Seeing the Multitudes in Others

Recently I have been bringing more awareness to how I and those around me describe and categorize others.  It has been interesting, and sometimes concerning, to see how an adjective can suddenly become a defining component of someone’s entire identity when assigned to them by another.  Certainly it is not news to anyone that our society has an affinity for labels, boxes, and color codes.  Our collective tendency for discrimination and prejudice based on these affinities has and continues to create problems and cause harm.  And as many of us seek to become less judgmental and exclusive and instead become more empathetic and inclusive, we must become more mindful about how we think and speak about others; even and especially those that stand on the opposite of us on various issues and beliefs.  For the truth is that one or two adjectives cannot accurately describe anyone, for everyone contain multitudes.

“She is just basic.”
“He is a problematic man.”
“She is just crazy liberal.”
“He is an ignorant republican.”

These are just a few examples of statements I have recently heard those around me speak about others.  And I confess, I am guilty of thinking and speaking about others in much the same way.  As I reflect on these descriptive, categorical statements, what strikes me about them is not necessarily the use of any one of the words, but rather the finality and permanence with which they were spoken.  As if “basic” or “problematic” accurately sums up the entirety of those people’s beings.  Of course, we know on some level that these people must be more complex than just being basic or problematic, right?  True – she might be “basic” in that she is an average woman who enjoys popular things, but she is also probably a loving daughter/sister/mother/etc., she probably has worthy talents, and she probably cares deeply about something important in the world.  Sure – he might be a man who says and/or does “problematic” things, but he also probably is a loving son/brother/father/etc., he probably has respectable skills, and he probably has and does try to do some good in the world. 

While it may be accurate to describe her as basic and him as problematic in some respects, is it not unjust to reduce them as people to being only such?  Is it not wrong to deny their other admirable qualities?  Is it not cruel to not give them the opportunity to be more?  These are the considerations that I have been meditating on as I catch myself labeling and categorizing others.  These considerations may or may not change the verbiage of the statements, but will change how they are spoken.  I may still think or say “She is basic,” but the way in which I say it does not cancel out her other admirable qualities nor does it solidify with finality that “basic” is all she is or ever could be. 

 Personally, I am striving to edit the way these statements are spoken to allow for more consideration and respect. For example:

“In some ways, she is basic.”
“He can be problematic.” or  “He does have problematic tendencies.”

I feel that when I think and speak in this way, I am finding a balance between honoring my own perspectives and opinions and allowing space for the people I am speaking about to be more than just the adjectival labels I have attributed to them.  At once, I am affirming in my eyes that he or she is this or that, but also recognizing that he or she also contains multitudes.  For me, this seems more respectful, more empathetic, and leaves open space to foster conversation and connection, even between two people who may oppose each other. 

Now, there are of course individuals in the world who seemingly can be summarized with strong adjectives and harsh statements.  We know there are people whose entire beings are consumed with negative and evil qualities and they do not deserve any considerations.  However, these people are the exception.  I would argue that the rule is most people are dynamic, multifaceted beings that are capable of being many things at one time and have the great potential for change and evolution.  I believe that in order to cultivate authentic connections, have honest conversations, and share different perspectives, harboring consideration and respect for each other without harsh discrimination and permanent condemnation is of the utmost importance.  Imagine if each of us looked at and listened to each other through the lens that everyone, no matter who, contains multitudes.  How much deeper would those authentic connections be?  How much more productive would those honest conversations be?  How much more could we grasp and understand others’ perspectives to then work toward mutual agreements?  

To be clear, this is not to say that we go through life with rose colored glasses on, bypass conflicts, and blindly hope for the best.  Absolutely, we must continue to call out harmful behaviors, demand change for the betterment of the collective, and engage in disagreements and conflicts as they arise.  All I offer is that as we do so, we allow the space for connection, growth, and grace by staying rooted in the knowledge that all of us contain multitudes and each of us has a role to play as we navigate this lifetime.

