Monday, November 04, 2013

Peas in a pod

Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most. You may wonder who Jim Rohn is. He is best known for his personal rags to riches story and his 40 years of personal development seminars, founded on well crafted philosophy and psychology of living. When a person like that says something, the rest of us better listen.

If you want to amuse yourself, put pen to paper and write down the names and qualities of the 5 people you hang out with the most and take the average. See if you still like yourself. You may love yourself. You may decide it’s time to re-arrange your friends’ list. No need to wonder if your grandmother knew Jim Rohn, just because she told you “Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are.” It’s more likely that Jim listened to his grandmother, and look what that got him and countless others.

It is interesting to wonder about our hidden potentials and secret dreams. In her very influential book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron warns all of us that creativity is the electricity of life and a God given gift, a responsibility which if left unrealized, leaves us feeling unfulfilled, jealous of others and generally stuck with flat lives. You may wonder what does an artist, an entrepreneur, a housewife, a teacher, an engineer, or a bartender have in common, and you may conclude like most out there, that they have nothing in common. Like most others, you will be wrong.

Creativity is what we all have in common as we are the very expression of creativity – from the moment of our conception and even before. Creativity is what is needed in every aspect of our lives, from solving problems, to writing a play, to painting a room, to starting and running a business, to cooking dinner. If we approach life like a series of tasks on a to-do list, we end up waiting in line at the pharmacy for the next refill of antidepressants.

The other commonality is that we all have friends. Even the introverted types like me, who prefer the company of books and keeping the bluffs trail in Montana De Oro all for my own self. The friends we have will either help or hinder our creative expression. I young lady came to see me and told me in all seriousness “No one wants me to succeed!” I was shocked and hurt to hear this. How is she to live in a world where she felt like being herself and aspiring to become what she wants to become will be met by people who are not interested in her growth. I told her that it was simply not true - “It's just that you have not yet met the people who will want you to succeed.”

To have friends that in some way inspire your creativity, stimulate your self-expression, and support you in whatever way they can on your journey of life, are the kind of friends you should be surrounding yourself with. At the same time, you should consider being this kind of friend too, because you are also needed in realizing other’s dreams. Without your heartfelt participation, someone else’s life will be flat. Without your honest self expression, a piece of the mystery of the Universe will have to be left unrealized. Without your willingness to rise above your fears and limitations, the only faith that awaits you is the well worn out spot on your couch… and then you die.

Where would you like to start today? What area of your life needs a creative infusion?

Valentina Petrova is the person to go to when you need help sorting yourself out and enjoying a fulfilling life. She is a strategic interventionist, life & transitions coach and so much more, once you get to know her. /805-242-3181/ Facebook – CoachValentina.

This piece was originally published in Indulge SLO Volume 1 / Issue 6

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Yoga As Self Transformation

An article everyone doing yoga should read. It's old and timeless and absolutely awesome.


Feel free to comment on the impression this article has made on you.

It's interesting for me personally to remember how the article felt when i first read it some 15 years ago. Then to read it again from time to time and see how it has shaped my practice and my teaching.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The F Word

Fun, freedom, fulfillment—“F” words abound. Friendship, family, future. Fancy this, we really need to “F” ourselves and others, if we are to enjoy the other “F” words.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


When the going gets tough the tough get going... I used to misunderstand this saying. Tough meant stoic, harsh, determined, shear power struggle until I won. Then one day it occurred to me that I was exhausting myself being tough. I read about body armor and stood in front of the mirror identifying myself as a "Challenger/Defender" and wondered if it was a coincidence that wherever I went, something got unsettled. I used to joke that my middle name was "Change".

Years later a friend of mine pointed out that my proper middle name "Sasheva" was sexy and it purrs. Funny but by then I had already thrown away most of my more tough looking attire, and lace, flowing skirts and sheer fabrics were already occupying a sizable portion of closet space. By then I had been given my alter ego – the flamboyant tango dancer, an ample amount of room to express herself and yes, she could purr, dance and glide through life.  

Still, I had never really put it all together until he started calling me Sasheva instead of my given name. At first it sounded weird because no one has ever called me by my middle name. Underneath the discomfort I found a smile. Underneath the smile I found an authenticity that put into perspective the changes that have been happening in the last 5 years of my life, most of which were creeping in even before.

