When you just need 20 minutes to catch your breath and begin again..... I would love to share that time with you right now!
Being a yoga teacher is not easy, it's not always glamorous and there is a lot, a LOT of leg work you have to do to get to a place that you see others at. Most teachers you look out at have worked their asses off and then some and are still working 26 hours a day to get it right. And if they have not gone that road, they are the few that are just really lucky.
I started out as a yoga teacher and I was barely 19 years old. My students were mostly old enough to be my parents and I was not a collage graduate with a fitness related degree or business related degree. I had two other jobs besides teaching yoga to make sure I filled my days and could pay my bills. I lived in my car and bought all my props out of my own money so my students could have the best experience possible. I made up flyers for classes at many of the locations I taught because I saw that if I got one person from those I was ahead of the game, no one told me to do that and in less than pleasant weather I would walk the Walmart parking lot and side streets putting my flyers on car windows. I'd go to all the coffee shops around and post appropriate flyers for the classes in that area I was teaching (no one told me to do this by the way). Again if I could get one student, that was a win for me.
I never waited for someone to give me an idea or an opportunity I went out and got them myself. I never saw the studios, gyms and rec centers I taught for as responsible for my success as a teacher but rather that they were giving me a chance to expose myself to as many people as possible.
Some day's I'd wake up at 5am to drive 40 minutes to a studio I taught at to do a 30 minute private class for an elderly lady with MS, then I'd get a coffee or do a self-practice or read for an hour and a half until I had a class 8am, to then drive 50 minutes back to lifeguard and teach a few swim lessons in the afternoon. In the evening I'd be out to any of the various locations I hustled at and taught one, two even three classes for the night, and sometimes not all at the same location (hustling again).
I have never taught routines and in the first several years of, teaching I was incredibly self-critical, feeling I was not a good enough teacher, that at times broke me down, I had bouts of crying, feeling I couldn't make it, that I wasn't good enough, and oh by the way I was newly in recovery for an eating disorder dealing with all the shit that goes with that, I would have to continuously pull myself together to teach and my mat is what saved my life and has helped make me who I am today.
I guess what I am trying to say is if you are expecting that when you become a yoga teacher that it's going to be wonderful and easy, that the students will just flock to you, in kindness, think again. No one told me what to expect about anything when I went into this, I hadn't a clue how to do much of anything except for my 6, one hour class outlines I had in my folder when I left my training. Being a yoga teacher long term has to be something you feel deep in your heart, no your soul, it's something that will bring you to the pits of your being, exposing all your insecurities when students either judge you or appear to be and you have to find it in yourself to deal with it. When your class sizes swing by the tens and you must remember that shit happens and most likely it’s not you as long as you know you are doing all you can to succeed. I’d hear students comment on that their backs hurt or over hear in a crowd that their instructor does this or that, and I’d make a mental note to not do that or to learn more about what they were talking about.
It's a mind game of rejection and acceptance when your classes take months, no YEARS to stabilize and gain approval from your community. I spent months and months and months when I opened my studio building up classes, time slots and new styles of yoga. I'd come home to my husband and he'd ask how many people and I'd say one or two and after a few months maybe four, and in the following weeks the same four again, it was years later of extensive effort, trust and belief that I was able to make things work.
You can’t be wishy-washy when you decide to be a yoga teacher and you must be willing to step out and take risks and most importantly follow through; ideas are one thing but actually putting them into action is another. I am the kind of person that continuously self reflects and asks what can I do better, what am I doing wrong and how can I change this? I am an action taker and am willing to go the extra mile. Is that the description of a yoga teacher, maybe, maybe not, but when you add a side of honesty your students learn to trust you.
Being a yoga teacher cannot be about the money no matter how many yoga teachers out there are teaching you the business of yoga and how you can make a six figure income doing so, in all reality very few will (for various reasons). And again I repeat to be successful in life you must follow your heart with honesty and integrity and then the money, if it’s your path, will come. My path has taught me to rely on no one to do things for me and when necessary ask for help, but don’t expect others to do your dirty work no matter where you teach, where you work or where you live.
