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Yin Yoga 101: What You Need To Know

Yin Yoga 101: What You Need To Know

Let’s get started:

Yin Yoga, a less popular style of yoga in the west is an approach that some may have never even heard of. One that in my experience, takes many a few times to really warm up to and even understand. Initially called “Daoist” yoga this style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body. Daoist yoga is designed to help regulate the flow of energy in the body. Paul Grilley is credited for bringing this concept to the forefront and offers Yin Yoga teacher training.

Postures

Yin Yoga postures are more passive postures, mainly on the floor and the majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle, and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation, and I often talk students through the postures as if they were trying to meditate. While in a Yin class you might notice similar postures to a yang class except they are called something else, on a basic level this is to help the students’ mind shift form yang to yin, active to passive.

This concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years and some of the older text, such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika notes only sixteen postures in its text, which is far less than the millions of postures practiced in today’s yoga. In addition, having read much of these texts and also cliff notes from various teachers it would appear that these “postures” were more yin like to help promote meditation and long periods of pranayama and sitting. Now I am not claiming to be an ancient text yoga guru, but this is just an observation I have made.

So what exactly is Yin yoga?

It is a more meditative approach with a physical focus much deeper than Yang like practices. Here the practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility, something that for many don’t seem to be too concerned about until they notice it is gone.

Getting intimate

This intimate practice of yoga requires students to be ready to get intimate with the self, with feelings, sensations, and emotions, something of which I have noticed can be easy to avoid in a fast-paced yoga practice. Yin yoga is often used in programs that deal with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety, and deep pain or trauma. For me, my first experience with yoga was when I was knee-deep in an eating disorder. Not familiar with the difference in practices I did notice that yoga helped me, and I often equate my practice to saving my life. Now that being said, several years later I stumbled across Yin yoga and found that the recovery process I had been going through apparently needed some more work and WOW did Yin point that out to me. I often struggled with being alone, sitting with feelings and sensations (something addicts struggle with), and found it challenging to face myself and the rawness of what I was doing and who I was in that moment. This concept in practice allowed me a greater mental stability something that meditation offers as a benefit to basically “learn to sit still.”

Now if you’ve never practiced Yin yoga you might not quite understand how this is so different, but for me, Yin has dug deeper than I could have ever gotten otherwise. For my students, I often tell them when they are about to try a Yin class that they need to try it three or four times to really make a decision about the practice. Many find immediate benefits like more open hips, a more relaxed body, and a centered mind. To me, I don’t think one practice is better than the other, but what I would see as beneficial is for the practitioner to see the benefit in each and that there is a need for both. Possibly one benefiting more than the other at times in your life, but a need none-the-less.

Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:

  • Calming and balancing to the mind and body
  • Regulates energy in the body
  • Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips
  • Lowering of stress levels (no one needs that)
  • Greater stamina
  • Better lubrication and protection of joints
  • More flexibility in joints & connective tissue
  • Release of fascia throughout the body
  • Help with TMJ and migraines
  • Deeper Relaxation
  • A great coping for anxiety and stress
  • Better ability to sit for meditation
  • Ultimately you will have a better Yang practice
  • I really do believe that if you incorporate a little of both you will create a more well-rounded practice as well as a better-rounded version of the awesome you!

Yin-Yang symbol

If you take a peek at a Yin-Yang symbol, it is suggesting that no matter what, we should take a “tiny bit” and put it in the heart of its opposite. Knowing both practices, and having struggled with a wide variety of eating disorders, addiction, depression, and anxiety, I get that too much of something is simply too much. Yin yoga has taught me to truly be still, to really come face to face with myself, even more than my past practice has; and because of this, I am now able to bring what Yin has taught me into my more Yang like practices and ultimately my life as a whole.

Yin yoga teaches you how to really listen, you don’t get the opportunity to go in and out, jump around and find a distracted version of stillness within your practice. Yin is such a great compliment to other styles and your own personal life because it brings long periods of time in an uncomfortable position, which then asks you to learn to “be” to “accept what is” in that given moment. Something we can all benefit from daily. For me, I did not know how to be in my own company, I did not like to feel or be or anything that required me to have an emotion. There is something so deep about Yin that will tap into a part of you in a way only unique to Yin. And for me, a healthy Yin practice has poured over into a healthier Yang practice and a healthier life as a whole. And I wish that for everyone.


