Tag Archives: yoga

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
Saturday, March 28th
9:30 am-10:30 am PST

Google RSVP:
https://calendar.google.com/event?action=TEMPLATE&tmeid=NWhkY2NvcDIyYjg4bDZhNXBpajEwOWFlaGcgam9obm55bGFwYXN0YUBt&tmsrc=johnnylapasta%40gmail.com

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


Vinyasa Flow
Monday, March 30th
5pm-6pm PST

Google RSVP:
https://calendar.google.com/event?action=TEMPLATE&tmeid=b2FwNTIzMnRqNDZhczJycnNmM2ZwbG0ycjQgam9obm55bGFwYXN0YUBt&tmsrc=johnnylapasta%40gmail.com

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


Vinyasa Flow
Wednesday, April 1st
4pm-5pm 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!

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.

Continue reading

Manifestation: There’s Something To It

If you are in the yoga world, then you have probably heard someone talking about “manifestation” at some point. Maybe someone in your local yoga studio was explaining to a friend about how they were trying to manifest a solution to a problem or perhaps your yoga teacher taught a class themed upon manifesting your best life. ‘Manifestation’ and the action of ‘manifesting’ are very popular buzz words in the yoga world; this idea that through focused thought and energy we might be able to create outcomes, objects, and even attract people that we need and desire out of the ether. I have always been a big fan of the concept and have more or less believed that manifestation was a possibility, although, I did not place a great amount of faith in it and generally saw abstract manifestation as a possibility but not at all a likelihood. That was until I decided to give manifestation a good honest try and discovered that manifestation can indeed be a powerful force that works.

My Story of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

Last year, I found myself in a dark place. I was working at a corporate marketing job that I loathed with every fiber of my being. I had come to the realization within this job that it was not just the company and the position I held within it that made me deeply unhappy; it was the industry of marketing that was the true problem. I recognized that I was in the wrong profession for myself and it was harming my mind and spirit.

I have two central passions in this life: writing and yoga. Though my primary career was in marketing, I always pursued my true passions on the side in my own time. I was always working on some sort of writing project whether it be a screenplay, novel, or article. And I had trained to teach yoga, teaching several classes per week in the mornings before or the evenings after my corporate job. It was in these devotions and crafts that I found light and life.

At that point in my life, I had come into a place where I desperately needed to make a transition out of full-time marketing and into some sort of working existence made of yoga and writing. For a while, I approached my wish for change from a very angry place: I was angry at the universe for not making me a highly sponsored Instagram yoga star and not landing me a book deal for my novel. Of course, directing negative energy at the situation did not move it into a positive space. And so, I decided to do something different.

I decided to give manifestation a go. Without being specific, I expressed to the universe what I wanted; an exit from my corporate job, a new financially stable career that included more yoga and writing and a new lifestyle to go with it. I wrote down my wishes, I made a vision board to represent them, I spoke about them to friends, and I meditated on them during my yoga practices. I trusted that something out there was listening to me and conspiring in my favor. Sure enough, a couple of months later, I was given an amicable outing from my marketing job, offered an abundance of yoga teaching opportunities, and landed a few freelance clients to help supplement my income. I transitioned away from a high-stress, fast-paced, regimented lifestyle into a new one that was flexible, steady, rewarding, and abundant in positivity.

As I began this new and glorious season of my life, I found myself in awe that I had evidently manifested this whole new career and lifestyle for myself. It had worked, it had really worked! And so, I wondered what else I could manifest.

Wanting to build my career and reputation as a writer, I decided that I would attempt to manifest being published. I did not necessarily mean becoming a New York Times best-selling author right away, but just being published in some form or other to add to my writer’s resume. Within weeks of putting this out there into the ether, I was officially published by the new age publication Elephant Journal. The article I wrote for them began to trend, earning thousands of views, and I was soon featured on their website. I have since been able to publish two more articles with them.

Manifestation again worked in my favor a few months later, this time on the yoga front.  When the teacher training programming I served as a coach for came to an end in June, I wondered about how I was going to make up for the pay I would no longer be receiving at the end of the program. I decided to manifest more opportunities in the yoga world that could take the place of coaching teacher training. Within two weeks, I was offered another permanent yoga class at a different studio and a corporate yoga gig. A month after that, I received an opportunity to teach for a private client for a higher rate of pay for yoga instruction than I had ever received before.

