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Key Elements Of A Healthy Life And How You Can Work On Them

What is a healthy life? We’re sure that you were taught about looking after your health when you were in school, and you were given some ideas as to how you should be taking care of yourself as you grow up. Conveniently we seem to forget the advice and knowledge that we were given when we were younger, and we play ignorant to the fact that we do know exactly how to take care of ourselves. The problem is that it’s easier not to, and we all like an easy life, right? While that might be true, eventually an unhealthy life is going to catch up to you, and you’re going to wish that you would have made some changes sooner.

But, there is no time like the present, right? In this article, we’re going to be examining some of the key elements of a healthy life, and how you can work on them on your own. If you’re interested in committing yourself to a healthier life, then keep reading. If not, then this isn’t the article for you.

A Good Understanding Of Nutrition

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First up on the list we’re going to say that you need a good understanding of nutrition so that you can create a balanced diet for yourself. Is this an area that you struggle in right now, because if it is you need to start doing your research asap. Some people might even want to sign up to a nutrition course either online or in person so that you have some kind of formal education surrounding this area. Of course, this is better than sifting through the internet and trying to decide what information was fabricated and what wasn’t, but we understand that not everyone actually has time for this. If that’s the case for you, just make sure that you are using trusted online sources and journals to gather your information.

The more that you understand nutrition, the easier it will be for you to feed yourself while ensuring that you are getting everything that you need. All, or most of the food groups should be contained within a meal if you know what you’re doing. There are even some sneaky ways to get them in without tasting them if you are someone who struggles with things like fruits and vegetables. There are always workarounds to problems like this, so don’t count yourself out yet. 

Supplementing When Needed

There may be times where you are not able to give yourself the nutrition that you need. Or, you might be an athlete or some other kind of person who needs to ensure that they have a certain amount of everything. If this is the case, then supplementing is going to be your best bet. While we recommend that you get most of your nutrition from food, there is nothing wrong with getting some from supplements. If you head to a site like athleticstore.org, you will find a whole range of supplements and other products that could be beneficial to your health if you know what you are doing with them.

This is not going to be for everyone, so don’t force yourself to take supplements if you don’t want to. You should never put something into your body that you are not 100% sure of, as it’s your body, your choice.

An Exercise Schedule

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If you are someone who enjoys exercise, but you can’t find the motivation to do it regularly, this needs to change. If you are someone who hates exercise, and therefore avoids it like the plague, this needs to change. If you are someone who simply can’t be bothered, then this definitely needs to change. Your body needs to move, and it needs exercise in order to stay healthy, which means that you need to start by sorting yourself out an exercise schedule of some kind. You don’t need to start by trying to complete high intensity workouts five times per week because this is ridiculously excessive, and even when you are a seasoned exercise-er, you are still probably not going to go this far. 

Your workout schedule is going to change based on your fitness goals, because obviously you are going to need to do different things to achieve them. If we’re starting from the beginning, the goal is to get you used to moving and help you take that first step. Once you have gotten used to this and you can stick to your schedule, that’s when you can take things up a notch. You might get to a point where you are comfortable and happy so you don’t want to make any more adjustments, and that’s fine. As long as you are healthy, that’s all that matters.

Maintaining A Regular Sleep Pattern

Do you struggle with sleep? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people struggle getting to sleep, staying asleep, getting a high quality of sleep and so on. But, if you want to have a healthy life, then you have got to try and maintain a regular sleep pattern in some shape or form. If you keep in mind that it is recommended that you get around seven hours of sleep per night, you can use that information to create your sleep schedule. Consider when you need to wake up in the morning, and then count backwards from there to set your bedtime. Leave some time for falling asleep as well just to be on the safe side.

However, we understand that this can be extremely difficult if you are struggling to get to sleep, which is why we’ve got some ideas. Before you go to the doctor and get them to assist you with this, you can try setting yourself a bedtime routine, removing all of the electronics from your home, and other things like this. It might not work, but it does for a lot of people. It might even be worth getting a new bed or mattress if you think your comfort levels have something to do with it.