I realized that the meaning of tough has changed for me to mean something like the nurturing, soft persistence of water on its mission of shaping the Grand Canyon. Tough had a raw softness and exposed vulnerability to it that made for more sincere and honest interactions. All of the sudden the laws of physics totally made sense in terms of human relationships. Every action produces an equal and opposing reaction, therefore if you push, they shove. The further you pull away the stronger you snap back, just to crash at the point of origination, thus there was no escaping the realization that I was my mother after all. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is chaos theory, fancy way of saying that we are all interdependent and we should pay attention to that.

It’s easy to say “I don’t care” when we actually do and care a lot. What we get in return is “I don’t care right back at ya” and no one is happy. It’s harder to put into words feelings because feelings are elusive and words are clumsy in comparison. Yet, life is about nuances. The very search for the right words is a space we share with each other and is more meaningful than slamming a door in the other’s face. Furthermore, being vulnerable is special because it gives someone else the opportunity to reach out, connect and lift you up. We all love to be needed and valued. If none of us is ever vulnerable, then who will ever feel needed and valuable in return? We rob each other of the opportunity to share our goodness with each other when we are stuck in our armor and warring states.  

Honesty is what makes it all jive together. Without honesty with our own selves, we won’t know what it is we are doing, needing and communicating. We may mistake needy for vulnerable and manipulative for caring. We may mistake lace for weapons and purring for a growl. In yoga language – discernment and practice lead to liberation. In the language of quantum physics – the observer has a lot to do with what is being observed. In the language of physiology – we feel better when we are with people who feel better themselves.

When I think of tough now, I think of the goddess Isis and her magical ways with which she cared for everyone – sinners and saints, maidens and artists, slaves and aristocrats, the living and the dead. Motherly but purposeful, soft but assertive, clever and carrying. The river Nile flooded every year with her tears of sorrow for her brother Osiris, out of which came fertility and life sustaining nourishment. If she decided to say “I don’t care” and acted stoic, what would the outcome be? Probably she would not be a goddess.

I found a picture of Isis, just the way I had dreamt of her wearing the head dress of Hathor with the sun disk between the cow horns, kneeling on the ground with her arms outstretched into beautiful wings as if ready to embrace the whole world. I printed it and pinned it above my computer desk, to remind myself to check in with Sasheva once in a while and to keep softening.

Who is your intrinsic god/goddess? 

Valentina Petrova

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Do Something that Matters

“Life is too short” is a familiar cliché very few people pay attention to, until it’s too late and you are out of time. Do you ever take inventory of the way you spend your time? How much of the time you spend, you actually use purposefully, productively, meaningfully? How much of time you throw away on TV ads, pointless speculations, meaningless interactions on social media, useless tasks, soul sucking things you really don’t want to do, arguing, complaining, and so on?

If “Time is money” than what value would you put on all that time you are throwing away? What value would you put on the priceless moments of utter joy, connectedness, love, and the feeling of riding on the momentum of purpose and inspiration?

What is the value of a life without regrets? If you can imagine one such life, you can make it happen. To make it happen, you will have to commit to doing what matters most to you. To find out what matters most to you, you will have to tap into your personal source of wisdom and inspiration – your heart. In your mind, you may be full of rationalization about what you do and why. In your heart, those same rationalizations are dissolved in the ocean of knowing that no amount of rationalization will really make you feel better. The only thing that would make you feel elated, fulfilled, happy and content is you doing what you are here to do.

We all have many gifts to contribute to the tapestry of living. We have talents, unique points of view, ideas, inspirations and dreams. With every dream we kill, a little part of us dies away. With every inspiration we forego, a little life in us shrivels up. With every gift we withhold, we are a little more impoverished. A life time of holding back and rationalizing our actions and choices, results in one day looking back and wishing you could have another chance. But there’s no going back. So, why not do it all, just right, NOW.
For every brave moment you choose to be yourself, you grow a little taller and more confident. For every contribution you make from your authentic gift registry, you grow a little bigger than yourself.

What you do in your life is not only important to you but for countless others you will encounter, even through 5 degrees of separation. Therefore, doing what matters is not just your personal bee’s wax. What you do, ripples out and creates waves in all directions, spilling into the shores of co-creation.
Do what matters! Today!

