2 hours ago
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Friday’s event at Exhale Spa was the first of a series of “Yoga for Foodies” sessions, devised by a young, adventurous yoga teacher, David Romanelli, and coming soon to restaurants in Chicago, Cleveland and Dallas.
Calling his mission “yoga for the Everyman,” Mr. Romanelli, 36, plays Grateful Dead songs during class, wears sweat pants rather than spandex, and has already experimented with offering chocolate truffles after chaturanga instruction. “It’s a way of getting people in the door,” he said in an interview. “The world is a better place if people do yoga. And if they come because chocolate or wine is involved, I’m fine with it.”
And in yoga and foodie circles alike, contemplating the awesome significance of every bite taken — its flavors, its implications, its history — often seems to lead to moral judgments about others.
“It’s been one of my struggles,” said Rick Bayless, the Chicago chef, who has been practicing yoga for 15 years, is not a vegetarian and loves pork. “I think that sometimes the yoga community is a little too austere, and it’s hard to talk about what I do with people who believe in eating just what you need to stay alive.”
Mr. Romanelli believes that any profound pleasure of the senses — a live Bruce Springsteen track, an In-N-Out burger, the scent of lavender gathered in the French Alps — can bring on the “yoga high” that is a gateway to divine bliss.
“What yoga teachers do and what chefs do is not so different,” he said. “We take everyday actions like moving and eating, and slow you down so you can appreciate them.” Achieving stillness and peace amid the distractions of life, he said, has always been the higher goal of yoga.
Back at the Exhale studio, wandering among the supple bodies of his acolytes, Mr. Romanelli talked about his recent embrace of the Slow Food movement and his dreams of returning American yogis to what he describes as the happy, prelapsarian state of 1995. “Remember before you had your first e-mail address or your first cellphone,” he said. “Don’t you think that your food tasted better back then?”