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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Copper Tree Yoga Studio and Wellness Center

Aug 31, 2012 05:54PM ● By Beth Davis

Hope Zvara

Yoga teacher Hope Zvara, creator of Core Functional Fitness™ and owner of Copper Tree Yoga Studio and Wellness Center, in Hartford, took her first yoga class just out of high school while she was starting the process of recovery from an eating disorder. Looking back, she feels certain that yoga saved her life.

“I didn’t find yoga; yoga found me,” she explains. “The classes helped me move forward. Every time I stepped onto my mat, yoga showed me my potential and gave me the ability to integrate back into life. It allowed me to feel again, breathe again and connect with who I am. It taught me how to live life again.”

About two years after she started practicing, Zvara was studying motivational speaking and theology at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, when she decided to attend an ashram in Colorado for a month-long intensive yoga training. The experience was so life-altering that she felt she had found her life’s passion, and upon returning to Wisconsin elected not to return to school, instead choosing to immerse herself in yoga.

She began teaching about 25 classes per week at different studios, where she shared her story. It not only helped in her recovery process, but also helped her establish a connection with her students. Today, she teaches yoga students and fitness professionals the same philosophies and principles she used to heal from a life of addiction and depression. “My passion is helping people to start to live and become the best version of themselves; to learn more about life and how we ravel and unravel into it,” she says.

Six years ago, Zvara opened Copper Tree Yoga Studio and Wellness Center. “Copper is the color of strength—a warrior. A tree symbolizes family and outreach,” she says. “When you come to our studio, you become part of the Copper Tree family. We are noted for our individual attention in a group atmosphere. You are not lost in the crowd.”

Zvara sees Copper Tree as much more than a typical yoga studio. “We have taken the beauty of yoga and its amazing traditions, philosophy and spiritual essence and intertwined it with new research, functionality and everyday modern living,” she states. “Our focus is on functional and healthy core mechanics. Students are encouraged to question poses and movements and how they relate to quality of life. Mindless movements have to stop.”

Helping students understand their core—what it is and why it is important—was the motivation behind Core Functional Fitness. Created by Zvara, Core Functional Fitness thrives on the notion that students need to think and feel in combination in order to be functional and effective in the body.

“My passion is helping people to start to live and become the best version of themselves; to learn more about life and how we ravel and unravel into it.”

“We emphasize quality, knowledge and using the right muscles, versus just getting it done,” she notes. “Physical fitness and functionality should not be kept separate from mental, spiritual and emotional growth; they feed off of each other and should be integrated together. Once students get it, they accelerate.”

She incorporated that method of movement into her HOPE Yoga Teacher Trainings. Although she has been practicing and teaching yoga for 12 years, it was only three years ago that she began to offer yoga teacher training. Passionate about helping other instructors take an in-depth look at themselves, she describes the training as, “a personal growth opportunity, with a side effect of teaching training.”

The training covers anatomy, yogic philosophy, chakras, kundalini yoga, the art of spirituality, the mind, the eight limbs of yoga, diet, lifestyle and Ayurveda, creative cuing, the basic principles of Core Functional Fitness, proper teaching techniques and adjustments. Zvara is so strongly committed to the trainings that she has written her own manuals, postures and more. “I just feel a great passion to bring quality teachers to the community,” she comments.

Copper Tree also offers a variety of other healing modalities designed to help clients achieve whole body health and wellness. Services include esoteric energy sessions, ionic footbaths, life coaching, massage therapy, reflexology and Reiki. The goal is to offer versatility and provide a quality, one-stop shop where clients can feel safe and comfortable.

Zvara is certainly doing something right. She describes client retention rate as phenomenal, and has dozens of students that have been with her for 10 years. She has written five manuals (available soon on, and a book that covers the 13 principles of Core Functional Fitness will be on bookshelves in January.

“I know this is what I need to be doing,” she says. “My heart is there, my passion is there and I just love what I do.”

Copper Tree Yoga Studio and Wellness Center is located at 1364 E. Sumner St., in Hartford. For more information, call 262-670-6688 or visit

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