Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yoga 'N' the 'Hood

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Yoga 'N' the 'Hood

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER HUCK

Peter Huck meets the Hollywood hostess who is taking oriental wisdom to the Los Angeles ghettoes

Focus TARA Lynda Guber smiles, as we remove our shoes and enter the Yoga House. "This is my getaway, when all hell breaks loose." Quite what she means is unclear. I assume she's referring to life with Hollywood producer Peter Guber, the man behind Batman, Rain Man and The Color Purple. Hidden off a smart culde-sac, the Yoga House, on the Gubers' Bel Air estate, has a calm, Zen-like air, all polished wooden floors, Buddhist statuary and Sanskrit salutations.

Photographs of Guber in various yoga postures line the walls. Outside the Japanese-style windows, beyond an azure pond and manicured lawn, a panoramic view of Los Angeles looms through morning mist. Soon Guber is stretching and breathing in a dynamic "Pure Yoga" class taught by Rod Stryker, one of America's top yoga teachers.

Judging by the late-model sports utility vehicles and foreign cars outside, many of the other 16 students, all white adults, mostly in their twenties or thirties, come from prosperous backgrounds.

A few hours later, Guber is standing beneath harsh fluorescent lights.

There are no tidy rows of Manolo Blahniks at the door. Instead, a pile of tatty sneakers. For this is South Central LA, a gritty, inner-city district, plagued by gangs and poverty, and Guber's students are boisterous black and Latino seven-year-olds.

Fiery of hair, with a direct gaze, throaty laugh and earthy New York accent, Guber is a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. An ex-producer herself, she has practised and taught

yoga for 24 years and is a former Brooklyn school teacher.

On a clear day you can see The Accelerated School - home of Guber's South Central classes - from the Bel Air Yoga House. Yet, for those who wish to escape, the ghetto might just as well be on the moon, stuck on the losing side in a racially divided city.

Guber's trickledown yoga crusade aims to offer a way out: to help kids focus on their studies. Growing up in tough neighbourhoods, where kids often do their homework on the kitchen table and can be kept awake by gunfire and police helicopters, can make it hard to learn. …

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