I’m continuing the Celebrating Phenomenal Women series with Hope Zvara! I am honored to introduce you all to this phenomenal woman!
Hope is creator of the HOPE Process (Helping Other Purposefully Excel). She does so by inspiring others with what she calls her “yoga tool box”. On and off the mat you will find her teaching, inspiring, and breaking down lifestyle changes and making them adaptable for everyone. Over the past 17 years, Hope has opened a yoga studio (Copper Tree Yoga & Wellness Studio), ran teacher training’s and now taken her yoga tool box, life experiences and inspiration off the mat to listeners world wide.
Samantha: Let’s talk about your yoga journey for a second. What got you to fall in love with it?
Hope: Well I didn’t find yoga, yoga found me. Knee deep in an eating disorder yoga fell into my lap. After my first yoga class, I was hooked. Not because I felt it was a great physical workout. But because it gave me relief from the shackles of an addictive and anxiety ridden mind. Without yoga, I wouldn’t be here today.
S: When did you open your yoga studio? What were the challenges that you faced as a new business owner?
H: I opened up my yoga studio in 2006, just 5 months after I got married. I was barely 22 when I opened my doors. I always say I traded my 20’s for my own business and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s funny thinking about the challenges I faced 13 years ago versus today. Getting the word out was not a matter of Facebook ads, but printing flyers and walking on foot to put them on car windows, in coffee shops and at schools. I had no business degree and I was the first yoga studio in my area, so talk about the blind leading the blind. But in all reality, it just felt natural. My students wanted to come to class with me, so that made it easy, word of mouth was by best friend, which helped. But if I had to pick a challenge it was showing up. And what I mean was I didn’t have 10 teaching for me. It was me and my mom. And my mom was just a new and very timid teacher. I was teaching 18 classes a week. So talk about exhausting and I showed up rain, snow or wedding for every class.
S: How about your speaking engagements? How did that start? What type of talks to you give and to whom?
H: I am a college drop out. And I dropped out because of yoga. And I don’t regret doing so, because I needed to heal in order to help others heal and yoga helped facilitate that for me. But while at college I was studying theology and public speaking. Interesting, because for 10 years I just used the yoga mat to spread my message. And then about 4 years ago I felt the urge to take my practice and make something more of it. I knew I was meant to be more than a yoga teacher. My message is too big and I knew where my gifts and talents lied. In my words.
At this point I do quite a bit of podcasts and my focus is a lot of grief and loss shows and talking about how yoga can help with mental and physical well-being. I love it! But offline I currently share my talents in corporate with my signature talk: Employee Stress to Workplace Success. Where again I take my yoga tool box and break it down and build it up appropriate for the workplace!
Outside of corporate, I love doing women’s groups, conferences and retreats. It’s like the best of both worlds. I get to share my love of the yoga “I know” and weave my story in. Years ago I would always pray and wonder “why me”, why was my life so hard. And now, I get it. And I am so thankful I now get to share the how’s and why’s with everyone.
S: In your opinion, which has been more challenging for you – being a yoga teacher, wife, mom, or business owner?
H: Wow that is a great question. Honestly being a yoga teacher came very natural for me. And on the mat my intuition comes through and I just feel the room and the people in it and I’m lead to teach what the people there need. It’s magical. As for being a wife and mom. I love them both and again I love serving others and the only thing hard about them is making sure I have enough time. Family and friends often come to me with questions, I guess it’s one of those natural things, I don’t know how I know, but those areas just flow for me.
But being a business owner, I don’t stress about it, but there was and still is a learning curve. I am not by nature always a very assertive person, and often put others first to a fault where I end up at the bottom too many times. So that has been a lesson for me to make sure I don’t give myself away or there won’t be a business. Everything I have learned in business has been a learn as I go. Looking back having a mentor would have been killer, but it wasn’t my path and now I have a ton of lessons to share with others who are willing to learn. I guess being a business owner and all of it’s challenges was another gift to share with others.
S: Now you seem to like to have a full plate, how do you make time for yourself? Do you ever get burnt out?
H: About 6 years ago I recognized that I was getting burned out WAY TO MUCH! And I started to notice that when I was reaching that limit I was becoming resentful, not wanting to go to teach. And once I recognized those flags, I started to pre-schedule vacations and time off. It was not easy at first as my students wanted me which made it really difficult to step away and feel like my business wasn’t going to sink. But every single time I came back I was refreshed and ready to roll.
But on a daily basis I need to do something for me every single day. When I teach, speak and mentor I’m 100% all in physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically, so after I need to recharge or I just collapse. On a daily basis I walk and use my sauna, I don’t have a daily practice but do practice yoga in my own way daily in bits here and there (more realistic for me). I also get by weekly massages, see a chiropractor and go out to dinner with my husband once a month. Most of my life I never chose me. So now that I’m at a place where I finally see I need to choose me to help others. I won’t give it up.
S: What does a typical day look like for you?
H: That’s funny. There is no “typical day” for me. But on average I’m up around 6:30am to make lunches for my older two kids and husband. I sometimes crawl back into bed for 30 minutes after for a quick mental processing of the day coming up. Then get my youngest going and two days a week off to pre-school. While he’s there I either run errands, go back home and get a few thing done or I get in a quick 20 min walk if I can.
