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?
I never thought that yoga would become such a huge part of my life. To be honest, I didn’t even know what yoga was until a co-worker said to me one day, “You look like someone who would practice yoga.” Hmmmm…thanks? I guess?
You know, those moments in life that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, at 17 years old, that is exactly what that moment did to me.
I truly believe that life has a way of nudging you in the right direction. Of course, it’s up to us if we decide to follow that nudge or not, but, nonetheless, it’s there.
Destined To Do Big Things
I’ve never shared this before but when I growing up, I always knew that I was meant for more. As a child, you could usually find me tucked away, inside of my closet, stapling papers together to create books. Not books to share, but books that I planned to store away with the intent to be found by someone one day when I was gone. That someone who would say, “Wow, this is amazing.” Okay, looking back–maybe that was a little weird BUT the point is–I always knew that I was going to do big things. I knew I was going to be known for something more.
Then came yoga. Practicing yoga was a saving grace to me. It was my lifeline. Every Wednesday night, it gave me hope that I could do it. It showed me I was strong. It showed me what I was capable of. It showed me that I was meant for more.
Yoga changed my life.
Then, randomly one day, my yoga teacher casually suggested to me that I consider teaching yoga. Funny how life works, right?
Yoga Was My Nudge
My first search–“How to become a yoga teacher”–landed me on an ashram in Rollingsville, Colorado. Don’t ask me how or why, but I just knew that this was the place for me. Without hesitation, I signed up, gave them my money, and booked my tickets. However, it wasn’t all quite that simple. The catch–I had finals during my month stay in Colorado. I know what you are thinking– “Ok, Hope, that’s not that big of a deal.”
Here is the thing– I went to a Catholic university and I was off to an ashram to learn how to teach yoga SO it was sort of a BIG deal. The two couldn’t be more different. That next week, relying on my faith and a prayer, I asked my professors if they would consider letting me take my finals early. They all said yes. My stars were aligning.
My Yoga Teaching Journey
There was no hiding it–I was scared. I was still struggling with an eating disorder and there appeared to be no real hope or end in sight. I wanted to stop. I desperately wanted to be able to live a normal life. But I knew I still had a long way to go.
I still remember my first day in our yoga teacher training at the ashram. Eleven of us sitting in a circle and everyone was at least 15 years older than me. I was determined to step aside from my fears and make the most out of this month-long stay–all 98 pounds of me. I was praying to God this would heal me. This 30-day stay would be just what I needed to clear my head and conquer my addiction–for good.
That afternoon, sitting in a circle on the freshly carpeted floor, I knew this was where I belonged. That day I heard a voice inside my head and it told me eleven things I would do going forward from that day. These were things that I never thought I would do. They were things that were never in my scope of dreams. However, to be honest, struggling with an eating disorder, depression, and a laundry list of other issues–survival was the only thing I could focus on. But I pulled out my yellow legal pad and printed out one goal on each line. I tore off the sheet and folded it up. I was on my way.
My article on Mind Body Green highlights what I believe are the 7 Secrets of Becoming a Successful Yoga Teacher.
My Yoga Training Forever Changed the Course of My Life
My yoga training gave me hope that all the prayers that I had said and all the things that I had been through would not be a waste.
That yoga training was hard. It rocked me to my core. It challenged on what I thought about life, movement, and myself. It challenged my faith to go deeper into myself and see wh at and how I really connected to God.
I believe we all need those moments in life in order to truly get to the bottom of who we are. We are all here on this earth for a purpose and it is us who gets in our own way and downplays our potential for greatness.
My yoga training taught me that we are all worth it.
You Are Worth It
For you, it may not be enrolling in a yoga training class. (If it is, please reach out to me if you have questions. I would be happy to help you find the right fit!) Whatever it is, remember–you are worth it. You are better after it and there are never any mistakes in life. Just opportunities. Opportunities to learn and soak up all that is waiting to be had.
Picture a day when you are no longer struggling to get out of the gutter. Instead, you are leading others from it.
A day when you are no longer asking for forgiveness, but receiving gratitude from those around you.
A day when you are not searching for the next best thing. Instead, you find yourself attracting what you desire all the time.
Picture a day when all you have been through was absolutely worth it.
Today is that day. You owe it to yourself.
Learn Cherry Picking Warm-Up. This video is a part of our Asana Video Library
training materials for both students and teachers where the forgotten art of
simple movements is explored.
