By: Chef Jim DeWan
You’ve been eating Chef Massimo Bosco’s excellent food for quite some time now, first in the Dining Room where he was the lunch chef and now in the café, where he helms the dinner QSR kitchen. And if you’ve noticed that he’s been looking like a lean, mean cooking machine, there’s a reason. For the past three years, Chef Bosco has been teaching yoga.
And not just any yoga. Hot yoga.
While most yoga can be practiced anywhere, from your bedroom floor to the neighborhood gym, hot yoga is practiced in a temperature- and humidity controlled environment. Specifically, 105-degrees F and 42% humidity. Like a foggy day in hell.
About four years ago, a bout with sciatica sent Bosco searching for relief from the painful condition. He tried “regular” yoga, but didn’t quite like it. That’s when he discovered hot yoga. “It’s a perfect blend of everything: balance, strength, focus and relaxation,” he says. “Plus, you feel your heart pumping in the heat and you build cardio strength, and the sweat detoxifies you. It’s a perfect environment.”
Before long, Bosco’s back felt better, his blood pressure dropped and he had lost weight. “I had been on blood pressure medication, too, and I was able to totally get off of those.”
Ultimately, at the suggestion of one of his mentors, Bosco took teacher training in hot yoga. Now, three years later, he’s teaching three days a week at studios in Park Ridge, Old Orchard and Glenview
Unlike kitchen work, which is often the very definition of stress, yoga is designed to alleviate stress. “For those sixty minutes,” Bosco says, “nothing matters outside the four corners of your mat.
And unlike his culinary students, Bosco’s yoga students are a cross section of Chicagoans—moms, construction workers, doctors—who all share a desire to take care of themselves and, as Bosco says, “let go. We’re a community of like-minded people who aren’t competitive. We’re all there for our own reasons. Nobody judges and the bonding and camaraderie are awesome. “
Asked how his yoga life has affected his cooking life, Bosco acknowledges, “It’s made me more patient. The yoga studio and the kitchen are both heated, but in different ways. In yoga, nobody’s paying $200 for a meal. Every posture has a meaning, but, if it doesn’t come out, it’s okay. We call it yoga practice, not yoga perfect.”