by Hope Zvara | Aug 12, 2020 | Core Functional Fitness, Working With Hope, Yogic Living
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.
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.
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!
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.
by Hope Zvara | Jul 6, 2020 | Working With Hope
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
by hope | Jun 24, 2020 | Inspirational, Motivation Monday, Working With Hope
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.
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.
by hope | Apr 23, 2020 | Working With Hope
Respecting our planet and protecting the environment is something everyone can get behind. Regardless of when Earth Day is, each day we need to make the decision to respect our planet. Here are twenty ways you can reduce your carbon footprint, starting today!
1. Shop in the bulk section with your own produce bags.
If your grocery store offers a bulk section, this is a great way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. Try bringing your own bulk bags so you can skip the plastic variety that the grocery offers. Plastic bags are typically not recyclable and are incinerated to their final end. When you shop, start in the bulk section first with your own bags. See how much of your grocery list you can knock out without purchasing any packaging! Then move to the produce section, and see what you can find without plastic. Bringing your own bags goes a long way!
2. Bring your reusable grocery bags to the store, store them in your car.
Leave your grocery bags in your car! Make a habit of putting your grocery list in the bags when you get in the car, or move them to the front seat so that you don’t forget to take them with you. However you ritualize this, I promise you CAN make it a habit. Plastic bags only serve a purpose for a matter of minutes, before they are thrown out. Due to their aerodynamic features, they often get caught in the wind and blow out of waste bins and landfills, sending them straight to the oceans or the sides of our roads. Help eliminate them from your habits!
3. Carry your water bottle & mug with you everywhere.
Water is so good for you – you should be sipping on it all day.
4. Compost your food scraps.
There are so many different types of composting – whether you are in an apartment or live on several acres of land, there is a composting solution for you. When food is thrown out in plastic bags, it produces methane gas, which is really toxic. By allowing it to decompose with proper aeration, that food can be turned into something productive for your garden!
5. Shop Secondhand.
Regularly check your local thrift stores. You can find some great deals on gently loved products that are ready for a new life. Fashion causes a lot of waste throughout its supply chain – rock the vintage look instead, or choose to support small businesses.
6. Repair items you have that are broken.
Don’t let your first instinct be to throw it away. Just because money might not be an issue or it only costs $ to replace, you may be able to get more life out of the same product by repairing it. You’ll find that you can find uses for old things you never used to use or find ways to get something repaired instead of buying a replacement.
7. Reduce your meat consumption.
Plants, fruits, and vegetables have a lower carbon footprint when it comes to their agricultural production. You may find several benefits to your health from adding more plants and plant-based foods to your rotation. Try doing Meatless Mondays for a month with your family. Then maybe try some new vegan recipes.
8. Walk, bike, or carpool.
Get some exercise and some fresh air! If you live local and the weather is nice, take a walk outside. Don’t be in a hurry all the time. You can find enjoyment in the daily tasks of life if you carve out self-reflection time within them. Going for a walk is a great way to get in meditation time.
9. Hang dry your clothes.
Driers on high heat settings can be energy-intensive. If you have a clothesline, hang your clothes outside, or look for a drying rack. You might be able to find one at your local thrift store.
10. Avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic.
If possible, look for products without plastic packaging. Find the veggies in store that aren’t pre-cut, but instead you can put in your own cloth bag that you brought. If your store has a bulk food section, take your bags there and fill them with many of your pantry staples.
11. Learn how to sew.
If you can repair minor damage to your clothing items, you can prevent those from becoming major damage! Learning how to sew can give you a multitude of DIY projects that you can do with scrap clothing or fabrics.
12. Volunteer (do a trash pick-up!).
Pick one weekend a month to do a trash pick-up with your family in your neighborhood. Invite your neighbors and their children, and their friends. Get everyone involved in keeping the community clean.
13. Ask for “no straw” when you order a drink.
Make it a habit to ask for your drink, with “no straw.”
14. Bring your own utensils to avoid using plastic ones.
You can purchase travel kits with utensil sets to keep in your bag. That way when you are on the go, you can avoid using plastic utensils for takeout food.
15. Use plastic-free cleaners (like Dropps or Blueland).
There are companies that make cleaning products in refillable, or plastic-free containers! Search for plastic-free options on the internet!
