Tag Archives: Fitness

Paleo Turkey Meatballs

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

Full written recipe and visuals below.

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

Paleo Turkey Meatballs

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

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

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

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

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

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

The Lost Lightworkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YouTube Classes

Enjoy Johnny’s virtual classes taught live via Zoom, recorded, and uploaded to YouTube!


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!

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!

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!

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!

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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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Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Rice has been a thing for a good minute now, and I have been here for it for all of that minute. To me, plain white and brown rice is really just a vessel to soak up sauce or provide body and bite for another dish it is served alongside. In my opinion, neither colors of rice add anything special to any dish of their own accord, instead, they just add carbs. I have found that cauliflower rice provides that same texturized feel as white or brown rice and acts equally well as a supporting act to other dishes it is served with while also keeping the amount of carbs you are eating low (Disclaimer: carbs are great! You need carbs! They are essential to healthy functioning! But I prefer to get my carbs from other, more exciting sources than plain rice).

Furthermore, in my experiences working with cauliflower-rice, I have found that it has the potential to contribute its own something special to a meal or even stand alone. By its very nature, it seems to soak up flavors more readily, allowing it to act as a real stand-out side or even starring base.

This Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice is one of my favorite ways to turn to this crucirferous vegetable into a gourmet tasting dish. The texture is just that of a crunchy yet chewy rice dish, but with a unique zesty and bright flavor profile. This recipe works as a great accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food: tacos, enchiladas, tequila-lime chicken, etc. It also makes a great base for a taco/burrito bowl style meal. It can even be served chilled as an additional base alongside lettuce in a salad.

This dish is incredibly simple to make, only requiring a few in expensive ingredients. By its very nature, it is also an incredibly healthy dish, full of the nutrition and benefits of cauliflower which include providing large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, cancer fighting properties, immune and digestive system support and much more. This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. It has become a staple recipe in my home, and now I am excited to share it with you!

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cauliflower rice *See Note*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sautee until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cauliflower rice, sprinkle with garlic powder, remaining salt, and pepper. Mix together and continue cooking, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes, until the cauliflower goes from bright white to slightly golden. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice, zest, and cilantro. Mix well and serve.

*Note* You can make your own cauliflower rice by taking cauliflower florets from a large head of cauliflower, cutting away as much stem as possible and in 3 batches, break up the florets into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles couscous. OR you can just buy premade Cauliflower Rice; Trader Joe’s has the best.