Valentina Petrova

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring note....

Spring is awesome. I love the feeling of things beginning anew. When you think about it, the Earth renews itself every spring. We are lucky to live in paradise and the seasons don't change dramatically, but even here you can see the green life of the hills around you, the budding of the flowers and buzzing of the bugs. Even here there's an air of renewal, beginning or re-beginning, creation and re-creation. It may account for my unusually cheerful mood lately. It's as if i get a new lease on life every Spring. I get creative, plan ahead, motivated and inspired - perhaps the winds blow more energy into my sails. Perhaps the green makes me goofy. Either way, i take full advantage of the extra energy and enthusiasm.

I grab my notebook and review all my dreams for the future. I think everyone should have a place where they record their dreams for the future. As they say, a life not worth recording is not worth living...and we are all dream stuff...and if you can dream it, you can make it happen.

I look backward into the dreams I've had and delight in the ones I've seen already happen - like being in school again, like having the best relationship of my life to enjoy every day, like traveling and experiencing the world out there....When i was a teenager with too many pimples to count, i cried ones when someone described to me what Hawaii looks like...Well, i got to live there for 8 years of my life and I can go back there anytime I want, thanks to my wonderful Hawaiian family.

I can point to many such examples and smile, knowing how once the details of my life were just dreams.....then i got to live them...and now i have more dreams and I am looking forward to living them.

So, if you can dream it, you can make it happen, but you have to commit to that. Set some goals. "Goals" is not a word you'd hear much from a yoga teacher who tells you not to set goals in your yoga practice. But when i say that, i mean "stupid goals." Goals that make no difference whatsoever in the development of your being to it's fullness. Like the splits, for example, do not make you a better human being.

Instead, make your most inspiring dreams your goals and your musts. The way i look at it, goals are nothing but dreams with a deadline. If God gave me a dream, that's probably because God wants me to bust ass and get it done. How else is this Universe suppose to keep expanding!

Inspiration is the fuel a dream needs to survive and materialize. The very meaning of Inspiration comes from the Latin "inspiratos", which means "in spirit" and "to breath on" when you look at it that way, dreams are what spirit breaths on you. Are you going to just sit there, then?

Whatever your dreams are - better job, more freedom, healthy life style, your art, your book, your personal development, financial independence, a great relationships, a trip to the Moon, a life of amazement...if you have been breathed upon, you have been already set in motion. All you have to do, is keep going. You can do that, can't you? Like the Energizer bunny. Keep going...and call me if you get stuck. I'd love to help you keep going. In fact, I've made it my life's mission to help people keep going in the direction they are blown in from spirit.

Cheers and see you on the mat...where you get to feel which way the spirit winds are blowing.

If you want to be on the newsletter, go to scroll down to the bottom of the page and add yourself in ;))

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The role of the background - attitude matters

What makes some people more successful, inspirational, trustworthy, motivating and generally more on top of their field than others? Is it talent, or skill, training, education, money? There are a lot of people with education, money, talent and skill that somehow don’t get anywhere. If this sounds like a business question, that's because it is. It's about the business of being the most you can be in whatever you do and with whoever you are. Since i play in the yoga and wellness sandbox, I will focus on that. 

I love observing people. I have many private clients from all walks of life and many yoga students from all parts of the county and some from other countries all together. All of them are engaged or retired from one profession or another and all of them have their own goals, aspirations, challenges and interest. I get to know them intimately through the practice of yoga and see them in their grubbiest instead of their Sunday’s best, sweating, sitting quietly, struggling, enjoying, crying, laughing and chatting with everyone else. 

I have also had ample opportunities to interact with yoga teachers and wellness workers since 2002 in the capacity of a yoga studio owner and for almost 2 decades in the capacity of a yoga student and wellness informed practitioner. Finally, I also learn by dedicating time to learning. That’s why I am finishing up my Master's in Integral Psychology. That's why i am constantly doing research. 

