Manifesting the
Wisdom of the Body

A Zen Mind, Yoga Body  ‘Go At Your Own Pace’ Online Retreat
with Samantha Ostergaard and Do-On Robert Thomas

Registration is open through September 24, 2016
Register Now

Listen to an Introduction with Samantha and Robert.

The Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body Online Retreat features powerful teachings on how to bring the body and mind together in daily practice taught by skilled teachers and supported by a community of fellow practitioners.

Zazen, Zen Meditation

Samantha Ostergaard 4 crop

Living in today’s increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and hyper-fast-changing world, it’s more important than ever to be present for our lives—to slow down and to experience the stillness, balance and clarity available to us in every moment.

Join Samantha Ostergaard and Do-On Robert Thomas as they bring together the authentic spirit and profound teachings of two ancient spiritual traditions—Yoga and Zen Buddhism—in their Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body Online Retreat.

Fifteen years ago, while practicing as monks in a Zen monastery, Robert and Samantha realized for themselves the benefits of bringing the mind and the body together. They connected the practice of the body—through yoga’s emphasis on posture, breath and alignment—with a concentrated moment-to-moment study of the mind in Zen meditation. They found that their struggles to be focused, aware and grounded in their practice began to change.

The integration of yoga and zazen became a focus in their practice, and with it came the joy and fulfillment of awakening in each moment with the body and the mind as one.

They saw that when they made it their practice to bring awareness to the experience of the body, the mind was less distracted, more settled and awake, and the body’s innate wisdom began to unfold. The integration of yoga and zazen became a focus in their practice, and with it came the joy and fulfillment of awakening in each moment with the body and the mind as one.

This four-sequence retreat is about helping you establish a daily yoga and Zen practice that reconnects you with the intimate experience of your body and mind in the present moment. You will get simple tools that help you take better care of your body and mind, supporting you to be more balanced, clear and more prepared to meet the challenges of your life and make progress on your path.

Discover the Benefits of Daily Body and Mind Practice

Samantha Ostergaard 2

The Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body ‘Go At Your Own Pace’ Online Retreat will show you how to establish and integrate fundamental body and mind practices that support you to make positive changes in your life, including:

  • Increasing your awareness of the moment-to-moment experience of your body and mind, giving you a sense of stillness and freedom in each moment
  • Reconnecting with your deepest intentions through discovering a meaningful, daily personal practice
  • Discovering a greater sense of connection, wholeness and well-being so that you can open up to the boundless possibilities of your life

Study with Authentic and Knowledgeable Teachers

As teachers, Robert and Samantha are both authentic and knowledgeable. Each has spent decades dedicated to studying and practicing together with others, and studying the benefits of integrating body and mind practice. They transmit the wisdom of their yoga and Zen Buddhist traditions with simple and clear, yet powerful practices that can easily become essential elements in your everyday home practice.

Samantha and Robert’s teachings quite naturally encourage a sense of aliveness, non-judgement and joyful possibility in each moment. With their warm and gentle humor and authentic presence, they foster a feeling of heartfelt connection among the group, which creates the perfect conditions to benefit from practicing in community with others.

A Personal Invitation from Samantha and Do-On Robert



Dear Friends,

Have you been longing to reconnect with the deeper, truer aspects of yourself, but you haven’t been able to find time for yourself in your busy day?

Have you been thinking you would like to meditate but don’t know how to start? Or maybe you’ve tried to meditate but you thought you couldn’t do it, for whatever reason?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then we invite you to join us in our Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body Online Retreat so that you can benefit from the powerful integration of body and mind practice.

We’ve been leading Zen and yoga retreats at Tassajara for many years, and are excited to be able to support you in a new way, with a combination of a body-based practice and meditation that is simple and accessible—practice that you can actually do!

We invite you to discover, just as we did, how to build a practice that reconnects you with your body, settles your mind and helps you be in the world with more openness and possibility.

Please join us for four sequences of body and mind practice! We look forward to supporting you on a path of deepening connection with your true, embodied, self.

With gratitude,

Samantha and Do-On Robert

Learn the Basic Tools of a Body-Mind Practice


The Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body ‘Go At Your Own Pace’ Online Retreat will give you the basic tools of a body-mind practice. You will learn how to embody the practices of yoga and Zen Buddhism in four traditional and essential forms:

  • Zen meditation (zazen)—the heart of Zen practice, presented in short segments
  • Yoga poses (asana)—guided daily practices that ground you in the experience of the body and mind and prepare you for zazen
  • Zen teachings (dharma)—short but engaging explorations of wisdom and compassion
  • Community practice (sangha)—the coming together of like-minded people in community as dharma friends

Beginners in yoga and Zen are welcome in this retreat. The retreat will also benefit longtime yoga and Zen practitioners who wish to deepen their practice.

