Hey all, join me for a fun, functional floor flow style practice complete with your fair serving of yoga fun! When we think to flow it means we become very compliant with cohesively sinking our breath to our movement, so come join me in a liberating flow that will leave you feeling amazing. Namaste!
We all do it, in yoga that is, transitioning from downward facing dog to runners lunge; the only problem is how the hell do I get my foot between my hands?
To be honest, no one ever told me either, they just said to do it and so I did, and when I first started teaching I too just told my students to do it and yep they struggle and I just kept telling them it will get better in time and for the most part it really did; except for those few that really needed more detail on how to actually transition.
This transition is a transition of core work combine with flexibility, but also the right understanding of how to move from point A to point B. When looking at the cliff notes picture below take note from the foot to the hand and practice your transition. Speed is not the issue and usually will only make things more complicated. If your teacher doesn't ever slow things down for the people in the room who need more help in fear their flow may be ruined, then I want to encourage you to practice at home and then go and WOW your teacher at class when you finally get it (or if you are a teacher slow down, your students will appreciate it and feel the difference).
And one more thing, don't forget that this transition is a core move, so work to engage your pelvic floor (really important) as well as your deep transversus (it will feel like your belly) as you roll your body forward, rather than stiffly like a board move your body forward. Remember make room for your leg to come forward as you slide along.
This can be a move in itself and I often use it as that in the event of practicing such a transition for a better Sun Sal or whatever we are doing at the time. I like to rock this ten times on each side to really feel the difference!
So off you go, ready, get set, rock your core!
by Hope Zvara
Plank is a hot core move in the fitness industry and yoga is no exception, but regardless of this hot move, it appears that there are many, many accidental variations that could be jeopardizing your core benefits in more ways than one.
1. Your plank is a bit saggy. Well to be a bit blunter your plank is hanging in all the wrong places. Just because your knees and belly aren’t on the floor hardly qualifies Plank as working your core. A saggy middle and saggy head not only put your lower back at serious risk for damage (an area most are already having pain) but a saggy head only creates more pressure on our poor wrists, another area many complain about in this trendy pose. Lift your middle without hinging at the hips, when you hang you put too much stress on the lower back and psoas, imagine floating above a campfire and remember to lift your head and look straight down, rather than forward.
2. You suffer from gluteuspoofus. Yep you heard me correctly; gluteuspoofus is a serious syndrome that many suffer from which entails you (the student) to push your booty to the sky creating a tip in the pelvis (pubis bone tipping upwards and ASIS down, fancy term for front hip bones). This tilt takes the entire core load into the hip hinge no longer making it a core pose. Make sure to align your pelvis in neutral (pubis bone and hip bones parallel with the floor, and ever slightly tip the hip bones into your core). You should feel the difference.
3. Your upper body looks like the incredible hulk. Now don’t get me wrong you are using your upper body in Plank but, everything is an extension of your core and your arms should not be doing all the work. When the folds of your elbows turn inward and your chest hallows out, it leaves your upper back looking like a berm and you have just cheated yourself again from a stellar core pose! Your upper back should be broad but not hunched, scapulae stabilization at its finest.
4. Your hands are cupping on the floor to hide your reward afterwards. Ok maybe not, but I see this all the time, all the load in the wrist and then people complain that their not strong enough for Plank yet. No, you probably are, you just haven’t had the proper instruction. Take just an extra few seconds to ensure that your wrists are directly under your shoulders, turn the folds of the elbows forward (watch hyperextension) and then lean just a hair further forward to bring more weight into the line of the fingers, making sure to spread the hands wide. And yes, Plank does strengthen the forearms and wrists so be ready for a little work in that area.
5. You are acting like you have two legs. The line of our core starts at the inner arches of our feet and runs up our inner thighs and feeds directly into the pelvic floor; two separate legs for someone who can’t quite say they truly understand the core will leave them with any one of the above and maybe something even fancier than that. Draw your legs and ankles together and zip the line of the inner thighs, this will at least allow your pelvic floor and transversus abdominus a fighting chance to turn on.
So what’s the skinny on plank then?
Plank is one-third core, one-third legs and one-third arms. When one area of the body is not up to par we compensate, for many it being the core. Start from the ground up and set up your hands and arms, consider placing a mini ball or foam block between the inner thighs and squeeze, this will allow a more effective core onset until you can feel those deep inner muscles without. Remember to practice neutral and Plank is no different. Don't forget to lean slightly forward (no hunching) over the fingers and push away to broaden the back. Think about how your arms and legs plug into your core (torso), not the other way around.
Modifications as always can be on the knees, and I look at modifications as ways to be more effective in the right muscle groups, and a second being on the forearms; but make sure to place a yoga block between the forearms and turn the palms inward, now press the forearms into the floor to shift your core load.
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