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!
I love me some good core work, and I love me even more core work that challenges stability and my deep, deep, deep core muscles! Not all core work is created equal and once you are taught the right way you can never go back! Join me for a great quick move that requires us to challenge ourselves on the foam roller with a little weight in the mix.
An intense, yet liberating chest opening experience, grab your foam roller or yoga blocks to aid in proper shoulder positioning and let’s get ready to tone and open every inch of our unique body’s.
1. Sitting with your foam roller behind you, place your palms on the foam roller slightly wider than your shoulders with your fingers facing you (unless shoulder/ scapulae issues).
2. Plant your feet hips width with a possible block between the thighs or mini ball to help with pelvic-core recruitment.
3. Bend your elbows and with a deep exhale lift the hips, being mindful to engage your inner thighs and pelvic core rather than death squeezing your glutes (they will contract, but they are not the only muscles).
4. Let your elbows be the last thing to extend, but keep them bent if you have very tight shoulders. Feel the lift of your chest and either extend your head back reaching through your chin or keep your chin tucked, both offer a neck release (do not extend the head back with vision issues or nerve issues).
5. Try to hold this pose for five to ten breaths and repeat 1 to 3 more times.
This pose is a great release, challenge for the wrists, stretch for the forearms and upper arms, opener for the shoulders as well as a toner for the legs and core!
Rock on and have fun!
Stability trumps mobility and when you combine that with deep core activation you get tons of fun! Grab your gilders, paper plates or towels for ease of sliding and get ready to rock your core!
This is my functional tribute to my fourth grade gym class when we did mountain climbers, back then a crazy step forward, step back movement where my hips were all over the place, this version is a bit more stable and a lot more core involved.
Let’s get started!
1. Start in Plank with your props placed under the balls of your feet.
2. Contract continuously your pelvic core (pelvic floor + core muscles)
3. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and do not hike your hips but rather sneak your knee under your torso and then tuck it up tightly to your chest.
4. Exhale to slide the leg under the body and then at the last second tuck it extra tight and inhale mindfully and skillfully return it back to Plank.
5. Work to not move too quick at first as that is not the point, but rather to ensure you can feel your core tell your legs to move.
6. Try for 30 seconds to one minute of consistent leg strides and see how it goes.
7. Be mindful not to get sloppy, saggy hips or head, hiking your hips up and you tuck your leg under.
Ready, get set…. GO!
TIP: If you notice your lower back or hip flexors flairing you know your are probably not keeping stability or using your hip flexors for stability rather than your deep core!
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!
Join me for a great 20 minute video where we will explore several different ways to rehab your wrists, strengthen them and also a few times on proper wrist placement in your yoga practice! A little goes a long way, an area of the body we just daily don't let it be one you over look and one that keeps you from feeling your best!
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.
Never give up just because the expectations are too high. Never give up just because the opposite of success is failure and you assume that failure is worse than success. Success and failure to the subconscious mind are quite similar and the process for them both is us moving away from or core, what makes us tick-be it making it big or crashing and burning but both require us to navigate back to our core in order to truly function and continue to live fully.
For many of us once we feel success and then that exact feeling is not replicated afterwards we feel then that we are somehow a failure. But what we have not yet understood is that success and failure do essentially the same thing to us, as I said before they move us away from our core, our deep set passions and can essentially distract us unless we can understand that after either takes place we must work to make our way back home (or to our core). Doing so allows us to be reminded of what we love most and why we are essentially doing what we are doing. Is it really for the success, fame, and acknowledgement? Or is it more about truly being in your element and doing what you love, being who you truly are and living out your passions. We are taken off course when we allow ourselves to focus more on the success and failure and then soon forget to remember that those are not the core of who we are, they are not the core of why we are doing what we are doing, the core is that which we simply cannot function without doing, being, living.
