Author Archives for johnnylapasta

About johnnylapasta

Foodie. Yogi. Reader. Writer. Adventurer. Lover.

Consciously Optimistic

At the beginning of the California stay-at-home mandate in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I wrote about my choice to remain cautiously hopeful. I wrote about my acknowledgement and acceptance of this moment in history as uncertain, uncomfortable, challenging, and scary, but that I would continue on as a writer, as a teacher, as a creative, as a smiler, as a laugher, as a lover. I maintain this stance; over the past month I have continued to produce art with my written words, I have continued to teach yoga and meditation, I have continued to smile, to laugh, and to love, and I am not stopping any of this anytime soon. Yet, if I am to be honest I must express that I too, like many, have had my moments and days of doubt, dread, and darkness. I have felt anxiety tighten my chest, stress crinkle my forehead, and tears fill my eyes. And all of that is perfectly alright.

            I have been an optimist all of my life. From childhood to present, I have always been the one to find the silver lining, to look onward and upward with faith and hope, and to get right back up when knocked down. I am still very much this way; it is who I innately am. There is, however, a sizeable difference in how I play the role of optimist now. I was once a blind optimist – someone who denied the extent or even the existence of the problem, the darkness, and even the truth in favor of remaining positive. While my seemingly invincible positivity was a quality many people around me admired, my years have since taught me that there is a fundamental flaw in blind optimism.  Blind optimism does not leave space to experience the valid feelings and emotions of loss, anger, fear, and sadness that are all part of the human experience. It bypasses the necessary step of processing what we feel and experience which ultimately allows us to learn and to grow. When we are blindly optimistic, we effectively limit our life experience, hinder our own growth and evolution, and ultimately trap ourselves into storing up issues and emotions that we never fully deal with which often leads to their resurfacing and causing more problems later down the path. Furthermore, we may inadvertently invalidate other’s real and true feelings and emotions in our denial of their presence.

            Thus, I have learned to be a conscious optimist – someone who acknowledges and accepts the heavy, the hard, and the dark. Someone who sits in the discomfort and wades through the challenge. Someone who allows time to process, to understand, and to learn. Someone who fully acknowledges and holds space for the experiences of others. And someone who after all of that still makes their way back to optimism. I continue to be an optimist, a seeker of the silver lining, a believer in the best, a holder of hope for a greater world, but I also allow myself the time and the space to feel what arises from the shadows.

            In this time of quarantine, I have had to face a myriad of feelings and emotions from the shadows. I have experienced worry and anxiety revolving around my finances as 75% of my income has suddenly come to a grinding halt and the process of applying for unemployment is confusing and unstable. I have felt the fear of my older relatives and vulnerable friends contracting the virus and struggling to defeat it. I have experienced anger at our government for how they have handled this pandemic and for the structures they have built that are now failing the vast majority of us. I have felt the loss of not being able to perform my vocation of teaching at the same caliber that I once did. I have experienced frustration of being forced to remain inside when everything in me wants to be out in the world. I have felt the intense missing of my sister, my extended family, and my dearest friends whom I am uncertain about when I will see and embrace again. I have had my moments and my days of feeling overwhelmed by the present situation and an almost desperate desire to break free of it.

            For as positive as I remain, I am not invincible to these feelings and emotions; none of us are. Sometimes, they are very present with me and demand my full undivided attention for a few hours or even a few days. And again, this is perfectly okay. The days we are living now are hard; perhaps some of the hardest we will ever know in our lifetime. As these days continue, we are all going to feel an intense array of emotions and all handle them differently. The truth of the matter is there is no right or wrong way to feel or be in this time. Whatever you are feeling is valid, however much time you need to be in that feeling is more than acceptable, whatever you need to do to cope and process that feeling is fine (so long as your coping strategy does not cause harm to yourself or others). Allow yourself the space to really experience every sensation and emotion that is coming up for you in this unique circumstance. Allow yourself to sit with it and understand. And when you feel ready, move on from it with the wisdom that you have gained from processing it.

            In the age of social media, there is a big push by individuals, influencers, and brands to remain overtly positive during this pandemic. There is nobility to that sentiment. As I said, I am remaining mostly positive and continue to hope for the best, am actively looking for silver linings, and continue to practice gratitude for what I do have. The caveat is that I do not and will not remain positive at the expense of denying and belittling the real and true feelings of anxiety, worry, doubt, anger, and sadness that do at times arise in me. I cannot ignore what is present in my brain and in my heart. And I absolutely will not tell others to ignore and invalidate their own unique feelings for the sake of positivity. In truth, positivity is stronger and more potent when we have returned to it after going on an inward journey through the dark rather than taking a mental vacation in which we ignore the fact that anything other than the pleasant is present. I am often positive, but not always. I am usually grateful, but sometimes cannot find the will to be so. I am typically hopeful, but I too experience doubt. And this goes for all of us who wear the title of optimist. And in this time that is so uncertain, so challenging, so scary, I am feeling all the feels – the good and the bad, the light and the shadow, the yin and the yang. And if you are too, that’s more than okay.

YouTube Classes

Made for YouTube Vinyasa Flow and Restorative Yin Yoga Classes


In this 35 minute class, I guide you through a short and sweet Vinyasa flow with a full body emphasis you can squeeze into your busy day! Level: Intermediate-Advanced Emphasis: Full body. Postures: Mountain, Crescent Lunge, Exalted Warrior, Warrior 2, Tree, Boat Pose. Music – Any music you like!