Day’s I don’t have my youngest son Ivan, I’m in front of the computer or on the phone or prepping for a speaking gig or writing or shooting a video for something. My favorite is creating content, I’m like a bottomless pit of content. If I could just do that all day and someone else make everything look pretty that would be so fun! And I do have a team, but I can always create more!
I teach a lot less than I use to, but two nights a week I teach and that means kids off the bus, I get them outside to play, I make dinner, we start homework and I’m off and other nights I’m there helping and then bed time for them at which I hit the computer then.
Two mornings a week I teach and have been teaching those same mornings for almost 17 years. It feels weird when I don’t. And those are my most popular classes. I’d be sad if one day I don’t teach them. They get me started and motivated to go inspire more people!
S: Have you faced any disappointments in your career/hobbies?
H: Disappointments. No. Challenges, and opportunities to learn that I wish I didn’t have to learn, yes. Working through recovery and at the same time getting married and opening a business was not easy, but it was my path. It made things at times twice as hard, as I was re-learning intra and interpersonal skills and re-discovering me. So many of my “disappointments” revolved around my learning lessons of recovery. I never liked confrontation or disappointing people so more often than not I felt like I was letting others down because I didn’t feel I could do enough.
Some other disappointments were when didn’t have enough money to take advantage of opportunities that were in front of me. That sucked. And having given up my 20’s to own a business, I did at times feel left out, I didn’t really have much of a social life because I was running a business. So while my peers were out with their friends, I was teaching, entering expenses into quickbooks, making flyers and doing business things. But looking back, I’m glad I did that then, because of that I am where I am.
S: Can you share some goals you’re currently working towards?
H: Well one of my big goals is to fill my speaking calendar. My love is the stage, it’s where my magic happens. I would also like to write a book. I currently have 4 yoga and fitness manuals written (one is self-published and I’d like to get the others there too). But I know I need to write out my story. Ideally, I’d love to find a publisher. I have a lot to say and share and love to write.
S: Who is your biggest motivator – your cheerleader, the one that helps get you through the rough days?
H: That’s easy my husband and kids. My husband loved and supported me when I didn’t even love myself. He has seen me though all of this. Part of my motivation to keep going is to return the favor. My mom is also a huge cheerleader. She is constantly there, subbing classes when I get speaking gigs and watching my kids and cheering me on and up when I am having a bad day. Plus she teaches right alongside me so how much better can that get?
S: Do you have some mentors that you try to model yourself or your business off of?
H: I do. He’s not alive anymore, but my Grandfather was a killer businessman and I often ask myself what would Grandpa do. And more often than not I just wish he was here so I could ask him his thoughts on a business plan or idea. I also love Grant Cardone. Now some think hes pretty forward. But as someone who has lacked confidence and speaking up for my wants and needs his words and advice has been so great for me. And finally I look to my speaking coach Pat Quinn. He’s doing what I want to do more of speak. And usually is of sound advice for me. He reminds me when I’m doing something that won’t get me where I want to go and is a huge cheerleader for me.
S: What’s the most important thing your mentors taught you?
H: The most important things my mentors have taught me is to stay true to me and you got to show up and keep showing up. Whenever I get frustrated or feel I’m not getting anywhere it’s usually because I’m veering off onto someone else’s path. Being successful is not easy and usually requires you to be bold, relentless and to keep standing up even when no one else is. They all are my kick in the pants.
S: What was your biggest struggle, getting to where you are and the person you’ve become?
H: My biggest struggle was believing in myself. I mean truly believing in myself. On the surface sure I did. But even up until recently I still didn’t think I was worthy of success, money or what I wanted to do. That will surely put a damper in your plans. So believing I’m worth it, and worthy has been HUGE! But I feel the shift of that coming to life. And the result is not getting derailed by what others think, feel or are going to say. I would stop my plans because I was more worried about others than myself. And not in a selfish way, but in a self-sacrificing way. one that breaks you down little by little.
S: What would you say to the younger Hope?
H: I would say don’t give up, keep going you have gifts and talents to share with the world you have no idea how far they will reach.
S: I’m not a real athletic person. What advice can you give to the ladies who are interested in trying a yoga class but nervous or embarrassed?
H: Find a yoga teacher that teaches a gentle style of yoga. Take 5 minutes and ask the teacher what his or her background is, his or her style of yoga is and if they show variations or modifications. Many teachers teach routines and that is fine, but for me, I teach people not poses, and I would encourage others to seek out teachers like that too.
S: One of the motivations for this series is to prove that we women can raise each other up without having to tear someone down in the process. What advice do you have for the woman who feels torn down right now?
H: Always remember that others tear another down when that is how they feel about themselves. Remember that. It’s not about you, it’s never about you. So sent them love and ask yourself “what can I learn from this”. Some of my upbringing was in a verbally abusive environment and I wish I would have know this sooner. I tell myself this anytime I find myself in a situation like that and it helps me not take on other people junk and stuff.