Fun Yoga Transitions 2

Creatively sequencing challenging and fun vinyasa flow yoga classes is one of my favorite parts of my job as a yoga instructor.  For me, sequencing is both art and science – artistically choreographing movements while scientifically choosing postures and exercises that safely and effectively fulfill a purpose. 

In my 2019 article Fun Yoga Transitions, I shared some of the different, unique transitions I sometimes incorporate between yoga postures to create a diverse, challenging, and fun yoga flow class.  That article has become my most viewed post on Johnny La Pasta and I humbly continue to receive positive feedback from other yoga instructors who have found success in using those transitions in their own classes.

Now, I present to you Fun Yoga Transitions 2 in which I am sharing even more transitions I have been enjoying teaching and I think perhaps you will too!


Chair Vertical Twist Kick to Crescent Lunge

This transition challenges balance and coordination.  While it may be a complex move, it feels intuitive, dance-y, and fun!

How to:

From Chair Pose –

Exhale  – Chair Vertical Twist Kick

  • Sweep your Right arm back, reach your Left Arm Forward
  • Kick your Left heel up
  • Balance on your Right Leg

Inhale – Crescent Lunge

  • Send your Left foot to the back of your mat and land your toes
  • Circle your Right arm down, forward, and up
  • Turn your torso forward

Reverse Rights and Lefts when repeated on second side.


Half Splits to Revolved Low Lunge

This is a great low to the ground transition that links a great hamstring stretch (half splits) with a core strengthening twist (revolved low lunge) and therefore preps two key areas for a continued sequence. I enjoy using this transition at the beginning of a Sun Salutation B flow that will present further exercises for the hamstrings and the core.

How to:

From Half Splits

Inhale – Revolved Low Lunge

  • Lunge forward and plant your hands
  • Lift your back knee from the ground
  • Sweep your Right/Left arm forward and up

Revolved Low Lunge to Wide Legged Forward Fold

This is another transition that feels dance-y and fluid.  Additionally, it is a great transition for keeping low to the floor for classes focusing on grounding and foundation!

How to:

From Revolved Low Lunge

Exhale – Wide Legged Forward Fold

  • Sweep your top arm forward and down
  • Spin on your feet and turn your toes to the Right/Left edge of your mat
  • Walk your hands over to the side and place them underneath your shoulders
  • Allow your head to hang heavy

Revolved Crescent Lunge to Prayer Twist to Revolved One Legged Mountain

This has become one of my favorite chains of postures! This sequence is the ultimate challenge to core and balance requiring complete presence and concentration.

How to:

From Revolved Crescent Lunge

  • Inhale breath – Gaze down at your front foot and shift your weight forward

Exhale – Prayer Twist

  • Step your back foot up to meet your front foot
  • Sit your hips down below your shoulders
  • Maintain the twist in your torso
  • Inhale breath
  • Exhale shift the weight to your Right/Left foot

Inhale – Revolved 1 Legged Mountain

  • Slowly straighten your Right/Left leg
  • Lift your Right/Left knee up
  • Maintain the elbow to knee connection as you rise up

To Reverse – From Revolved 1 Legged Mountain

Exhale – Prayer Twist

  • Bend your standing leg and slowly lower your lifted toes to meet your grounded toes
  • Maintain the twist in your torso

Inhale – Shift the weight into your Right/Left foot

Exhale – Revolved Crescent Lunge

  • Step your Left/Right foot back
  • Maintain the twist in your torso

Low Lunge to Extended Side Angle

This is a different path to entering Extended Side Angle.  As oppose to coming down into Extended Side Angle from a Warrior 2 or a Reverse Warrior, this transition calls to move up into Extended Side Angle and thus utilize our muscles in a new way to enter the posture. The “Exhale – Lift your torso up by 4 inches until your side body is long” also provides a core challenge and capitalizes on the importance of a long side in this posture.

