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!
Lent a time of self-reflection, a time to consider what is really important in your life beyond your body, beyond weight loss, beyond your eating habits, beyond your house, car or clothing. Lent regardless of your faith filled backbone, is an opportunity to fast from the things that take you further away from your authentic truth, your relationship with the Self, God, Buddha, Universal Consciousness, Humanity and the ones that you would in fact put your life on the line for. Lent is an allotted time, a rebirthing so to speak that is placed in Christianity 40 days before Jesus rose again, but interestingly enough also right smack dab in the middle of our earth’s rebirthing from a deep cold winter, when the birds come back to their homeland, when snow turns to water for the newly budding flowers and wildlife to once again begin to roam the open landscape. A perfect opportunity when the earth goes from cold dormant and quiet to vibrant, life filled and well beginning again.
I listen to the conversations of many that surround me and read much posted on-line and sometimes I feel many have forgotten why one would refrain from something in a time like this (and could in fact benefit). I hear people converse about how the times have changed and not eating meat on Friday’s is crazy and pointless, and what really is the point. And in all honesty my opinion is that over the years it’s turned into one day, one day people are asked to refrain from something they probably mindlessly eat on a daily basis and remember that there is something greater than themselves, I consider that the animal that would otherwise be eaten is thought of a bit more as something part of the cycle of life and death that we are equally a part of. Not eating meat(or anything else) is an active act of consciousness, an act of willpower, deep seeded connection with a higher purpose, a greater good a reminder that we are not in charge and must practice self-control.
Now I’m not a meat eater by choice, choices that I will not bring into this conversation but the act of refraining, of acknowledging that we need to check ourselves and respect that which put us here, is I believe the real point of such a request.
But this is not about whether to eat meat on Friday’s in Lent or not, this is about you making a choice to challenge your inner being, to remember that self-control is becoming a lost art. That refraining or consciously making a choice to be better than the day before is an act of self-respect, and discipline, and that of respecting everyone around you one thought at a time.
I continually find myself mulling over ideas, thoughts and life changes I would love to make, but often lack the real drive to do something about it, one because many require both myself and family to be on board and two some may require radical life changes that may uproot many aspects of my life. Any change is a tradeoff, something to consider how you then will be able to handle everything else that may go a rye or give you grief when you chose to implement such a request.
But let me bring you into my head for a moment. When you feel a change on your heart over and over and over again and you meditate and pray on it for many moons and it still is as passionate as ever, yet you know those around you may not be on board at first, that is no good reason to not implement such a desire into your life. It is when you reject such a desire and make excuses as to why you were not able to commit and follow through that is the real excuse and disappointment of the experience.
40 days, 40 beautiful days filled with opportunity to really step up and grow radically, to finally follow through with all of those thing that linger around you unfinished, cluttering your home, your work, your life your mind. For 40 days it’s a sign of respect that you are not on top, that you cannot do it all alone that you are a part of something greater than yourself and to show respect to that it is not out of reach to say that you can spend 40 days out of 365 days refraining, fasting, or abstaining from that which takes you away from your greater purpose. Humble?
Letting go of something that is “important” to you, something you find you cannot live without, or find has become a habitual part of your daily grind. How many times do you check your phone (can’t handle the stillness and quiet), scan Facebook (mindlessly), watch T.V., gossip, walk right past the mess on the floor, counter or bedroom without a blink of an eye because you are simply too busy to deal with it, because yes the previously stated does require much of your time and is very pressing business to attend to in order to function in this life. My point here is what I just spoke of is not life threating to drop for 40 days, it won’t break the bank to give it up or let go of, and this I can promise you, the manic feelings you get, the sleeplessness you find yourself dealing with, the jumping mind hungry for what everyone else is doing will begin to quite within a couple of days as you step away from all that crap.
You say you don’t have money, but yet you have enough to go out the bar each weekend, you say you don’t have time each day yet you have enough to spend three plus hours watching T.V. each night. You say you are tired, and then go to bed! You say you just cannot stop eating at night, it might be because you don’t eat enough during the day and then engage in mindless activity at night that leads you to unconsciously feed the inner desire to be something greater than you are right now with food instead of soulful stimulation.
So for 40 days consider a number of things, the obvious, less T.V., maybe NO T.V., it’s 40 days, you will survive, to talk less about your truth to others and reflect more on your truth to yourself (and then reflect on how that feels to not justify yourself to everyone around you). Maybe hit your yoga mat more or for the first time ever, because sitting on the couch will not help you clear your mind, things will only fester, and on top of that, couch sitting has not been shown to increase flexibility, breathing patterns or promote weight loss, plus not many yoga classes I know of condone eating on your yoga mat.