I asked myself this question and when I did this, I what I came to realize is- why I do what do is because I can’t not do it; I cannot not be this person that I am day I and day out; the days I am feeling less than, the days that I am feeling more than essentially make me do the same thing-work harder. I use to get down on myself over all the imperfections, the screw ups and the appearance of me not making it, but with time, effort and due diligence, faith and a shit load of perseverance I was able to ingrain in myself that I do what I do not because I want to be successful, but rather I know no other way, I cannot not do what I am doing and cannot not live how I am living right now.
The people that I most respect in my life, my field and my journey are not the ones have all the fame, are the most successful, wealthy or have it all; but rather the ones that time and time again make it back to their core, make it back to their core in a noble, trustworthy, humble-ass kind of way. You can be confident and not be boastful, you can be failing or succeeding and either way these people do not alter who they are, why they do what they do and love what they love based off these two things, they merely continue. My grandfather was a hugely successful man, had a great business, well respected by his peers, a loving family, and a nice modest home. But when you met him you didn’t meet his success you met his passion for life, his dedication to do what he loves, his work, his ability to help others his never ending compassion for all living beings. I can relate to him on multiple levels, he and I being both business owners I look back on my knowing him growing up and try to remember his presence and how he carried himself back to his core over and over again, having many a times lost his ass to people that did not share the same core values and compassion that he did. But never did it taint who he was and how he acted in his life, he just continued and usually worked even harder, but not be even more successful or at the fear of failure (considering he started literally with nothing) but rather to feed his soul from a very deep level.
So what can I gain from him and the understanding of success and failure? Well for starters when you get shot away from your home based-your core, by either success or failure, what will you do if anything to get back to your core? That success you experienced is but a blip in your life and will not last forever; sad is the person that does nothing more after experiencing one shot of public approval. Equally, miserable is the person that after one small hick-up of failure, a blip in their life, that they never choose to navigate back to their core and do everything they can to begin again.
If you love to teach then keep teaching, if you love yoga then keep practicing yoga, if your life calling is writing then keep at it, if you love music don’t let a single person tell you that you will never make it doing what your core being was put here to do.
Success and failure are merely experiences in life and neither one is good or bad, but if we stay in either one too long and never make it a point to navigate back to our core being, our home base, then how will we ever have an experience again? For the reason that once we experience success it is easy to fear that we will never be able to outdo ourselves thereafter, and if we have experienced failure, then we fear that we will never have success afterwards. But those outcomes are only in our head and are reasoning we experience when we have moved away from the core of who we are and why we do what we love. So if you are not doing what you love, then the first step is to start doing so.
By: Hope Zvara
Happiness is a funny thing, we all want it, we all have felt what it’s like to be happy, yet for most of us we continually feel that we are not at a place where we can be happy day in and day out. We almost punish ourselves in a sense because we have not achieved the ultimate for our lives and families or careers, and so because of that we equate that then to being unhappy.
I often wonder what exactly is happy for people, is it a state of being, is it related to a certain status, an item, a memory, a particular person? What exactly is happiness to you and what do you feel you need in order to be in that state of being?
It has become very apparent to me in my life that in order to be happy it is not based on things, not even people but rather a choice you make within yourself. Now granted I do not expect anyone to stay in an abusive relationship, wear clothes that have not been washed in weeks or settle for less than what they are capable of. But what I am saying is that regardless of where you are right now, you can right this second choose to be happy. The only problem is the mind feels gratified when we are not happy, misery loves company in a sense. We often loathe the feeling of feeling bad, feeling sorry for ourselves, and from my experience mainly because it gives us a reason to stay right where we are.
Happiness is an art, a daily choice that we must make and one that in the midst of things not going our way, kids going crazy, the alarm not going off, dinner being burned, someone not doing what you told them to do, and life pretty much just not appearing to go your way, you can among all of that still be happy. But the only thing is within all of that stuff choosing to smile and say life is still good means your ego has lost, that you must stop expecting so much and deal with what is in front of you right now as a necessary step towards ultimate happiness.
