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Teacher Combines Yoga with Chocolate to Teach Mindful Indulgence

Check out today’s interview from the Boston Globe with our very good friend and favorite yoga personality David “Yeah Dave” Romanelli. Head on over to Dave’s profile page for upcoming tour dates in a town near you, he will be in Houston this weekend!

David Romanelli has become something of a celebrity for his workshops that combine yoga with the mindful enjoyment of, say, wine or chocolate. Next Thursday, his Yoga for Foodies tour comes to Stil Studio in Dedham’s Legacy Place, where he’ll be joined by Blue Ginger chef Ming Tsai. Following an hour of light yoga with Romanelli, participants will taste a sampling of food whipped up by Tsai.

Q. How did you dream this whole thing up?

A. A friend and I stumbled onto it as a business opportunity after college. We went to all these yoga classes in LA, and at my friend Ian’s initiative moved to Phoenix and tried to market yoga as something mainstream. We put up billboard ads at bus shelters, ads on radio, handed out stickers at places where everyone hikes. For the last 10 years, my mission has been to find out how to make yoga more relevant for people. It can be intimidating. Wellness is this thing that’s still hard to achieve for a lot of people. The first step is not to go vegan or lose 10 pounds. Eat a piece of chocolate to be reminded that life is all about simple pleasures. I tried to get my family into it. They said, hell no, we won’t go.

Q. You started with chocolate. Why chocolate? Why not Good & Plenty?

A. Dark chocolate is really healthy. Some chocolates we use are vegan, no dairy. My friend Katrina Markoff owns Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago and makes incredible chocolate. There’s the Red Fire Bar with chipotle and ancho chilies. For a lot of women and some men, yoga and chocolate together are very potent. Chocolate has incredible power with women. It’s a magic word. I started traveling with the message.

Q. How much can you eat?

A. There may be three truffles on a plate after exercise. You should eat each one mindfully.

Q. And wine?

A. Wine is one of the few things that ages well. You model the aging process on a bottle of wine. You sip it.

Q. What about food? Do foodies get a full meal?

A. It depends on the chef. Some serve appetizers, others serve five-course meals. A chef and a yoga teacher both strive for their participants to reach sensory ecstasy. I’ll have been to almost 25 cities this year on the Yoga for Foodies tour. I also have a Chocolate Shakra Tour. This year I’m mixing yoga with edibles prepared by local chefs.

Q. You must get withering criticism from serious yoga practitioners about your adulteration of its purity.

A. Someone who’s still hell-bent on that kind of yoga is missing the point. Yoga means “union.’’ I’ve been getting this criticism for 10 years. I do have some quality of gimmickry, for sure, but it’s a heart-felt message. I’d be the first to admit that what I’m doing is not pure yoga by any stretch of the imagination. I’m Americanizing it a bit. But how many people realistically do serious yoga for 90 minutes? Well, come try this and eat chocolate, listen to Bob Marley and check out the boutique on the way out.


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