Mental Health

Key Elements Of A Healthy Life And How You Can Work On Them - Blog image 
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It’s not all about physical health though, but you know that already, don’t you? Mental health is just as important, and it’s something that you have got to actively work to keep in check. Most of the things on this list will contribute to your mental health so doing them will be beneficial on both sides here. But, there is more that you can do. For example, you need to be going out and socializing with your friends if you want to maintain your mental health. You need to learn to say no to the things that you don’t want to do, and stop overloading yourself with so many tasks at the same time. 

If you don’t take care of your mental health, eventually it’s all going to come to a head which will never end well. Either you will end up breaking down completely because of the onslaught of emotion, or you are going to shut down. Neither are good, and you need to try to avoid this at all costs. Whatever you think your mental health needs, do it.

Kicking Stress Out Of Your Life

On the same note as mental health, it’s time to kick stress out of your life as much as you can. You’re never going to completely get rid of stress, but you can do your best to reduce the amount that you experience on a regular basis. It’s easier said than done, we know, but the first thing that you should do is identify the problem. What is causing you the most amount of stress? Is it work? Is it your relationship? Is it something else? The sooner that you work out the problem, the sooner that you can start fixing it!

We know that stress seems to be normal these days, but it’s not. Not to the extent that you feel like you are going to break down or struggle to get through the days. As soon as you work out what is causing you this amount of stress, you need to get started on working out how to fix it. This might be looking for a new job, cutting people out of your life who aren’t positive in it, or a range of other things. Just know that the people around you should be there to support you in whatever decision you make to work on your healthier life.

Working on creating the healthiest life possible is going to take some dedication and commitment from you, but it’s going to be worth it in the end. If you are ever in doubt, you just need to think about your end goal, and why you’re trying to achieve it in the first place, as this should give you the motivation that you need to keep moving forward. At the end of the day, looking at how far you have come should have you continuing forward, but you’ve got to remain consistent if you want to see results, so make sure that you’re not giving up now. Good luck!

Five Easy Tips For Dealing With Back Pain

Five Easy Tips For Dealing With Back Pain

Back pain isn’t something that’s pretty to deal with and can be quite debilitating, depending on the scope of the back pain. It’s essential to try and find ways to help cope with back pain, regardless of how severe it may be.

From simple at-home tips to getting the professional help you may need, here are five tips for dealing with back pain if you experience it. 

5 Easy Tips for Dealing With Back Pain

Work on maintaining good posture

Five Tips For Dealing With Back Pain blog post hope zvara

Good posture is an excellent way of helping improve back pain and any potential damage that one can do to their back over time. Our posture, despite a lack of attention towards it, can be majorly influential to how much bodily pain we experience.

To work on good posture, try practicing some stretching movements and making sure you don’t stay sitting or standing for too long at a time. Maintaining good posture means being aware of lousy posture; we often forget that we put our bodies in uncomfortable and potentially damaging positions. Try to be more aware of your posture.

Use ice or heat to help with swelling or inflammation when dealing with back pain

For back pain that causes a lot of swelling or inflammation, consider using ice or heat to help with it. This is a great way to deal with the pain and to dull down some of the side effects that have occurred from the pain itself.

Using ice or heat to help with swelling will greatly help always be a temporary measure that may resolve the issue without needing to venture any further.

Take medication

To help with severe back pain and pain that is causing issues where you’re having trouble resting or doing the daily chores around the home, medication may help. While it’s important not to become reliant on this medication, it can help ease the pain that many problems can cause.

Medication should be something to speak confidently to your doctor so they can prescribe the best option for you. You might manage fine most of the time and need that extra helping hand every so often. And when it comes to managing back pain consider a pain relief cream that has powerful natural ingredients that can make all the difference when it comes to fast relief. 

Approach an osteopath

For those that might be struggling to get mobility and feeling as though the back problems have begun taking over control, visiting Worthing Osteopathic & Wellbeing Clinic may be worthwhile.

Having an osteopath take a closer look at the back pain can help to locate the source and to work through a series of treatments to help alleviate some of the pain. When dealing with back pain it can be hard to find the time to practice self-care, but if you don’t many find it only gets worse. 