In this hour long class, we check in on our foundations and ground down to build and rise upward.
Duration: 1 hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Core, legs, arms.
Postures: Warrior 1, Revolved Triangle, Wide Legged Forward Fold.
Playlist: YouTube/Zoom Yoga – Burn – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1Bw… Song Placement: “Fading” by Shallou for when we flow Sun A unguided, “I Feel You” by Sol Kaskade for building Sun B, “Shades” by Tchami for flowing Sun B, “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, “..Last Day” by Shallou for cool down, “New Endings” by Bon Vie for Savasanha.


In this hour long class, we aim to release tension from our bodies, minds, and hearts while also doing the necessary hard work to be successful achieving that sweet release. Prepare for a juicy class that gets into all those tight, tense areas of the body as well as a good sweat too!
Duration: 1 hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, front line, back line, and side lines
Postures: Wild Thing, Half Moon, Chipasana
Playlist: YouTube/Zoom Yoga – Funky – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/35g… Song Placement: “Heal Me” by Lady Gaga for when we flow Sun A unguided, “The Journey” by Sol Rising for building Sun B, “Can You Feel It” by Boehm for flowing Sun B, “Say a Prayer for Me” by Rufus Du Sol for Core, “Electric” by Alina Baraz feat. Khalid for cool down, “Immunity” by Jon Hopkins for Savasanha.


In this 30 minute class, we softly move to and from gentle restorative postures to release tension from various spaces in the body and promote relaxation. This mini class perfectly integrates into a more rigorous exercise and vinyasa yoga regime, allowing you the opportunity to slow down and rejuvenate.
Level: All-Levels
Emphasis: Full body, back, chest, shoulders, hips
Postures: Supported Child’s Pose, Puppy Pose, Butterfly Forward Fold, Supported Fish, Easy Twists, Legs Up the Wall
Playlist: YouTube/Zoom Yoga – Restore https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1Qz…
Song Placement: Simply play from beginning to end.


In this hour long class, we connect to constant source of strength, power, and light that we all have within us and use that to move through challenges. Just as clouds are temporary to the sky, our struggles and challenges are temporary to us, we will always get through them and back to the sun.
Duration: 1 hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Full body, shoulders, hips
Postures: Stargazer, Airplane, Revolved Dancers
Playlist: “YouTube/Zoom Yoga – Astral”
Song Placement: “Breathe Deep” by July Child is for when we flow Sun A unguided. “Take Me Higher” by Sol Rising is for when we are building Sun B. “Love Can Only Change You” by Sol Rising is for when we flow Sun B. “Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga is for when we do core. “Stargazer” by Sol Rising is for when we cool down starting in Swan Pose. “Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow” by Hammock is for Savasana.


In this 50 minute class, I invite you to find patience for the situation and for yourself, to find your strength to work through challenges, and to find your breath to keep calm as you navigate the journey.
Duration: 50 minutes
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Full body, core, shoulders, and back.
Postures: Handstand, Warrior 3, Airplane
Playlist: “YouTube/Zoom Yoga – Edgy” – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6lX1VfYkDp57Id8gsSgApZ?si=dLBh4vgKS_iRc4FTTUygAQ
“Back Down” by Bob Moses is intended for when we flow Sun A twice through without guidance. “Tearing Me Up” by Bob Moses is intended for when we build Sun B. “Underwater” by Rufus Du Sol is intended for when we flow Sun B. “You Were Right” by Rufus Du Sol is intended for when we do Core. “Southern Sea” by Garth Stevenson is intended for Savasana.


In this hour long class, I invite you to feel and experiencing everything that comes up for you in your body, your mind, and your heart. I encourage to keep breathing through the easy and good, the hard and the dark, and continue the journey.
Duration: 1 Hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Fully Body + Hips Peak Postures: Flying Squirrel, Horizon Lunge, Crow


In this hour long class, I invite you to accept where you are and what you are experiencing, trust the process you are working through, and trust your own self to find your way.
Duration: 1 Hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Full Body + Core
Postures: Side Crow, Revolved Crescent Lunge, Prayer Twist, Revolved 1 Legged Mountain


In this hour long class, I invite you to make the choice to bloom where you are planted, even if you find yourself in a space that feels difficult to bloom and flourish in. Recognize that you have what it takes to rise up and add beauty to the world where you are and as you are.
Duration: 1 Hour
Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Emphasis: Full Body, Hips, Core
Postures: Birds of Paradise, Wild Thing, Side Lunge


Quarantine Reading Round-Up of Johnny La Pasta

With at least another month of quarantine ahead of us, we all have even more time to watch movies and binge television shows, listen to podcasts and stream music, and of course, read! I am rounding up some of my favorite pieces that I have ever written in case you are interested in exploring some writing by Johnny La Pasta! See the options below!


Mindfulness & Spirituality

Manifestation: There’s Something to It

My story of working and experiencing success with the concept of manifestation. It’s an allusive force, but one that can be powerful and real.
Read the full piece here.

Making Waves

Exploring the quotation: “Your thoughts and words are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to grow and expand outward. The power you have to make impact on the world is far greater than you could ever image.”
Read the full piece here.

Let it Go

A discussion about doing your best, whatever that is, accepting where that gets you, and then letting go and finding peace.
Read the full piece here.

