Trophy YogisFrom the trading floor to a sticky mat, hedge-fund honchos and A-list billionaires are getting their downward horndog on with sexy spiritual leaders.
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Music floats through a dimly lit space, and a woman with a decidedly firm butt guides a group of bodies in a series of twists and undulating stretches. Her toned arms, adorned with strips of leather and silver bangles, push students deeper into poses as their skin glistens with sweat and their breath intensifies.
No wonder men are falling for yoga teachers.
"Recently a teacher adjusting me in triangle pose put her pelvis into my lower back, her breasts on my upper back and pulled me in with her arm around my ribcage and asked, 'How do you feel now?'" says John Priest, a comedian whose mother is a yoga instructor. "I felt like she should buy me a glass of wine."
He's not the only one. Alec Baldwin, 53, the 30 Rock funnyman known for his razor-sharp wit, political savvy and quick temper, morphed into a starry-eyed marshmallow this summer, snuggling in public and sharing intimate tweets in English and Sanskrit. The object of his affection? Yoga teacher Hilaria Thomas, 28, whom he refers to as a "female Tarzan." The two met while dining separately at Pure Food & Wine in Gramercy.
Moneymaker Dan Loeb, 49, who manages more than $5.5 billion in assets, married yogini Margaret Munzer, 38, in 2004, while billionaire Henry Silverman, 71, is currently locked in a bitter divorce after leaving his wife for his yoga teacher, Karen Hader, 30 years his junior. Silverman calls her Cinderella: Her fairy-tale life includes a $19.3 million mansion on Central Park West and a $14 million love nest in Sagaponack. Until now she was likely making anywhere from $60 to $200 per hour as a licensed yoga instructor in NYC.
Transferring emotions onto someone who makes you feel better about yourself is nothing new: People fall for their shrinks, obstetricians and trainers all the time.
Kelly Morris, who teaches at the Shala near Union Square, understands the attraction. "I think everyone is turned on in a great yoga class, moving around, breathing heavy," she says. "You are touching their bodies. It can quickly devolve into some sort of sweat orgy."
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The effect is certainly tangible: Baldwin has dropped weight and is telling friends he's cut out sugar, while Silverman is looking to invest in a juice company.
But aside from the spine-tingling, hormone-stirring touch of an adjustment mid-downward dog, what do powerful men see in women who may prefer raw food to truffle oil? Yoga teachers, some say, pack the one-two punch of forming both spiritual and physical connections.
"We bring the spiritual aspects, and they bring the material aspects," Morris says matter-of-factly. "Hedge-fund guys hire a yoga teacher because they've been hunched over Bloomberg all day. A combination of breath and touch and moving [connects them] to the divine."