Dressed in my Lululemon finest yoga attire, I arrived at “Yoga Gives” studio in Southampton at 9:45 a.m. My assignment sounded simple. Take a morning yoga class to benefit The Child Mind Institute (CMI) taught by Alec Baldwin’s new wife, Hilaria Thomas Baldwin, and report on my experience. The interview was the easy part. The challenge was the yoga. I am not a yogi. I am a tightly wound mess of stress. I have only participated in a total of three yoga classes in my lifetime. So, I was nervous I would be the worst in the class. And, I must admit, I was wondering if Mrs. Baldwin was going to fit the typical Hollywood-wife stereotype? That said, as soon as I was introduced to Hilaria, which means “happy” in Spanish (pronounced “E-Lar-ee-ah”), she was instantly warm and refreshingly unaffected. The yoga guru who married a famous movie and TV star 20+ years her senior this past June, turned out to not only be an inspiration to her husband Alec, but also an inspiration to many of her students. She’s a trained dancer who turned yoga instructor more than a decade ago. Perhaps one of the most awe inspiring stories about Thomas was her ability to overcome a major stress fracture and surgery on her hip, which left her in a wheelchair for three months – all while opening up her own yoga studio. Thomas is a co-founder of Yoga Vida with two locations in the East Village and will be teaching classes weekly this fall.
Now, back to my personal Baldwin yoga challenge. I made it very clear up-front, I am a beginner and will be “the worst student in the class” to which Thomas laughed and replied, “I have taught thousands and thousands of people, there is no way that you can be the worst person. Nothing surprises me.” I may not have surprised Thomas but several dozens of downward dogs and warrior poses later, I surprised myself. Just 10 minutes into Thomas’ class and I kept up with several VIP yogis including; Christine Mack, Amanda Taylor, Jennifer Creel, Tania Higgins, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Lise Evans, Julia Koch and Holly Peterson. I survived the yoga challenge thanks to Thomas and her super skilled associate Noel who patiently assisted me through the more complex poses and made my experience more fun then embarrassing. Post class I had a chance to interview Thomas after she chatted with her students and posed for photos with CMI founder, Dr. Harold Koplewicz. Thomas shared, “This is not just raising money to help people but raising awareness about the stigma that is surrounding different learning disabilities. According to Thomas, yoga has several benefits including a more fulfilling sex life, “If you guys are at home and thinking about improving your sex life, becoming flexible, definitely helps.” Just this week, Alec and Hilaria have been in the headlines. Reports of Thomas sporting a “baby bump” at a charity gala. Thomas tweeted, “Shld rumors that I’m pregnant give me a complex about my waistline? How slim do u have to be? This is a serious problem in society.”
Thomas isn’t shy and when I asked her if she wanted children with Alec she said, “Hope so. I think anybody would be so lucky to have Alec as a dad.” Thomas was thrilled her class helped raise over $8k to support the Child Mind Institute’s financial aid fund, which promises no family will be turned away from care due to an inability to pay. This fall, you can take the Baldwin Yoga Challenge several times a week at Yoga Vida. Tune into IN THE MIXX for the entire exclusive interview with Hilaria on VVH-TV, 9/15/12.