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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

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

 

Pelvic Tilts & Their 20 Benefits for Beginners

Pelvic Tilts & Their 20 Benefits for Beginners

Beginners Core: How to do Pelvic Tilts.

What if reducing back pain, increasing core awareness, and strength. Reducing hip pain and aiding the natural curves in your spine “were” easy to do?

It has been brought to my attention on more than one occasion that we as a society often overlook the power of simplicity. Is it that we are lead to believe that if something isn’t complicated? Or expensive or taught at a fancy center that it cannot truly be helpful?

I occasionally have students mention that they are off to PT for this or that. Only to find that what they are being told to do are the very things they are learning in my classes. And the therapists are amazed at their sense of awareness and ability. Now, this is not to toot my own horn. But rather push my point that sometimes we don’t realize the power of something until we step away from it.

And the same goes for simple movements.

Have back pain? Who doesn’t?

Struggling with your, ahem, pelvic floor? You’re not alone.

What if there was something you could be doing right now to help those areas improve?

Would you be O.K. with the notion that the approach was simple, elementary, small and lacks a fancy name and does not end in a complicated arm balance? Would that be O.K.?

Sometimes to truly take a step forward, we do in-fact have to take a step back, and that is where pelvic tilts come in.

Not in the sense that we are losing ground or less than, but rather that we are in deep need to create a deeper sense of awareness and understanding of our body and how it moves.

Pelvic tilts truly are one of my most favorite moves, and I often think of it as a secret weapon! This small movement packs a powerful punch! That it simultaneously free your lower back release your hip flexors. In addition, pelvic tilts improve core function and awareness and ungulates your entire spine.

I know what you are thinking now, “where can you sign me up” for learning how to do pelvic tilts??

Except as a yoga and movement teacher for over fifteen years now I have learned that one: I was practicing pelvic tilting all wrong. And two: I see many following in my similar footsteps.

Let’s fix that!

There are tons of benefits to pelvic tilting and it SHOULD be an exercise that everyone does regularly. Because you can do it in just about any plane of motion and position.

If you need a list of reasons WHY pelvic tilts are not just good for you, but necessary!

What are the benefits of Pelvic Tilts?

  • * Pelvic tilts create a sense of awareness of the pelvic floor muscles
  • *Pelvic tilts release sacral (SI joint) pain
  • *Pelvic tilts release the femur, tailbone, sacrum connection for more mobility and motility
  • *Pelvic tilts help one access and tone the lower abdomen muscles
  • *Pelvic tilts release lower back
  • *Pelvic tilts liberate the entire spine
  • *Pelvic tilts loosen tightness hanging on the shoulders
  • *Pelvic tilts release tightness of the inner hips and inner pelvic attachments
  • *Pelvic tilts tone the pelvic floor and core muscles
  • *Pelvic tilts activate the glutes/buttocks
  • *Pelvic tilts increase awareness of the hip-spine relationship
  • *Pelvic tilts assist in a deeper breathing and better lung use
  • *Pelvic tilts enhance your body’s natural alignment and curvature
  • *Pelvic tilts assist your lumbo-pelvic relationship to sit in neutral with less pain and restriction
  • *Pelvic tilts improve posture
  • *Pelvic tilts help you look taller and leaner
  • *Pelvic tilts teach you how to wear your core on the inside of the body rather than the outside
  • *Pelvic tilts release the lateral side body
  • *Pelvic tilts stretch the abdominal walls from sitting all-day
  • *Pelvic tilts release the fascial netting of the lower body and spine.

By now you are wondering how do you effectively and properly practice pelvic tilts?

