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Yoga practice with bite

Cassie PenceVail, CO, Colorado
Illustration by Dawn BeaconDavid Romanelli taught a Yoga plus Chocolate class at Dogma Athletica in Edwards last weeked. He uses Vosges chocolate truffles as a prop to teach students about the seven chakras.
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Yoga teacher David Romanelli thinks life should fit snug around your soul like a blanket. But from time to time, as life is hard, holes wear through that blanket and the soul gets kind of drafty.The chakra is that place where you get holes in your blanket, Romanelli says.Last Sunday, Romanelli ended a series of yoga workshops at Dogma Athletica in Edwards with a packed class on the seven chakras.Yogis believe there are seven primary chakras, or wheels of energy spinning along our spine from the tip our tail to the crown of our head. These vitality spots are connected to parts of the the body and the mind. When a chakra is out of shape, so to speak, it could cause illness and emotional stress. But when the chakra is strong, yogis believe one can mine great inner strength from that chakra. And thats why we do all these yoga poses, to free the body in order to free the mind.Romanelli is based out of L.A. (I know what youre thinking), where he teaches vinyasa yoga. He believes in the chakras because it helped to cure an illness of his. Romanelli was up to 12 pills a day, but what finally snapped it, was some chakra work.

Just look at Romanelli and you know hes not your average yoga teacher. His belly is a bit more like Buddhas and his postures arent perfect. But his wide smile and goofy laugh (which is quite contagious) far outweighs these meaningless imperfections. Romanellis class is about the spirit, and in a valley where physical prowess often dominates yoga, it was quite refreshing to take a couple days and work on the inner heart. We stretched into seven deep and restorative poses, one for each chakra, and Romanelli told seven anecdotes to help us remember each chakras meaning. Romanellis talent as a teacher lies in how accessable he can make spirituality. The language he uses, the stories he tells are modern and funny. No new age mumbo jumbo in this class. For the first chakra, as we sat Indian style, inching our hands and bending forward, while Romanelli told the story of his cactus.I went and bought this really cool cactus, he began.Romanelli placed the cactus on his shelf, where he could see it all the time, and it was beautiful, and it made him happy. But there was no light on the shelf for the cactus. And it began to die. So he had to make a choice. Does he leave it on his shelf, possibly killing it, just because its beautiful and makes him happy to look at? Or, does he put it on the window sill, which is too high for him to see, in order to give the cactus enough light to blossom?The first chakra is about putting yourself into the light, Romanelli said. Even if it means no one is going to see you there.

We eased out of the forward bend.Inbetween his tales, and as we continue to hold the poses for an extended time, stitching up those holes in the blanket, Romanelli plays music for each chakra. I mean really cranks it. And I knew we were in sync when he put the on Black Crowes to talk to my third chakra the belly chakra, the power chakra, the lets-get-fired-up chakra. And Im sure among the other artists Romanelli jammed during class (Martin Sexton, Jerry Garcia, Marvin Gaye), someone else smiled, too.We worked through the seven chakras, seven poses, seven stories and seven songs and then we ended with a plate full of seven chocolate truffles. After all, our soul had earned it, and this workshop was called Yoga plus Chocolate.These chocolates were specifically made by Vosges Haut Chocolat to correspond with the chakras. Like Romanelli does with his yoga, Vosges owner Katrina Markoff fuses wild ingredients with her chocolate. The two, who were college chums, thought it a perfect match.



As Romanelli described each unique truffle (see box for flavor combinations), and we chewed, he reminded us of the meaning of the chakras. The seventh chakra, our crown, for example, is the connection to the soul. Its color is purple, and we popped a milk chocolate truffle, topped with a sugared viola flower, into our mouthes to seal the lesson.The chocolates were a simple prop, and only the yogis with serious chocolate skills could finish all seven during the chakra recap. Most of us opted to take them home, along with our goody bag full of Vosges chocolate toffee.

It seems counterintuitive to end a healthy class like yoga with a platter full of chocolate, but I cant deny it went straight to my heart chakra. It warmed the rest of my day and made that life blanket fit just a little bit sweeter.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938, or cpence@vaildaily.com.


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