Today’s Gratitude’s and Tomorrow’s Visions

A mindfulness practice I have that you might find useful to take up during this time.
Read the full piece here.

Fulfilled

Fulfilled was published on Elephant Journal and discusses our deep desire to do work that fulfills the missions of our souls.
Read the full piece here.


Cultural Criticisms

Choosing Life Over Loans

A discussion of the absurdity of the student loan crisis in the United States and a call to action to still live your life loud and proud even if you have student loans.
Read the full piece here.

Being Whole On Your Own

Exploring the importance of find wholeness on your own before entering into a relationship.
Read the full piece here.

Rome is Burning: A Misguided Mentality of Corporate America

My observation of Corporate America and the absurd and disproportionate reactions that executives and the like have to minor problems in the scheme of the world. Something that will definitely have to change after this pandemic.
Read the full piece here.


Yoga & Fitness

Mantra Intention

Choosing a mantra to move with through your yoga and/or meditation practices.
Read the full piece here.

Fun Yoga Transitions

For yoga instructors and advanced practitioners, a break down of fun transitions to play with in your yoga practice!
Read the full piece here.

Creating a Yoga Playlist

For yoga instructors and home practitioners, I detail my process for creating a dope-ass-fire yoga playlist!
Read the full piece here.

8 Things Fit People Do

An overview of some of the practices that fit people do. Some are practical for incorporating now, others maybe more so later on.
Read the full piece here.


Recipes

Pastas:

Since we are all stocking up on food and cooking at home, we are all probably eating a bit more pasta these days. Below are 3 of my favorite pasta recipes that would be great for this time. Easily swap and substitute ingredients as you prefer.

Pasta Primavera

Easy Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Soups:

Soups are another good option for stretching supplies and making in big batches to feed a lot of people or freeze. Here a few of my favorite recipes.

Johnny’s Tomato Soup

Vegan Caulifower & Red Bean Chili

Honey Roasted Carrot & Parsnip Soup

Other Recipes

Shepherd’s Pie

This is a great recipe to make a big dish of and feed a big family or divide and freeze to eat later on.

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

Make a big batch of this chicken to have with rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, in salads, and beyond! Will freeze well too!

Johnny’s Frittata

A good breakfast that can feed you for 2-3 days.

Vegan Cauliflower Steak Marsala


Travel

Traveling Solo

A discussion about my experiences with traveling alone and the pros and cons that come with solo adventures.
Read the full piece here.

How Travel Can Be a Practice in Presence, Mindfulness, & Joy

Published on Elephant Journal, this piece a discusses how travel can be an avenue to becoming more present and to discovering much about the world and ourselves.
Read the full piece here.

Adventure to Paris & Munich 2015

A recap of my time exploring Paris and Munich during one of my solo travel adventures.
Read the full piece here.

Vancouver Travel Guide

My travel guide for the amazing city of Vancouver, British Columbia!
Read the full piece here.


COVID-19 Specific Pieces

Cautiously Hopeful

At the start of the quarantine in California, I reflect on the challenges of this unique time and maintain that I remain cautiously hopeful.
Read the full piece here.

Confined Contemplations

Questions I am asking myself and reflecting on in this time of quarantine. If interested, grab a journal and work with some of these questions on your own.
Read the full piece here.

Keep It Moving, Quarantine!

Suggestions and instructions for moving your body while stuck inside in this quarantine!
Read the full piece here!


I hope that you find some useful information, inspiration, and/or entertainment in these pieces. If you enjoy, feel free to like, comment, and share!

Confined Contemplations

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to shake the foundations of our world and change our lives on a daily, updating basis, I find myself contemplating a myriad of topics, thoughts, and emotions. As quarantine forces me into a state of stillness, I am allowing myself the opportunity to reflect deeply on the following. These questions were developed uniquely for me, but if they resonate with you as well, I encourage you to reflect on them and perhaps even journal about them.

What do I miss that I had access to before but do not have access to now?

What are the things that I do not have access to anymore, but do not miss?

What did I have access to before that I realize I did not take full advantage of now that it is no longer available to me?

What parts of my busy routine do I miss and that I feel were serving me well?

What parts of my busy routine do I not miss and which parts do I feel were not serving me well?

What did I once deem necessary and vital that may not seem so important anymore?

What practices have I taken up in this time of isolation and quarantine that are positive? Which ones are negative?

Who do I miss seeing on a regular basis?

Who do I not miss seeing?

Who have I connected with more deeply in the wake of this pandemic that I want to maintain a greater connection with when this is over?

Who in my life has changed in my eyes, for better or for worse, based on how they have reacted to this pandemic?

If I had a giant house and could take in 20 friends and family members for quarantine, who would make up those 20 people?

Overall, how have I responded to this pandemic?

In what ways have I handled this pandemic positively? In what ways have I handled this pandemic negatively?

What have I learned in the past few years of inner growth that I am actively applying to this situation?

What have I learned in the past few years of inner growth that I could stand to apply to this situation?

What types of stress have I experienced from this pandemic?

Where has the stress of this time resonated in my body?

What coping strategies have helped me to cope with this stress?

Am I being of service to others in this time?

How can I be of more service to my community and the world right now?

What lessons am I learning in this time as a person?

What lessons are we learning in this time as a collective?

What have I already learned in this time that I want to take with me into the future?

Universe/God/etc – Where would you have me go? What would you have me say? What would you have me do?

