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 | May 20, 2020 | Simplify Your Life
No matter how neat and tidy of a person you are, it’s pretty easy for “stuff” or clutter to pile up around your house.
Clutter is a constant battle at our house. From mail, bills, and school papers to toys for the kids and dog and clothes–there are so many things that just never seem to get put away or find their place. When my house starts to get overrun by clutter, I begin to feel stressed, which then begins to affect the other areas of my life.
So, it’s not surprising that having clutter around means less stress in your life. However, decluttering is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, there are simple tricks to stop clutter from taking over your life.
6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life
1. Plan Ahead.
Did you know that planning ahead is proven to reduce stress? Well, it’s true. Planning is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can do without spending a penny. Plus, planning gives you more time to do the things that you enjoy in your life!
2. Have a Home for All of Your Stuff.
I can’t tell you the number of times l look at the stuff lying around and do nothing, Or, I take something out of a drawer, use it, and lay it on the counter instead of putting it back where I got it in the first place. Everything should have a “home.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. For example, always put your car keys in a basket and hang up your coat in the same place when you come home. When you put things in the same place instead of somewhere random, you will know where they are and save time and stress looking for them. This simple change has helped me keep my house, office, and car much cleaner, and my family and I much happier.
3. Stop Multitasking.
The glorification of being an excellent multitasker is overrated. In reality, humans are not the best at multitasking. Focusing on multiple tasks all at once seems like an efficient way to get the most out of your day; however, you end up getting very little done and done well. Instead, make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish and then list them in order of importance. To me, there is something so gratifying about making a list and then crossing your accomplishments off as the day goes on.
4. Say Goodbye.
If you have not used that really-thoughtful kitchen gadget that your dear aunt gave you three birthday’s ago, it is time to say goodbye. Everything from old papers and clothes to cooking utensils and the food in your pantry–it is all fair game. My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used it or worn it in the last year, it’s moving on to its next home. You can give gently loved items to a charity or to someone else that can make use of what you do not need any longer.
5. Stay Committed.
If you want your space to be less cluttered, you have to commit to making it and keeping it that way. Set aside just 15 minutes at the end of each day to declutter and organize your space. Yep, those 15 minutes can and will make all of the difference. Discipline yourself to do this before you sit down to watch your favorite show or read a good book. I love to set the timer on my phone and go gun-ho until it beeps. And, if you are like me and have a family that helps contribute to all of the clutter, I’d suggest getting them involved in the 15-minute cleanup,, too! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes.
6. Clear Your Mental Clutter.
Clearing your mental clutter is just as important as physically decluttering your space. Taking time each day to reflect on your blessings and to meditate will help you to manage your stress levels effectively. A gratitude journal is an easy way to keep track of the positive things in your life. You would be surprised how simple reflection can improve your overall mental health. Also, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace, and improve your overall mental well-being. Clear your mental clutter, relax, and refocus your mind with this 30-minute guided meditation audio. If 30-minutes seems a bit too long, check out of my shorter meditations.
Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara
Clutter may be a constant lurking threat, but when you choose to tackle the problem head-on, your efforts will pay off. I don’t know about you, but when my house is happy, I’m happy, and when I’m happy, I am more willing to take on any task life throws at me with a grateful heart and ready arms.
So, are you ready to join me in decluttering your life?
by hope | Mar 11, 2020 | Working With Hope
Meditation is an approach to training the mind. It’s just like how an athlete trains their body for a game.
Even though the thoughts of meditation can seem challenging, it is actually pretty simple. First, you choose something to focus your attention on. Once you’ve decided on your focus, the goal of meditation is to keep your attention on it for as long as possible.
So, why should you meditate? Well, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace and improve your overall mental well-being.
The Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation are limitless. In my opinion, meditation is the most valuable activity you can engage in to improve your self-awareness. Self-awareness means recognizing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing when you are doing it. It is a practice of mindfulness, which is the idea of being 100% present and engaged in whatever you’re doing–free from distraction or judgment.
A recent article by Healthline identified the following 12 health benefits of meditation:
- It’s a good way to manage stress
- Minimizes anxiety
- Improves self-image and promotes a positive outlook on life
- Increases self-awareness
- It can be practiced anywhere
Just as there are many different reasons why people meditate, there are also many different types of meditation.
Types of Meditation
Just as there are many different reasons why people meditate, there are also different kinds of meditation. Breath awareness or mindful meditation, is by far my favorite. It helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger, and sharpen your concentration and attention skills. When you become more mindful, you are able to accept your thoughts and feelings without judgement. Overall, meditation is about finding awareness and achieving peace in whatever way works best for you.
Here are some great meditations to help focus your mind and relax your body:
1. Mindful Breathing Meditation
Mindful breathing meditation gives you an anchor—your breath—on which you can focus when you find yourself distraught by a stressful thought. Mindfulness distances you from your thoughts and feelings, which can help you work through unpleasant feelings rather than becoming overwhelmed by them. Clear your mental clutter, relax and renew with this 30-minute guided meditation audio.
2. Centered Breathing Meditation
A heart-centred breathing practice focusing on developing appreciation, love and connection all on the waves of your breath. Centered breathing guided meditation uses simple counting to help focus the mind and relax the body.
3. Body Scan Meditation
Body Scan Meditation is designed to help you develop a mindful awareness of your bodily sensations, and learn to release the stress in your body and mind. This mindfulness practice can help to reduce stress, improve your overall well-being and decrease aches and pains. This body scan meditation audio will guide you through gentle exercises to guide you to deeper body awareness.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying! Just like many of the other things you set out to do in life, the effort you put into meditation will be directly reflected in your success or lack thereof. When you learn to enjoy the process itself—and work to get better at it—then you are more likely to keep at it long-term and give yourself the best possible results.