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Seeing the Multitudes in Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Yoga Transitions 2

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

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

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


Chair Vertical Twist Kick to Crescent Lunge

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

How to:

From Chair Pose –

Exhale  – Chair Vertical Twist Kick

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

Inhale – Crescent Lunge

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

Reverse Rights and Lefts when repeated on second side.


Half Splits to Revolved Low Lunge

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

How to:

From Half Splits

Inhale – Revolved Low Lunge

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

Revolved Low Lunge to Wide Legged Forward Fold

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

How to:

From Revolved Low Lunge

Exhale – Wide Legged Forward Fold

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

Revolved Crescent Lunge to Prayer Twist to Revolved One Legged Mountain

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

How to:

From Revolved Crescent Lunge

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

Exhale – Prayer Twist

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

Inhale – Revolved 1 Legged Mountain

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

To Reverse – From Revolved 1 Legged Mountain

Exhale – Prayer Twist

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

Inhale – Shift the weight into your Right/Left foot

Exhale – Revolved Crescent Lunge

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

Low Lunge to Extended Side Angle

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

How to:

From Low Lunge

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

Inhale – Extended Side Angle

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

Low Lunge to One Legged High Plank to Falling Star

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

How to:

From Low Lunge

Inhale – 1 Legged High Plank

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

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

Inhale – Falling Star

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

One Legged Mountain to Half Moon

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

How to:

From 1 Legged Mountain

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

Exhale – Half Moon

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

View all tutorials in 1 video here –

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

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

California Power Bowls

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

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

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

Now, let’s make the California Power Bowls –


California Power Bowls
featuring Primal Kitchen’s Ranch Dressing

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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


Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

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

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


Vegan Zoodle Pasta Salad

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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


Visuals :


Spiralizers:

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

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


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

Favorite Music Artists for Yoga Playlists

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

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


Sol Rising

Description:

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

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

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

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Love Can Only Change You
  • Chillaxing
  • So Simple

Odesza

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Kusangi
  • A Moment Apart
  • All We Need

Shallou

Descripton:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Fading
  • Begin
  • Lie

Beauvois / Kidswaste

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • You Were Right
  • Tonight
  • Daylight

Bob Moses

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs

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

Rufus Du Sol

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

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

Troye Sivan

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Bloom
  • Youth
  • The Good Side

Alina Baraz

Description:

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Electric
  • Buzzin’
  • Floating

Bob Marley

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

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

Florence + the Machine

Description:

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

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

Top 3 Favorite Songs:

  • Cosmic Love
  • Hunger
  • Queen of Peace

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

Teaching Schedule

Public Weekly Teaching Schedule

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

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

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

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

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!

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