The old me, some twenty years ago felt the deep need to both impress others while simultaneously trying to share parts of myself that were wounded and needed healing for nothing more than to be free of the burdens of carrying them around daily.
Roughly ten years ago I was spun out on a journey to better understand how the body moves as I was not getting the teachings nor explanations I was looking for inside the yoga world. Constantly hearing phrases like “That’s normal”, or “It will get better with time“, and my favorite “do what feels right for you“, seemed like scapegoat responses for a lack of real understanding about how the body moves and why students were feeling the things they were.
Now don’t get upset, I’m not summarizing everyone. But in my personal experience, teacher after teacher, training after training, the why’s, and how’s were continually left out of the what’s and when’s as it pertained to teaching yoga and experiencing poses.
The art of teaching warm-ups and looking at a student and seeing where their challenges were, even if they wouldn’t share them, was something I wanted to refine even more. Why do they walk like that? Why does their shoulder hurt and ever seems to get better? How is it they can do this yoga pose, but not that one? And how do I convince students to value basic moves and sequences as that is what they also need and not just the complex poses and fast-paced moves?
More than ten years I spent studying outside the yoga world to better understand how the body moved and why. Stepping back onto the mat I had a fresh new perspective and a deep understanding of the why’s and how’s I was lacking prior. Tailoring my language and eloquently sequencing my classes to work from the ground up helped students navigate their own bodies and I began to see a shift in my students making better choices all on their own as to what they choose to do when it came to asanas.
How did this happen?
I began to connect their every day living to what they were feeling. I gave them the control to choose with real parameters to gauge their progress pose to pose. Warm-up to final asana. Connecting the dots to how and where the could be doing the very things they are learning in their everyday life.
The Cherry Picking Warm-Up and many others became a means to when they walk up from a long sleep or stretch at their desk. And by doing the very warm-ups like Cherry Picking and dozens of others on the mat, it began to give them confidence and permission to do them off the mat. Because truly, what good is yoga if you don’t carry it with you into your everyday life?
Stepping outside the yoga arena and stepped into a whole new beautiful world of functional movement. It excited me in so many new ways. Mainly because, for the very first time in my entire life, I began to understand the body, it’s parts, and how these parts move.
As a yoga teacher and movement specialist, I find it critical to incorporate basic movements no matter how unfancy they are in your classes. The whole idea of a warm-up is to “warm-up” the body for more detailed movements. And having taught tens of thousands of students over the last nearly twenty years I have noticed a common thread of students lacking the basic abilities to do everyday movements.
Benefits of incorporating warm-ups (like Cherry Picking Warm-Up) into your yoga practice:
- Walk with full range movement in their knees and ankles
- Fully reach overhead without pain
- Bend forward without rounding
- Walk with a full hip extension, not just flexion
- Rotate their torso when turning to the side
- Move their neck side to side without pain
- Walk on various surfaces with bare feet pain-free
- Squat, reach or bend freely
Watch the Cherry Picking Video Now HERE
Benefits to Practicing Cherry Picking Warm-Up:
-Melts the fascia in and around the shoulder
-Stretches the side (lateral) body
-Stretches the lower back
-Stretches the obliques and lateral hip
-Gets you breathing
-Expands the lungs
-Is a basic life movement everyone should be able to do
**BONUS** If you haven’t watched the video yet, it will take you through step by step how to work through the pose as a student and a teacher. Take note of the variety of positive cues and direct references so you and your students can get the most out of this pose.
And if you love this video on the Cherry Picking Warm-Up and want more don’t forget to check out the “How To” video on how to do High Lunge safely and effectively!
Love these teachings? Hop over to HopeZvara.com and head on inside the Mindful Movement & Yoga Online Studio
I’ve said it a million times, how you do things, even yoga asana things matters. So let’s start by honoring the need and art of warm-ups and get you reaching high and feeling great in your everyday life!
Insight into Hands-On Adjusting Yoga Students
It’s either a fear or a flow of excitement for a new yoga teacher to be taught adjustments. The often-incorporated step into yoga teacher training’s that teachers are encouraged (with little to no anatomy training) to move a student’s body around with little to no knowledge of their circumstances and limitations.
I have seen a lot evolve over the years as a yoga teacher. And a lot has changed in fifteen years of teaching.
One thing that has drastically changed for me is my involvement with my students on the mat while I teach yoga.
