A recipe for calm: Yoga, food, and a break from technology

David Romanelli's recipe for getting us to slow down? Yoga and group dinners. We dropped into his latest Yoga for Foodies event to unplug—and eat.

David Romanelli teaches Yoga for Foodies at the Culinary Loft

David Romanelli has to move quickly to teach people how to slow down. Romanelli, also known as “Yeah Dave,” is a yoga instructor, author, blogger, and the creator of Yeah Dave’s Jam Sessions, which combine pleasures like food, wine, and chocolate with inspiration-laced yoga classes. He resembles a young Mark McGrath, which I can’t help thinking of as he reminisces about the ’90s.

“It’s only been about 15 years that we’ve had emails and cell phones and been crazed like we are,” says Romanelli. “It’s hard to pick up on the subtleties in our soul, our mind, and our bodies if we don’t take the time to get quiet and just listen.”

David Romanelli and Peter Berley at Yoga for Foodies at the Culinary Loft
David Romanelli with Chef Peter Berley

At a recent Yoga for Foodies Jam Session with Chef Peter Berley at the Culinary Loft in Soho, Romanelli channeled this sentiment. “Feel that pre-1994 state of mind where you just lie there and there aren’t a million things happening in every moment,” he told attendees. “It was a little bit easier then to experience life through our senses—scent, taste, touch, sound—not just a tweet, or a text, or a status update.” You’re telling me. Here’s how Romanelli re-introduced me to my senses—and a sense of calm.

Sight. A pattern of green, purple, and gray yoga mats set against an exposed brick wall. A sea of downward dogs facing a team of chefs slicing, sautéing, and baking. Romanelli greeting each person as they arrive, shaking their hand in both of his for an extended moment, making eye contact.

Scent. Onion, garlic, and pumpkin mixing with the rubber of brand new yoga mats (donated by Manduka for the occasion) and, to be honest, a hint of yoga studio sweat.

Sound. The Grateful Dead and Paul Simon peppered with Romanelli quoting Buddhists, Kafka, and Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food. “Some things in life that are crucial to our maturity cannot be speeded up and are only possible if they occur slowly.” Laughter and conversation as the meal begins.

Touch. My fingers and toes spreading on my sticky mat. Romanelli’s hands massaging my head during Savasana.

Taste. Light, fluffy, melty fresh ricotta dumplings. Tangy greens—kale and collards. Savory lentils with fennel, leeks, and rosemary. Creamy pumpkin pot de crème, perfectly spiced.

“It sounds elementary,” says Romanelli, “but the idea of slowing down and recognizing how life is different, and how much better food tastes, and how awesome it is to connect with interesting company over food is something we don’t really do anymore.” We’ll get back there, though, if Romanelli has any say in the matter. —Lisa Elaine Held

Visit www.yeahdave.com for upcoming dates on the 2010 Yoga for Foodies tour

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