Here's what I’ve learned:

Attitude matters more than anything. I’ve seen people fake it till they make it. I’ve seen people who never try because they are inundated with self defeating attitudes. I’ve seen everything in between. Attitudes are based on beliefs. Some beliefs are great to have, some are useless, some are downright harmful, and some are neither. The thing is, all beliefs and all attitudes are flexible concoctions and mutations. Too bad that most people forget that and stick to what they’ve got, never adjusting. 

If we stick to our guns and do not examine our behavior, reactions and tendencies, we are prone to being polarized. We will like or dislike people - some of the ones we dislike may have something to teach us. We will seek or avoid interactions - some of the ones we avoid may be great learning opportunities. We will be defensive when an opposing view appears and we will be emotional in our defensiveness. We will shay away form anything that makes us feel uncomfortable and our experiences will be limited to the few people, places and circumstances that we do feel comfortable in. In other words, most of the world is likely to be outside of our comfort zone. As you already know, magic usually happens outside of your comfort zone. That is if you understand magic as a process of growth, refinement and unexpected surprises in the box of chocolates that Life is. 

Another thing about attitudes is that they seep through our skin. Whatever we belief, we wear on our sleeves. Our emotions are nicely coordinated with our beliefs and give away our attitudes even if we try to hide them. Furthermore, whatever beliefs and attitudes we have, are constantly functioning on the background of whatever else we are involved in. So, this determines our relationships with our friends, but also with our clients, co-workers, co-creators, our own experience in every moment - in a subconscious kind of way.
Our own growing, our own sense of worth, our own experiences, all those skills we’ve learned because of all those experiences, the talents and sensitivities we’ve developed, the things we’ve done and not done – all of it constitutes the background of our present moments. Those who live from well digested experiences with the wisdom and compassion that inevitably follow, are those who you usually find yourself most affected by. They are the ones that manage to inspire you and provide benefit and value to you. They truly serve you, not just say so. They make you a better person, not just tell you how nice you are.

I am sure you can think of a therapist, a yoga teacher, a massage practitioner, a pastor, anyone who among others makes you feel more alive. Yes, they may seem more educated or professional but they also come forth with more certitude with more openness and more availability to you. That's because they have a background that supports them in being so available and open. 

Think about what you have on the background that seeps through your pores while you try to smile, sound spiritual, look friendly, make people like you, grow your business, or make a difference. Now think of people who have told you all the right things and somehow did not convince you. Perhaps, you have been the person saying all the right things, knowing what you should be doing and yet being unconvincing to others and can't follow through with your own plans and ideas. 

No one is perfect, but we have an obligation and the fun of having to be the best we can be. If we put that obligation and fun into the context of interconnectedness instead of just doing it for our own selves, we then become motivated for the sake of all beings. Everything we do then, becomes a spiritual practice and we become mindful of our feeling attitudes towards life, human nature and our selves.  Everything spiritual is profound and bound to make an impact on everyone you come in contact with. 

So, check attitude. Get an adjustment. Repeat as needed. Cheers.

PS. Call me if you need help. 

Valentina Petrova (E-RYT500) is the owner of HMC Yoga & Wellness SPA in Morro Bay, since 2002. She’s an experienced yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Life & Spiritual Advisor. For more info, visit the web at or call Val at (805)909-1401.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Know Before You Go.

You are probably thinking of starting yoga soon…as in as soon as you can.

It could be your New Year’s resolution, or your family telling you that you need to unwind, or your doctor wisely suggesting that yoga’s going to be good for you. I agree. Yoga can be good for you and yours. Teaching yoga for over a decade has been a great opportunity to observe people in action. I can see that those that enjoy their practice the most find a deep intrinsic value in it, not just a work out.

Enjoying your practice, usually, is a combination between the environment, the teacher and your emotional connection with the practice.  How at home you feel at a place and how much you resonate with a teacher will determine how deep you go into the practice.  This will reinforce your emotional connection to your practice and with that in place your commitment will solidify.

What to look for in a place is a matter of taste. Generally, you want to feel comfortable with the environment and the folks you will be sharing the space with.

Your emotional connection to the practice is something that you alone can determine. So, when you think of yoga do you think “healthy”, “happy”, “free”, “peaceful”? What do you think? Usually what you are looking for is an emotional state of some sort. If you just think of yoga as one more thing to do today, your enthusiasm for it will be over before you know it.