Goli Nutrition Gummies

This is a sponsored post done in partnership with Goli Nutrition

I am excited to tell you about Goli Nutrition Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies! Goli’s slogan is “Finally, a delicious way to take Apple Cider Vinegar!” and it could not be more true! ⁣

We all know that Apple Cider Vinegar is healthy AF – it’s packed with vitamins like B9 & B12, helps maintain a heart health and good cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, promotes healthy digestion, and maintains clear skin. Especially right now, ACV is fantastic for boosting our immune systems, so we need to be taking it more than ever. ⁣

Unfortunately, straight ACV tastes like poison even though its medicine. But Goli’s gummies make getting your daily dose of ACV tasty and fun! The gummies are like little fruity gushers – take one after every meal as a treat for my taste buds and a boost for my body. ⁣

And truthfully, Goli checks out as a completely legit nutritional supplement – they are not just pretending for a quick profit. The Goli gummies are:

  • 100% organic
  • Vegan
  • Geltatin-free
  • Non-gmo
  • Free of fillers and preservatives
  • Free of artificial sweeteners and flavors
  • Free of corn syrup and fructose.
  • It’s all good!⁣

If you are interested in more ACV in your life and want it to taste good, then I highly recommend Goli! You can get 5% off your first order with my code JOHNNYLAPASTA. Head to the link below to order today!

Goli Nutrition Website

Keep It Moving, Quarantine

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all spending a lot more time cooped up inside our homes. This forced period of isolation can result in a lot of sitting, lounging, and general lack of movement. Even for those who typically sit at a desk in an office all day may find themselves even more sedentary than normal as need to commute to and from the building, walk to get lunch or coffee, or migrate to different offices for meetings are all eliminated. While social distancing and quarantine offer us the opportunity to slow down and to rest, it is still important to continue moving and exercising our bodies to maintain our best possible health. Studies have shown that sedentary behavior is linked to a variety of health issues including high blood pressure and a heightened risk for over 30 chronic diseases and conditions. So clearly, we are species that needs to be moving and doing so often.  

 In this piece, I am sharing with you some ideas for how you can move your body, in addition to regular exercise, throughout your days in quarantine! You do not need any special equipment or large amounts of space. There are plenty of ways to move your body throughout the day and maintain your health.

Regular Exercise

 Before I go any further, I want to stress the importance of continuing to get regular exercise every day. I am defining “regular exercise” as 30 minutes or more of consistent movement – walking, yoga, pilates, weight training, kick boxing, etc. There are thousands of coaches, teachers, studios, and gyms online right now providing resources, instruction, and tips for how to continue exercising during this time. There are online yoga, pilates, and HITT classes, there are sample body weight and cardio routines, there are full, well rounded at home programs to follow. I suggest exploring your options, choosing what works for you, and striving to do regular exercise for a minimum of the 30 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week.

 Now for the remainder of this piece, I want to offer ways in which you can move your body throughout your quarantine days in addition to the “regular exercise” discussed above. Once again, we will be finding ourselves more sedentary in the coming weeks, and so getting creative and dynamic with movement throughout your day is key.

Movement Breaks

 Again, you may find yourself sitting and lounging for hours on end. While stillness and rest are great, we are a species built for movement and ignoring that fact can lead to a myriad of health problems. According to Healthline.com, sitting for extended periods of time everyday can lead to weakened leg and glute muscles, tight hips and back, weight gain, a heightened risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and can instigate and/or exacerbate anxiety and depression. Thus, we are encouraged to move, to move dynamically, and do so often.

So, I propose incorporating “Movement Breaks” throughout your days in quarantine. Set a recurring timer for every 1.5 – 2 hours, and when it goes off, stand up and do one of the following:

1 minute of Push-Ups

  • Maintain pectoral, arm, and back strength
  • Try different variations like:
    • Wide Arm
    • Narrow Arm
    • Diamond Hands
    • Claps

1 minute of Squats

  • Strengthen glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and more
  • Try different variations like:
    •  Standard Squats
    • Hamstring Curls
    • Calf Raises
    • Lateral Raises
    • 1 Legged Twists
    • Squat Jumps

1 minute of Lunges

  • Strengthen legs, glutes, and more
  • Try different variations like:
    • Backward Lunges
    • Forward Lunges
    • Side Lunges
    • Switch Lunges

1 minute of shoulder taps or army crawlers

  • Strengthen arms, shoulders, pectorals, and back as well as practice coordination

1 minute of mountain climbers, plank jacks, burpees, or jumping jacks

  • Strengthen a variety of muscles groups while incorporating plyometric and cardiovascular exercise

Dance Break!

  • Incorporating a cardio burst into your day and have some fun!
  • Put on your favorite pop, R&B, or hip hop song and dance to it for the full 3-4 minutes.
  • This is my personal favorite!

Choreography

  • Find a choreographer/dance instructor on YouTube and learn the choreography dances from some of your favorite performers like Britney Spears, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and more!
  • This leads to a full cardio workout as well as coordination exercise and can be a fun group activity!

Walks

  • While we still have the privilege to take walks through the neighborhood, consider taking multiple 15-20 minutes throughout your neighborhood and enjoy the fresh air!
  • Be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from any other passerby.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions for keeping your bodies moving in this unique time! Cannot wait to see you all again when we are out of this!

