Tag Archives: Fitness

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


Vinyasa Flow
Wednesday, April 1st
12pm-1pm PST

Google RSVP:
https://calendar.google.com/event?action=TEMPLATE&tmeid=ZWo4Ym83MWE3cXVhMnJ2cGI4ZjRyamNzZHMgam9obm55bGFwYXN0YUBt&tmsrc=johnnylapasta%40gmail.com

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


Vinyasa Flow
Saturday, April 4th
9:30am-10:30am

Google RSVP:
https://calendar.google.com/event?action=TEMPLATE&tmeid=a3IwN2xtdWY3dmIwMWk4dTRzc3N0bDNiM28gam9obm55bGFwYXN0YUBt&tmsrc=johnnylapasta%40gmail.com

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


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.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

My Slow Cooker, Carlotta, is the best. She makes me all sorts of delicious foods from soups and stews to braises and poaches, she can do it all! One of my favorite dishes that I like to have Carlotta the Slow Cooker whip up is this Chicken Adobo. It is an incredibly simple dish, requiring few ingredients and only minutes of minimal effort to prepare.

It is rich with a flavor profile that is at once lightly spicy and subtly smokey. Additionally, the small shopping list for this recipe makes it quite cost effective.  It is also fit-fam friendly; it is completely gluten and dairy free and low in both fat and sugar. Combine all this with the fact that it is such an absurdly simple recipe to prepare and you will soon find this dish in your regular rotation.

I like to serve my chicken adobo with some zesty Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice and seasonal vegetables or zoodles. You can also shred the slow cooker level tender chicken to incorporate into tacos, enchiladas, or on top of a salad. Once the slow cooker has produced this great main dish for you, the world is yours to do with it as you please!

So whip out your Slow Cooker, name it like me, and get cooking!

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

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

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce *see note*
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • Cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Lay the chicken pieces at the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour over the tomato sauce. Add in the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Option to shred chicken with forks or serve in whole pieces.

*Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce Note 1* You can find these peppers in small cans in the ethnic foods isle of your local grocery store. See picture below.

*Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce Note 2* The more peppers, the spicier the recipe. The use of 2 is quite mild, the use of 4 is decently spicy but nothing crazy. You pick your level of spice!