DISTINCTION, November/December, 2003
Wealthy Angelenos switch from the social circuit to the centeredness of teaching yoga
By Anna David
In the ’70s and ’80s, the stereotypical yoga teacher was a burned-out hippie or former dancer who guided fellow fringe types or housewives through a series of not particularly rigorous stretches.
How time shave changed. Many of the women overseeing the downward dogs and twisting triangles these days have an array of career options at their fingertips – not to mention the possibility of not working at all.
Five years ago, Anna Getty, then 25, had worked as an actress, producer and chef’s assistant. A friend recommended she study yoga with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, a local kundalini teacher whose Sikh name means “one who helps people across the world ocean.”
Getty, who’s used to people having preconceived notions because of her last name – “I can use it for me or against me,” she says, “and I choose to use it in a positive way” – was at a “desperate” point in her life. “I was young and insecure, not too sure about my life,” Getty said. Born in Germany, she was raised in Los Angeles and San Francisco, attended boarding school on the East Coast and lived for three years in Paris before settling back in Los Angeles.
From her first yoga class, she says, all that moving-around chaos cleared. She quit smoking and reduced her drinking to the occasional social circuit cocktail. She was one of the first to invest in Gurmukh’s now-thriving Fairfax district yoga studio, Golden Bridge, and eventually signed on there as a teacher.
Teaching kundalini yoga classes, which emphasize breathing and meditation, gave Getty a sense of accomplishment unlike anything she’d experienced before, she says.
“When I was acting, I was always coming from an ego place,” she says. “If I’m teaching yoga and people are reacting, it’s not about me and how great I am. I get to help enhance people’s lives and that’s so gratifying.”
Getty’s not the only one of her ilk to trade in a peripatetic lifestyle for a yoga mat. Jodi Guber, a former William Morris agent, publicist and event planner, first came face to face with yoga when she was a child and walked into the bathroom (it was a large bathroom) where yoga guru Alan Finger was teaching her parents, producer Peter Guber and Tara, who is also a yogi.
“I was like, ‘What are they doing?'” says Guber, 35. “Cut to 15 years later, I start doing it myself.”
The graduate of three teacher-training courses, Guber teaches mixed-level and vinyasa flow classes that are anusara-inspired. Because she traded in the rat race for a slower pace, Guber can serve as a real-life model to students who may be similarly burdened by Hollywood high-life burnout.
“I’ve really learned to like who I am and to not get caught up in what is so easy to get caught up in here,” Guber says, referring to L.A.’s superficial side. “I transformed myself through yoga and I think that can be inspirational and relatable to my clientele.”