16. Donate unwanted newspaper & old towels to your local animal shelter.
Animal shelters use newspaper and old towels to line kennels and are in constant need. Consider donating old blankets, animal food, newspapers, or towels to your local shelter.
17. Purchase Carbon Offsets
If you have to travel a lot via airplane for work, you may feel some guilt at the carbon emissions from a plane flight. There are companies that allow you to easily calculate and purchase carbon offsets, which protect natural land in exact offsets to the pollution caused by your travel.
18. Stop buying things! Love what you have.
19. Plant a Tree or Garden with Flowers
Bees love flowers. giving them more options for pollinations helps out the bee and honey farmers. Support your local bee population by planting floral gardens with high nectar flow plants.
20. Teach a friend what you learned.
We are all in this together. If we want to see our planet improved, we all have to be in it together!
by Hope Zvara | Apr 15, 2020 | Working With Hope
Take a minute to think about what your answer is to this simple question: Do you want to thrive or survive?
Early in life, we quickly learned how to survive. When I say survive, I mean that we were all shown the skills we need to get by and make it in the world. However, is living each day simply surviving enough? Or do you want more from your life?
I wasn’t happy with just surviving. There was more to life for me. I wanted to live a healthy, happy, vibrant life where I could soak in all of the energy from our amazing Earth and grow from it. Simply put. I choose to thrive.
Survive or Thrive?
The difference between surviving or thriving mindsets is pretty simple. Surviving is doing what is necessary to live. Thriving is not being satisfied with surviving. To thrive is a choice. It’s an attitude.
However, more often than not, I find that most people are barely getting by–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Each day, most people are just surviving and going through the motions. They are just getting by.
What Would You Do?
But let me ask you this–If a building was burning and you were locked inside, what would you do? Would you sit back and say, “Well I have no other option other than to die in here” OR would you say, “I’m not going to die today; the only way I’m going to die is trying to get out of this burning building?”
While it was a dramatic example, my point is that when faced with a crisis, we can do anything. Living in survival mode prohibits us from living a life of meaning and contribution. Merely choosing to survive in life is a crisis.
If you feel you have been surviving and just going through the motions, let today be the turning point in your life where you turn it all around.
Here are three ways to help you thrive instead of just surviving.
1. Find Your Purpose
II know how easy it can be at times to let life take over every move you make. If you aren’t intentional about staying purpose-driven, it’s an easy habit to let slip away. Staying purpose-driven can mean many things. Maybe you already know your purpose which is great.
However, maybe you don’t know what your purpose in life is yet and that’s fine, too. Everyone discovers what their purpose is at different stages in life. I firmly believe that we all created to do great and beautiful things in the world.
2. Clear Your Mind
Most of the time, people who settle for a life of survival let the tough times of life tear them down. I know firsthand that life can be hard. However, to thrive in life, you need to take time to reset and refocus your life. When your mind is in overdrive, sometimes you need to hit the reset button. My 3-Week Clearing Mental Clutter Mini-Course shows you how to banish your mental roadblocks by recognizing what they are and how to do something about them. Weekly affirmations help to keep you on track, short mindful movement sequences to help you step into your body fully, and a private accountability group helps to support you in clearing the mental clutter and creating great clarity.
3. Surround Yourself with Likeminded People
You have probably heard a million times—“Birds of a feather flock together.” Well, it’s true. If you surround yourself with people who are not motivated and searching for ways to better themselves, that’s the type of mindset and life you will adopt. When you hang around with people who focus on growing, getting better, and maximizing their potential, you will also embrace this mindset. If you want to make sure that you don’t fall into survival mode, hang around like-minded people.
My FREE online Facebook community, Daily Dose of Hope, is dedicated to helping others purposefully excel through the messiness of real-life, both on and off the mat. This group is about reclaiming the health and well-being of all its members, inspiring each member to see they are worth it, and assisting in the cultivation of each person becoming the best version of themselves!
The Choice is Yours
It’s easy to let everyday demands in life take over and dictate how your day goes, but each one of us has a choice on how to respond. Just remember: You have a purpose. You were put on this earth to thrive, not just survive.
by hope | Apr 1, 2020 | Working With Hope