Besides her glowing skin and svelte figure, Gwyneth Paltrow offered other reasons for doing yoga last night.
“It’s an amazing practice that has benefited both me and my husband,” said Paltrow, wearing a gray Alexander Wang dress. “It’s such a simple and powerful thing.”
Paltrow was speaking at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Center as an honoree of the third annual Bent on Learning gala. The nonprofit, with an annual budget of $425,000, teaches yoga to children enrolled in 20 New York City public schools. It also counts Eddie Stern, Paltrow’s yoga guru, as one of its board members.
Russell Simmons, the other honoree, gave a specific example of how yoga comes in handy in the workplace.
“If you can put your foot behind your head and smile and breathe, then someone can yell at you and you can keep your composure,” the music and fashion mogul said from his dinner table, which was decorated with bowls of pink peonies.
“It helps you do your homework,” said Brianna Flores, an 11-year-old who attends P.S. 132 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “If you do the camel pose, it helps you think more.”
Flores and her classmates then demonstrated the camel pose on the deck of the Urban Zen Center’s garden, while adults around them bellied up to the bar for thyme lemonade. The camel involves bending backward from a kneeling position and touching your ankles with your hands.
Later, the students performed their moves inside, on the mat-covered stage, as New York Rangers winger Sean Avery, Baby Buggy founder Jessica Seinfeld and model Molly Sims settled into a lacto-vegetarian dinner featuring roasted abalone mushroom tatin.
The health-minded event also included a live auction conducted by Lydia Fenet of Christie’s. Among the treats Fenet sold were a 21-day deep cleanse, a package with Madonna and Paltrow trainer Tracy Anderson, and a vegan dinner with Stern and the artist Francesco Clemente.
Paltrow also got into the auction game. “I don’t think we raised quite enough money,” she said at the end of her brief acceptance speech. She then offered two tickets to see “Glee Live! In Concert!” tonight at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“Bring your kid, I’ll send a car, and we’ll go backstage,” Paltrow said. “Where’s that hot auction lady?”
Fenet came back on stage and helped sell the package for $10,000.
Paltrow also gave the Bent on Learning students hugs and autographs that included hearts.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)