Yoga Diary: Kitchen Confidential

A New Jersey chef heals his pain and finds his focus through yoga.

I came to yoga four years ago for purely physical reasons—I had a back injury caused by hours of standing incorrectly in the kitchen. Doctors wanted to

shoot me up with cortisone. Instead, I gave yoga a try and was immediately captivated by Ashtanga. I did it 35 days in a row; I loved the challenge that


Now my motivation is internal. Yoga's given me a path in life, taught me patience, and helped me see the bigger picture—both in and out of the kitchen.

Every morning I do at least a few Sun Salutations before I travel to work. My wife, Nancy, notices that I have a relaxed "yoga face" after I

practice. When I get to my restaurant, I feel energetic and positive, with a clear mind that lets me focus on the tasks at hand. The clarity I've gained,

especially through Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath), helps me to slow down and organize my day. Thanks to yoga, I'm much more at ease physically. Even

during a busy Saturday night dinner service, I can stand for 12 hours straight without any pain. I also have greater patience for teaching, which is a big

part of my job.

Cooking and yoga are similar: No matter how good you are, you still practice the basics. Each pose and each cooking technique builds on the last. Like

becoming a chef, going deeper into yoga takes time and discipline. It happens only if you're open to letting it happen. I believe that I've mastered cooking.

What I love about yoga is that I don't think I'll ever master it; it's an ongoing journey.