What to do When You Feel “Unsafe” in a Yoga Class

What to do When You Feel “Unsafe” in a Yoga Class

We come to a yoga class or any fitness class and expect our bodies to feel better and our issues to be resolved. And we expect for the impossible to happen.  But the only problem is no one is teaching us “how” to do what we are doing.  When I first started yoga I knew “Mountain Pose.” But I never “knew” how to truly practice it.  And if Mountain pose is the blueprint of other postures, what does that say about the rest of our practice? To be able to show up safely as a yoga teacher for our students, we must understand their limitations. We need to know if they have injuries & we need to walk them through the foundations of each pose. Not knowing this information is how your practice can hurt you.

I remember my first Pilates training – and I would not have called that a training. When we were “taught” the exercises, it was more a display of her “expertise” than actual teaching.  I look back, and all I remember is peoples’ bodies flying every which way all over the room, people huffing and puffing trying to “keep up”.

Practice Safe, Effective, Mindful Movement

Whether you are a teacher, trainer, therapist, or just an avid yoga or fitness student, we need to start to take better care of our bodies and how they move. Having love and kindness to share is great and I teach that way as well, but that is not enough. We are “playing” with people’s sacred bodies and we need to be reminded of that. What we are having people do could be causing their poor posture, their shoulder problem, their SI joint discomfort. Because you teach yoga they assume “no it can’t be from that, they are a trained professional”.  IT SURE CAN! And it very well could be.

When I teach, you will constantly hear heart-felt creative cues and deep spirituality spoken intentions set throughout class. But woven through that is safety, anatomy, what you should or shouldn’t be doing if you have certain limitations. I’m always sharing tips, ideas, and suggestions for how to make your practice safe, effective, and right for your body today. Mindfulness in movement is our responsibility as “fitness” (and yes, yoga falls under this umbrella) professionals to know this stuff.

What can we do?

If you are a student, ask questions.

Ask if your teacher is certified. If so, it better be in what they are teaching. Are they familiar with the body, with your injuries or limitations? If not, are they willing to find out more about them? In the class, are they showing variations? (what to do if X-Y-Z?) To stop if this if that happens? And most importantly, you should know why you are doing what you are doing. If it ever hurts, stop & clarify with the instructor what type of sensation you should have, and in what part of your body.

If you are a teacher or someone who is going to be a teacher, look at the value the training puts on anatomy and the body on how it is applied to the practice you are choosing. Finally, current teachers, if you have had a bad training experience, you have to say something. Otherwise, how will it change? The studio relies on your feedback to improve. Look for mentors that mirror your values and can teach more about the bodies you are playing with on the mat or in the classroom.

Good luck!

8 Tips to Finding Your Voice

When is the last time you truly felt like you could see clearly and speak up in your own unique truth?

When was the last time you spoke up without questioning who you would offend or wondering how others would react, only then to find yourself editing your own truth down?

I just want to say that until recently, I was there. Every single day, I was there.

I spent most of my life feeling like everything I thought was wrong and that I deserved to be on the bottom. Finally, a few years ago, I started putting the pieces of my puzzle together. I was taught these beliefs, both verbally and non-verbally throughout my life. This was a huge eye-opener for me and the start of a huge change in my life.

Yoga has helped me a great deal with developing insight. With insight, you are able to see things differently. You are able to step back and practice compassion and at the same time still practice standing in your truth. Insight can be a tool to help you make changes in your life, but having insight doesn’t mean you are perfect and it surely doesn’t mean you never make mistakes (And I’m talking from experience, here).

I am constantly learning about life, and where before I was a bystander in my life, now I get to be fully integrated into it. I would often tell my husband how much I admired his abilities to tell it like it is, and not care. He would often reply back “I do care, just not about everyone’s BS.” I have my own issues. I don’t need to hear about everyone else’s. He always says that when you are upfront right away about things, there are fewer issues later. Being honest is important.

So how do you develop insight and your own voice? Here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Learn to focus on your breathing. Breathing keeps you in the present moment and helps you slow down. If you are not breathing, then internally you are putting yourself in a position of anxiety and stress. It can be difficult to think straight and truly feel. So in those moments of truth and honesty, in those moments of both giving and receiving information, slow down to breathe more and talk less. This will help you feel and evaluate what you are going to say before you say it.

 

  1. Think before you talk (or write), get quiet and ask yourself, why am I going to say/write this? Who will it help, is it truthful and honest? I can’t count the number of times I write a comment on social media, type a reply to a video, email or go to post something myself only to delete it. When I reread and reflect, I feel in my gut it’s not worth it and I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. There are times to speak up and times to shut up.

 

  1. Privately practice getting honest with yourself, talk aloud to yourself, and practice speaking your truth (or writing your truth). In the beginning, it may not be pretty, but as you gain better insight skills you will be able to tame and mold it. I have written countless blog posts, only to never publish them in fear someone might not agree, or might get angry or take it personally- this is no way to live.

