Before he discovered the full flavors and fresh ingredients of authentic Mexican fare, chef Rick Bayless was a sedentary kid who worked at his family's Oklahoma City barbecue joint. After he grew up and launched his own award-winning Chicago restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, 12-hour workdays left him
exhausted and overweight. So in his early 40s, on the advice of a friend, he turned to Anusara Yoga.
He quickly found himself hooked. "If I'm tired, all I have to do is a five-minute Headstand, and everything just changes," he says. "That is my favorite thing in the whole wide world—to be upside down."
Ten years later, Bayless has woven yoga and its teachings of sustainability into every branch of his growing food empire. His employees' work hours are capped to avoid burnout, and kitchen waste is always recycled. His menus—including those in his latest book, Mexican Everyday—emphasize seasonal, organic foods.
"Processed food doesn't have any life left in it, so it isn't satisfying," Bayless says. "Seasonal, local food is like yoga in that you're concentrating on the present with what the area around you is producing."
The yoga parallels, it seems, are everywhere. "Yoga is about learning to intimately communicate with every part of your body," Bayless says. "You can do the same thing with food."