Here are ideas on what to watch for in a teacher.
1) Your teacher should understand you. If the teacher forgets to ask your name and about injuries, that’s not a teacher who’s there for you. If after asking you what your injuries and challenges are, that same teacher proceeds to offer you postures that you cannot do with those injuries, than that teacher did not listen to you. Most teachers will ask about injuries, automatically, but do not know how to translate this information into meaningful and safe experience for you. Find a teacher who can.

2) You go to a class and the teacher is doing his/her own practice. That’s the teacher that’s never looking at you, is not paying attention to the class and not adopting the practice to fit the practitioner.  Find a different teacher or offering options.

3) The teacher talks about themselves a lot, or makes everything about them, or insists on you trying what they tell you even when you feel like they are asking too much of you and you are hurting. Find a different teacher.

4) The teacher walks around, never demos a pose (and even drinks her/his coffee) while instructing and generally looks like she/her just stopped by and is not invested in your process. This just happened to me in a yoga class I took in LA. The teacher was walking around in her scarf and a mug of hot tea (or eggnog??)… Find a different teacher.

5) The teacher is constantly experimenting with new postures that may be fun but you are not ready for or he/she is not ready for and unable to explain properly. Along the same lines, the teacher stops in the middle of the class to ask “What do you want to do next?” This may sound like an egalitarian practice designed to empower you, but if you think you can do it yourself, why go to a yoga class? On the other hand, it is a common practice for teachers who have no plan, don’t know what to do and are trying to buy time. Find a new teacher.

Teachers are trained differently and teach differently, so finding your pace, level of challenge and style of practice makes a big difference. Teachers come with different credentials. Here’s what they mean:
RYT = Registered Yoga Teacher. The number following that tells you how many hours of training the teacher has (RYT 200 or RYT 500). E-RYT = Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT200, E-RYT500).  E-RYT 500 would be the highest designation a teacher can earn.

You should be hoping that the person teaching you would have at least 200 or even 500 hours of training because even though 200 hours is enough to get a certification, it’s a ridiculously low amount of learning to truly prepare one to teach. The only way one can be a better teacher is by studying more, practicing more and teaching more.

Only a small percentage of teachers have the RYT designation. While this in itself does not mean that a teacher is worthless, it means that the teacher has consciously chosen not to belong to the Yoga Alliance and maintain their certification. In order for a teacher to maintain their certification with the YA, they have to fulfill a certain amount of continuing education hours every year, pay their dues and voluntarily agree to abide by the ethical codes and principles upheld by this professional organization.

Thus, if someone is an RYT, this tells you that the Yoga Alliance is verifying the training this teacher has.  RYT is a trademark and no teacher should use it unless they are a part of the professional organization. Others can say “received 200 hours of training” or something of the sort, but there is no way to really verify that.

On the flip side, an RYT designation does not automatically mean that a teacher is any better than someone else without it. It is very easy to acquire a 200 hour training and many yoga studios offer 200 hour trainings as a means to increase their income. In the world of yoga schools we have schools who’s certifications mean more than other schools. Just like UCLA, CalPoly, Harvard, Stanford etc, rank differently, yoga training programs do to. That’s because the faculty teaching the teachers matters. Some schools have better faculty than others.

Experience and training amounts to a lot, but do remember that some people are natural teachers. Just because someone recently graduated from a program it does not automatically follow that this person is incompetent. Some people go through trainings after decades of serious practices and study. They usually make good teachers. Yes, unfortunately, most who chose to go for their 200 hour certification have very little practice or study prior to taking the training.

If you want to find out who is an RYT go to: and under Directory, Find a Registered Yoga Teachers and check out the most current information.  You can search by zip code and pull up everyone in the area, but don’t be surprised if you only find one or two people in your town even though there are more than a dozen teachers.

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. It’s better to test drive a few yoga teachers and see where you feel at home. Use your critical thinking skills. Don’t be afraid to “interview” your teachers to find out if they are consistent, knowledgeable and really care about you.

Good luck and happy yoga.  
Valentina Petrova (E-RYT500) is the owner of HMC Yoga & Wellness SPA in Morro Bay, since 2002. She’s an experienced yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Life & Spiritual Advisor. For group classes, workshop and individual session, visit the web at or call (805)909-1401.