Virtual Yoga with Johnny La Pasta

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to yoga studio closures, I will be offering virtual yoga classes via Zoom for my students and anyone else who would like to join!

Classes are completely FREE! I simply want to connect with my students during this unique time.

If you would like to make a donation for class, you can Venmo me @Johnny-Newnes

See the updating schedule and RSVP via the Google invites below


Zoom:
https://zoom.us/j/7950920452
Meeting ID: 795 092 0452
Password: 022891


I hope to see you all there! Namaste!

Cautiously Hopeful

Fear. Scarcity. Panic. These are the emotions, sensations, and reactions I have felt myself being invited into over the past week as my awareness of the news, discussions, and energies circulating around me has heightened. After finally accepting that a forced quarantine may be eminent, my best friend and I rushed out to the grocery stores to procure two weeks’ worth of food and supplies for ourselves and our closest loved ones. We went to the stores in good spirits, laughing that we were “apocalypse ready!” Upon seeing the empty shelves and freezer bins at Trader Joe’s, however, a sinking feeling overwhelmed my chest and I watched as my mind took a mini spiral into the primal mentality of scarcity. “Where will we get the food? How will I provide for my older mother? Will I need to fight for this?” I quickly pulled myself back up and out of the spiral, returning to the present, and redirecting my mind into the state of security and abundance I strive to operate from. Yet, I could not help but be astounded by how the present events are influencing our thoughts and feelings.

            The worry and concern I see on the faces of the people who pass me is clear. The fear in the eyes of the friends I speak to about the current situation is apparent. The energy of hysteria that radiates from the news and the society around me is palpable. As a person of privilege, I have never experienced anything quite like this; the worry about not having enough resources, the concern about not being able to seek and receive treatment if sick, the discomfort of not being able to work and maintain income. I realize now that in my twenty-nine years of life I have witness history unfolding: 9/11, the “war on terrorism”, the first black president of the United States, the first female almost-present of the United States, a world superpower divided over an election, and now this world-wide pandemic with no clear ending. In addition to 9/11, this piece of history in particular is impacting all us in immediate and tangible ways. It is a scary and all around interesting event to be a part of. 

            I myself am not fearful of the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a yoga and fitness instructor with a highly nutritious diet and with a genetically strong immune system, I feel confident that I would be asymptotic if I were to contract it, or if I did they would be mild and short lived. Additionally, experts say that 80% or more of the population that contract the virus will experience mild flu like symptoms for a short period of time. Based on the research I have done, I do believe this virus is more mild than the media is playing it up to be in their headlines and do feel that many are over reacting about the severity of the virus. That said, I am still deeply concerned about it. I am concerned for those with compromised immune systems that could potentially experience a severe bout of the illness. I am concerned for the elderly population who seem to be taking the brunt of this illness – my own grandparents are ninety and eighty-eight and I fear for them. I am concerned for those whose contracting the virus could potentially be serious and even deadly.

            Furthermore, this pandemic has brought to light the fragility of our economic system in America. Across various sectors, businesses have slowed exceptionally or come to complete grinding halts. Those taking the brunt of the business losses are the workers at and toward the bottom of the totem pole – the hourly workers, the workers that have to be physically present at their job site in order to earn income, the freelancers whose clients have stopped calling and booking. A large part of the panic and fear we are seeing in society is coming from those who realize that in the event of a shutdown that they will not be able to attend work, earn money, and will most likely not be supported with any sort of temporary severance package or cushion funding from their companies. Pair all of that with the fact that a potential quarantine means a large upfront cost to stock up on food and supplies for an extended period and we are looking at a lot of money lost and un-replenished for some.  And this is all before we add on healthcare costs if someone in these circumstances does become sick. For those without savings or familial support, this is a deeply uncomfortable and scary time.

            It is a tale as old as time, those at the top maintain stability, at least financially, during this pandemic, while those at the bottom face hardship and ruin. For me, it has enhanced my belief that we need more human-based systems of economy and business here in the United States. Companies need to commit to taking care of their loyal employees in case of a crisis like this – CEOs should cut profits and reallocate funds or else should forgo their own seven or eight figure salaries for six months in order to pay their bottom workers’ bare minimum cost of living expenses for two weeks to a month in the event that they are not allowed to work. The government should be allocating funds to be accessed by the people for food, supplies, and rent in the event of a shutdown. At present, our system supports a “survival of the fittest” mentality, with the fittest having an often unjust upper hand.  Moreover, if the dropping economy is causing such mayhem, why can’t we temporarily cancel the economy like we are everything else? Call me a naïve millennial, but as an old soul who has been around the track a few times, I just prioritize things a little differently.

             At any rate, we are experiencing a situation that is uncomfortable and frightening. The virus is a problem and it is multiplying into various other problems across different sectors and arenas. This is all very real. The heavy emotions and sensations we are experiencing around this are true and valid. Let me state that again – what you are feeling is valid. That said, we do not have to be consumed or driven by this darkness. We do not have to feed into the fear and let it define our lives over the coming weeks or months. To be clear, feeling worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, or fearful is not wrong or bad; these are all part of the human experience. We can certainly be cautious, we can plan and prepare, but what I am saying is that we can do all of this while holding onto hope. Events and concerts may be canceled, school may be canceled, work may be canceled. What is not canceled, however, is our ability to smile and to laugh, our ability to be generous and kind, our ability to create light even in the darkest of darks.