In writing this today I hope you take some time to self-reflect, maybe you are not a yoga teacher but being one takes guts, takes real, REAL commitment and follow through. And in wanting to be a yoga teacher it’s important to decide to what degree do you really want to teach and how much you really want to do what you say you want to do. I have learned it’s not for everyone and to teach a class that is not hyped by media science (what the media says is so great, new and trendy, will help you melt pounds and make you look great) and to not fall into the latest fads (yes even yoga) means you may have a slightly harder time getting students in because helping people realize what they buy into is a totally different topic.
So to all my yoga teachers out there, hang in there and keep at it, maybe teaching eight classes is too much and you’d rather just teach one class a week and that be it, maybe you just want to teach your friends and family, or not at all anymore. Maybe you do want to open a studio, or maybe you have a whole different path in mind. I don't regret any bit of my path and have a vision and I will do all I can to make it happen in God's timing, but in the mean time I will not wait around for others to help me make it, that's no one's job but mine.
Regardless, I wish you all well and know that this message is merely from my own experience and one that will hopefully help you find what you are looking for, being that answer has to come from within you. I love being a yoga teacher and wouldn't want to do anything else in life but what I currently do, heck I teach a yoga teacher training program, but teach it with the approach of a total life transformation program first, and feel that to be a yoga teacher you must start there and that takes time.
So to all my yoga teacher friends and readers go out there and rock it, own your space and follow through, the sweat you put in will reward you fully and the the sweat I'm talking about does not come from the heaters blowing 90 degree air out on you during class.
Many of us have a large stability ball at home and have no clue what to do with it. Enjoy just 10 minutes with me and your stability and I know you and your stability ball will develop a whole new relationship together. 10 minutes of core, this video will leave you quivering, feeling like you've done your body good in 10 minutes flat!
With Hope Zvara
Heel Squat is a great wake up morning move, or a pre-run, yoga, TRX or get your day going release. This simple exercise focuses on the plantar tendon, Achilles tendon, calves and hamstrings; basically the entire back of the legs (great for calf cramps, plantar fasciitis, tight lower back) .
1. Squat down as far as you comfortably can (if necessary place your hands on a chair at a distance in front of you).
2. Allow your body weight to sit back towards your heels, but do not sit your heels to the ground, think of them hanging off a curb.
3. Slight contraction in pelvic floor and abdomen and finally reach your arms as far forward and down in front as you can. Remember that your arms are an extension of your back body, so get a stretching!
4. Relax your glutes and let your sit bones sink down into your stretching pants.
5. Hold here for five breaths.
6. Now work in repetition, Inhale lengthen the legs, and exhale back into heel squat. Speed is not the goal but rather release. If you have tighter hamstrings please do not fully straighten the legs, give your body time to release, your lower back will thank you.
7. Repeat this series 10-15 times.
8. Now go out and get moving.!
Side Body Series with Hope Zvara
1. From a kneeling position extend your right leg out to the side and turn your toes forward, anchoring into the outer side of the foot, keep the ankle in neutral and the thigh engaged.
2. With arms at “T” Inhale reach to the right and Exhale slide down the extended leg. Keeping the pelvic-core strong and engaged feel the side body open and extend.
3. Look upwards or down and find a position for the neck in rotation. Continue to breathe and work to reach from the bent knee to the extended arm.
4. Be playful yet mindful of moving the torso open or slightly closed and find where the pose best serves you.
5. Other arm variations: Tuck top arm behind the torso and work to rotate open, rotate the arm inward towards the ear and extend the arm alongside the head and ear. As you rotate the torso open rotate your arm towards the ear.
6. On your next exhale rotate the torso down towards the extended leg. Inhale work to lengthen and exhale work to release deeper. Keep your core strong and allow your hips to press back and you reach towards the leg.
7. Either hold on to the foot with the hand or extend your left arm or both arms beyond the foot to continue the length in the spine and back muscles. If needed prop up on blocks if your hands will not meet the floor. Remain her for ten breaths.
8. Inhale open back up and extend your left arm towards the sky.
9. Pause for two breaths.
10. On your next Inhale draw your body upright with the arms at a “T” position.
11. Exhale and top to the left, placing your left hand under your left shoulder, fingers point away and the fold of the elbow rotates in line with the middle finger.
12. Keep foot (on floor), bottom knee and hand in line with each other and rotate the extended leg to be parallel with the floor, inner foot parallel with the floor (no external rotation).