 

  1. Surround yourself with people that inspire you to be better, people that you want to aspire to be like. Remember, you become your company. Be in good company of people who have mastered the art of insight and speaking up. Learn from them, even ask them questions. Doing this has offered me some of the greatest insights and self-reflection.

 

  1. Speak up with safe people. Speak up with people who you trust. Maybe even share what you are working on. Make sure it is a judgement-free zone.

 

  1. Practice not having the last say. This is a hard one for many (I was horrible with this). Sometimes speaking up means you say nothing and let things go. This has been a great practice of developing personal strength and insight as to why I feel the need to fix or have the last say. What matters truly is what you think of yourself. And what I have discovered is that my need to have the last say was a direct response to feeling like I was never heard. (Try practicing #1 to help you practice #6)

 

  1. Start to sit with the uncomfortable feelings after you speak your truth and let the feelings just be there. Those feelings don’t last forever, but they do stick around if you continually avoid them. Being uncomfortable is a huge part of growth and a huge part of change. I see it a lot: people deflecting change by blaming others or giving excuses for what they are not willing to address and take action on themselves. I have both been the target and have targeted others due to a lack of skills and insight; the only reason I see this now is because I was the queen of this for many years. If you are a yogi I would encourage you to consider a slower practice to help you learn to sit with the feelings more and feel them and let them pass.

 

  1. Observe your body language, and tone of voice. Parenting is a great example. If you parent from across the room you can pretty much expect your child to never listen or take you seriously. Just as important, if you ask your child to do something or listen to you and you are requesting them to do so while scrolling on your smart phone – do you think they will take you seriously? If you don’t give them complete attention why should others do the same to you? There are a million angles to take on this. Feeling inferior? Try sitting up tall, or uncrossing your arms and legs to help you receive better. Make eye contact when you talk and use inflections in your voice to stress importance in the conversation. These are all things I use in my personal life and when I teach, to help students stay tuned in.

 

No matter where you are in your life there is always room for growth and insight. I see now what I could not see before, that those who develop a sense of self, a voice and a truth are the ones who receive what life has to offer more fully, because the goodness that is waiting for them knows where to go and is then well received.

 

Be well my friends.
Enjoy this post? Leave a comment below and share with your friends! Namaste.

4 Habits of Determined People

4 Habits of Determined People

4 Habits of Determined People

I am a very determined person. But there is a part of me that still holds onto this “learned behavior” of freezing when things get hard.

It’s not that I would “give up,” but rather, I would freeze.

I wouldn’t know what to do next. The fear of failure or worst making the wrong decision and others being disappointed would paralyze me. Others being “unhappy.”

Last week I was talking to my mentor and telling him about a decision I need to make. And he immediately looked at me and said:

“Hope…you are not responsible for other people’s happiness”.

No, follow up statement. No nothing. I felt the irony of that statement: when he said it, he wasn’t worried if it would make me happy or not. He said it because it was the truth.

For years I had it 🚫 ALL WRONG. 🚫

I put so much of my energy into ensuring others would be happy. In return, I was killing myself, exhausting myself, to the point I was becoming bitter.

I would be temporarily happy because of my doings… But it never lasted. I would soon need another fix. I could never win.

See, I had being kind and helping others mixed up with making others happy

I use to think that the only way to make others happy was to put them as a priority over myself. To give them everything they ask for. To self-sacrifice, put me at the bottom. Do the “poor me” dance.

This learned behavior was slowly killing me just as fast as my eating disorder was.

Over the last several years, I have been working diligently on cutting the cord of this person’s pleasing disease.

Determined Blog Post Hope Zvara

Here is what I know to be true…

❣️I believe we are all put here on this Earth for a God-given reason.

❣️We all have gifts, talents, and paths.

❣️We all are meant to shine, no one brighter than the next.

❣️But it is up to us as to how we choose to shine-dim our light or turn it up super bright.

My people-pleasing disease was strangling my natural determination superpower. I was driven, focused, and always wanting to do my best. But every time I would get the car running to accomplish BIG things, my people-pleasing disease would step in and sabotage my success. Over the years, I have learned how to effectively harness the skill sets and mindset to drive to my destination with less distraction.

