Saturday, April 21, 2007

Yoga + Chocolate = Mmmmmmmm...

Attended the first session of David Romanelli's "Yoga + Chocolate" weekend last night. David and friend Katrina Markoff, of Vosges Haut Chocolat, combined their loves to create a multi-sensory experience featuring exotic chocolates, Vinyasa flow yoga, music, and fun. Judging from the first night, it's an experience I highly recommend.

So how does David bring this all together?
He started class with everyone lying down on their backs and began with a story about how he came to yoga and how yoga + chocolate was born. He talked about how important it is to be in the moment, how being in the moment allows you to fully experience life using all your senses.

Then we sat up, sampled a Oaxaca truffle, which he described, and we began our 90-minute practice. This is the first time I've practiced in a month because of my knees (left knee STILL isn't right, right knee seems to be OK). It felt so good to finally practice again, and even though I really modified on my left side, I still got a lot out of it. David's mix of music was extremely interesting, and I enjoyed it even if I wouldn't necessarily have picked some of the songs myself. As a teacher, he has a very calm presence...an excellent pace. He gave us a chance to get into each posture and fully feel it before moving on to the next one. We worked up a hell of a serious sweat doing a pretty straightforward Vinyasa practice. Nothing complex, no arm balances or anything more advanced. It's amazing how even the simple stuff can be so gratifying and challenging when fully explored. He did do some very interesting adjustments that I've never seen and can't really explain. As a teacher-in-training, I got a lot out of seeing that too.

Midway through our practice, while in a standing position, we sampled actual cocoa bean chips while holding our arms straight out to the side. As we experienced the flavor of the cocoa beans, David told us about how in the past, they were so precious they were actually used as currency. In the meantime, we're still holding our arms straight out, so we're still working, even while resting some and experiencing the sensation of cocoa chips on our tongues.

Chocolate is good. Yoga is good. Feelings are good.
Throughout class, David also spoke about love—a message which is uncannily timely for me at the moment. I can't remember the details of everything he said, but he mentioned a quote about people who take serotonin-balancing or boosting drugs like Prozac. Something about they are less likely to find and keep love because the drug evens them out, but then they never really feel all the highs and lows of love, the connection. I'm really paraphrasing, and David did not quote this with any bad intent, so I hope no one will take it that way. His whole point was that IF you want to experience love, you have to experience the pain that goes with it. Love isn't a straight path or a smooth ride, so to really get all the benefits of it, you have to fasten your seatbelt and ride it out. It's an interesting observation I think most of us forget. Love hurts, yes. Love is great too. Shutting yourself off from the depth of love to avoid the pain is just that: shutting yourself off from love.

After the rest of practice and a long savasana in which David treated all of us to a neck rub with lavender oil, we sat up and sampled a Naga truffle. By this point we were all pretty much drenched and in a bliss state, so the Naga truffle was just the icing on the cake. It was a wonderful night that fulfilled each of our five senses—which is why I think Dave's little yoga + chocolate road show has been a smashing success. Good for him and Katrina...I love innovation, and this is creativity at its finest.

PS: Can't make a future Yoga + Chocoalte weekend? Order the Yoga + Chocolate Chakra Gift Box...it's almost as good!

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