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Teaching Schedule

Public Weekly Teaching Schedule

Mondays
Yoga Sculpt – 10:30am PST – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach (starting 7/13)
Vinyasa Level 2 – 7:30pm PST – Ra Yoga Costa Mesa

Tuesdays
Red 60 Vinyasa – 10:30am PST – Purple Yoga Long Beach
Vinyasa Level 2 – 4:00pm PST – Ra Yoga Live Stream

Wednesdays
Yoga Sculpt – 5:45am PST – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach (starting 7/15)

Thursdays
Strength – 6:00am PST – Ra Yoga Long Beach
Strength – 10:30am PST – Ra Yoga Long Beach
Vinyasa Level 1 – 12:00pm PST – Ra Yoga Long Beach

Fridays –
C2 Vinyasa – 5:30am PST – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach (starting 7/17)
C2 Vinyasa – 8:30am PST – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach (starting 7/17)
Yoga Sculpt – 10:30am PST – CorePower Yoga Huntington Beach (starting 7/17)

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

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!

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!

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!

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

 

Snack Time!

Since I am the resident foodie and nutrition-nut in many of my friend circles, I am constantly asked about what I eat, where I buy it, and what brands I support. Thus, I figured it was about time I created a post or two in order to answer these questions and provide some sought after recommendations. This post is dedicated to my favorite snacks!

I need my snacks, in fact, I would be extinct without them. Living the active life that I do, I need to eat every 2.5-3.5 hours or I feel like my stomach starts cannibalizing itself and as though my muscles are eroding. And it is at that time I become a major B. So it is best that I always have my nutrient dense and satisfying snacks, like the ones below!

Continue reading

Fun Yoga Transitions

One of the reasons I love teaching Power Vinyasa Yoga is the creative process of drawing up the sequences I guide my students through. Sequencing a yoga flow is in many ways like choreographing a dance routine; it is a craft that is both artistic and scientific and can end in a beautiful piece of movement. In the modern yoga world where all mindful movement is yoga, there is now more room than ever to experiment and present unique flows to your classes. I like to consider myself a pretty creative sequencer, I am always playing around with unique chains of postures and different transitions between them.

After humbly receiving positive feedback from my students about these sequences, I wanted to take the time and share some of my current favorite transitions I have been utilizing in my own sequences. All teachers are welcome to take these and try them on in your own classes. All home practitioners are welcome to take these and try them on in your own practice.

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Comfort Foods for the Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s my favorite time of the year too! One of the aspects of the holiday season I love the most is simply having wholesome meals with my friends and family. For me, every meal with people I love during the holiday season is a celebration. I cook something warming and comforting, I turn on the Christmas lights, I play the Christmas tunes, and we have ourselves a merry time. So I wanted to share with you some of the comforting dishes I like to make around this time of year. Explore below!

Easy Bolognese

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As an Italian-American, I find few dishes more comforting than pasta with a chunky red sauce. Bolognese is a classic sauce you can use for pasta, gnocchi, polenta, spaghetti squash, or by itself with crusty bread. My recipe for Bolognese is simple and warms from the soul outward.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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This is the one to make when you are looking to impress your guests. Sweet, savory, and spicy, Stuffed Acorn Squash is an indulgent, gourmet-style dish that has everything going for it. Get the recipe here.

Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza

Butternut Brussels Bacon Pizza 1

I love making seasonal artisan pizzas. For Fall and Winter, my go-to pizza is this Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza. Truly, this is one of the best pizzas ever. This is great for a weekend night in with friends while watching a Christmas movie. Get the dough here. 

Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

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This soup is a great easy weeknight meal served with salad and bread or can be used as an appetizer course. Both sweet and savory, this soup feels very seasonal and like something you would have in a Christmasy cottage somewhere in a fairy-tale. Learn to make it here. 

Johnny’s Tomato Soup

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Sometimes, tomato soup just cannot be beat. While tomato soup isn’t the fanciest of dishes, it is often a great choice on a busy weeknight or when your guests are wanting to still eat healthy while also eating cozy. My Tomato Soup is warming, earthy, and slightly spicy and is completely vegan. I will serve this with a nice winter salad and some crusty bread and before you know it you have a full holiday meal. Get the recipe here. 

Christmas Biscotti

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I am not much of a baker, but once a year I get in the kitchen and whip up a batch of my Christmas Biscotti. These biscotti have the flavors and colors of the season with cranberries, pistachios, orange zest, vanilla, Amaretto, and dark chocolate. These are an incredibly festive dessert and are also a great baked good to bring to potlucks or even present as a food based gift. Learn to make them here. 

Whatever you decide to cook for your loved ones this year, I hope that you have a very merry and tasty holiday season!