Four Attributes of Determined People:

  1. Most successful people are great at delaying gratification. In the words of Beluga from Willy Wonka, “Daddy, please, I want it now.” And we all know what happened to Beluga. Part of my recovery was learning to sit with ill feelings and emotions. And learning they will pass. Right now, my parents are selling their house, and for my father, this is a roller coaster of emotions because when things don’t happen immediately, he just wants to make rash decisions. Dropping the price dramatically, thinks no one wants it… on and on. He just wants it over. But remember those feelings you are feeling are just feelings, and they will pass. Breathe my friends, and if you can delay that gratification for a bit longer, you may be surprised what you get in the end. 
  2. Most successful people are great at withstanding temptationI see this as several things. Are you trying to lose weight? That chip looks so good at 9:30 pm, doesn’t it? You have a deadline that would skyrocket your business, but you are organizing your office. You want a new job but have yet to do anything that would push you towards that goal outside of Netflix and Chill. My point is this; the temptation is just that-temptation. It’s enhancing immediate gratification for having it later. There is a form of resilience being cultivated when you say no so you can say yes then. You can do it!
  3. Most successful people are great at overcoming fear to do what they need to do. Most of my life, I have had a fear of rejection. Small, large, it doesn’t matter. And overcoming this has been a lot like going to the gym. If you want to develop a specific muscle or muscle group, your best work it and do things that are hard to strengthen that muscle then and, as a result, get better at them. So in my business, I have learned just to do it (thanks Nike). And if I lay out who I need to call the next day and put it in my calendar like an appointment and then just do it before I can overthink and my emotions wiggle their way in, success is within arms reach for me. The result, I’m less anxious around this and have taught myself that rejection is made up and that no’s only lead me to the yes’s waiting for me on the other side. 
  4. Most successful people don’t set priorities; they do the things they decide are most important. What is important to you? It’s hard to figure this out without setting goals. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be? When we see the destination (no matter how crazy it might sound), knowing this will help you figure out what is essential. I see these things as choices. We all can make choices. What are you choosing to do? Are those choices aligned with what you say you want? 

 

Remember this: Do not ever feel bad for how bright your light is.

And if it makes someone else unhappy, that is for them to fix—not you. But equally as much, learn to be happy when others have a win. In the end, this simple practice will almost always return to you as a win as well. Determined is not just to reach your goal. It’s also to support others when they reach theirs. 

Let me ask you this: Who do you know that is doing amazing things? Who do you do that worked hard for something and got it? Who do you know that has achieved a win, goal, or accomplishment. Now it may be something you have been working your butt off to achieve, and they got there first. Remember that you do not know their past details for detail and do not know their future. But you can choose to be a part of that win by celebrating it with them. Who knows maybe they will inspire or share what they did to get there with you simply because you supported them. 

Full disclosure, I did not grow up in a home where this was a regular practice. When others achieved things around us, there were not supportive cheers; there were usually negativity and sarcasm: jealousy and an unwillingness to step up and be a part of the celebration. Now things change, I’ve changed and refuse to be a part of that type of mindset. And have also come to realize that we only know what we know, and how we behave is sometimes a protection mechanism from pain or rejection. (PS I love all my family, but this is a reality that I think we all can learn from).  

It occurred to me a few years ago that when I try to “make others happy,” I am taking away from them the opportunity to cultivate the necessary skills, talents, and pathways they need to find happiness on their own and keep it.

That it is not for me to judge if they have to go through discomfort, challenge, even rejection to get there, that is their path.

🌈That conversation reminded me that even though I have come so far, I still have some work.

🌈That conversation reminded me that I could spend my time trying to make others happy or find myself and be a light showing others how to cultivate it.

🌈That conversation reminded me that happiness is not something you can “give” people; it is something you can lead others to find themselves.

Today I want to encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself, “what makes YOU happy”?

And before any lame excuses pop into that conversation, ask yourself, “what is the reason you aren’t doing that”?

Reaching your goals hope zvara blog post

In keeping my focus and staying determined in my life, I try to do two things daily:

1. Set goals. Long term goals and short term goals. This helps me stay on track and also evaluate time suck activities-like jealousy and envy, scrolling Facebook to no end, and “organizing.”

2. Staying Grateful. Every night before my kids go to bed, our entire family (me, my husband, and our three kids) pray together, and after we say prayers, we go around and say a prayer for someone and what we can be grateful for. Doing this as a family has brought us closer together, and being able to get a glimpse of what my kids see and then share is impressive. When you go to bed at night, what you are thinking about is what your subconscious meditates on. So if it’s hate, jealousy, lack, and frustration, then that is what you are embedding, not your brain, body, and beliefs—such a simple act with such a powerful result. 

So my reminder today is simple: you are not responsible for another’s happiness.

Instead…

❣️Be a mentor and show others how to cultivate happiness.

❣️Be a mentor and assist others in creating the skills to discover happiness.

❣️Be a mentor, and do the things that make you happy.

Because what good is another’s happiness if you can’t enjoy it with them???