            I am fully aware of the potential hardships and dangers ahead. We have to accept that the coming weeks and maybe even months ahead will be challenging, uncertain, and uncomfortable; there is no denying it or escaping it. You may feel worried, concerned, anxious, scarce, and fearful – this is not bad, this all part of the human experience. I encourage you to honor the way you are feeling, sit with it, experience it in full, and understand it. Just remember, that these are not the only emotions you will ever feel again. I offer you the perspective that this too shall pass and does not have to define your inner world. I will feel all of the emotions as well, but I will continue to smile, I will continue to laugh, I will continue to help and to aid, I will continue to sing, I will continue to write, I will continue to create. The best of me will not be canceled, the best of me will continue in full power mode and I will do the good I can with that.

            Right now, the world is tempting us to react; to react in panic, with scarcity, with defeat, and with fear. But we do not have to. Instead, we can respond. We can respond with cautious optimism. We can respond with peaceful progress. We can respond with intuitive positivity. We can respond with hope, faith, trust, and love. The coming weeks and months may be challenging, but please remember, we are in this together. Rather than dividing in the fall, let’s unite in the rise. I love you, my friends.

Creating a Yoga Playlist

In the modern, western yoga world, music has become as much a focal point of the classes we take as the sequences and messages being taught within them. Music is a powerful art form that has the ability to create an environment and a vibration within a yoga class that can elevate our experience of it to the next level. Music is a big part of my teaching and the craft of creating yoga playlists is something I am very passionate about and enjoy greatly. Humbly, I receive a lot of positive feedback on my playlists and am often asked for advice, tips, and tricks on how to create a phenomenal yoga playlist. So today, I am sharing my process and perspective for creating a yoga playlist!

1. Music is personal

The first thing to keep in mind when creating a yoga playlist is to remember this: like any art, music is personal. While there are some standard dos and don’ts, at the end of the day there is no completely solid right or wrong way to create a yoga playlist. Teach to music that is true to you and moves you physically and emotionally. Dis-concern yourself with whether or not your students will like the songs and artists you play.  As long as the playlist is authentic to you and your style, it will land properly and students will appreciate it. You do you!

2. Music supports, not competes

While music has become a big focal point in yoga classes, do remember that THE YOGA is still the leading star. Your music should support the yoga you are teaching, it should not distract you or your students away from it. Think about a film soundtrack: it helps to add emotion and energy to the scenes in the film but the actors delivering their lines are still at the heart and center telling the story. If you feel that your music is overpowering you, speeding you up, or slowing you down, then you may consider revising. You should feel like your music is scoring your class in sync with your own rhythm, words, and energy. When it clicks, you will know.

3. Genre

Again, music is subjective and personal. When you set out to build a playlist, you can really dabble into any genre that resonates with you. In general, the genres that we are currently hearing the most in yoga classes are alternative and alternative electronic pop, chill wave, synth wave, and folk. Within these genres you may commonly hear some of the following artists: Odesza, Sol Rising, East Forest, MC Yogi, Flume, and Trevor Hall, just to name a few.   

I think that these genres and these artists are a great place to start when diving into building a yoga playlist for the first time, but you are free to explore all possibilities. I have been to classes where all the music is late 60’s/early 70’s rock n’ roll or 90’s R&B or completely Bollywood. As long as the genres feel right for you and the environment you are striving to create, then you are good to go!

4. Style & Feel

When I build a playlist, I strive to create a playlist that sounds and feels like a cohesive body of work. I like all the songs to have uniting elements to them. This often means using songs from the same or similar genres or else looking for other qualities that connect the feel of the music. 

For example, in my playlists:

  • Yoga 22 – Edgy- the majority of the songs include deep, heavy beats, guitar riffs, and metallic effects.
  • Yoga 18- Tropical – the majority of the songs have qualities indicative of summertime in the tropics, in this case, the use of steel drums is prominent throughout.
  • Yoga 7-Celtic – the majority of the songs include a lot of violin and harp strings playing rifts we often associate with Celtic culture from what we see in television and in film.

While there are various artists throughout the playlists, the songs fit together, flowing into each other with an organic feel. I tend to avoid jumping from one extreme genre to another without a natural progression in between. Imagine that you are a music artist creating a new album and you have a certain feel you want for the album – that’s the mindset I put myself in when creating a playlist.

5. Temp & Energy

Obviously, we want the tempo, energy, and feel of the music to match what we are doing in the yoga practice at any given point. When we are warming up and cooling down, we want slower, calmer music. When we are flowing a Sun Salutation or building into a challenging strength series, we want more upbeat, powerful music. You want your music to build and dip in all the right places. Think about how you sequence a yoga class:

  • what parts are slower and steadier?
  • what parts are faster and more challenging?
  • what parts are meditative?

Try to align the rhythm of your music with the rhythm of your class.

See the chart below. On left you will see the various sections of a standard vinyasa yoga class. On the right are adjectives that should match up with your music in these sections.

For example: “soft” means more gentle, calm music, “strong & bright” means more upbeat and fast paced, “steady” means there is a strong beat to the music without being too fast or slow.

How to Build a Yoga Playist - for yoga teachers and practitioners

6. Buffer & Layer

The hard truth is that you are rarely going to create a playlist where the exact song you want for a certain section of class starts and ends at exactly the right time. For example, you might only envision a specific song for Sun B, but there is a high possibility that song is not going to start right as you begin Sun B, and it may not last the entire Sun B either. The solution here is to layer songs that work in this section of class.