Wake Up in Every Moment

As you progress through the Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body ‘Go At Your Own Pace’ Online Retreat with a daily practice, your body and mind will begin to wake up, and you will see the benefits of being more physically and mentally present in every moment of your life.

The daily practice will give you:

  • The ability to feel more settled and relaxed in a seated meditation posture, and a better understanding of what’s happening in meditation
  • An increased capacity to be calm and stay present with your life by focusing the mind and working effectively with your thoughts, feelings and emotions
  • Yoga poses that improve your posture and increase your flexibility and awareness, so that you can sit in meditation posture more comfortably
  • The building blocks for your own personal daily 30-minute yoga and meditation practice that supports greater balance, clarity and stability
  • A newfound feeling of connection and support that comes from practicing together with teachers and others like you

What Students are Saying About Zen Mind, Yoga Body Retreats

“Samantha and Robert have put together a marvelous, inspiring, thoughtful retreat that really integrates body and mind in extended periods of yoga practice and meditation. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and came home feeling fully renewed, relaxed, and with a panoply of new ways to approach both meditation and yoga.

— E., UC Berkeley doctoral student and teacher

“Of all the workshops we have taken, this was in my mind the best integration of bodywork and introduction to Zen. … You physically, mentally and spiritually prepared us to sit zazen.”

— Karin P.

“Since the
Zen Mind, Yoga Body retreat, I have made mindfulness meditation a part of my everyday life.  I feel more mindful and happy and the retreat feels like one of the best things I have done for myself.”

— Neil Medeiros

A Path to a More Fulfilling Life

Photo: Margo Moritz

The Zen Mind, Yoga Body online retreat supports you to live in a more complete, satisfying and fulfilling way. Awakening through the body, finding stillness, balance and clarity, together with the support of others, you will feel a renewed connection with yourself and with your life.

This program will give you the support to develop a new relationship with yourself. By developing a regular home practice that engages both your body and mind, you are creating the conditions to be ready and capable of meeting the challenges of today’s world and continuing on the amazing journey that awaits you in each moment of your life.

Here’s What You’ll Learn


Sequence 1

In Sequence 1, we introduce the basic mind and body components of Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body, and lay the foundations for integrating yoga and Zen meditation practice. You’ll learn:

  • The foundations of zazen (Zen meditation) practice, including the basic posture and variations, why we meditate, and how to work with our mind as we sit.
  • A yoga sequence that will release tension in the lower back and open the hips to prepare you for sitting.
  • Yoga practices that will stabilize the mind, and relax the body, while cultivating a connection to the earth, so that you feel relaxed, grounded and stable when you sit.
  • Basic mindfulness of the body in zazen and yoga—understanding the practice of zazen in three ways: zazen as the body, zazen as the breath, and zazen as the mind.


Sequence 2

In Sequence 2, we deepen our fundamental practice with the body by focusing on working with the present moment experience of being with the body, mind and breath, together as one. You will learn:

  • A yoga sequence that will undo constriction in your breathing patterns, allowing your natural breath to be more free.
  • Yoga practices that awaken awareness in the body, and connect you with the moment to moment experience of the body.
  • Three aspects of exploring the present moment by making ourselves ready, accepting what comes, and continuing to practice, moment after moment.
Photo: Margo Moritz

Sequence 3

In Sequence 3, we extend our practice of being with the body to working with thoughts, sensations and stories as they come up in our practice, as well as our intention and vow. You will learn:

  • A yoga sequence that will open your upper back, chest and shoulders, relaxing the neck and making your upright posture more effortless.
  • Yoga practices that awaken awareness in the body through opening and deepening the breath.
  • Why intention, commitment and vow are such important and essential aspects of Zen practice, and how we can clarify our intention, commitment and vow and integrate it into our daily practice.


Sequence 4

In Sequence 4, we will continue to open the body and the mind, making an effort to cut through the static and realize a more fundamental ground of being—one that is full of new possibility in each moment. You will learn:

  • A yoga sequence that will bring more freedom in the hips and shoulders, and release tension from the low back, neck and shoulders.
  • Yoga practices that will enable you to stay with the present moment, even when what is happening may be difficult or challenging.
  • To see your practice as an exploration of possibility and understanding the body from three different perspectives: the boundless, interconnected body, the awakened body, and the beneficial, helping body.

This Retreat Will Include:

(These materials will be available to you on the course website through September 24, 2016.)

Six 30-minute video yoga and meditation sessions with Samantha, all available to download or stream. Each yoga practice will prepare the body and mind for sitting meditation, and will end with 10 minutes of meditation practice.

A 30-minute Zen Meditation Instruction video class

Four 30–40-minute video dharma teaching and meditation sessions with Robert, all available to download or stream

Four hour-long recordings of teleconferences with Samantha and Robert.

Access to a private, highly interactive course website for all participants—this is our hub for all things related to this course, including a sangha.