Your happiness has nothing to do with them… and everything to do with Y.O.U

 

Check out some of Hope’s other blogs that focus on goals and the art of being determined:

5 Steps to Take Ownership Back Over Your Life

Sources:

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/8-habits-of-people-with-exceptional-determination-and-willpower.html

5 Steps to Take Ownership Back Over Your Life

5 Steps to Take Ownership Back Over Your Life

5 Setps to Take Back Ownership Over Your Life

The start of life is out of our control. No one gets to choose who their parents are, what year they are born, or where they grow up. However, those things don’t have to dictate how your story unfolds. YOU determine who you are and what your story is going to be. 

OWN YOUR ACTIONS

Have you ever blamed the people or things around you when something wasn’t working out the way you wanted it to? Well, I’m 100% certain that we have all been there and done that at some point in our lives. I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I was that person for a long time. Instead of taking responsibility for my actions, I deflected and pushed the blame onto others and what was around me. I didn’t own who I was and what I did. It was easier that way.

Taking ownership is a powerful thing. Owning your actions and choices gives you the freedom to take charge of your own happiness. You are in control. When you blame others, you give away your power.

“Life doesn’t happen TO you. It happens BECAUSE of you.”

THE TIME IS NOW

As I continue to take ownership of my life and my choices, I want to welcome you to do the same. Stop blaming and start taking action. It doesn’t have to be significant. You don’t need to quit your job or leave your family-unless that is something you feel deep down you need to do. But stop waiting. Stop pointing your finger out at everyone else. Stop believing you have no say in what happens in your life.

Like Colin O’Brady (33), the first man to walk across Antarctica, it begins with a thought. Then a small step in the right direction and then having the mental strength to continue no matter what-step by step as you head towards your destination. Like Colin, we focus on that next step and not be overwhelmed by what lies ahead.

take back control over your life blog hope zvara

Here are 5 steps you can immediately put into practice to help take back and keep ownership over your life:

1. Get Quiet Every Single Day

Every day find time to get quite: no phone, no distractions, just you, your feelings, thoughts, and insights. Listen to what your mind and body are saying. Observe yourself. What do you notice? Getting quiet is a powerful practice, and many overlook it merely because it doesn’t feel like action. But this is where action steps evolve. (Check out how Hope gets quiet HERE)

2. Stop Blaming Other People and Things

When you blame others, you give away your power. Blaming is a self-protection mechanism. In my life experiences, we do so as a means not to have to face the truth we know. We may be feeling overwhelmed. We don’t or don’t know who to ask for the help we need. Or, like me, we were never taught how to take responsibility for our actions confidently. Stop blaming and ask yourself how I can take responsibility for this? Now that is an empowering statement. 

3. Get Up and Move

We, humans, are designed to move. We are not a lion building up reserves by sleeping and resting 16-20 hours a day to run 50 mph, then to catch our prey. Research shows that sitting a lot is dangerous to our health. And even short bursts of movement: 1-minute here, 5-minutes there can be a big difference in your well-being here. Exercise can lead to greater self-control, and for me, it leads to me feeling better about myself, making me make better life choices. 

4. Approach the Situation and Decide to Learn Something

When we step into a conversation or experience with ego, we lose the leverage to learn. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room all the time. And as Tony Robbins says, the second you are the most intelligent person in the room, you are in the wrong room. If you approach each opportunity with the mantra: “what can I learn from this”? You will shift from keeping yourself stuck and protected, to openness to grow. 

5. Learn How to Say No

When we say “yes” to everyone else and everything else, we are saying no to ourselves. Now I am not saying if your child needs help with math and you want to Netflix and Chill, you should say no. But there are countless times throughout the day where we are saying “yes” out of habit. We don’t want to do it or shouldn’t do it, but we do. And then we pay the price. To not create overwhelm, start with simple things like I did. Saying no to the couch with my husband and yes to going for a walk-then R&R time with him. Saying no to adding a yoga class to the schedule just because someone is asking when I knew if I said yes, it would be too much. Do a quick daily self-reflection and take inventory to where you are saying “yes” and “no” and ask yourself if the scale is off. 

YOU ARE IN CONTROL

It is a freeing feeling to be in charge of your life, and in my case, it was because that was not something I had experienced prior. It is vital to my wellness that every single day I like myself; that I love myself every single day. And when I don’t, I know the scales are off. And when I don’t, things need to change.

#dailydoseofhope

taking ownership over your life blog post hope zvara

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman,

Keep going. I get you–I see you–I am you. Even though you may feel alone at times, you are not. To get where you want to go isn’t easy. It will take every ounce of you but I know you can do this. I believe in you.

I AM DIFFERENT

It is said that adversity reveals one’s true character. For me, this couldn’t have been truer. 