If the past year with all of these experiences have taught me anything, it is that manifestation is indeed possible when you dedicate enough energy to it and put enough trust in it. I continue to be amazed by what I have been able to manifest and I am excited to keep at it to see what else might be possible.

 

The Basics of Manifestation

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

In addition to my own experiences, I have done a good amount of research on the philosophies surrounding manifestation. I have read articles, book chapters, and listened to podcasts all centered on the subject. Through all of my studies and experiments, I think I have identified a few basic principles for manifestation that I would like to share with you.

  1. Ask Rather Than Demand

I think this is the most important principle of manifestation. When you choose to try and manifest something – whatever it is – I believe you have to ask for it humbly rather than demand for it aggressively. I feel that (the Universe/God/the Force/whatever-you-want-to-call-it) is much more receptive to a polite request than they are to a hard and firm order.

  1. Keep It Open-Ended Rather Than Specific

Everything I have read and listened to on the subject of manifestation more or less comes to this same conclusion. We must create space for our manifestations to come to fruition in different forms. Sometimes, our manifestations look very different than what we originally imagined or intended, but they ultimately provide us with what we need.

Think about my earlier example when I set out to manifest becoming a published writer. Though my end goal was – and still is – to become a published novelist, I did not specify that in my first attempt at manifestation around writing. Rather, I simply stated that I wanted to be published and I was open to that transpiring in any way. The result was publishing a short article in an online publication. It was not grand or life altering, but it was something. And perhaps that one manifestation will evolve into more.

Another more universal example: manifesting material abundance. If you specify to the universe that you want material abundance and thus you want to win the lottery, it is highly unlikely that the universe is going to reward you with the winning lottery ticket – if it was that easy, many would have done this already. If you, however, ask for abundance and remain open to that transpiring in various ways, you may receive. You could receive a new job offer that comes with a raise, you could receive new side hustle opportunities that bump up your income, or you may receive a reduced rate on a car or house payment that gives you some extra pocket money. The possibilities are endless as long as you are open to them.

We have to remember that whatever is out there is far wiser and more intelligent than we are. Sometimes this force will gift us with a manifestation that is not quite what we envisioned, but may ultimately be more valuable to us and our journeys, even if we do not fully understand it. So keep an open mind, an open heart, and receive and give thanks for what comes.

  1. Be Patient

The powers at be do not operate on your timeline. Avoid putting a deadline on your manifestations. Those powers will decide when we are ready to receive, and we have to accept that.

  1. Not All Manifestations Manifest

We are not going to be successful in manifesting 100% of the time. Once again, the Universe/God/the Force/etc. see and know more than we know. Sometimes it/they might decide that what we are trying to manifest is actually not right for us, and we just don’t know it.

  1. Practice Gratitude

We should always practice gratitude, but I think it is key to express gratitude when our manifestations are realized.  When we successfully manifest, we should be sure to tell those powers at be that we are thankful. If we are consistent in giving thanks, we will probably receive more consistent blessings.

 

Conclusion

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Photo by Neil Bloem – @coldxneil

I believe that manifestation is real and we have the power to influence our own realities. I see manifestation as a branch of real magic; curious to understand, challenging to practice, impossible to master, but powerful in its potential. I encourage everyone to give manifestation a try and see what the possibilities are!

Have you ever manifested something before? What are your currently trying manifest? Tell me all below!

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*All photos within this article were captured by my old travel buddy, Neil Bloem. Neil is a photographer and visual artist currently based in Lofoten, Norway. The natural beauty he captures is truly remarkable. I find myself in constant awe of his work. You can follow him on Instagram @coldxneil Enjoy the beauty he will fill your Insta-feed with!

 

“What to Remember When You Start to Doubt Yourself as a Yoga Teacher” on Elephant Journal!

Ciao friends! My most recent article, “What to Remember When You Start to Doubt Yourself as a Yoga Teacher” has been published on Elephant Journal! Very happy to be contributing regularly to this great publication. Please give it a read by following the link below:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2018/04/what-to-remember-when-you-start-to-doubt-yourself-as-a-yoga-teacher/