For example, in my playlists, I have 1 or 2 songs I intend to be played during Sun B. However, there is an additional song before and after the intended song(s) which give me some space if it takes us longer to start and end Sun B.  Additionally, buffering and layering in this way gives you some more versatility in your playlist! Perhaps you play one of the Sun B songs one week and the other the next to keep the same playlist feeling fresh and new for your students.

7. The Process

Once again, music is subjective and personal, and so is the process of creating with music. You may have a creative process that works for you already, and that is fantastic! Here, I will simply share what works for me and some of my trainees that have resonated with this process.

1. Think of the “vibe” you want for your playlist

  • This can be based off of a song or 2 you have recently discovered or something more abstract you have dreamed up in your head.

2. Identify 1-2 songs to start the build of your new playlist

  • Drop them into a folder or a playlist in whatever system you are using

3. Discover more songs that fit with your original 1-2 songs

  • Find songs in similar genres and by similar artists
  • Find songs with different tempos from slow to fast
  • Drop them all into the folder or playlist at random
  • I recommend 16-20 songs for an hour long yoga class
  • Pro-Tip: Streaming Platforms like Spotify make it easy to discover more artists and songs similar to the one already in your playlist with their Suggested Song feature.

4 – Determine where the songs should be placed

  • This where we get artsy!
  • Listen to your playlist on shuffle, hearing each song intently.
  • Ask yourself: “Where does it go?”
    • Do you envision it playing while flowing Sun B? Or working through a Strength series? Or while Integrating or Restoring? Wherever you imagine it working best, drag the song to the front, middle, or back where it will line up with yoga sequence.
  • Once you have arranged the songs in a general order you think will work, listen to the playlist straight thru from beginning to end. Ask yourself: “Does it work?”
    • Does anything need to be adjusted? What needs to be changed? Do you need to flip a song or two? Adjust as needed.
    • Is anything missing? What needs to be added?
  • “Finalize” your playlist

5 – Use your playlist!

  • Teach class with your playlist and see how it works!
  • You may find that the playlist is perfect!
  • You also may find that a few aspects do not work quite as well as you imagined. Make a mental note of these aspects so you can adjust later.

8. Have Fun!

How lucky are we as yoga instructors that we get to make playlists as part of our jobs? It’s an awesome aspect of our job, so I believe we should enjoy it. Take yourself seriously and put effort into your playlist, yes, but also remember this is meant to be a fun part of our role as instructors, so make sure it is as such.

My fellow yoga instructors, I hope that you have found this article helpful or at least intriguing! Let me know what works for you and what does not as I am always open to hearing different perspectives and learning!

Happy Playlist Making!

Traveling Solo

If you know me, you know that one of my passions in life is travel. Travel has always held an enchanting allure for me. Even as a child, I would watch the Travel Channel and dream of visiting the places and having the experiences I saw the hosts of the show enjoying. My parents always talked about their dreams of travel, but they made it to a sad few of their destinations; I decided that I would not allow myself to not reach my destinations. So in my early twenties, I decided to start traveling to my destinations at least once per year; that commitment lasts to this day.

Now, when it comes to travel, I have found that it is often hard to organize and get other humans to commit to adventure. Unfortunately, I have met many people who have not traveled simply because they have been unable to secure friends and family to travel with them. I decided early on that I would not allow myself to be dissuaded from travel if my friends or family could not come with me because of work, money, etc, which is why I have opted to travel alone several times throughout my wanerlusting career.

In fact, as I write this I am on a solo trip through the beautiful country of Greece. As I wander around this historically and culturally rich land on my own, I am reminded of the challenges and discomforts, the opportunities for growth, and the joy that traveling solo can bring. And it is these things I feel compelled to share about with you today.

Pros & Cons of Traveling Solo

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Temple of Apollo, Naxos, Greece

Pro – King/Queen of Your Own World

When you travel alone, you are beholden to no one and free to make your own decisions without question or consultation. There is no compromise about what you want to see or do, there is no discussion about if this or that restaurant sounds good for a meal, there is no waiting on someone else to finish getting ready. Rather, you wait only on yourself, you do what you want to do, you go where you want to go, and you eat what you want to eat. Traveling solo may be one of the most independent experiences you may ever have and it is truly liberating!

Traveling Solo

Con – Lack of Camaraderie

It is liberating to answer to no one, but while traveling solo there are moments where you may wish you had a friend or ally. In uncomfortable situations when you are unsure of what your next move is or you are confused about how to navigate somewhere, you might long for a friend or significant other to be in the situation with you – helping you to figure it out and assuring you that no matter what, you are in it together. It is in these moments of discomfort during solo travel that feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming powerful. The only option you have is to breathe through the discomfort and find a solution on your own.

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Palace of Knossos, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Pro – Learning to Be More Self-Sufficient

In these moments of discomfort while traveling alone, you have no choice but to quickly learn how to problem solve. You are forced to go internal – to think critically, to think logically, and to use your intuition. It is through this process that immense growth occurs. You learn to remain calm in stressful situations, you learn to use your own brain to find the solution, and perhaps most profoundly, you learn to trust and believe in yourself to find a way and be okay.

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Filot, Naxos, Greece

Con – Dining Alone

I have heard many solo travelers talk about the awkwardness of going to a restaurant and dining alone.