I will admit in my earlier years in teaching, I taught a great class, very soulful, inventive but I was naive. I knew very little about the body and about: how the body moves, should move, and doesn’t move. I was taught parts and poses, I was not taught people. So, to fulfil my yoga teacher training requirements, I learned adjustments.
Moving a person’s foot here, guiding their knee there, trying to gracefully fight against their tight hips to create an experience of “openness” to the level I thought it should be, all based on poses and parts.
Can we just say that this is “not OK!”
By the grace of God, my teaching style has evolved and so has my level of education. I, now, have come to a place as a yoga and movement guide to truly believe that it is not OK to physically touch, adjust, or maneuver a person’s body no matter how much you think you know, during a yoga class.
Think about it, every other person that “adjusts”, “manipulates” or “presses and pulls” on people HAS A LICENSE!
Let me list it out for you:
- Massage Therapists
- Physical Therapists
- Medical Doctors
- Registered Nurses
All need state approved licenses to touch their clients. Yoga teachers do not. And although yoga has a way of making one feel God-like, reality is, they are not. Because yes, yes you can get hurt in yoga. And if by chance someone does, as a yoga teacher, it is best it not be by your hand.
If you are a yoga teacher one thing you can always ask yourself is: “why do I feel the need to make the adjustment”?
I spent seven years teaching yoga teacher training’s and one thing I have changed is how I teach teachers to approach students. And my process is simple:
- Verbally instruct and demo with clear instruction what the student should be doing.
If you notice a student does not understand…
- Verbally specify what the group of students should focus on and point it out on your own body (and possibly ask the entire group to watch).
If you notice that a student still does not understand…
- Verbally instruct & direct 1:1, meaning, go over to the student and from behind verbally guide them and use markers to help them guide their own body where it may need to go towards.
If you notice that student still doesn’t understand…
- Mirror them 1:1, so they see you directly with no distractions and ask them to focus in on a specific area. (NOTE: step’s 3 and 4 can be done interchangeably)
And if by chance you feel multiple students are just lost in translation, call a “freeze” moment for the entire class and take five for a mini breakdown clinic where you can teach everyone step by step in a more interactive way. The above has proved time and time again to be a simple, safe and legal way to help guide your students where you may want them to go. And as always with an understanding that not all bodies move the same way, so you may be asking something of someone that just will never be able to do it, no matter how many hip openers he or she does. ?
I know that during my years of teachings, some of my teachers were disappointed in my later training’s that I did not teach many “hands-on” adjustments, and the immediate need to go out and learn them was very apparent with some of my student teachers, sadly without even having any teaching experience under their belt, perfecting the above.
I have spent more than half my life interacting with people solely on a yoga mat and one thing I have learned is less is more. And when you adapt this to your class, what ends up happening is you facilitate your students to be self-responsible.
You request that they cultivate a sense of self awareness, in that I could move your knee out to the side 100 times and you will still never remember to do it. But if I request your awareness of the maneuver and give you a valuable reason why to explore this and ask you to do it yourself. You will more than likely do it one or two times and remember forever, which may just be another benefit of practicing yoga in a more hands-off way.
I will admit, in my earlier years I had a deep sense of ego-driven pride, when I would deeply move a students’ body and they would respond in “wow” and amazement of the release or challenge I brought to their practice. To those people I pray I never hurt you or manipulated your tissues in a way that caused later issue as if your body wasn’t willing to go there on its own, I should not have brought it there.
Naive to a great deal of the legalities to what goes into being a yoga teacher. My eyes were opened wide when I opened my own yoga studio, and then in running my own yoga teacher training.
Still not on board? It is not uncommon for yoga teachers to not even invest in liability insurance to cover the act of teaching yoga. And if you have liability insurance ask your provider if they specifically cover injuries inflicted by the you the yoga teacher. You may be surprised, they do not.
The good news: Take a load off, yoga teachers! Take a load off in that you are not responsible for your students’ bodies in a sense that THEY are responsible for themselves, something I think we all often forget about in today’s world. On a certain level, we are responsible for ourselves (a little yoga philosophy may help enhance this point).
I’m sure my students wonder why I don’t adjust them much anymore, and the truth is:
legally, I shouldn’t…
physically, I shouldn’t…
mechanically, it’s not my place…
and energetically, one must be ready for change, because if the body is holding on, there must be a reason and while instructing a dozen others in a group setting is not really the place to figure that out.