How to:

From Low Lunge

  • Bring your Right/Left hand to the inside of your front foot

Inhale – Extended Side Angle

  • Spin your back heel down
  • Roll your hips and chest open to the side
  • Lift your Right/Left hand to the sky
  • Exhale – lift your torso up by four inches until your Right/Left side body is long

Low Lunge to One Legged High Plank to Falling Star

Most often when we come down into a Low Lunge from a Reverse Warrior, Warrior 1, etc. we step our front foot back and move through a Chaturanga Dandasana.  This transition offers a fun alternative that challenges upper body and core in a way that is more dynamic than a typical Chaturanga.

How to:

From Low Lunge

Inhale – 1 Legged High Plank

  • Shoot your Right/Left Foot back
  • Hover your toes from the ground
  • Keep your hips in line with your shoulders

Exhale – Bring your Right/Left knee across your body to your opposite elbow

Inhale – Falling Star

  • Extend your Right/Left foot out to the side
  • Push down into your Right/Left hand
  • Lift your hips, chest, and Left/Right hand up to the sky

One Legged Mountain to Half Moon

This has become my favorite way to enter into Half Moon. Most often, we move into Half Moon from a Warrior 2 or an Extended Side Angle which requires us to launch forward and up by straightening our standing leg, lifting our back leg up, and finding length in our torso.  In this transition, the standing leg is already straight and we are already balanced one the one leg so we just have to focus on the rest of the posture.

How to:

From 1 Legged Mountain

Inhale – Open your Right/Left knee out to the side

Exhale – Half Moon

  • Kick your lifted foot back
  • Hinge forward and bring your Right/Left fingers down to a block
  • Roll your Right/Left hip and shoulder over your Left/Right hip and shoulder
  • Lift your Left/Right hand up to the sky

View all tutorials in 1 video here –

I hope you have enjoyed learning these transitions and posture chains. Try them on in your own practice and in your teaching. Let me know how these work for you in the comments below!

*Disclaimer – While I believe all of these yoga postures and transitions to be safe, I take no responsibility for any injuries or ailments sustained for practicing them. If you practice, you practice at your own risk.

California Power Bowls

I am truly Californian – born and raised at the beach, a lover of summer, a practitioner of yoga and meditation, and a lover of fresh, healthy cuisine.  Most of my food is inspired by the Mediterranean and created with a California sensibility.  My California Power Bowls are a prime example of this – a perfect blend of Mediterranean and Californian ingredients and flavors designed to at once satisfy the nutritional needs of an active lifestyle and the desires of the taste buds.

These bowls have everything going for them – tuna for lean protein, quinoa and brown rice pasta for complex carb fuel, greens and veggies for vitamins, fiber, and hydration, and avocado and avocado oil based dressing for heart healthy fats.  They are satisfying without being too filling, cooling and hydrating, and of course, tasty as hell!

The dressing I like to use for these bowls is Primal Kitchen’s Ranch DressingPrimal Kitchen produces salad dressings, mayos, marinades, and sauces all made from real food, organic ingredients without the nonsense you find in many other store bought options.  While many store bought dressings, mayos, and the like are made with refined oils like canola oil, Primal Kitchen’s products are made with avocado oil which is a superior oil rich in good fatty acids and vitamins.  All Primal Kitchen products are Paleo and Keto friendly and they have Vegan options as well.  Their ranch dressings have all the savory, cool flavors of classic ranch without the dairy and other processed ingredients and are the perfect topping for my California Power Bowls.  Order Primal Kitchen here!

Now, let’s make the California Power Bowls –


California Power Bowls
featuring Primal Kitchen’s Ranch Dressing

Serves: 1 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • ½ can to 1 can of tuna in olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups salad greens
  • ½ cup tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup cucumber, chopped
  •  ¼  cup red onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup quinoa, brown rice, or other gluten-free pasta, cooked and chilled
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 2 tablespoons Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing

Directions:

Assemble ingredients tuna through pasta side by side in a large bowl.  Drizzle with Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing.  Top with avocado.  Eat and enjoy!


Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

I love a good pasta salad, especially during summertime. A savory, chilled pasta salad is one of my go-to dishes for contributing to summer parties. A couple of years back I was invited to a summer gathering at which I knew several people with dietary restrictions would be in attendance – a few vegans, a couple of gluten-frees, and a paleo-er. I wanted to make a dish that all of these guests could eat, and that is when I came up with this Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad.

This Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad has everything going for it: it’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, it’s paleo-friendly, it’s veggie-full, it’s savory flavorful, and it’s cooling for the summer season. Make this recipe to share at summer bbqs and potlucks or for yourself to enjoy as a meal-prep lunch for several days. Bon appetito!


Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

Serves: 4-12 | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup roasted or fresh red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup vegan pesto (I use Trader Joe’s Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional:
    • Add 1 cup chickpeas for protein (makes recipe not paleo)
    • Add vegan feta or mozzarella cheese (may make recipe not paleo)

Directions:

Spiralize the zucchini and spread the noodles out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the noodles with the salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes. The salt will draw excess water out of the zucchini. Squeeze the noodles over a strainer in the sink until most of the water is released. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss well. Add remaining ingredients and toss well again. Serve and enjoy!


Visuals :


Spiralizers:

I have a Cuisinart CTG-00-SPI Spizalizer which can be purchased for under $40 here:

There are many other models out there at various price points for your selection. Search and find the best one for you!


Let me know my Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad goes for you! Cmment below and/or tag me on Instagram @johnnylapasta

Favorite Music Artists for Yoga Playlists

Music is an integral part of what I do as a yoga instructor. I have become known for my yoga playlists in the circles that I teach in. I feel very honored that I receive great feedback from students and fellow teachers on my playlists and happily share my playlists for students to enjoy on their own and for other instructors to use in their classes. In my article Creating a Yoga Playlist I detail my process of and advice for producing a yoga playlist for your yoga classes – click here to read.

In this article, I want to highlight some of the phenomenal music artists that I regularly include in my yoga playlists. I receive a lot of questions about who my go-to artists are, and so, this article will detail those top artists I return to time and again. Also, I hope if those artists read this article that they know how grateful I am for their work!


Sol Rising

Description:

DJ and music producer who creates eclectic electronic, mid-tempo, down-tempo, chill-trap, ambient, and lo-fi music.

Sol Rising is hands down my favorite artist for yoga playlists. He is known for creating “yoga music” and regularly appears at yoga festivals, workshops, and events to DJ live for yoga classes. His lush and layered soundscapes create unique “vibes” that are perfect for yoga classes. He has produced a stunning amount of work, sometimes releasing multiple albums in a year. He has songs that work for every part of a yoga class: slow, tranquil, and meditative to chill and relaxed to upbeat and empowering.  His music is mixed and mastered in such a way that it is at once prominent and helps to create an environment, but does not compete against a teacher’s voice with overbearing effects or forward vocals.

Most of my yoga playlists from the past few years include anywhere from three to eight songs by Sol Rising, and I can always count on him to have the perfect piece to help round out and finish a playlist. I even have a meditation playlist created from his more chill and tranquil songs that I use for my personal practice and my corporate wellness classes.

Additionally, Sol Rising creates a new “Yoga Playlist of the Month” every month on his Spotify page. This playlist features his own music and sometimes music from other similar artists. The playlist is always structured perfectly for a 60-75 minute yoga class. Especially when I am teaching a private or a more hands-on beginner yoga class where I do not want to think about my own personal playlists, I can play Sol’s “Yoga Playlist of the Month” and trust that it will work for the class perfectly.

I also want to note that while Sol Rising is known for his “yoga music”, he is a prolific electronic artist in his own right and I am very excited for all the music he is going to produce and believe you will begin hearing him in other niches as well.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Love Can Only Change You
  • Chillaxing
  • So Simple

Odesza

Description:

An electronic music duo who creates indietronica, electropop, chill wave, futurebase, and trap music.