I never really put much thought into the “type” of person I was. Growing up, I realized at an early age that others didn’t think like me.  They just weren’t motivated like I was. However, as I struggled with an eating disorder and an endless list of additional “problems”, it wasn’t until then that I truly saw the depths of my own character. I WAS different. 

CHOOSING TO THRIVE

As I was working through my recovery, not one but THREE doctors all told me the same thing–“Best case scenario, Hope, is that you need to learn how to ‘function’ in this world, on medication.” I KNEW that wasn’t my destiny and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with simply surviving in life. My destiny was to thrive and I was going to do it my way–because I was different. 

Driven Woman Hope Zvara Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Hope Zvara of Mother Trucker Yoga

We are all different and have different values. There are certain things that drive us, motivate us, and push us over the edge. For me–I love working and enjoy contributing. Idle downtime is the devil for me. My idea of “downtime” is yoga, going for a walk, working out at the gym, or playing with my kids. Working and contributing allows me to thrive in life rather than simply surviving. To be honest, working and contributing helped me recover and continues to help me stay the path. That’s me. For you–you might be the complete opposite and that’s okay. It’s what makes the world go round. 

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING YOU

Continually over the last 15 years, countless onlookers have said to me:

  • “You are so busy.”
  • “Hope, you do way too much.”
  • “How do you have time to do ______?”
  • “You should slow down and take a breath.”
  • “Hope–you just never stop, do you?”
  • “Listen, you should slow down and take a breath.”

Well, guess what–this is just HOW I AM! I never see working or contributing in life as “doing so much” or “being busy.” I have goals, dreams, and the determination to get there. I am driven and recognize that no one will build the life I want except for me. My purpose surrounds my family and my job. Both enable me to stay healthy. I built a successful business and my family continues to thrive. I will not apologize for this–ever. I’ll never apologize for being me. 

So, what you may view as “busy,” is me being me. When you say, “Hope, your plate is too full”, well that is me filling my cup with great things. When you suggest that I “need to slow down”, it’s me actually being driven and focused. Furthermore, you should never judge a book by its cover. 

never apologize for being a powerful woman blog post

BUSY VS. PRODUCTIVE

I learned a long time ago–there is a difference between busy work and doing things that build something great. No matter who you are that may be worth reflecting on.

Being busy just for the sake of being active is a waste of time, energy and will eventually break you. But entering into tasks, ideas, and projects that build what you want and where you want to go, is a smart and effective use of your time and talents.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I’ll leave you with this: To all those out there who are highly motivated, go-getters, and dream seekers–keep doing you I see you, I get you, I’m cheering for you.

For those people that have time to judge the actions of others, I urge you to consider that maybe you could be a bit more motivated, driven, or purposeful. And, please, consider what comes out of your mouth and how it may affect the person you are saying it to. Words hurt.

Blessings,

Hope

Hope Zvara Square image

 

#dailydoseofhope

PS. I am confident that someone will read this post and take offense. To those people, I urge you to dig a bit deeper and ask yourself why. You may be surprised as to what you find.

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

My life has been filled with some super deep, dark lows, fantastic highs, and everything in between. I’ve projected my own shortcomings onto other people. My self-sabotaging behavior has occurred more times than I’d care to admit. Worst of all, I rarely even realized I was doing it.

The truth is, I had become a master at standing in my own way. 

Changing My Ways

Our personality and life experiences determine the ways we think and react. I grew up observing people in my life, blame, judge, and criticize those around them. So, naturally, that was the pattern I fell in to. It was easier to blame others than take ownership and responsibility for my own actions. However, at some point, I decided that I was in charge of my own journey. 

Creating New Habits

Without realizing it, I had been living a life of self-sabotage. My negative ways of thinking and feeling were controlling my everyday life. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided that I had to focus on the most significant barrier in my life. It was the one that I had the most control over–myself. 

Learning to get out of my own way and pivot was a process. It wasn’t easy. I had to dismantle the sole self-defense mechanism that I had been using my entire life and develop new ways of thinking. I decided that I was going to get something out of everything. I was going to learn from everything and always ask myself before I speak, type, or share: “How will this help me or others?”

This simple mindset shift helped me get out of my own way. It made me:

♥️ Swallow my pride.

♥️ Move forward and let things go–even when I didn’t want to.

♥️ Press on and keep on so I could move on.

If you worried you’re getting in your own way, too, here are my tips to help you overcome your old ways.

4 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Pivot

Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Who benefits from what you are about to do or say? What value does it put back on life after such an engagement? Getting clear here will help you speak and begin to live more confidently. 