For 40 days work to be better than you are right now, work a little harder, and even though your materialistic mind says that changing these little things won’t make a change, I beg to differ, these are the things keeping you from experiencing life at its fullest, keeping you from checking off your to do list and keeping you from what matters most, a relationship with your Higher Self, God, Buddha or Universal Consciousness.
So for 40 conscious days my hope is to challenge the areas of my life that I have just let go to the wayside, the areas of my life that I have allowed myself to blame on those around me as to why I am the way I am; I will work to hold my tongue and be as still as possible and simply take it as character building, but be ever more mindful not to recycle that onto my children, spouse and friends, but rather into my practice and prayer. For 40 days I will not put myself before my Creator, I will not separate myself from the fact that I am a part of something greater than myself, I will not allow my own self-indulgences and excuses keep me from living the best life possible (because it’s us keeping ourselves from whatever it is we want, just some choices are very difficult).
For 40 days what will you do, how will you act? At a minimum, regardless of your thoughts as to why Christian’s are told to abstain from meat on Friday’s, would it kill you to consciously be more aware not to eat it, you have thousands of other food choices you can live a day, right? For 40 days try to be better, it will be hard and probably frustrating, uncomfortable and inconvenient at times, hopefully it will force you to turn off the auto pilot and shift into manual drive; but the reward, I promise you, the reward will be a deep relationship with those around you and hopefully that which you came from.
Good luck on the next 40 days….
If you plan on making a change this next 40 days, share this with a friend and tell them wh
(Image by churchleaders.com)
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.
We often don't realize it but we put much of our precious energy, thought and action into things that only drain us and give us nothing in return.
When you just focus on yourself and stop comparing, or analyzing everyone elses moves, life gets a lot easier. Focus on you because that is the life you are living. When you think about it, this is really quite easy, we just make it complicated, how?
1. Judging with only half the story
2. Reading trashy magazines like People, US, Star and who knows whatever else is out there (I'm out of the loop)
3. Listening to too much gossip in person and on the radio, internet
4. Watching too much T.V., where we don't realize it but we allow ourselves to believe that what we are watching is how it really is (hello, can you say editing).
5. Caring more about what everyone else is doing and less about what you yourself is doing.
6. Checking Facebook, Twitter and who knows what other site every second, and posting every single thing that you are doing and then watching how many people care.
How to stop it:
1. Stop taking so much interest in others lives just to feel better about your own.
2. Do not pick up those trashy magazines, don't even look at them in the isle of the grocery store, stop your subscriptions, most of that crap is photo shopped anyways.
3. Just walk away from life sucking conversations, just smile and walk away.
4. Just turn off the T.V. (and Computer for that matter, being on that thing is just as bad as the T.V. in some respects and maybe worse, remember your mom saying to move away from the T.V., well, look at you now).
5. Start caring more about yourself and hold yourself to the highest standard, not to feel belittled, but rather to see yourself as important and worth a heck of a lot more than all that crap you are allowing yourself to take in.
6. Stop checking Facebook, Twitter, and yahoo every 5 minutes to see what everyone is doing in their lives, and stop needing everyone's virtual approval for every thing you do, the number one person's approval you need, is simply your own.
I have observed my own life and the lives of those around me and really noticed how much time and energy we put into what everyone else is doing, or not doing, or how they are living, or looking, rather than our own.
Are we really that boring? Do we really think so lowly of ourselves that we feel the need to spend our valuable (at least we call it that) time with junk like this? All those things you say you are going to do, or don't have time for, well you are wasting it on all that stuff listed above.
A part of my business is social media, so I try to be very careful not to get sucked into this junk when I am doing my thing.
That being said, we easily get into ruts and find that watching T.V. is an easier "mindless" activity than say reading a book, or sewing, or spending quality family time or going outside. We go on the computer to do one thing and end up killing hours surfing the internet looking and reading stuff that has no real value for our lives.
A few years ago I noticed how much I was reading the covers of the trashy magazines in the grocery checkout, and how afterwards I felt like sh*t about myself. In this discovery I decided to make it a challenge not to look at the covers of those people just like us, beings scrutinized for being too skinny, or too fat or that they cheated on their spouse or drank too much. I see that stuff and think, we are all just as guilty of that except we don't have cameras following us everywhere we go, and cutting and editing everything we say and how we act.
