Tag Archives: health

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

Made for YouTube Vinyasa Flow and Restorative Yin Yoga Classes


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Goli Nutrition Gummies

This is a sponsored post done in partnership with Goli Nutrition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goli Nutrition Website

Keep It Moving, Quarantine

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

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

Regular Exercise

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

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

Movement Breaks

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

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

1 minute of Push-Ups

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

1 minute of Squats

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

1 minute of Lunges

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

1 minute of shoulder taps or army crawlers

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

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

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

Dance Break!

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

Choreography

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

Walks

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

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

Cautiously Hopeful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Yoga Playlist

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

1. Music is personal

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

2. Music supports, not competes

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

3. Genre

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

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

4. Style & Feel

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

For example, in my playlists:

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

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

5. Temp & Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Buffer & Layer

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

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

7. The Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 – Determine where the songs should be placed

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

5 – Use your playlist!

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

8. Have Fun!

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

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

Happy Playlist Making!

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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My Health Tips for Flu Season

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

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

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

-1- Hydration

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

-2- Citrus All Day, Every Day

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

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

-3- Apple Cider Vinegar

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

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

-4- doTerra On Guard® Protective Blend Essential Oil

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

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

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

-5- Oil of Oregano

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

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

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

-6- Good Nutrition

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

-7- Exercise

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

-8- Sleep

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

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

 

 

Fulfilled

Dear ones,

I recently published an article on Elephant Journal titled, “Fulfilled.” The piece details my experience in my recent career transition and the discoveries that came out of that time. I was lucky enough to work on the article with one of the publishers at Elephant Journal and I am very proud of the final product. Please read the article when you have a moment.

You can find “Fulfilled” here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/now/fulfilled/

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