1. Focus on What is Essential

It is easy to get distracted by things that don’t matter in life. Before you know it, that “thing” is consuming everything you are thinking about and everything you do. Every day, take a timeout minute and think about all the things, people, and experiences that make you grateful. Bonus- write them down. Doing so helps get your mind in the right frame of mind because nothing good comes from anger and hate.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People

I know this can be challenging because we faced with unrealistic perfection in today’s world. Filters, edited life moments, what some call the “highlights reel” of someone’s life, makes the stress of not being enough can be overwhelming. A few years ago, I stopped looking at the tabloids and magazines in the checkout aisles. Why? Well, I realized that looking at celebrities’ perfect lives and bodies was giving me anxiety and pushing my mood and mind in a negative direction. So, I stopped looking at them. I limited social media scrolling and took time to notice trigger people, feeds, and posts. And I stay away. 

3. Change the Script

There was a time in my life that I would look back on my life and only see struggles and unfair circumstances. When I recognized that I wanted to get well and didn’t want to be a spiraling out addict anymore, I started to change my internal script. Instead of seeing all the bad, that happened to me as a punishment. I began to look at it as learning things I needed to learn and preparing me for something bigger than me. I began to see the challenges as opportunities to help me. They helped me later connect with my audience, students, and friends and give perspective I would not have had without my unfair struggle.

4. Give Yourself a Timeout

I know there are mixed feelings about giving a time out. But timeouts can offer us a moment to breathe, feel, and process. Yes, I am that parent that uses timeouts with my kids. It’s not so much a punishment as it is a time to breathe, feel, and think. I approach those timeouts as moments where they can figure out what they are feeling, breathe, and calm down so we can have a conversation and communicate. Timeouts, when done correctly, can be helpful tools for all parties and can both teach and foster personal growth and self-control. As an adult, I have learned first hand the full value of stepping away and then using the timeout not to think negative thoughts. But to process the situation and how I feel. 

The Choice Is Yours

Today, as you read this, I believe you have two choices. You can either continue to be wrapped up in your own story, your struggle, your fears, worry, jealously, and sadness OR you can GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY AND PIVOT.

No one but you can get you to move out of your own way. You are in charge of your own destiny. So, the choice is yours: Do You Want to Thrive or Survive?

Speak Up: How to Communicate Better

Speak Up: How to Communicate Better

Do you know those things that make you sweat? The things that make you feel anxious? The ones that make you want to apologize when you didn’t even do anything wrong? Well, that is how I feel when it comes to verbal communication.

Communication has never been a strength of mine. Well, let me rephrase that–verbally communicating how I feel and what I need has never been easy for me. My brain was wired to devalue my feelings and needs and overvalue another. It was a learned behavior that I needed to learn how to harness. 

Courage to Communicate

I remember distinctly the first time I verbally voiced what I needed to my husband. 

My husband and I were sitting on the couch one night after he had gotten home from work. I knew that walking, yoga and physical activity helped me manage my anxiety and could feel my anxiety slowly creeping up. I wanted to go for a walk by myself to breathe, take a time out from the kids, and relax. However, with two small kids at home and a husband that was working a very physical job, I felt that his happiness and relaxation were more important than mine. Asking for a “break” made me feel guilty. 

However, at that moment, I knew exactly what I needed and I needed it so badly I had no choice. I swallowed my fear and verbally communicated to my husband that I needed to go for a walk. I paused. And waited. Brian, my husband, said, “Go, hun. I’m good”  without flinching. I felt an immediate sense of relief at that moment. 

This may not seem like a big deal to some but for me, it was a milestone. That moment where I voiced my needs and wants set a solid foundation for my future. Today, I am able to voice bigger things like my views on parenting, life, and business. It’s also led me to now be able to agree to disagree, be okay with someone not liking what I have to say, and setting time for myself and not feel like I have to ask for permission. 

Learning How to Listen

About ten years into recovery, I discovered that I didn’t know how to effectively communicate. I also learned that how well you listen has a major impact on the quality of your relationships with others.

I didn’t know how to listen. I was continually projecting what I thought others were thinking and saying before they even finished talking. With that, I was actually preparing for a rebuttal and would instantly shut down or bark back the moment I would receive a response that I didn’t like. 

I had to relearn how to listen.  

Even though listening may ‘sound’ easy, listening well is a gift that not everyone has. Improving your ability to listen well will enable you to assess situations with more clarity and gain insight into other people, their opinions and the overall circumstances of an event. Listening well can prevent you from misreading a situation and making mistakes –like I was doing. 

Make Your Voice Heard

I decided somewhere along my journey, with the help of the yoga I know, meditation, and fully embracing the love of those around me to press on. To keep voicing up. To keep asking those uncomfortable questions. To say what I need to say.