Try to remain active.

To help stay on top of managing the back pain, sometimes a bit of light exercise can help. Specific stretching exercises like yoga and pilates may also be worth trying to help with the pain. Most importantly, it’s wise to take this carefully and be gentle with exercise.

Dealing with back pain is a common problem, so remember you’re not alone. Use these tips to help manage it.

5 Important First Aid Tips For the Gym Goers To Stay Healthy and Fit

5 Important First Aid Tips For the Gym Goers To Stay Healthy and Fit

Everyone knows that stress can make a huge impact on the body, and one-way people try to push their stress outward is by visiting the gym or just going out and exercising. Exercising and other forms of physical activity are needed for the body, and there is no doubt about it. However, sometimes, exercising can lead to negatives such as injuries. However, just as everyone needs to learn more about first aid, the same can be said for exercise-related first aid. So, if you’re an avid gym goer, here are some first aid tips you may want to keep in mind.

5 Important First Aid Tips For the Gym Goers to stay fit and healthy hope zvara blog image

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Why is it so important?

Staying fit and healthy is more than just working out.

Even if you’re just a regular customer who frequently visits the gym, you never know when you may need to help someone out. While it is true that gym staff such as personal trainers will have extensive training in first aid such as CPR, this doesn’t instantly mean that you should get the mentality of “if there are people who know, why should I?”. Personal trainers can’t be everywhere at once, and if you see the signs, then you can immediately help out. 

So, once you can do it, why not? First aid is something that everyone needs to know, and who knows, you may be at the right place at the right time to immediately give help to the person that needs it.

What are some first aid tips that need to be kept in mind?

It’s true that knowledge of first aid can save thousands of people affected by emergencies. Plus, medical emergencies and accidents can happen to anyone, at any age group, regardless of how in shape they are. Here are some essential first aid tips you’ll want to remember whenever you visit the gym or even if you’re out exercising, such as in a park.

A gym can be dangerous.

While everyone should closely follow the rules of the gym and practice common sense, it’s not always the case. The gym can be dangerous as there are heavy materials, slips can happen, machines can malfunction, and so much more. This doesn’t mean that people should fear the gym. However, gym goers will need to be careful. If you see something that looks dangerous, make sure to inform the staff.

Cardio isn’t always good for your heart.

Cardio exercises such as running, jumping, climbing, or even going on the elliptical can sometimes be fatal. However, this can only be fatal if someone tries to go above and beyond their limits with pre-existing health conditions, and it’s more apparent for someone who is elderly or obese. Just make sure that you don’t push yourself over the limit. And don’t forget to get your annual physical. At a bare minimum, knowing your numbers and basic line of health can help you make better decisions moving forward. 

It’s not always a person’s fault when an accident happens

Accidents happen, and some people just don’t know any better, such as form. This doesn’t immediately mean that they deserve the pain that they’re going through. Never chastise anyone for accidents; the gym is indeed a dangerous space from time to time.

It can happen to anyone.

While it’s true that the elderly are more susceptible to getting injuries, even younger folks can get injured too. Overall, anyone has the potential to get injured at a gym and need first aid. It could even happen to you!

Be wary of the heavy lifting.

Weight lifting is a significant love for the average gym goer, right? However, even lifting in the wrong form can cause permanent damage to the body. If you see someone lifting in the wrong form, maybe inform them, so they won’t hurt themselves or let the gym staff know. Staying healthy and fit doesn’t mean being the biggest lifter at the gym or the most flexible yoga person on the mat. It means knowing a balance between your own health and pursuing it. 

If you want to get fit and healthy and you are short on time, check out my YouTube Channel: Hope Zvara

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How to do Cherry Picking Warm-Up: A Forgotten Movement in Yoga

How to do Cherry Picking Warm-Up: A Forgotten Movement in Yoga

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

How to do Cherry Picking Yoga Warm-Up Blog Post Hope Zvara

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
-Feels good
-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!