How To Do Pelvic Tilts:

  1. Pick your position. You can practice pelvic tilting lying down, standing in a slight chair pose, sitting, or even prone. I think supine is the simplest way to practice and the floor gives you good feedback as to what you are doing for starters.
  2. Lying down with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, make sure your heels are not too close to your sit bones, when they are too close it inhibits the range of motion for pelvic tilting.
  3. Find your breath, a deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose to settle into your body.
  4. Keep your body relaxed for now, INHALE and work to arch your lower back away from the floor, like there was a pin poking you. Do not lift your hips off the ground. Go as far as you can comfortably and keep stretching until your inhale is complete.
  5. Pause for a moment.
  6. Now EXHALE and glide your lower back into the floor, WITHOUT squeezing your buttocks together or lifting your hips up off the floor while pelvic tilting.
  7. Now repeat again drawing a deeper sense of awareness to the movement, between what moves and what doesn’t.
  8. After a few rounds, on the exhales work to draw awareness and attention to your anal sphincter, with the exhale on the posterior tilt (when you tip back into the floor) work to contract that part of the pelvic floor. Notice what else wants to contract, more than likely trying to do the job for this part of your pelvic floor, especially if you have never used it before.
  9. Inhale release the anal sphincter. You will notice if you contracted when you proceed to release. Do this several rounds.
  10. Now mentally move forward on your pelvic floor and work to contract the vaginal passageway or for men the soft tissue behind the scrotum. For many, this will be more difficult, especially if there was trauma (like giving birth) the nerves and tissues may not be connecting back with the brain properly.
  11. Repeat the process of EXHALE contract and tip back, and INHALE release and tip forward. This will feel more internal. Think about contracting while in cold water, or for men like flexing an erection, women engaging during intercourse. (I see potential practice opportunities to engage your pelvic floor here).
  12. Now finally move even more forward on the pelvic floor and think about where your pubic bone is and work to contract the lower front belly and pelvic floor on the exhales. This will feel more like pulling inward on the belly, but this time it’s triggered by the pelvic floor not the navel. Think of the action of cutting off the flow of urine or holding when you have to go to the bathroom. Good news, those two actions ask you to use your pelvic floor muscles.
  13. Repeat tilting trying to engage each of these three areas, all individually, and all together. Notice what is easier and what takes more work.

A few other tips about pelvic tilts:

As you become more comfortable with the movement, especially while lying down. Consider adding in the arms to the movement. INHALE and arch the back, release the pelvic floor, AND reach your arms overhead! STRETCH. Exhale and return back to the floor and contract the pelvic floor.

By incorporating the arms in you get more of a full spinal interaction. Plus, the hip flexors and lower back get even more limelight. Notice when reaching if one arm hits the floor and the other does not. This can easily become a tool for not only teaching pelvic floor activation and releasing the lower back. Which can also assist spinal and fascial assessment as well.

Here’s to happy pelvic tilts!

P.S. Not sure where the heck your pelvic floor is??? >>> CLICK HERE.  <<<

And learn about it NOW!

PPS Here is a great video I shot of an entire series of pelvic tilting, core integration, and full spinal release! Because everyone needs a visual!

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>CLICK HERE <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman: Keep Going

Dear Driven Woman,

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

I AM DIFFERENT

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

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

CHOOSING TO THRIVE

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

Driven Woman Hope Zvara Mother Trucker Yoga Blog Post

Hope Zvara of Mother Trucker Yoga

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

NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR BEING YOU

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

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

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

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

never apologize for being a powerful woman blog post

BUSY VS. PRODUCTIVE

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

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

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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

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

Blessings,

Hope

Hope Zvara Square image

 

#dailydoseofhope

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

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

4 Steps to Getting Out of Your Own Way

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

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

Changing My Ways

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

Creating New Habits

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

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

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

♥️ Swallow my pride.

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

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

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

4 Ways to Get Out of Your Own Way and Pivot

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

1. Focus on What is Essential

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

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People

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

3. Change the Script

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

4. Give Yourself a Timeout

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

The Choice Is Yours

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

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

Speak Up: How to Communicate Better

Speak Up: How to Communicate Better

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

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

Courage to Communicate

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

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

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

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

Learning How to Listen

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

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

I had to relearn how to listen.  

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

Make Your Voice Heard

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

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

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

Clear Communication

Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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