Do you think a monk does not struggle day in and day out for multiple days on end until he figures out that happiness is a state of being not an accumulation of things or social status? In his head, like all of us we know that intellectually, but until we fully understand and apply these words of wisdom, it’s just merely a though. That takes time, years and constant reminder that the choices you make good or not so good are in the end just choices and it’s the approach you take towards those things and the attitude that goes along with them that determines your happiness.
Ever met someone with cancer and they seem to be the happiest person you ever met? I have, and boy they get it, happiness is a state of being, a frame of mind, no, a frame of soul, so to speak. And you can read as many books as you want, go to as many healers, counselors, therapists, but the only way I have found effective is to wake up each and every day and remind myself that no one can make me happy, my husband cannot make me happy, my kids cannot make me happy, my studio cannot make me happy. Things do not make you happy, people do not make you happy, they only enhance your state of being, they or it is a tool of enjoyment for you to take advantage of once you chose to go to that place of happiness. Because the reality is you still have most of those things and yet you are still not satisfied with your life.
I thought for years while still knee deep in an eating disorder that I would not be happy until I was 100% in recovery, and that mentality kept me relapsing for years because that thinking was incorrect. It was once I was able to separate my situation from my state of being that even if I would have a relapse or make a poor choice I would stop ask myself what can I learn from this, forgive myself and then go on being happy. And then years later losing my daughter, after morning her loss a few weeks went by and I had to make the choice to go on living, to be happy and choose to see life as good and no longer allow myself to be in that state of mind.
So today I have a challenge for you, if you chose to you can make a list of all the things that you don’t like in your life, what you want to change, how if xyz then you would be happier. And for many it may be a long list; but what I want you to do is look at that list and honesty ask yourself will those things really make you happier, give you that state of being you think you cannot have right now because you don’t have those things or have not yet accomplished those goals? I often think in life that if you cannot be happy where you are right now life/God/the Universe will not give you them, or maybe you will get them and be disappointed that you are not happier than you were before even with them.
So now after that list write down all the reasons why you cannot chose to be happy right now. What is absolutely, undoubtedly keeping you from happiness, like a rope around your neck, who is in your way right this very moment keeping you under his/her thumb saying you cannot be happy?
No one right? Exactly.
My point is at this very moment you can say I’m alive, I have something to learn, it will pass and I choose to be happy. You maybe have to fake it for a while but in time, trust me, happiness will flood your gates and you will because of that see life from an entirely new perspective. That is your choice.
In turning 30 today a lot has changed in my life, but then again a lot has stayed the same. Admist all of this I have learned quite a bit, maybe more than the average 30 year old, maybe not, but as far as my life goes I am learning to tell myself I’ve done good so far.
1. Whether you like it or not you become more like your parents than you would hope, it’s up to you to keep what you love and work to change what you don’t, once you are 30 it’s not their fault, but rather yours as an adult to do something about it.
2. Family really is the most important thing in life. My Pop’s would say this over and over again to me and my sisters and I would roll my eyes and in my head tell him to shove it, but now that I’m 30, family really is the most important thing and I would do anything to help my family and keep them together and safe. And now that I’m 30 realizing that it is still possible to mend broken family relationships as long as both parties want to.
3. Sticks and stones will break your bones, and words really do hurt people, and there comes a point where you must learn not to let those people do that, either speak up or get rid of them, as an adult you have that choice and right.
4. Don’t confuse being nice with being kind. Being nice is something you feel like you have to do because that is what your mother says to do or what society tells you to do, being kind is genuine and comes from the heart, once you are 30 the hope is that you have figured out the difference and are no longer in high school.
5. School is not as important as the school of life. Don’t get me wrong people need an education in today’s world, but in my last 30 years I have realized (at least for me and my kids) having an education does not mean you are an asset to society. Welcome to the school of life.
