Yogi Spotlight- Matthew Purnell

Chef MatthewWe are super excited to introduce you to one of our favorite yogis, Matthew Purnell. A dedicated yogi, chef extraordinaire and an amazing father to 3 beautiful young girls. We sat down with Matthew to learn a little more about him and his yoga journey.

What was your first introduction to yoga?

During a pivotal time in my life, I chose to follow my passion to remain an athlete, and focus primarily on my health and vitality by moving from my high-paced and pressure-filled Chef position at a busy La Jolla restaurant, to a small health driven café located directly inside a multi-million dollar sporting club. I was destined to regain my strength, stamina, and my take control of my health after indulging in the ‘nightlife’ as a Chef.

I was introduced to new foods, different ways of thinking, and many innovative ways of exercising. I was still drawn to the traditional ways… lifting weights, running, and boxing training, but was asked weekly by the club’s yoga instructor to join her for one of her classes, but was hesitant mostly because of the discomfort of the unknown. What was it like? How would I do? What would I look? After a year of working at the sports club, I chose to attend my first yoga class, with the encouragement of a close friend. Walking into class, I was skeptical that I could get a decent work out, from just stretching and breathing, but nonetheless optimistic that this may open up other doors in the world of fitness. During the hour class, my mind wandered, body struggled, and I laughed at some of the poses I subjected myself to. I found it more relaxing then anything, but really didn’t explore everything that yoga had to offer. The next day at the gym I wailed on my ‘pecs’ and did curls until I couldn’t lift my arms, it would be many years before I stepped onto the mat again.

At what point did you decide you wanted to teach?

As a student in grade school, I had aspirations of becoming a science teacher. I had amazing teachers that influenced my choice, by showing me that knowledge can be given to others in an unconventional and fun-filled learning environment, rather than a drab textbook motivated curriculum. Now as a husband, father to three beautiful girls, a dedicated organic vegan chef, and now, a determined yogi, teaching others is part of my daily life. I currently teach classes, in which I educate people about organic, plant-based, raw food cuisine, and preparation techniques to better the health and lives of every individual. I live this life honestly, and love sharing my new found knowledge with a conviction that it will improve the quality of life in me and those in my environment. In the last year, I have become devout to the practice of yoga, and all of its benefits, physical, mental, and spiritual. I have become more balanced in my career and life at home, and now I want to share this appreciation also. Just like my love for health, food and family, yoga has changed my life.

What/who has made largest impact on your practice?

A mentor, teacher, motivator and my partner in life and love, my amazing wife, and yogi superhero, Courtney “Fuji” Harville. She was the close friend who took me to my first class, and opened up my mind to the possibilities of what yoga could do for my performance in other sports, and help focus my scattered mind in daily life situations. She is a key component to my foundation and is supporting in my yoga practice as well. A true gem I have discovered in my journey, I am truly grateful.

Favorite pose? Why?

Warrior 3, It is if I am flying with freedom from the ground, but feel well rooted, strong and statuesque even.

Most challenging pose? Why?

Standing Splits, trying open up muscles that seem to want to stay shut, and while balancing and the attempt of the split is very difficult for me. I am implementing a practice at home with a leg up the wall to help with my balance and flexibility.

Favorite Quotes?

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” 
― Bruce Lee
“Love the life you live, and live the life you love.” -Bob Marley
“Let food be thy medicine…” -Hippocrates

What do you like most about  PLAY?Chef Matthew and Fuji

The heat, the sweat, and each personality of every individual of the PLAY Family, I enjoy the physical and mental fitness involved and it. The family like atmosphere and the individuality and inspiration of students and teachers alike.

What inspires you? What keeps you going?

I am inspired by all that surrounds me, in public and private, at home and at work, my community driven spirit to have all people living in harmony and understanding, in acceptance of one another. I am inspired to educate others about the connection between food, health and happiness, and bring tasty earthly delights for all to enjoy!

A little more about why we love Matthew…

Chef Matthew Purnell became drawn to preparing food since childhood, enveloped in a multi-generational family that centers itself in the kitchen and around the table. His eagerness to learn had him under the wings of many top San Diego chefs. He sprouted by cooking in local cafes, and grew to become an Executive Chef at a busy La Jolla Italian restaurant. His zest for life has brought him to eating fresh foods, and gravitating to a vegan lifestyle focusing primarily on Raw foods. Combining experience in traditional kitchens with health stimulating vegetables has brought him to a take on food that is conscious, creative, and captivating helping him co-found Living on the Veg! Living on the Veg… brings life to food by choosing only truly organic & fresh produce and preparing recipes in a conscious, health promoting way while improving the planet and nourishing your body through every cell. Our mission is to promote healing within the body, reducing unhealthy weight, increasing muscle, and making sure all senses are satisfied with vibrant, delicious cuisine. Specializing in vegan and raw foods that optimize function and vitality and reducing the impact on the body, mind, spirit, and our planet. Our goal is to teach people to replace devitalizing, aging, fattening, sickening foods with foods that beautify, strengthen, and create energy while tasting absolutely delicious! We are proud to support local farms and artisans, focusing on seasonal items, and using only the freshest ingredients. We encompass our passion and present it to our community.

Pose of the Week: Virasana

Virasana “Hero Pose”

Benefits: Stretches quads, hip flexors, knees, and ankles. Strengthens the arches. Improves digestions and relieves gas. Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

*Photo is Supta Virasana, the reclining variation of Virasana*

Pose of the Week: Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana “Cobra Pose”

Benefits: Strengthens spine. Stretches chest, shoulders, and abdomen. Relieves stress and fatigue. Opens heart chakra.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

Pose of the Week: Salamba Sirsasana I

Salamba Sirsasana I “Supported Headstand”

Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands. Strengthens the arms, legs, and spine. Strengthens the lungs. Tones the abdominal muscles and organs. Improves digestion.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

Pose of the Week: Dhanurasana

Jeneka BrownDhanurasana “Bow pose”

Benefits: Stretches the entire front body, ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, throat and deep hip flexors. Strengthens back muscles. Improves posture. Stimulates the organs of abdomen and neck. Opens throat chakra.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.

Pose of the Week: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana “Upward Facing Dog”

Benefits: Improves posture. Stretches chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen. Strengthens the spine, arms, and wrists. Stimulates abdominal organs. Helps relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica.

Follow @playcarlsbad on Instagram and hashtag #playcarlsbad doing the pose of the week and we’ll give ya an asana shout out.