Finally, I spend years having extremely low self-esteem, feeling like I had little to no self-worth and value, it took much of what I have mentioned and more above to see that I was in-fact valuable, I had something to offer, and in recognizing and admitting that I was guilty of much of the above, I was and still am, able to change it.
Namaste, my friends!
Almost every yoga class features at least one plank, yet very few can honestly say that they know completely what's going on in Plankasana. Most view it as a great core asana, yet few actually access their true core, and many are cheating themselves or hurting their backs by allowing their arms to do all the work.
To help you take full advantage of Plankasana, here's an overview of this widely used, but often misunderstood asana.
1. Pick your variation.
Will you be practicing on your hands or on your forearms? If you're going to be practicing on your palms, set up your hands shoulder distance apart and align the wrists under the shoulders. With your middle fingers pointing forward, press your entire hand into the floor, keeping a bit more weight in the knuckles.
From the shoulder, rotate the folds of the elbows forward, without hyper-extending the joint (they look like they're bending in the wrong direction). This is important so that you're able to shift the load down into the core and prevent the shoulders from doing all the work. Without hunching, slide the shoulder blades down your back.
If you prefer planking on your forearms, get out of the habit of clasping the hands together in a triangle shape. This puts an emphasis on the pectorals, rather than the core. By opening up the arms to a shoulder width, you again shift the load to where it belongs. Turn the palms inward or upward when practicing, rather than down into the floor. Shift the weight evenly throughout the entire forearm and you'll notice a significant increase in core power. Use a block between the palms for more core strength!
To continue reading this blog post on Plank by Hope Zvara please visit MindBodyGreen where it was posted live on April 4th 2013 (CLICK) and don't forget to watch the video and share this with your friends!
Hope in High Lunge
There are 30 trillion cells in the human body, more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels, 88,000 chakras, and 72,000 nadis. And that's just the beginning.
Awareness is a funny thing. Usually, until something is brought to your attention, you do not realize it exists, is important, or needs to be changed. When I first started a formal yoga practice over ten years ago (I’m pretty sure my shoulder stands in my living room at age eight were a sign yoga was in my future), I had no clue what awareness was. Growing up I was told to pay attention, but I don’t think I really knew what actual awareness was.
What is awareness?
To continue reading this article visit MindBodyGreen.com (CLICK HERE)
Awareness, Meditation, Trust, yoga, Chakras
Hope in her backyard in Dancer Pose
We have all said it to someone, had someone say it to us or even said it to ourselves in a moment of self realization: You need to take better care of yourself, take more time for you and maybe even learn to say no.
We do in fact get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday living that we forget that if we do not pay attention to our personal needs and well-being there will quite simply be no us, no you, no me. Within this honoring, this mindfulness we are in-acting towards ourselves it has been very apparent to me that this act of selflessness needs to be coupled with an intention, awareness and consideration of those around us as well.
We often times get too caught up in our own "stuff" we forget that what we do, the choices we make and the things we say affect those around us.
Consciousness of who we are, what we are doing and how we live is something we must choose to do each day and then act or react accordingly.
I have found myself lately in situations that have been teaching me about my own consciousness and how I am in fact playing into others lack thereof. I ultimately care so much about my foresight has been that I will sacrifice myself for others to move forward. But I have noticed lately, more than ever, that there is seldom a return on this (when you are not truly honoring your own being). Now I know some of you will say “sure there is”. But what I have ultimately found is that the self sacrifice I am referring to is the one where we are in fact enabling those around us to stay stuck, even though they may get what they need: a ride, some money, help, or a hand out with our having asked, but within that process we end up sinking our own beings to help them stay afloat with nothing in return.
Many times we (the enablers) make choices and act in such ways because we feel we may be inconveniencing others and in return they may not want to buy something of yours or come to your party or help you when you are down and out. What we often times forget is that in doing such this, with these intentions and mindset no one wins. Sure that person is down on their luck, in a bind or struggle but if you keep helping them how will they learn, and if you keep helping them how will you learn? When we act I this way we are actually holding the other people involved back from growing, we are enabling their karma to never fully meet with them face to face because we feel bad or we want to help because we feel guilty or they pull out the victim card on us. And as much as we are trying to help them honor themselves by assisting them in making the right choices, helping them heal from a crisis, we need to turn that around towards us and ask ourselves if we are doing the same thing?
