutions, set intentions, and plan for a better year.

This is also a good time to make plans for getaways and vacations. It's very easy to get stuck in the rut and regular routine of our day-to-day doings and sometimes forget to take a break; to take care of ourselves.

I'd encourage you to think about the possibility of a yoga retreat. These can be wonderful vacations to rejuvenate, relax, and unwind. Retreats can be a way to recharge ourselves, to cleanse, and to heal. They may also be wonderful adventures that encourage you to do things you have never done before. Yoga retreats can be found all over the world. Low on funds? You may find One-Day Retreats right in your own town. I happen to be offering one in February at the beautiful Cliff Spa at Snowbird Ski Resort in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you're a resident, consider taking some time for yourself to discover the healing power of the yoga pose.

I have been fascinated not only by the power of the yoga posture (asana). They have done so much to help transform my own body. At one time in my life, I was a dancer. I THOUGHT I was very flexible, but it wasn't until I started practicing yoga that I discovered that I wasn't as flexible as I thought! I'm older now, but I am MORE flexible than I was just 10 years ago.

The yoga practice can bring physical growth and development, but yoga can take us deeper. This one-day yoga retreat at Snowbird will allow us to look at the healing power of the yoga pose. We will read and discuss some ot the storied behind the yoga poses. Many of the poses that we practice in a yoga class have names that actually refer to mythical Hindu dieties. Along with these dieties comes their history, their origin, their significance. When we practice these poses, we can actually embody the significance that they represent (i.e. devotion, love, strength, honor, pride, etc.). These yoga stories can be life lessons for us. We can learn more about devotion and love just by stepping onto the yoga mat and practicing these postures.

At the retreat, we will come to a better understanding of these stories AND we will align them with our own personal stories. For instance, If we are experiencing stress, fatigue, lonelilness, lack of motivation, we can surely find a pose or a set of poses that can help us move through these life stressors. Then, when we step back onto the yoga mat and experience the physical expression of common yoga poses, we can recall the lessons and intentions these postures hold to help us move forward in our life journey.

The retreat is called, "Yoga With Intention," which, of course, is the same name as this blog that I have been writing for the last few years. Now you can take what I've been writing about and actually put it into practice. You will see asana from a new perspective. You will experience a greater depth. This can assist you in making your yoga practice more meaningful and powerful. You will easily be able to practice yoga with intention.

So, I invite you to come to a one-day local retreat. Learn more about the yoga you are practicing. Apply it to your own personal life. Experience shift, change, growth, and enlightenment. I am offering it on two days in February: Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th. The cost is only $95.

You can visit my website ( to read more about the retreat, register, and make a payment.

If you have any questions about this retreat or other upcoming retreats, please don't hesitate to contact me:


Thursday, October 16, 2014


As we move toward another holiday season, some things are probably already coming to mind: travel, family dinners, shopping, gift giving, celebrations, etc. It can often feel overwhelming and challenging as we approach the end of another year. Stress levels tend to rise during this time of year. How are you preparing for this busy holiday season and stress management?

You can start now with a very simple yoga practice that you can do throughout this holiday season. It's easy!

Find a quiet moment for yourself. This might be at home, at school, at work, on the bus, etc. This only needs to take a few minutes. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. If it is difficult to notice your breathing, breathe a little louder with more effort. As you begin to notice the sound and feel of your breath, begin to control the pace of your breath. Take a nice long inhale followed by a slow controlled exhale. Do this for 30 seconds to 1 minute (see....that's not that long, right?)

This simple yoga breathing exercise does several things: 1) Focusing on your own breath makes you more aware of yourself. It helps you to tune out the things that are going on around you because you have to concentrate on your own breathing. 2) As you breathe slowly and deeply, you are bringing your central nervous system under control. In other words, your heart rate and pulse will gradually decrease. This ultimately makes you feel more calm and LESS STRESSED. 3) Also, this type of breathing helps you to bring balance to your mind and body. 4) And another thing, if you ever feel a bit drowsy, this can be a great pick-me-up. Sometimes, we don't get enough oxygen to the brain due to shallow breathing. Taking a few deep breaths can be better (cheaper and healthier) than chugging down one of those energy drinks.

As you can see, there are some great benefits to....well....just breathing. In and of itself, it IS a yoga practice. You can do it ANYWHERE at ANYTIME.