Odesza is a go-to for many yoga teachers who make their own playlists. With their eccentric, layered, upbeat, and sometimes bombastic sound, Odesza produces fun, uplifting music for a yoga class. When I first began my career as a yoga instructor, I relied heavily on Odesza and still continue to use them in my playlists to this day. Odesza even has instrumental versions of some of their songs that previously had vocals included which can be great for new teachers!

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Kusangi
  • A Moment Apart
  • All We Need

Shallou

Descripton:

Music producer and singer creating electro house, down tempo, and indie electronic music.

Shallou is yet another artist that appears in many yoga teacher’s playlists. He creates soothing yet upbeat tracks often with soft, rich vocals that is pleasant to listen and flow to. He is another artist that really supports a yoga class without overpowering with effects and too-forward of vocals.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Fading
  • Begin
  • Lie

Beauvois / Kidswaste

Description:

Independent music artist and producer creating music somewhere between indie, folk, electronic, and pop music.

Quentin Beauvois has produced music under both the stage names “Beauvois” and “Kidwaste”. Like the other aforementioned artists, Beauvois creates uniquely structured and layered songs that blend multiple genres. He has a good variety of down tempo to up tempo songs that are great for various sections of a yoga class and easily fit in with other artists like Odesza and Sol Rising.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • You Were Right
  • Tonight
  • Daylight

Bob Moses

Description:

An electronic music duo who creates deep house and rock influenced electronic music.

Bob Moses has become a go-to artist for me when I am creating a playlist that has a more intense, darker, grittier feel to it. Their deep house beats and rock influenced effects help establish a powerful rhythm for a challenging vinyasa yoga class.

Top 3 Favorite Songs

  • Back Down
  • Don’t Hold Back Down
  • Tearing Me Up

Rufus Du Sol

Description:

An alternative dance group who creates indie dance, alternative dance, and house music.

Similar to Bob Moses, Rufus Du Sol creates slightly grittier, more intense music that can be great for challenging vinyasa yoga classes. Their powerful house influenced beats establish rhythm and influence a higher energy for a class.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Underwater
  • You Were Right
  • Say a Prayer for Me

Troye Sivan

Description:

Australian singer-songwriter who creates pop, synth-pop, electro-pop, and dance-pop music.

Troye Sivan is a mainstream pop artist who gets radio play, but also produces music that somehow works for yoga classes unlike many of his peers. I have found that Troye’s music is very atmospheric and dreamlike with unique electronic effects and deep percussion. Additionally, Troye layers and blends his vocals in such a way that his vocals are beautiful but not overpowering; there is a good balance between Troye’s voice and the music he is singing to.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Bloom
  • Youth
  • The Good Side

Alina Baraz

Description:

Like Troye Sivan, Alina Baraz is more of a traditional radio artist, but produces music that flows well in a yoga class. Her downtempo electronic based music paired with her uniquely sensual and sultry vocals definitely create a relaxed vibe for a yoga class, especially toward the start or end of class.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Electric
  • Buzzin’
  • Floating

Bob Marley

Description:

The late Reggae artist who changed the world with his tropical jams and messages of peace.

The man, the myth, the legend. Bob Marley is an icon on every level. And sometimes his summertime tunes and poetic words are just what a chill yoga playlist needs. Also, his grandson Skip Marley has been collaborating on some truly sensational reggae-pop and tropical house tracks that have also made their way into some of my playlists.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Could You Be Loved
  • Is This Love
  • Waiting in Vain

Florence + the Machine

Description:

World-renowned indie rock band producing alternative rock and baroque pop music.

The music that Florence + the Machine makes can be great for creating a wild and free vibe in a yoga class room. There is a mystical element to their music that can fit beautifully into a yoga playlist.

