Soul Food - October 31, 2006

Since its earliest inception, Santa Fe's yoga community has evolved and expanded by leaps and bounds-or maybe we should say stretch by careful stretch, pausing to breathe into each increment. Rima Miller, of Yoga Moves, one of the originals on the scene, has personally witnessed its phenomenal growth.

"A lot of teachers have been around since the early "'90s and before," and she ticks off a litany of the names: "Steven Norvell, Gail Ackerman who founded White Iris Studio, Deborah Bristow, Michael Hopp who began the Community Yoga Center, David Riley, Dorothy Tanoux, Tias Little and myself."

"We were all one group at that time," she continues. "David Riley and Michael Hopp had the Second Street Studio-everyone was doing various styles of yoga, mostly Iangar and Ashtanga, in addition to their own personal styles, as well." Out of this great swirling mass of all-possibility was born the ingenious idea of the "yoga smorgasbord," where an aspiring student, hungry, seeking, could sample as many different styles as would fit on his or her plate.

"Tias and I shared a space for a while back then," Rima recalls, "and then she went on to begin her own studio, Yoga Source, and I started Yoga Moves."

Ultimately, yoga is a self-practice. Everyone has their own style and everyone is self-disciplined, which as Rima explains it, means "we ourselves are responsible for the care, healing and emotional and spiritual state of our own well-being."

And it is a discipline. "We think our lives get too busy for yoga but yoga is the practice that reminds us to live." When we choose to begin that practice, she adds, we hopefully will find a teacher who is the right match for us. "There is basically a teacher for every student and a student for every teacher. We all need teachers-even teachers need teachers. In Sanskrit, the word guru just means teacher."

What separates the best yoga teachers from the rest? Rima pauses to consider. "A good teacher is teaching a mixture of their teacher's practice with their own discoveries. A good teacher teaches from the heart, with love and care," she goes on, "and sometimes you're going to work your students hard, but you don't do it for any other reason but to guide them to rise to their own capacity, their own heightened state of awareness. And the only effective, successful way, in my opinion, to rise to a heightened state of consciousness is with love. And then, of course, the students are going to get spontaneous friendships out of the class because each student becomes illuminated from within."

The camaraderie that evolves from practicing yoga together, Rima is convinced, emerges naturally. "People who come to yoga are interested in taking care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. After they've moved through sweating, breathing and the gamut of emotions and then a splendid relaxation. There is often a spontaneous intimacy that occurs without your having to talk about the issues that you came in with. You've all gone through this same process together but you've each gone through it individually, sharing the same space, and out of that evolves a community consciousness."

According to Rima, this group mind includes the camaraderie of nurturing. "Often, you leave the yoga class hungry, and who better to share your next meal than those same people you just practiced with? And, because you all look better and you're feeling good after your class, you don't want to eat junk, you want to eat good food, organically, simply, not complex foods anymore."

Rima herself goes every week to the Farmers' Market. "I always eat fresh food."

As yoga promotes a sense of well-being in each practitioner, that feeling permeates outward, connecting you with the world around you. "And because it creates community, you want to support community. Eating is also a social event, and you want to share that."

Our Santa Fe yoga community has grown to such an extent it has spawned any number of locally owned restaurants dedicated to upholding the concept of eating simply but well. Below, the chefs from a handful of these restaurants share some of their classic recipes in this vein.

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