So, as you approach the holiday season, give YOURSELF a gift. The gift of a STRESS-FREE-HOLIDAY!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Step Out Of The Box

I teach Power Vinyasa Yoga in Salt Lake City, Utah. When students come to my class, they can typically expect a good mix of breathwork coinciding with dymanic poses in a flowing sequence. Students feel challenged and appreciative of the experience when they leave after their Savasana meditation.

One day, however, I decided to give them something a little different. I had the intention of providing some similar aspects of my class (i.e. breathwork and dynamic poses). But instead of the continuous vinyasa flow, I encouraged students to hold postures. The challenge was to be in stillness with their pose and their breath. This became the mantra of the class: "Stillness And Breath."

As the class progressed after a series of Sun Salutations, the class experienced basic poses like Warrior Two or Bridge Pose in a new way. They were asked to hold these poses much longer than they had anticipated.

The mind can do some interesting things when you expect one thing, but get something else. I could guess that their brains were saying, "how long will I have to hold this; this is hard; I can't do this; I'm falling; my arms are getting tired, etc." While they held their poses, I simply repeated the mantra "Stillness And Breath."

Of course, the students were instructed to move into the next set of poses, only to find that they had to hold even more challenging postures like Chaturanga Dandasana and Warrior 3! More mind games!

So, what was in the intention of this? I wanted my students to experience the ability to step out of the box; to experience something that was out of the norm. They were also challenged to sit with their thoughts and become The Observer of their thoughts. Notice the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that rushed through them as they held the dynamic poses. When in stillnes and silence, sometimes we begin to add judgement to our surroundings and even to ourselves. Again, students were simply asked to Observe and Notice their thoughts and feelings WITHOUT judgement. They clearly had to step out of the box of normalcy to tap deeper within themselves.

I think this can be a good lesson for all of us. Can we be in stillness and quiet thought? And when judgement arises in our thinking, do we have the capacity to let them go without internalizing them or making them our Truth. When the mind is clear and quiet, Truth shines. Our True Selves emerge. The yoga practice can be that vehicle that allows us to move through those untruths, those judgements, those negative thoughts in order to approach Stillness And Breath.

The class ended differently, too. Instead of having the students finish in Savasana, we finished in a seated posture: sitting upright in a lotus position. Again, we sat in stillness in this asana. And if we recall the true meaning of asana, it means seat. I like to think of it as "can we sit in each of our poses and see our True Selves?" Can we be Present, Aware, and Connected in each of our yoga postures.

So, my challenge to you is to step out of your box. Try something new that allows you to see yourself in a new way. Perhaps from the experience, you'll achieve further growth and a deeper connnection to Yourself.

Step out of your box and register for a yoga retreat (hint hint)!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Creating A Community at a Yoga Retreat

One great benefit of attending a yoga retreat is not only the wonderful yoga practices you'll experience, but the friends that you'll meet and the community that is built.

I recently went on a yoga retreat and it was an amazing experience. It was a group of 20 people which is a large group, I think, for a retreat. I was a bit concerned about how we would be able to bond as a group. I wondered if I would make any connections with people. Well, the answer is,....we did bond and we did connect.

First, we had two wonderful instructors that were able to hold the energy and space of the group. They were also able to create a theme and intention for the retreat that really held the group together. We had the opportunity to hold the retreat in Greece. So, the instructors, used the history and stories of Greece to create a foundation for our yoga retreat together.

Socrates' famous saying, "Know Thyself," was the theme of the retreat. Through yoga practice, we were able to delve into this intention. Quiet morning meditations, simple vinyasa flows, Yoga Nidra practices in addition to the beautiful natural surroundings of the Greecian hillsides, helped all of us to get more connected to ourselves.

One thing that our instructor mentioned was that, not only will we manifest these connections during our yoga practice, but also when we are our together on our excursions. He was absolutely right. I found a deeper bond, not only with myself on this retreat, but also with my fellow yogis. On some of our excursions to the beach or out on the town, or island hopping, I found myself with 3 or 4 other retreat attendees sharing a simply yet beautiful meal together by the seaside and sharing our stories. It was through these small networks that I found these deeper connections to my colleagues who are now my friends. We shared more about ourselves which, in turn, allowed us to continue manifesting the theme of "Know Thyself." I was able to see myself in new ways simply by sharing my stories with others.

So, I encourage you. If you're able to attend a yoga retreat, whether it's in Europe, your home town, or even in your own backyard with a few close friends, you can certainly take those opportunities to bond, connect, and create a Community. A Community that is supportive, loving, and long lasting.