Voilà Chocolat plans to visit YogaWorks Westside on Saturday at 10:30am, during the studio's Open House. We'll share samples of dark chocolate and cacao nibs, and provide information about chocolate and your health.

What does chocolate have to do with yoga? A tremendous amount, it turns out! Below are 8 reasons why chocolate is like yoga for your mouth...

1. Chocolate and Yoga are mood boosters. That feeling after a good yoga class? Blissed out, calmer, happier? A good piece of chocolate can produce similar feelings. Both help the body to release endorphins and just plain make you feel good. At Voilà Chocolat, our tagline is actually "make your own happiness," which, as yogis know, applies pretty well to yoga too. In fact, if you want to steal "make your own happiness" for your personal mantra, you're welcome to try it!

2. Chocolate and Yoga are more enjoyable the more you learn about them. Just as there's more to yoga than downward dog, there's WAY more to chocolate than the typical mass-produced candy bar. The more you learn about the origins and science of chocolate, the better able you are to enjoy it.

3. Chocolate and Yoga are healthy indulgences. Turning off your phone, turning off your mind, and spending an hour in yoga class is always 60 minutes of "me time" well-spent. In the same way, good dark chocolate is a pleasurable indulgence that provides a lot of health benefits, such as for your heart, mobility, mind, and longevity. But just as you can't derive the same benefits of yoga from simply touching your toes, not just any kind of chocolate is healthy. We'll be talking about this more on Saturday (or drop by our store any time).

4. Chocolate and Yoga are great for spending time with others. Most yoga practitioners could do all the asanas on their own, after practicing for some time. And yet most of us still go to class. Even yoga teachers go to class. There's just something about being one in a group that makes it more meaningful. Sharing chocolate with others is more enjoyable than scarfing it down alone; and at Voilà Chocolat, we teach chocolatiering as an activity that is really fun to do with others. (And since our trained chocolatiers are on hand to guide you, just like your yoga teacher, you'll be sure to end up with chocolates that have proper form.)

5. Chocolate and Yoga are pathways to greater mindfulness. Clear your mind. Focus on your breaths. Repeat your mantra. Stay in the moment. And now, put a really good piece of chocolate in your mouth... are you in a rush to get to somewhere else, or are you savoring this sensory, sensual moment?

6. Chocolate and Yoga can be weight management tools. In addition to toning and strengthening muscles, yoga reduces stress, which can cause us to make less healthy food choices (ever hear of "emotional eating?") The endorphins and serotonins released from eating good dark chocolate reduce stress too. But in addition, good dark chocolate works actively to reduce cravings for more sugary and fatty snacks. Eating 1-2 ounces of good dark chocolate is very satisfying, so afterwards, you stop... unlike how you feel after inhaling a bag of chips or a convenience store candy bar. 

7. Chocolatiering and Yoga are enjoyable activities. Most people don't think of chocolate as an activity, but that is why Voilà Chocolat exists: to show people how satisfying, creative and fun it is to make chocolate not just a treat but an active hobby. Remember when you first mastered the headstand without using the wall? Or that feeling of flying that you had the first time you stayed up in crow pose for several consecutive seconds? That's kind of like what it feels like when you release a chocolate confection from the mold and behold what you've made with your own two hands. We call it the "Voilà moment."

8. Exploring fine chocolate and practicing Yoga can improve the whole world. Now hold on. What? No, we're serious. Yoga and meditation help to teach mindfulness and compassion, which make us better human beings toward one another. Yoga means "union" -- of heart and mind, and of all people. And in doing yoga, we get to experience "flow," that feeling of deep, focused enjoyment that comes from getting completely absorbed in an activity, and that creates a transcendent sense of peacefulness. We've experienced that same kind of "flow" while chocolatiering too. In sharing this feeling with others, we're creating more opportunities for mindfulness, creativity and "union" with others. We hope that in teaching others about chocolate, such as where it comes from and who grows it, we can inspire more mindful consumer choices that will better protect the environment and help cacao growers earn a living wage. It is possible to make choices about chocolate that are more compassionate toward the planet and toward the strangers who grow and harvest cacao. We invite you to learn more...and become an active, mindful consumer of good chocolate.