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Cosmic Love
  • Hunger
  • Queen of Peace

And there you have it! There are so many other great artists I include in yoga playlist that I have deep respect for, but the artists listed above are the ones I come back to time and again and fit well into my style of teaching to music. Keep in mind, music is incredibly subjective. So many different types of music can work well in a yoga class if it is authentic to the instructor teaching to it. Try the artists above as well as artists you know and love and make the yoga playlist that suits you!

Rise Bar Partnership

Need a snack? I got one for you! Rise Bar’s new Mocha Almond Protein Bar tastes like an afternoon pick-me-up from your favorite coffee shop but with the nutrition you need to stay strong and keep on throughout your day.

It’s made with only 5 real food ingredients:
Almonds 
Honey
Whey protein
Carob powder
100% Arabica coffee beans

Rise Bar’s are:
Non-gmo
Soy-free
Grain-free
And have no artificial sweetners

With Rise Bar’s Mocha Almond Protein Bar, you can trust you’re giving your body wholesome fuel while also enjoying a boost of caffeine.

Find this flavor as well as Rise Bar’s other delicious flavors at a store near you or order online by tapping the link below.

https://risebar.com/

Teaching Schedule

Public Weekly Teaching Schedule

Tuesdays
Vinyasa Flow – Purple Yoga Long Beach Outdoor – 10am PST
Vinyasa Level 2 – Ra Yoga Live Stream – 4pm PST –

Wednesdays
Power Flow – Sweat from Home – 8:30am PST
Go to: https://sweatfromhome.punchpass.com/passes/84173 + use code JOHNNY at check out for a FREE class
Then go to: https://sweatfromhome.punchpass.com/classes/6723153 to register
You will be emailed the Zoom link 20 minutes before class

Fridays –
C2 – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach – 5:30am PST
Yoga Sculpt – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach – 8:30am PST

*Class schedule is subject to change.
Learn more about my studios:
Ra Yoga Studios
Ra Yoga Live
Purple Yoga
CorePower Yoga

Vitamin Bounty

I’ve been interested in trying out nutritional supplements for a while, but with so many brands on the market it is hard to make an informed choice about which to go with. Luckily, I found Vitamin Bounty.

Vitamin Bounty produces high quality nutritional supplements that are Non-GMO, GMP, and made right here in the USA. Their prices are fair and affordable and have options for immune support, weight management, digestive health, and sports nutrition.

I really like their PRO-50 probiotic supplement which has shown to support and immune and digestive health. As someone with a sometimes sensitive tummy, this supplement has made life better! Order here.

I also appreciate their Tune Your Keto Multivitamin. Though I do not follow a ketogenic diet, this vitamin gives me a boost of the good stuff like magnesium, potassium, & collagen that supports my active lifestyle. Order here.

To learn more about Vitamin Bounty and order the supplements to better your health, click this link and use code JOHNNYLAPASTA to get 20% off your first order.

Paleo Turkey Meatballs

Ciao friends! It’s been a minute since I shared a recipe with my readers; but after posting a picture of my Paleo Turkey Meatballs on Instagram and receiving a hoard of requests for the recipe, I figured it was time. I created this recipe a few years back with the goal of combining rich, comforting Italian flavors with the health conscious focus of California cuisine. These meatballs are nutrient packed and flavorful – the best of both worlds! This recipe is easy to make and relatively inexpensive. I suggest serving these Paleo Turkey Meatballs with your favorite marinara sauce and zoodles or spaghetti squash for a California coast version of an Italian dinner.

Full written recipe and visuals below.

Click through the gallery below to learn more about the recipe’s process.

Paleo Turkey Meatballs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
    • ¼ cup almond or cassava flour
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
    • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
    • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
    • ¼ fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
    • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoons black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine all ingredients, except turkey and olive oil, in a large bowl and mix well. Add the turkey to the bowl and using your hands mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed through the turkey. Take small handfuls of the turkey mix and roll into 2-3 inch meatballs. Place the meatballs on a greased baking sheet evenly spaced apart. Drizzle the meatballs with the olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through (no longer pink inside).
Serve with your favorite sauce over pasta, rice, polenta, spaghetti squash, or zoodles.

