Billy Cottrell has been teaching and training others to teach in Athens since 2008. He completed both 200hr and 500hr level teacher trainings and was previously the YTT director at Yogaful Day. Billy is also a mental health counselor practicing in Athens. He has witnessed yoga’s ability to help with chronic pain and to encourage physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. Billy feels very grateful to be able to share the practice of yoga with his students. Passionate about making yoga accessible to all, his classes benefit anyone, regardless of age, body, ability, or experience.
Where are you from? Born and raised in the Motor City (Detroit)
How long have you lived in Athens? Since 2008
What’s your passion? I’m pretty passionate about helping others. As a yoga teacher and mental health counselor, I often see people at their most vulnerable. It reminds me of how truly connected we all are. We often can feel vulnerable, yet hopeful at the same time. I enjoy helping others move toward hope and realizing that they have the power to bring themselves into the light.
Favorite book? Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Favorite movie? Mommie Dearest
Favorite restaurant? I’m a breakfast guy. I like Mama’s Boy and tried grits there for the first time in my 30s.
When did you start practicing yoga and why?
I stepped into my first yoga class in the late 90s in the East Village of New York with Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. The class introduced me to the practice of yoga and sparked my curiosity. During a time I was struggling to “find myself,” I took a peek into this amazing world of people twisting themselves into knots and balancing on their arms and heads. While it was interesting—and I knew I certainly wasn’t a “gym person,”—yoga didn’t grab me at first. It was a little weird. A decade later, I found myself attending another class and began establishing a more regular practice. I couldn’t deny the benefits I noticed in my body and mind. As the mental health and physical benefits set in, I saw myself inching toward feeling more comfortable in my body and in my world. I was hooked.
What’s your favorite yoga style?
Yin yoga, but I love being a student in several different styles. I like to mix it up.
How long have you taught yoga? What inspired you to teach?
I started teaching yoga in 2005. I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2004 and my 500 hour training in 2010. The birth of my son and the daily stress of being a parent, required that I find healthier ways of dealing with my stress and the challenges of life in general. Honestly, becoming a teacher was a bit of an impulsive decision. I knew I loved yoga and was looking to deepen my practice. I saw a flyer at a coffee shop in Detroit, called and signed up. I was on my way to being able to share my experience with others and to introduce them to the beauty of this ancient practice.
What’s your advice to someone who is new to yoga?
Just come to class and breath. Become of aware of the importance of alignment early, and you will have a strong foundation for growth. Don’t feel like you have to stand on your head or compete with anyone else in the room. Even your yoga teachers struggle to find their way. You are you, and yoga is a process and a journey. It can be uncomfortable and invigorating at the same time. Some days it can be a challenge to even drag yourself to class, and on other days you may feel like you are drunk with bliss. Just keep coming. Listen to the wisdom of your body and you can’t go wrong. If we learn to turn attention away from the outside world and bring our awareness inward, you open a world of possibility. And always, just go back to the breath over and over; it is the essence of the practice.
What is your favorite pose?
Balasana (child’s pose) takes us back to the safety and security of our youth. The health benefits are immense. It is an excellent opportunity to check back in with yourself and come back to your practice.
What’s your favorite class to teach at M3? Favorite to take?
I have always enjoyed teaching yoga for beginners. To watch people go from being wide-eyed and nervous during their first class, to gaining confidence both inside and out gives me great joy. I find supporting others through the fear and curiosity is one of the best parts of the job. Witnessing people grow and move closer to becoming their true selves is pretty priceless. Oh, and naming a favorite class at M3 is nearly impossible. Nick’s Back Health class was an early favorite, but I love sampling different classes depending upon what I’m feeling on any given day.
What do you enjoy most about M3?
M3 has established itself as the premier yoga studio in Athens and for good reason. When I first entered the doors, I was amazed at the community that has been cultivated in such a short time. It is rare that a studio is able to offer such a diverse offering of classes being taught by the best teachers in Athens (and beyond). There is a place for absolutely everyone regardless of whether you have been doing yoga since the 1970s or are just beginning your yoga journey.