The Down Dog and Puppy Dog Blog: What You Are Missing

The Down Dog and Puppy Dog Blog: What You Are Missing

This video was created because of my yoga former teacher training students, 
may you never stop learning.

The Down Dog and Puppy Dog Blog: What You Are Missing

I never really gave much thought to Down Dog. I mean, it was a pose that I could do for the most part. Sure my shoulders were weak, and I felt a bit shaky. Overall, my Dog was down. 

Well, at least I thought. I believe there is a part of your brain that stops thinking, opening itself up to learning when we think we got it. That was me in Down Dog. 

As my shoulders got stronger to hold the weight of my body, I began to build patterns to get the pose done. Patterns that left me avoiding critical areas that I could most certainly be liberating via The Dog. 

A few years after entering into the world of teaching yoga, I soon discovered I was missing some significant aspects of training in the asana department. I mean, I knew the basics. This pose looks like this, so let’s shove your body into that pose. Amen. (insert sarcasm) 

Downward Facing Dog Pose with Hope Zvara

An entirely new world opened up to me when I stepped out of the yoga world to learn more about the body. Like really learn about how the body moves, why things happen, why body parts hurt and how to unwind the body with cues and directions beyond “if it hurts don’t do it” and “honor your body.” Which are both beautiful and sound cues, but I wanted to understand? I wanted my students to understand so that they and I could take back ownership over our bodies and start to truly mend injuries and issues that don’t ever seem to go away. 

I took training from The Gray’s Institute. From Katy Bowman, Leslee Bender, Anatomy Trains, and got my hands on all I could find from the teachings of Dr. Stewart McGill, to name a few. 

I first started to apply these concepts to my practice and saw a remarkable difference — less pain in my shoulders and lower back. The longstanding stability issues in my pelvis began to improve, and for the first time, I truly understood where the core was and how to access it. 

There was a time I would walk around the room while teaching and see a student’s shoulders what I now know as “internally rotated.” I’d attempt to grab onto his (or her) upper arms and roll them out. And when they didn’t even move a millimeter, I’d walk away pretending like that was how it was supposed to be. If you are a teacher you can relate. I wanted to help; I saw the issue but didn’t know exactly how to adjust the pose or how to “fix” it. Like why didn’t that work? Why didn’t they move? What was I missing? 

A lot of this video is to explain that. One’s shoulders are acting immobile and how to begin to correct this. 

How to do downward facing dog pose blog by hope zvara

The day I was introduced to Puppy Dog in a new way, my entire teachings revolving around Down Dog and shoulder issues changed. 

All-day long we sit, we are internally rotated at the shoulder, collapsed in the chest, and limited in mobility between the shoulder and the rib cage. So no wonder when we come to yoga and pop up into Down Dog with little notice and warm-up, we are in my mind (we could be) doing more harm than good. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

It is my observation that Down Dog and Puppy Dog’s focus is NOT the hamstrings as they often take over the pose. Using cues to press their heels down (which is fine and dandy) and walk their Dog as the first cue in the pose. The focus, first and foremost, is the spine and shoulders, hamstrings, and calves. 

 Downward Dog is us upside down. And we should approach it in such away. 

If your hips are tight before a hippie pose, we work them. The same should be valid for the shoulders. 

Meet Puppy Dog Pose. Puppy Dog is not a fancy pose and most often looked at as a modification or lesser variation. But do not be fooled, my friend. Puppy Dog will expose everything Down Dog lets you avoid. 

Puppy Dog Pose with Hope Zvara

Puppy Dog assertively guides your shoulders and arms into their proper position- external rotation. It’s that fantastic stretch across the upper back and gives you back that full range of motion a little bit by little bit that Down Dog has been allowing you to skip over for all these years. 

Puppy Dog gives you that broadening, lift, and support we struggle to find in Down Dog. And when our Down Dog’s spine looks like a macaroni noodle releasing the hamstrings and bending the knees is the action step we want to cue. See, when the arms are at full extension, and the legs everything is pulled to its max and the spine gets caught in the middle. You end up with a rounded back, tucked pelvis and shoulder issues waiting to arise. Oh snap! I didn’t even mention proper leg rotation. GAME CHANGER! 