It can be an experience that makes you feel totally isolated and it can also be more expensive as you do not have the option to share dishes. Here are some tips to make dining alone feel less awkward and actually be enjoyable:

  • Bring a book – I always bring a book to restaurants when I am dining alone. Reading can help you to feel more occupied and get you out of your head worrying about what other diners are thinking of you or just how alone you are. Enjoy reading in between bites of food and sips of wine. After awhile, it feels pleasurable to enjoy a meal alone with a good story.
  • Save some of your meal for later – I sometimes will eat half my meal at the restaurant and take the other have to-go (it’s called takeaway in Europe) to enjoy for lunch or dinner later on. Especially when I am in an Airbnb and have a means to reheat my dish, saving some of your meal is a great way to save money and time!
  • Connect with other diners – I have found that when dining alone, other restaurant guests will strike up conversation with you as they recognize you are alone. This can be a great opportunity for connection and even new friendship! You might even end up moving from your table to theirs to join them in the meal; it has happened to me more than once.
  • Reap the pity – When they realize I am traveling solo, some servers at restaurants seem to feel bad for me and thus gift me an extra glass of wine or a dessert on the house. I assure them that I am okay on my own, but I happily accept the complimentary glass or plate!

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Solo Dining in Chania, Crete

Pro- See more faster 

Traveling solo can often lend itself to seeing more on your itinerary more quickly, at least in my experience. Since you do not have to wait for another human to finish getting ready or coordinate with them in anyway, you are free to zip and skip around your destination and accomplish what you desire. Additionally, as a solo traveler, you are more likely to be let into popular attractions more quickly – it’s sort of like being a single rider at Disneyland.

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Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Con- No one to take your photos 

In the Instagram age, having your photo taken at beautiful and awe inspiring destinations is a must! But when you are alone, it can be a struggle to get that perfect shot. I typically hang out where I want a photo for a few minutes, identify a friendly looking stranger and ask them to take my photo. Some of my best travel photos have been taken by friendly strangers. However, you can’t expect them to take 20 different shots like you can with your bestie or S.O.

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Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Pro- Meet new friends

There is something magical that happens to humans when traveling – we seem to be more open and ready for new experience and connection. I have made new friends every time I have traveled, especially when I have traveled solo. From meeting a new group of friends on my tour of Italy with whom I still talk to to this day, to encountering my buddy Fabrizio and his family in Paris and going on to stay with him in Amsterdam 2 years later, to connecting with my new friends George and Selma on a SUP adventure in Crete and going to get dinner and drinks with them later on that night, to meeting my new friend Leela who offered me a ride down a mountain in Santorini to escape the sudden rain and then asking me to go wine tasting with her and her sister. It is these serendipitous connections that make a lasting impression and memory that cannot be forgotten.

The connections I have made while traveling have inspired me to be a more open, friendly person in my everyday life and have taught me just how much we as humans are looking for authentic connection through openness and vulnerability. Moving through life with this experienced knowledge is truly life altering.

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Partying with new friends at Paradise Beach in Mykonos

Pro – Experience the kindness of strangers

This goes along with meeting new friends. One of the most profound aspects of traveling solo is connecting with strangers and experiencing their kindness. As a solo traveler, you sometimes have no choice but to turn to strangers for support or help, and the responses you may receive can be amazing. I have received so much aid and so many blessings from strangers while traveling solo. It has affirmed my belief in the kindness of strangers and the inherent good that exists in our kind. The kindness I have received from strangers has helped to color my outlook on life.

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SUP in Crete with new friends, Chania, Crete

Pro – Learning to make peace with yourself

As you can imagine, traveling solo lends itself to, well, a lot of alone time. It is a “me, myself, and I” situation all around. When you are forced to sit with yourself for such long periods of time a great deal of self-reflection begins to take place. Self-reflection can me immensely uncomfortable and we may start desperately looking for a way to escape it. However, if you can lean into the reflection, you may begin to make peace with yourself in the moment and identify ways you may grow moving forward. At first it feels like a con, but eventually it becomes a pro.

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Mykonos Town, Mykonos, Greece

So clearly, traveling solo is complex and evokes so much within us humans. I am a firm believer that everyone should embark on a solo travel adventure at some point in their lives.

Now, as a white man from the US, I enjoy a great deal of privilege in my life and feel comfortable traveling far and wide. I recognize that traveling solo to some destinations is not as accessible for women or people of color due to the inequalities we are currently battling in our world. However, solo travel does not have to be to faraway, exotic destinations; you can travel to a new city within your own country or state! Solo travel can still be a wonderful, growth-filled experience even if it is still within the safety of your own land. For example, if you are an American, maybe try traveling somewhere like New York or San Francisco on your own – same language, same culture, socially liberal, overall safe, but still big and exciting enough to get all the benefits I have mentioned in this article. Additionally, countries like Ireland and Scotland are very safe, open, and friendly to everyone and most people of all stripes say they feel comfortable traveling to these destinations. Go only where you feel comfortable and safe, but do indeed go!

Traveling solo has blessed me with some of the greatest experiences I have had in this lifetime and has cultivated growth within me that I do not believe I would have found anywhere or anyway else. Solo travel is scary, it’s exhilarating, it’s liberating, and it is profound. I hope that you can experience all that traveling solo has in store for you when you answer the call.

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Naxos Town, Naxos, Greece