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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Connect at Blue Osa Men's Yoga Retreat

"Connect To Self. Connect To Others. Connect to All Things." 

This the theme for this early 2015 summer men's yoga retreat. It's an opportunity for Inner Exploration and Community Building with other men from all over the world. A collaboration of Mind, Body, and Spirit, through the common bond of Yoga. This yoga experience will provide growth, camaraderie, community, laughter, adventure, and fun!

Led by John Cottrell of Salt Lake City, Utah and Yogi Aaron of Blue Osa. With over 30 years of combined yoga teaching experience, you will be fulfilled and transformed during your week at Blue Osa.

The retreat takes place during the Memorial Day Weekend: May 23-29, 2015. 6 full days in paradise at a remarkable price of $1299. (If you act now....there's an Early Bird Special going on right now! Register and pay in full before January 5, 2015 and pay only $995!!)

You'll enjoy quality daily yoga practices, wonderful food, comfortable accommodations, an ocean view, exciting jungle excursions, and a whole lot more.

Connect to Self: You will have opportunities for quiet reflection and meditation while you're on your retreat. Enjoy a quiet walk on the beach, meditate near the pool, enjoy an invigoration massage, write in your journal in a hammock, and the list goes on. Quiet reflection offers the space to shift, to change, to grow. Gain insight to feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.

Connect to Others: Celebrate this retreat with other men from all over the world. Enjoy daily nude yoga practices in the private ocean-view yoga studio. Explore intimate connections through a guided tantric massage workshop. Entertain the many excursions that are offered in Costa Rica: horseback riding, zip lining, jungle tours, kayaking, water repelling, and a whole lot more.

Connect to All Things: Throughout this yoga retreat, you will be more aware and mindful of yourself, relate intimately to others, and reminded of the cosmic connection to all of the things that surround.

If this is what you're looking for in a Men's Yoga Retreat, then please join us in May 2015 for this unique and special experience. Please visit our website to learn more about the retreat, Blue Osa, and the facilitators, John Cottrell and Yogi Aaron.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Men's Yoga Retreat Pricing

Hello, Everyone!

The retreat prices have been set for the Men's Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica at Blue Osa for May 23-29, 2015. It's not too early to plan, so mark your calendars. Here's the breakdown:

Single Occupancy: $1699

Double Occupancy: $1299 (most popular)

Reserve A Spot: Deposit = $250

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL (for Double Occupancy)

Available NOW until JANUARY 5, 2015


We even can set up a Monthly Payment Plan!
If you start paying in June 2014, you can pay as little as 95.36 per month until April 6, 2015.
$1299 - $250 = $1049
$1049/11 = $95.36 per month
Contact John to set up your Monthly Payment Plan

You can also visit our new website to read about the retreat, read our blog, and make your payments online at:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Is A Yoga Retreat?

A yoga retreat is an opportunity to step away from your normal routine and engaged in a community where yoga is the main activity for that community building.

A yoga retreat offers you time to relax, unwind, re-group, and focus. If you live a stressful and busy lifestyle, a yoga retreat may be the perfect rememdy to ease the mind and body.

A yoga retreat allows you to deepen your yoga practice (or even start your yoga practice.) Yoga retreats often provide a theme or intention that guides the focus of your time together. Daily practices may range from flowing movement to stillness and meditation. A yoga retreat can help you to go deeper, connect, be more aware, to settle your active mind.

A yoga retreat may even feel like a vacation. Often retreats are held in nice facilities with beautiful inviting surroundings. You don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning or other household duties you may be used to at home. This is your time to get away - to retreat!

A yoga retreat can help you to clear your mind so you can solve problems, move forward on your life journey, answer questions, and even grow a deeper appreciation of yourself.

It goes without saying that you will meet other people on a yoga retreat. A sense of communty is established at a yoga retreat. You will creat bonds that can be long-lasting.

If you haven't attended a yoga retreat, consider attending one in the near future. I highly recommend it.

Where can you find yoga retreats? Perhaps a simple Google search can begin your quest for the perfect yoga retreat for you. Talk to your yoga instructors, visit a locak yoga studio. You can typically find posting and announcements of yoga retreats that would suit your intention.

I will be co-facilitating a Men's Yoga Retreat at the beautiful Blue Osa in Costa Rica in May 2015. For more information about this retreat, stay tuned in to this blog or visit my website. To whet your appetite, visit to see this amazing beach-side resort.

Blue Osa Men's Yoga Retreat

I just got back from an amazing trip to Costa Rica where I attended and co-facilitated a Men's Yoga Retreat at Blue Osa Resort. The retreat took place May 24-30, 2014.

Bryan Harrelson of San Francisco was the main instructor at the retreat. This was his 3rd time facilitating this event. Nine amazing men from all over the globe took part in this year's retreat. Aaron Star (Yogi Aaron), the proud owner of the Blue Osa, also taught at the retreat. With three unique styles, we were able to offer the retreat attendees a full and rich yoga experience. In addition to the yoga, we ventured out and enjoyed some exciting excursions: horseback riding, a chocolate tour, waterfall repelling, and zip lining to name a few! All-in-all, the retreat created a strong community and bond among the men. Bryan said it best in a Facebook post, "After running 11 retreats, I finally figured out that it's not about the yoga, it's about the people."

You got it right, Bryan! The connections that were made at this retreat were important, indeed. Men from all over to congregate, share, laugh, and cry together. We experienced a connection that will last even after the retreat. These connections have allowed us to see ourselves a little better. We learned. We grew. And we will thrive.

Although this was Bryan's last retreat at Blue Osa for a couple of years, the tradition will continue. I will be co-facilitating the next retreat with Yogi Aaron next May! We are already excited about creating a new community of men! Plans are already being made! (Read more about Bryan at

Follow this blog and other social media to gain more information about the Blue Osa Men's Yoga Retreat in May 2015. I will give you updates and information about Blue Osa as well as how beneficial a men's yoga retreat can be.

Here are the proposed dates: May 23-29, 2015
Early Bird pricing will begin soon: ($995 until January 5, 2015)

To learn a little bit more about Blue Osa, please visit their website at You can also find a follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

And I'm John Cottrell! You can find out more about me and my background at