Participation in discussion forums to engage and interact with fellow retreat practitioners from around the globe.

Encouragement from Robert and Samantha with inspiring quotes, suggestions and questions to support and guide your daily practice.

More About Robert and Samantha

samantha-bioSamantha brings two decades of training in therapeutic and restorative Yoga to gently guide people in practices that restore, rebalance and realign the body, breath and mind.  Her yoga classes cultivate meditative awareness in the experience of the poses, while incorporating Iyengar-based alignment principles. A student of Zen for 17 years, her teachings are deeply influenced by three transformational years of intensive Zen meditation practice at Tassajara, a Zen monastery in California. An acupuncturist and yoga therapist, Samantha’s yoga classes are designed to harmonize and energize the body’s energetic structure, through restorative and therapeutic poses that also relieve common areas of tension, restriction, and pain. Samantha and her husband, Robert Thomas, have been co-leading Zen Mind, Yoga Body retreats in California and internationally since 2007.  Samantha is an acupuncturist and yoga therapist  practicing Japanese and Korean acupuncture in San Francisco.

robert-bioRobert’s kind and mindful presence is the result of over twenty years of Zen practice, including six years of intensive meditation practice at Tassajara and eight years as president of the San Francisco Zen Center. He was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2000, and received Dharma Transmission from his Zen teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, in 2009. As a Dharma Teacher, he leads meditation retreats, workshops, and gives public lectures throughout the year. Prior to coming to Zen practice Robert was a filmmaker, restaurateur and magazine Creative Director. Robert thrives in practicing together with others, and facilitating fresh and compelling explorations of Zen Buddhist thought and practice as they apply to real-life issues and challenges.

More Sharings from Zen Mind, Yoga Body Students…

“The gentle and thoughtful approach of Samantha and Robert’s integrated teachings made this experience one that will stay with me. Samantha’s calming, easy suggestions helped me to integrate yoga into my daily sittings. Robert’s straightforward dharma commentary helped me understand The Wisdom of the Body in a new way. It was a great course offering that made the overall experience feel intimate in a way that surprised me, an excellent use of a digital platform.”

—Dan, 2014 participant


“The retreat helped me get over the initial challenges of meditation. I’d tried in the past to sit on a regular basis and was never able to get past two weeks. With this retreat, somewhere in the third and fourth weeks, things started to click, and I began to relax into it instead of trying so hard and ultimately stopping. This made all the difference in me establishing a regular practice. I feel like I have a path forward now. Really, really great course, and the online model worked very well for me. Thank you, Robert and Samantha.”

— Eric, 2014 participant


“This was such a profound experience for me. As a yoga teacher, it really helped me to deepen my own asana and meditation practice. I just happened to be working on a body-positive teacher training, and the whole experience just made me so much more aware and so much more in awe of this vehicle with which we experience our human condition.”

— Jennifer, 2014 participant



What is an online retreat?

An online retreat delivers curriculum to you when you want it, which gives you the control to determine your best time to do the work. Whether your best times are mornings or evenings, you’ll be able to listen to the recordings of the sessions at your convenience.

Do I need any special equipment?

The technological equipment you’ll need is a computer with an internet connection.

For the yoga portion of the retreat, you will need:

  • One Yoga Mat
  • Two “Mexican” Yoga Blankets
  • Two Yoga Blocks,
    measuring 9 x 5.5 x 3.5 inches (W x H x D)
  • One Yoga Strap

Where is this retreat being held?

Because this is a go-at-your-own-pace online retreat, you can do the practice from the comfort of your own home in a way that works best for you. Wherever your computer is, you can participate in this retreat. It’s recommended that you create a quiet space and time in your home, but it is possible to take a laptop outside or log in from your hotel room if you’re traveling.

Do I need yoga or meditation experience to participate?

No yoga or meditation experience is necessary in order to participate in this program.

Recording of Conference Call and Q&A on June 23, 2016 with Samantha & Do-On Robert

Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body Conference Call  (MP3 – 49.9 MB)

In this recording Samantha and Robert introduce you to the skillful tools and methods they teach in this course to help you establish a daily Zen meditation and yoga practice. You will hear about how they each came to their path of practice, and get a sense for the support and deep insights they can offer you on your path to cultivating greater balance and presence in your life.

“This course is a sincere invitation to learn more about the fundamentals of Zen and yoga practice, and what it could mean for you to have a personal integrated body and mind practice. It’s an encouragement to connect with yourself on a deeper level.”

—Do-on Robert Thomas

Register Now


Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body

A Four-Sequence Zen Mind, Yoga Body  ‘Go At Your Own Pace’ Online Retreat


Registrations Before July 15 Receive a 10% Discount on General and Member Fees

General: $125
Current SFZC member: $112
Limited income: $100

Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body 2015 Registration Button

Cancellation Policy:

Within 1-15 days after registration: Full refund, less $20 service charge