Speak up, friend. You deserve to speak. You have something valuable to say and your voice matters.

And each time it will only get better. Each time you voice up and choose to communicate instead of hold it in, you will get better at it. Each time you ask that uncomfortable question it feels less uncomfortable. Each time you will get more precise at what you need to say and how you need to say it.

Clear Communication

Work in Progress

I have learned time and time again in life and business that it is MY responsibility to ask questions, inquire, and do research if needed. This practice, in a sense, is putting myself first, and at the same time putting the other person first as well, because now communication is open. My advice, start with safe people. Start in safe environments and with small less scary things to communicate. For me, it was wanting to go for a walk. For you it may be voicing that you want Mexican food tonight instead of just saying “I don’t care”. 

Full disclosure, doing these things is super hard for me. Still, I’ve discovered that time and time again; I am continually putting others’ well-being, happiness, comfort, and satisfaction above mine. And I am so grateful I have developed an ever-growing toolbox to help me build up these muscles in my life and business.

Let me help you get rid of stress so you can press on to the next phase of your life.

Check out my blog: 3 Yoga Poses to Banish Stress Instantly

Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Did you know that May is #MentalHealthMonth?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. #MentalHealthMonth was created to increase public awareness of mental health conditions and to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses. 

Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are afraid to, talk about them. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of mental health and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to manage it. 

My Fears

As a mom of three and someone who has battled mental health challenges most of her life, my greatest concern upon having children was that my children would struggle with their mental health in the same ways that I did. However, I believe that my own struggles actually made me a better parent. I was more aware and attuned to the needs of my children and never once did I hesitate to seek help when I thought they needed it. 

So, what can we do, as parents, to help improve the overall mental well-being of our children?

1. COMMUNICATE

Communication is the key. Good communication with children involves listening well and talking in ways that encourage your child to listen to you. Communicate the super uncomfortable and challenging things, too. Being open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear, and anxiety will help you and your child to navigate potentially tricky situations in the future. 

2. RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR HELP

This may seem silly or even stupid to some reading this. As a parent who has struggled with this most of her life, I just don’t get why seeking aid in this way for your child or children is still a “last resort”, or for some, not even an option.

My oldest is very emotional. Last year, he was caught teasing and talking under his breath during class to a few of his classmates about how they looked. When I confronted my son and talked to him about why he was doing what he was doing, in all honesty, he told me that he wasn’t that sorry for some of it. I knew right then and there  was something bigger going on. Not in regards to the relationship with these other children, but within himself.  My son needed someone else to talk to and it was my job to find someone else who could give him perspective and insight beyond that of my husband and myself. 

3. SEEK HELP

That summer, I arranged for my son to see a counselor. We called his sessions “his class with Michael”. During that time, a few parents and family members questioned my decision to seek outside help for my son. They often said, “Why are you doing that? He’s fine”. But, I knew he wasn’t. I saw a young boy struggling to process how he felt. I saw myself in him.

Seeking help was the best thing I could have ever done for my son as his mom. It gave us a place to communicate with our son and it gave my son a place to communicate openly without judgment. Michael played a HUGE role in my son’s confidence, understanding, and processing of emotions. Most importantly, Michael was a huge game-changer for my son and his future.  He now has insight and coping strategies that will serve him his entire life. An insight I wish I would have had at his age. If I would have, then, maybe, my story would have been a bit different.

4. DON’T JUDGE

For many parents, at the first sign that their child appears to be sick, there is no concern or questioning on getting them medicine to help them feel better. So why aren’t we looking at our children’s mental health, their mental well-being, in the same light as their physical well-being?

I urge you all, parent or not, to put all your personal issues aside and see your kids as they are. To attend to them in the best possible way that has nothing to do with you. Seeking help is not a bad thing. Would you ever look down on someone for seeking treatment for a medical ailment? More than likely, no. So, I urge you to do the same for you and your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellness.

So, I ask you, during #MentalHealthMonth–what does your child need? As someone who has struggled most of her life with mental health and wellness concerns, I can tell you that having a therapist has been one of the best things I have done for myself and it made all the difference for my son, too.

If you are interested in learning more, check out these great resources on Amazon.

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship

It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.

Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills. 

Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:

  • Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
  • Effective communication
  • How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
  • Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
  • It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
  • There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.

 

Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.

We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.

That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift. 

Vienna Pharaon Quote - Hope Zvara Blog Post

We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions. 

If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.  

My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.🍃 This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.

Doing so requires you to do two simple things: 

  1. STOP and step back (literally, step back).
  2. Inhale and exhale.

Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others. 

And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.

Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.

A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.

Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me. 

My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.

👉I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.

One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.

May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.

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