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5 Yoga Poses for Perfect Posture

5 Yoga Poses for Perfect Posture

Practice makes perfect. And I’m talking posture!

Imagine being in a room full of people and someone walks in and instantly commands the room without a word spoken.

How do they do that? Fancy clothes? Fireworks? Paid groupies?

No. Amazing posture.

Perfect posture.

Because how you carry yourself says a lot about who you are, your self-esteem, your relationship with the world, and how you feel about yourself.

Ever observe someone depressed. They posture says “don’t come near me, don’t touch me”, a fetal like position of protection.

But when you see that person whose posture screams confidence, openness, and ease, you can’t help but want some of that secret sauce they have been drinking.

Only they haven’t been drinking, they have been moving. Moving in the right way.

So to help you on your posture perfect path not only for your body’s health and alignment but your own mental, emotional and social health here are my TOP 5 POSTURE PERFECT YOGA POSES.

Top 5 Yoga Poses for Better Posture

1. Heart Opening Mountain Pose

  • Standing at attention with your weight even on your feet.
  • Turn your feet to face forward and draw your pelvic into neutral (pubis bone and front hip bones all parallel with the front wall).
  • Interlace your fingers behind your back (or grab a strap or towel if your hands can’t clasp or you can clasp but have no range of motion).
  • INHALE, drawing the shoulder blades together and down as the arms externally rotate.
  • Lift your chest gently and keeping space in the back of the neck gently lookup.

Play with rotating your arms and wrists to find the most appropriate release in the shoulders. Breathe deeply into the lungs to open the chest further. Enjoy for five to ten breaths.

Mountain Pose

2. Shoulder Blade Runner

  • Standing at attention in Mountain Pose, draw your arms up in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Turn your palms to face each other and the folds of your elbows to gently face up (no hyperextension), keeping a solid pelvis (see #1) and a stable rib cage (no thrusting). Only move your shoulders.
  • Inhale, pinching your shoulder blades together like they are going to come together over your spine.
  • Exhale: reach your arms away without rounding your shoulders forward like you are reaching for an object just out of reach.

Repeat this movement focusing on range of motion ten to twenty times.

Shoulder Blade Runner

3. Turkey Neck Stretch

  • Seated tall, relax your shoulders down and back.
  • Drop your head forward and using your fingers pull down on the skin at your clavicles.
  • Keep that connection and open your mouth as wide as you can.
  • Keeping it open, tip the head back, as you do so pull down on the skin creating a facial stretch.
  • Now close your mouth and imagine you have an underbite and push the bottom jaw upward.
  • Try sliding the bottom jaw side to side to find the most viable stretch. Hold for up to ten breaths.
  • Gently bring the head back to center.

Turkey Neck Stretch

4. Melting Wheel

Dust off your large Swiss ball (the one you bought thinking you’d sit on at your desk, make sure it’s well inflated). Take a seat on the edge of it and slowly start to lean back over the ball. If your lower back feels tight, tip the tail bone up between the legs to lengthen the lower back. Now play with where your arms lay to open the front line of the body and pretend that you are making a snow angel and when you find a point of release, hold your arms there until you feel release (your arms may not be symmetrical).

Play with your body and using your legs, experiment with squatting, and then moving your head towards the ground to choose where you want to focus-lower back and hip flexors or chest, arms and shoulders. Enjoy as long as you feel comfortable. To come up, begin to squat and roll yourself up back on top of the ball. And counterbalance by hinging forward.

Melting Wheel

5. Rolling Forward Fold

Staring in Mountain Pose, bend the knees and imagine you are like a flag blowing in the wind. Exhale and loosely roll yourself down into Forward Bend. Like you were jumping on a trampoline, bend your knees and think about being sprung up (rolling) into a standing extension.

In standing extension keep your knees bent and float your pelvis forward as you arch back. You should feel your core turn on and your front line of the body stretch. Exhale, bend the knees, and fall/roll back down (think less control and more flow). Repeat this movement fine to ten times.

Rolling Forward Fold

Posture does make perfect. Because how you present yourself to the world is how you receive it back.

For more moves just like these check out my ONLINE MOVEMENT STUDIO

>>>> $9.99 a month for UNLIMITED ACCESS to moves that make sense! <<<< 

I want to know: Which move do you like most? 

 

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

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 ♥️.

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

declutter

No matter how neat and tidy of a person you are, it’s pretty easy for “stuff” or clutter to pile up around your house.

Clutter is a constant battle at our house. From mail, bills, and school papers to toys for the kids and dog and clothes–there are so many things that just never seem to get put away or find their place. When my house starts to get overrun by clutter, I begin to feel stressed, which then begins to affect the other areas of my life.

So, it’s not surprising that having clutter around means less stress in your life. However, decluttering is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, there are simple tricks to stop clutter from taking over your life.

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

1. Plan Ahead.

Did you know that planning ahead is proven to reduce stress? Well, it’s true. Planning is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can do without spending a penny. Plus, planning gives you more time to do the things that you enjoy in your life!

2. Have a Home for All of Your Stuff.

I can’t tell you the number of times l look at the stuff lying around and do nothing, Or, I take something out of a drawer, use it, and lay it on the counter instead of putting it back where I got it in the first place. Everything should have a “home.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. For example, always put your car keys in a basket and hang up your coat in the same place when you come home. When you put things in the same place instead of somewhere random, you will know where they are and save time and stress looking for them. This simple change has helped me keep my house, office, and car much cleaner, and my family and I much happier.

3. Stop Multitasking.

The glorification of being an excellent multitasker is overrated. In reality, humans are not the best at multitasking. Focusing on multiple tasks all at once seems like an efficient way to get the most out of your day; however, you end up getting very little done and done well. Instead, make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish and then list them in order of importance. To me, there is something so gratifying about making a list and then crossing your accomplishments off as the day goes on.

4. Say Goodbye.

If you have not used that really-thoughtful kitchen gadget that your dear aunt gave you three birthday’s ago, it is time to say goodbye. Everything from old papers and clothes to cooking utensils and the food in your pantry–it is all fair game. My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used it or worn it in the last year, it’s moving on to its next home. You can give gently loved items to a charity or to someone else that can make use of what you do not need any longer.

5. Stay Committed.

If you want your space to be less cluttered, you have to commit to making it and keeping it that way. Set aside just 15 minutes at the end of each day to declutter and organize your space. Yep, those 15 minutes can and will make all of the difference. Discipline yourself to do this before you sit down to watch your favorite show or read a good book. I love to set the timer on my phone and go gun-ho until it beeps. And, if you are like me and have a family that helps contribute to all of the clutter, I’d suggest getting them involved in the 15-minute cleanup,, too! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes.

6. Clear Your Mental Clutter.

Clearing your mental clutter is just as important as physically decluttering your space. Taking time each day to reflect on your blessings and to meditate will help you to manage your stress levels effectively. A gratitude journal is an easy way to keep track of the positive things in your life. You would be surprised how simple reflection can improve your overall mental health. Also, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace, and improve your overall mental well-being.  Clear your mental clutter, relax, and refocus your mind with this 30-minute guided meditation audio. If 30-minutes seems a bit too long, check out of my shorter meditations. 

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Clutter may be a constant lurking threat, but when you choose to tackle the problem head-on, your efforts will pay off. I don’t know about you, but when my house is happy, I’m happy, and when I’m happy, I am more willing to take on any task life throws at me with a grateful heart and ready arms.

So, are you ready to join me in decluttering your life? 

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