13. Inhale and lift the right leg up towards hip height. Keep the chest open and the body stacked. Check the lifted leg to make sure you are in line with the hip and the inner thigh is facing the floor.
14. Exhale and lower the leg towards the floor working on contracting the pelvic floor, Inhale and lift the leg back to hip height slowly and controlled, being aware not to let the body shift and move.
15. If you are feeling hip or glute pain, check the rotation of the leg/hip, hip flexor pain work to internally rotate the leg more, glute pain work to open the hip up more.
16. Continue with the lift and lower for 10 times.
17. After the 10th time keep lifted and with a strong torso and obliques pulse the top leg for a small 3” lift ten additional times.
18. Exhale lower the leg to the floor.
19. Inhale, take a moment and Exhale using your core, float back to an upright position.
20. Inhale, and balancing, bring the extended leg back to kneeling.
21. Repeat the opposite side.
22. Repeat the weaker or tighter side implementing 2:1 ratio.
Join Hope for a quick ten minute yoga workout to bring more vital energy to the spine and open the hips. Enjoy!
Got 10 minutes? When you exercise effectively the length of time becomes irrelevant. Join Hope for a quick ten minute workout in this great squat series using a weighted ball (don't have a weighted ball use a hand weight or even a soup can). Just ten minutes of breathing and body toning will leave you energized and feeling great about what you accomplished. Make a commitment to this series for a week and see the difference! Choose any one of my other videos to finish up with a great cool-down or yoga sequence. Namaste
Join Hope for a great class focusing on body opening, effective back bends with great instruction will leave you feeling open, refreshed and ready to let go of yesterday and jump into today.
Yoga, Fitness, Stretch, Workout, Back Bends
The joys of having a baby is more than anyone can ever describe, and as a mom of two, myself, I have found that unless you consciously choose to incorporate your little yogi into your practice, we often then choose not to practice at all. And for others the choice is to practice (exercise) without that little ball of joy nearby or incorporated into that very important part of your life. Yoga is a huge part of my life and my family’s life, my son Harper (now four), and my daughter Meredith (now 2) were from day one my little yogi buddies and walking buddies, they did (and still do) everything I do. Because to me, my mindset was my kids were going to be a part of my life, a part of my practice and a part of my studio, I wanted them to know no different, just like some want their kids to learn a certain prayer or family tradition, I wanted my kids to learn to live a holistic-yogic lifestyle from early on.
Like many exercise to me is important, but a mindful practice where it is a part of your lifestyle is even more important. Here are some examples: We all go for a walk (my two dogs and two kids) and we talk about why fresh air is important and how Mother Earth loves that we enjoy her and that we don’t litter(we usually are on a quest to pick it all up) and why that isn’t a good choice. I have taught my kids how to breathe and how they can use their breath to help them in stressful situations. I have a yoga room and my children adore spending time there, we take turns using my reformer, weights, and yoga mat, we teach each other poses, bounce on the bosu and I explain how bouncing is healthy for the lymphatic system and stretching is good for your muscles and mind, and building strength will help you get big and strong like your Momma and Papa.
For some in today’s society the parents may be healthy but they keep that to themselves, for many, eating salad and lean chicken at dinner, but then feeding the rest of the family greasy foods. Or going out for a hike or tending the garden but leaving the kids inside watching T.V. At my house if I want to practice yoga (while my kids are awake) or go for a walk it’s either with them or nothing. And more important than me staying physically fit, is for them to see me take care of myself in all I do and incorporate them into it; so as they get older it’s no different than brushing their teeth, reading books and taking a bath. To them I want it is simply how things have always been, and these skills are skills that can and should be taught by the parents. Now sure they crawl all over me in plank and slide down my back in Downward Dog, and that at times gets to be a little much, but that won’t be forever and yoga to me is more than exercise it’s tapping into the inner self and connecting, isn’t it for you?
To continue to read this article by Hope Zvara visit MindBodyGreen.com
Core work made simple on your yoga mat! Join Hope for a great 20 minute practice that will get you fired up for the day, most people use hip hurting moves that leave your hip flexors screaming and in pain. Core work really can be simple and effective. Follow up your heart pumping 'all body" core class with essential hip release asanas that anyone can follow for a great start or end to your day.
Great supplement to any athlete or workout.
Hip Release, Yoga, Core, Hip Stretches, Core Asana