As you will find out in this video, by releasing some of the tension and adequately positioning the shoulders, you get an entirely different experience. One that in my mind is wayyyyyy better than the stuff I was experiencing earlier. 

Stiffness, not your issue? Watch the video and find out how to build stability by doing Down Facing Dog and Puppy Dog the right way. 

But honestly, whether you watch this video or not. The Benefits of Down Dog and Puppy Dog are out of this world amazing! 

Benefits of Down Dog and Puppy Dog:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Energizes the body
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Helps reduce the symptoms of menopause
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis
  • Tones the arms and legs
  • Opens the chest
  • Tones the arms
  • Tones the core
  • Releases the spine and back
  • Builds strength in hands, wrists, shoulders

 

Check out Hope’s other blog: 5 Things You Should be Doing to Help Back Pain

 Join Hope’s Online Community: Mindful Movement & Yoga Studio 

Subscribe to Hope’s YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/hopezvara

Build a Better Booty and Backside

Build a Better Booty and Backside

It’s almost the New Year! Time to get up off that chair and get your booty moving again. No more excuses – it’s time to build a better booty!

You can feel the difference with just one quick move. Your New Year’s resolution to exercise more does not have to include extreme, super-quick jumpy moves or flailing body parts. The key to effective exercise is awareness. In order to cultivate awareness, one has to start to move and feel at the same time.

Are you an active person who loves to play? This is a great move to help improve activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and many other activities that require real lower-body stability and strength. This move is both challenging and mindfully controlled; speed will not win here.

Getting Started

Brush up on your pelvic floor and deep-core awareness (pelvic-core). This zone is the key to all exercise and all movement.

To give you a very short tutorial: While working on a deep pelvic floor contraction and deep transversus (our deepest torso/core muscle), imagine you have to go to the bathroom and you’re holding it in. At the same time, coughing. Feel your entire core contract as you stay contracted in the pelvic floor.

Build a Better Booty and Backside

Start standing.

Clamp a mini exercise ball or weighted ball tightly between the calf hamstring on one side.

Keeping a neutral pelvis (front hip bones are parallel with the wall you are facing), slowly hinge into yourself.

Bend the knees slightly to sink down into a Chair Pose on one foot. Use a hand against a wall to keep your balance, if needed. Align the knees to meet, and face the hips and torso to square yourself forward. Try using your hands at the top of your pelvis to see if you are level or not.

Inhale in Chair Pose and as you exhale, contract your pelvic-core, raise the ball leg forward while lifting the opposite arm up. Be mindful when you lift the leg forward to go only as high as you can without collapsing your torso or tucking your tailbone forward.

As you exhale, work to feel the base leg’s gluteus maximus contract as well.  It’s important that the pelvic floor contract first and then the glutes, or all you are doing is death-squeezing the gluteus maximus.

Focus on lifting directly upward through the crown of the head. With a lack of gluteus stability and pelvic floor and inner core support, you will notice that you want to lean back.

Inhale and return back to a one-legged Chair Pose, working to bring the legs parallel with each other and work to keep the floating foot flexed.

Continue to move mindfully and slowly. There is no need to speed through this movement. When you do, the core muscles can easily be overlooked.

Try using a mini ball to start: focus on stability first and then increase to a weighted ball of 2 to 8 pounds.

Repeat this series up to 10 times on each side and then go back to the weaker side and revisit it for another possible 10 rounds. Working a 2-to-1 ratio allows the weaker tissues and side to catch up to the more dominant side. You can find more exercises to work these areas as a member of my Mindful Movement Online Studio – only $9.99/month.

Good luck!

Looking for More Pose Breakdowns? Check Out These Articles!

How To Get The Most Out Of Plank Pose

Save Savasana: The Final Pose of Yoga is the Most Important

How to do Pigeon the Right Way

When Dancer Pose Doesn’t Dance: Unlocking the Front Body

4 Quick Effective Yoga Poses To Do While Flying

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