The truth is we all have problems; we all have rough patches, bumps and mishaps; now some come in the form of cancer, dis-ease, financial loss, martial or family problems, and self insecurities that may in turn become horrible self destructive addictions. But these are purely learning lessons, some very difficult, some sudden, or seemingly unfair, but if you can step back from them a bit and trust that everything is in its perfect place and a learning opportunity we will only move forward leaving no one accountable for our actions except ourselves. My life has screamed this for as far as I can remember. As a young child I felt the need to fix everything, in my teens I struggled with a paralyzing eating disorder and then early into recovery our first daughter Faith at 28 weeks gestation was diagnosed with a irreversible condition that left her with a short life spent in my arms (and my husband’s). I had to choose each time to not see myself as a victim, to not blame everyone around me and to not blame myself. I choose at each moment (literally) to see what the silver lining was, to see that life was teaching me, Faith chose this life and chose me and my husband as part of her path and we to hers. She gave me personally many great things that I am grateful for and she would have not given me them any other way. Just like your current life and situation is giving you something right now to grow from, to help change your life and work through your karma.
So when we learn to honor ourselves, and act in a self-less way, we need to ask ourselves this “am I helping or hurting”, these choices should hold us accountable to our actions, words and thoughts. Remember the lady in McDonalds with the coffee, I believe that this episode paved the way for people to believe that self integrity, self responsibility and accountability will not get you what you want, we now live in a society that would rather divorce than admit that they were wrong, sue every company, person and organization than step up and do a little hard work and grow. Much of the ownership in today’s society comes in all the wrong forms. Respect is bought, stolen, or cheated, we are taught that honesty will not get you far in life, and we are taught to be enabled from early on.
Simply put, when we learn to respect ourselves, see the greater good in ourselves and lead by example what seems so hard, unfair or impossible only becomes the biggest stepping stone in your karmic journey. Sink or swim, look around is anyone really pushing you under? For me (during my eating disorder) I found I was letting myself drown, and manipulating those around me to keep me afloat just enough not to have to change.
So go out and take better care of yourself, but in that process seek awareness and understand that we are only given what we need and have asked for ourselves through our own choices and actions.
We as yogis are versed in "Warrior I.” As a yoga teacher, functional fanatic and lifelong student, I have come across some very interesting variations to the traditional Warrior I.
When I teach the physical postures I try to give students a blue print to go off of. And before a student or teacher trainee learns any other postures with me, they first must understand the concept of neutral or Tadasana. In the West, we have an especially warped concept of good posture. Over the last decade teaching, I have found myself morphing my yoga practice and teaching into a more physically functional approach with a spiritual tradition wrapped in.
Whenever I introduce this concept to the public or new students I try to help people understand that once we can learn neutral, we then can learn un-neutral. A simple example would be a foot pattern besides neutral. Many people already have an external rotation on the foot with a collapsed main arch, so we need to approach postures with an understanding and re-educating of the foot to neutral, and then we can do other things. Understanding neutral can really help us function better in by getting us out of the rounded torso, tight hip flexors, the need for arch supports, fluffy pillow, and get back to knowing our bodies and what they really need.
With Functional Warrior I, students gain better insight into their body from a Mountain Pose perspective or neutral, and begin to see the blueprint of their bodies; what is tight, short, slack, strong or weak. From there, they can begin to heal and gain ground to what in yoga we call balance and what I suggest is finding the imbalances.
To read more on this topic visit MindBodyGreen, where Hope has this article posted.
What if core work could be fun? What if core work could be effortless.... Well effortless in that in a split second your body turns on like a wild fire and you are reaping the benefits of killer abs in just one minute flat. And best yet, you are able in that minute to locate areas like your obliques, transversus abdominus, back muscles, and rectus abdominus.
Teaming up for workout is often thought of as the buddy system, only that usually means you do your thing and I'll do mine and then we go our separate ways. Well not in this case, in Core Functional Fitness it is important to address wellness as a whole unit, that being said the need to interact with others is part of that wellness. When was the last time you worked with your neighbor in yoga, that you laughed in class, oh and all at the same time fired up your core like no other?
In just three minutes flat you can work your middle and feel great.
For the next 30 seconds to minute Partner two (standing) direct the ball up and down, right and left, in circles all the while adding resistance to each other.
What partner one (and partner two for that matter) should notice is the entire core region of the body firing, when the ball moves left you feel your left obliques, the ball moves down you notice your lower belly and back. Remember to stay stable and remember that both partners need to resist each other against the ball.
Now switch and see how you both do when you switch roles.
P.S. Personal Trainers this is a wonderful way to get some quick core work in with your clients and make it educational at the same time, helping them locate vital muscles, plus when students learn to use their own bodies versus machines first, the body and mind develop an important relationship that would not otherwise be developed.