So, am I saying yoga needs to be state regulated? Not necessarily, but what I am suggesting is that all yoga teachers step back and reflect and ask is it necessary? Is there a better, safer way to help your students? And if the answer is no, then maybe that student should consider a different style of class, a private class or complimentary therapies like massage, chiropractic’s or physical therapy to help that issue resolve itself.
Because what if giving a little less, will actually, in the end give more?
Want to take a class with me? Check out my Asana Video Library.
I’m not a yoga teacher.
Turning the way that I do business upside-down has come with its challenges. For years I have simply called myself a yoga teacher. Over these years, I have grown as a person, and as a result, my teaching style and approach on the mat have evolved as well.
I can still remember finally being brave enough to show up to another yoga teacher’s class, who in my surrounding area had made quite a name for herself. Usually full of fear to do such a thing, I took my mat under my arm and walked in the door. She recognized me and casually said hi, and I returned the greeting. Her class was hard, really hard, and I can remember leaving that session dripping in sweat and overwhelmed with tears because I thought to myself “I am nothing like she is.”
For years I yo-yoed with this type of thinking. My classes were growing and my following was becoming like family, but my insecurity regarding who I was as a yoga teacher continued with me for several years.
Throughout my entire life, I never felt like I fit in, always standing at the edge, or inside the circle but wondering how long it would last. This gut feeling stayed with me, that I was never meant to conform, yet I desperately wanted to be liked and accepted as both a kid and later as an adult. In our family, we were shown firsthand how to dislike ourselves, and I definitely would have gotten an A+ in that category.
As I taught others about how to love themselves, I often would speak candidly on my mat about the teachable lessons of life. What I really was speaking about was my own life, and I really was speaking to myself. I slowly began to heal my negative thinking patterns one by one while assisting others doing the same.
Many of my students would joke that they would come to my classes to help their physical bodies heal (as I had a growing reputation for intuitively understanding the body), but they would stay because of what it did for their minds. And that is how I view yoga.
Yoga is simply a tool for us to get to know ourselves better, be the observer without distraction, and see how we act and react to life in what I call the incubator (the yoga mat). I love to speak to my students’ souls, and often would find myself crying on the mat, not because I was sad, but because I knew the deep truth that I was being told to speak to those present that day.
These truths, alongside my very nontraditional approach to yoga asana (poses) and the body, caused me to feel like a liar every time someone asked me what I did for a living. I’d say I teach yoga – but that’s not what I do.
I teach others how to live in their bodies fully! I teach others how to honor who they are and how to listen to what their breath and bodies are saying to them. I do all of this while challenging their thinking and their outlooks on themselves and on life in a gentle mirroring way.
I wasn’t a yoga teacher at all.
As I questioned this and meditated on this huge unveiling in my life, I also was diving deep and launching myself into speaking beyond the yoga mat. In writing my five-minute keynote, I was challenged to tell others who I am and what I do in just those few short minutes, and in a way that they would walk away remembering.
Who am I? Easy, I’m Hope Zvara and I Help Others Purposefully Excel. What do I do? And how do I do it?
Yoga was off the table because I knew deep down that I was beyond a yoga teacher at this point. I saw yoga as a tool I would continue to use, but it wasn’t my only tool, especially since most of my learning and education on the human body over the last eight years was outside the yoga realm.
What do I do?
For two weeks, I thought about this. Who am I and what do I do? As I sat down to write yet again, I softly laid my fingertips on my keyboard and the words just flowed. I help others learn to live in their bodies by following the three B’s: Breath, Body, Belief.
Breathing is essential. You cannot live without breathing, and, sadly, many people are not even aware of their breath.
The Body is the soul’s last attempt to get us to listen, and the mat is a way for me to help others learn about and live in their bodies more fully.
And finally, your mindset, or your Beliefs, create your behaviors and set you up for what you will, in fact, attract.
These three pillars are what I have evolved around over the years, and in creating this clarity, it has allowed me to create more focus in my life and in my business. It has reminded me of what I speak on, who I am as a teacher and how I can help people. If it doesn’t fit into this framework, I know to pass on it. After all, trying to be everything for everyone just ends with you being nothing to anyone. As a result, your message becomes watered down, diluted and lost in the shuffle.
I am not a yoga teacher. I am Hope Zvara, and I use yoga as a tool to help and inspire others to live the best life possible: breath, body, and belief (mind).