6. It’s your choice to look out around you and become what you see or rise above it. I have learned so far that blaming others does not make anything better, only things more complicated and you less credible.
7. I have learned how to take a travesty like losing a child and turn it into a thousand and one blessings, because each day I wake up I choose to see it that way.
8. Only you can change your way of thinking, therapy only works if you want it to, otherwise it’s just you listening to yourself complain, hoping for validation for the poor choices you have made or the ones you are too afraid to make (Only speaking from experience).
9. People lie and make excuses because they themselves don’t believe that their truth is good enough.
10. I spent many years asking God “why me”, and the answer I have finally got is “because you can handle it”. Never underestimate yourself.
11. I have survived an eating disorder one doctors said I never would, learn to use the doubts of others as fuel to strive further than anyone ever imagined.
12. Having many friends who barely know you and probably talk behind your back the second you walk away, is not as important as having a friend that you can go to with anything and will never judge you.
13. Everything happens for a reason, whether you like to admit it or not, and if you choose to believe otherwise where/what will that get you?
14. The tongue is the sharpest sword and as a teenager my parents would ask me to think twice about what I said, now that I’m 30, I get it, it really is better to say nothing at all than to say something unnecessary, and when you do say something, be still and humble yourself rather than make it worse.
15. Speak up for what you believe in, others may not understand but trust your gut, few people truly do and it often shows through envy, anger, disappointment, lust, greed, misunderstanding and insecurity because you speak what they won’t, hold steady and remember why you spoke.
16. Replacement parts are never as good as originals so be kind to your body and don’t put off aches and pains as a part of the aging process, get up and move.
17. Stop blaming others for the changes you are too lazy to make yourself, I have learned to take full responsibility of my heath, happiness, financial status, children and lifestyle, ownership is a wonderful thing and when you take that back over yourself you can start living again.
18. Raise your own kids. We all have a story and all have our challenges, but our kids are a direct reflection of our parenting, I refuse to blame others for my kids and take 100% responsibility for their care and education and will not give that up because everyone else is.
19. Excuses are reasons to make us feel better that we are giving up and don’t really want to try.
20. Don’t say on social media what you would not say to someone’s face (just saying).
21. Having been insecure for most of my life, the best way to gain more confidence about yourself is to put yourself in the position of your insecurity and face it, deal with it and it will pass.
22. Technology is killing us. Granted I use it a lot for my business but it has left many isolated and opinionated-only without consequences, void of real experience and with a chip on their shoulder. I refuse to use technology as a babysitter, a way to make people feel sorry for me or to make myself something I am not. I will use it only for good not for evil.
23. In the words of Suzie Orman “People first, then money, then things”. I think we are backwards.
24. The people that want to nit-pick at you and point out all of your flaws are probably the people that are actually doing that to themselves but projecting it out onto you. Show compassion, but don’t be a pin cushion.
25. Stop worrying about what others think, easier said than done, but when you shift gears and start to focus more on what you think about yourself it gives you an entirely new perspective.
26. We can’t all be Indian Chiefs (I’ll leave it at that).
27. Quick fixes don’t work, when I find myself interested in a quick fix I ask myself what I am not willing to do fully.
28. Now that I am 30 I will try not to be so hard on myself. I am a very driven person and put more pressure on my life than the average person. Lighten up, you only get this lifetime once!
29. Looking people in the eye when you speak to them, saying thank you, offering a firm grip handshake and thanking people are skills that never get old, and go along way.
30. Now that I’m 30 I have realized many things, many more than just the past 29, but for sake of time I will leave you with one final thought. Life is truly short and there is very little you can actually control in life, we can plan every detail out to our hearts content and have a plan, but at the end of the day that plan means nothing. Keep in perspective what is really important to you.
In my next 30 years I can only hope that they will be as good if not better than the last 30, and if they go as fast as the ones so far I better make sure I don’t get to busy making a life that I forget to simply live.
In gratitude, Namaste.