Tip: Fill up a large bowl with warm water and have nearby. In between rolling meatballs, dunk your hands in the water to avoid them getting sticky and causing difficulty making more balls.

Notes:
*If desired, substitute ground chicken for ground turkey
*If desired, substitute quinoa or chickpea flour for almond or cassava flour – the recipe will no longer strictly be Paleo with these flours but still close

If you make ( and enjoy) this recipe, please tag me at @johnnylapasta on Instagram and Twitter with a photo of your completed meal!

The Lost Lightworkers

*Disclaimer: Since writing this post, I have been informed that some people see the term “lightworker” as an offensive term synonymous with spiritual bypassing (the using of spiritual teachings and beliefs as a way to avoid facing unresolved emotional and psychological issues and trauma and generally avoiding and denying necessary “shadow work”) and colorism (discrimination based on the shading of skin color, generally labeling lighter as good and darker as bad).  Thus, I want to be clear that the definition for “lightworker” that I am working with is not attached to spiritual bypassing and colorism. My use of “lightworker” and “light” does not have any correlation to skin color or race and does not promote spiritual bypassing or emotional avoidance of any kind. My definition for the term “lightworker” is someone who dedicates their work and/or life to helping others by promoting health, wellness, kindness, compassion, and love. This is the definition I am working with for the below article. Based on the research I have done, the use of “lightworker” is safe when such a clarification as this is made. If you would like to discuss this topic further, please fill out my contact form and correspond with me directly. Thank you.*

            In a time where the fear and the reality of job loss, business closures, financial ruin, social separation, illness, and death plague our country, there has never been a greater need for lightworkers. In the spiritual, new age community, a lightworker is broadly defined as someone who is intensely drawn to help others. Lightworkers display an abundance of empathy and compassion for others in their close and distant circles. Such individuals often pursue careers in healthcare, psychotherapy, massage, yoga, meditation, reiki, and other such modalities in which their jobs directly touch and impact other humans. (Please read the *Disclaimer above for further clarification on the definition being used here) Lightworkers who have chosen careers as doctors, nurses, and the like find themselves in higher demand than perhaps ever before. And that demand is sure to only continue rising in the coming weeks and months. There are, however, many other lightworkers in this country who find themselves unable to fulfill their vocations. What happens to those of us that exist in other corners and sectors of the wellness world who want desperately to work, to help, and to heal, but find our paths for doing so closed? What happens to us lightworkers who are ready and willing to come to the aid of others but suddenly find ourselves struggling for survival in an economy that never truly realized our value and potential? In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us lightworkers find ourselves wandering, wondering, and lost.

            I consider myself to be a lightworker; a title I wear proudly. I am a yoga and meditation instructor as well as a writer in the wellness and mindfulness space. Like many other lightworkers, I am deeply passionate about my modalities. The work I do is work I would always do no matter how much money I had in my bank account. Give me a billion dollars and you will still find me teaching yoga at the studio and writing articles to inspire inner growth. True retirement from these jobs is something I will never choose. My work is less of a job that earns income and more of a vocation that fulfills the mission of my soul. Yet as the coronavirus continues to alter the state of the country and the larger world, I find it increasingly difficult to perform the work I believe I have been placed on earth to do.

            I live in California where a statewide shelter-in-place mandate has been instituted until further notice. With this, both of the yoga studios I teach for have closed and temporarily laid all instructors off without pay or benefits. The corporate offices I contract for as a yoga and meditation instructor have closed as their employees are required to work from home if they are to work at all. While some private individual clients may still continue to request me to come and teach them in their homes, at any moment they could choose to suspend our classes or else law enforcement could prevent me from reaching their residences as more and more checkpoints are put in place. Furthermore, I am certainly not acquiring new clients during this time of social distancing and quarantine. 