My Health Tips for Flu Season

Fall is here and it’s brought more than just pumpkin spice everything with it. This time of year marks the return of cold and flu season. But before you grab your hand sanitizer and don a face mask, Johnny La Pasta has a few tips to help you stay healthy and fit this sick season!

While I do fall ill sometimes just like everyone else, I have a pretty good track record of staying healthy most years, often completely missing the major flu or cold that everyone around me seems to catch (knock on wood). Even when I do contract an illness, I often bounce back from it rather quickly. This has led many of my friends, family, and students to ask me: How?

Here are my tips for staying healthy and fit during the flu & cold season –

-1- Hydration

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Hydration is always key, including during flu & cold season. Staying hydrated promotes your elimination system which can help to flush build ups of toxins from your body before they can take root and do any harm. So even if it’s cold outside, drink your water like it’s a scorching summer day!

-2- Citrus All Day, Every Day

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 One of the ways I stay healthy all year long is I am almost always consuming some form of citrus. As we all know, citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C which is key for immunity. Citrus fruits have been shown to strengthen your white blood cells as well as increase your white blood cell count. White blood cells are the guys that fight off infection, so you want them strong and in abundance! So, how do you get your citrus in?

Put citrus into your water! Cut up citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit into wedges and store in mason jars in your fridge at home and at work. Anytime you refill your water, squeeze any combination of the fruits into the water and drink. This will make your water tastier and be consistently providing you with a powerful source of vitamin C.

-3- Apple Cider Vinegar

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Another way I keep my health going throughout the year and especially during this season is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). ACV is rich in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that help to bind to and then remove toxins from the body, promote better lymph circulation, and act as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic within the body. ACV has been used medicinally since ancient times in many cultures and science shows there is no reason to stop now!

Take a shot of ACV a couple of times a day or add a couple tablespoons to your water at least twice a day. Yeah, the taste is not the best, but the results are worth it! And if you do get sick, drink ACV all damn day to promote that illness getting killed off!

-4- doTerra On Guard® Protective Blend Essential Oil

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I swear on Oprah by this oil. Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils come together to create a master oil that supports the immune and respiratory systems, protects against environmental threats, and supports the body’s natural antioxidant defenses.

Throughout last year’s epically bad flu season, I used this oil in a few different ways. The first was that every night, I mixed a few drops of On Guard into a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and rubbed that mixture into my neck, chest, stomach, and the bottoms of feet so that my body could absorb the oil and all its benefits overnight as my body restored. Secondly, I diffused a few drops of this oil in my oil diffuser next to my bed as I slept. Lastly, when I felt like I was rundown or perhaps coming down with an illness, I added a drop of On Guard to my water a few times per day and drank it down. And I will be repeating all of these techniques with On Guard this sick season.

You can learn more about doTerra’s On Guard® Protective Blend and how to safely use it here.

-5- Oil of Oregano

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Oregano Essential Oil has been used by the Chinese, Greeks, and Romans since ancient times as a medicinal substance. Oregano is highly potent with a phenol called carvacrol that possess powerful antioxidant properties. When ingested, oregano oil acts as an antibacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral.

I do not take oregano essential oil on the regular because it’s nasty AF. However, when I feel myself getting sick or am sick, I will use the oil to help fight and kill off whatever is in my system. You can honestly almost feel the oil burning away at the infection inside you. Again, oil of oregano is extremely powerful and so be mindful to use with caution. Best practice is to dilute 1 drop of oregano oil in at least 4 fluid ounces of water and drink, trying to avoid getting the oil on your lips as it can cause a burning sensation.

I use doTerra’s Oregano Essential Oil, which can learn more about here.

-6- Good Nutrition

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This one should go without saying. Making a nutritious diet part of your lifestyle is simply key to overall health and wellness. If you are eating wholesome foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, then your body and immune system are going to be better supported to resist and fight off infection.

-7- Exercise

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Here again, exercise is just important to living your best life. When it comes to immunity, exercising promotes the elimination of bacteria from your lungs and airways. It also promotes the circulation of your white blood cells; it makes them more active in doing their job of fighting infection. So just move!

-8- Sleep

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Making sure you get your 7-8 hours of sleep per night is essential during flu & cold season. Deep sleep is your body’s time to restore and rejuvenate. If you give it the time it needs to do this, then it is going to be more equipped to ward off sickness. I swear, whenever I find myself in a situation where I am sleep deprived, I end up getting some sort of illness. We really do need our sleep, so be diligent about it.

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These are the practices and techniques I have incorporated into my lifestyle which have served me in keeping my healthy and strong. I invite you to try a few or all of these on and see how you fair this sick season. Good luck!

 

 

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