            Thus, I suddenly find myself with fewer platforms to practice my modalities of teaching yoga and meditation to the hundreds of people I used to see regularly every week. The modest income I earned from these opportunities has been halted. Like the ever growing millions of people in the US who have temporarily or permanently lost their means of income in a capitalistic economy that clearly has no elasticity and flexibility to it and a social security net that is being loosely woven at the eleventh hour, I now must wonder about how I will procure the money I need to support myself and survive in a system that would normally allow me to fall into ruin. And worse, I must mourn the loss of the work I did, love so deeply, and want so badly to continue doing for the value I believe it adds to the world.

            Clearly, I am not alone in these personal and financially devastating losses. Yoga and fitness instructors, meditation leaders, massage therapists, reiki and alternative practice healers across the nation all find ourselves out of work, forced away from our vocations, and in some cases, fresh out of luck.  It hurts our wallets and our hearts. We worry not just for ourselves, but for the clients that we have served in earnest for so long. We want so desperately to continue helping, but our industries are not safe to operate in. Our industries are closed for the greater good and health of our clients and ourselves. And as we reflect, we face the hard truth that while our clients may personally value us and our work, clearly the society we reside in and serve does not – at least, not enough to ensure that we too are cared for and that our resource needs are met during these uncertain days.

            Still, not all hope is lost. Some of us lightworkers are finding innovative ways to continue performing our vocations. Many yoga and fitness instructors, including myself, are teaching virtual classes via platforms like Zoom and Instagram Live. I have been teaching four to five free community classes per week via Zoom to an audience comprised of most of my normal students. On the financial front, some of my students have contributed donations for these classes via Venmo which has been nice. More importantly, it has been a rewarding experience to see my students’ faces, hear their voices, and still be able to lead them through a yoga flow. My students have expressed immense gratitude for my continued teaching in this time which provides them with a way to move their bodies and clear their heads as well as evoke some sense of normalcy in a season in which nothing feels normal. Additionally, one of the corporate companies I contract for as a mindfulness and meditation instructor has decided to expand the program I normally lead solely at their Southern California branch and roll it out nationwide with virtual sessions, allowing me to reach even more people across our country. And again, I am not alone. Lightworkers are leading virtual classes and support groups, performing “distance reiki”, creating online mindfulness courses and workbooks, and much more.

            Yet for as wonderful as these new ways of performing our vocations, the innovative ventures some of us lightworkers are pursuing are still insufficient for us on fiscal and energetic levels. Furthermore, these alternative paths for virtual work are not accessible for all lightworkers who do not have the necessary technological savvy or for those whose modalities simply cannot be offered virtually – an older meditation teacher may not know how to operate Zoom for a virtual class and a massage therapist simply cannot work unless they are physically present with a client. For those of us who do have virtual offerings, there is a heightened level of competition present between us. None of us want to recognize this truth, for as empaths we want everyone to succeed, but when it comes down to earning the money we need to pay our rents and put food on the table, we cannot help but realize we want and need students to be taking our own classes and making donations to us. And so, us lightworkers find ourselves in a paradoxical time. We want to help our communities and we want our comrades to succeed in doing so too, yet we often cannot help our communities and realize that some primal part of ourselves we wish we could ignore desires our own success and survival at a greater tier than we have before. All of this has created the overwhelming sensation of being lost.

            Although, while the reality is that we are facing a uniquely challenging time comprised of loss of resources, lack of support, and daily fulfill-able purpose, us lightworkers will never truly stop. It is true that the current pandemic has us feeling unstable, uncared for by the crumbling social structures in this country, and confused about exactly how we fit into the world at this time, but something that we possess is a potent, undying drive to do good in the world. While we may endure moments of fear, scarcity, and hopelessness, we will ultimately return back to our inner truths that we simply want the best for all and want to play some part in that. At the end of the day, lightworkers will find our way back to ourselves and strive to do our work no matter what. Even if all we can do is meditate and pray for the well-being of the larger collective that is what we will do. We are lost in this time, but we are still here, and we are still trying.

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