We’ve all heard the story before: Drug-addicted East Coast guido flower child gets clean, migrates to Los Angeles and emerges as Venice Beach superstar yogi. It’s as obvious as a Jerome Robbins musical.

Back in the early ‘90s, Marino substituted for a vacationing yoga-teacher friend, brought his Rolling Stones CDs to class and blasted the jams as the students pretzeled themselves into a higher consciousness. A harmless act with no ill intentions, but word spread like wildfire from Marina del Rey to Malibu. The cat got out of the bag. Vinnie Marino assumed the mantle of next big yoga thing. The rest is history.

These days, when Vinnie lays his dog down and pumps up the jams for his twice-daily Vinyasa Flow class at Yoga Works on Main Street in Santa Monica, hard-body yoga hoochies and celebs sardine-can into the room like it’s the last Jefferson Starship reunion tour on Earth.

You really gotta get there early and secure some sacred space if you want a spot in Vinnie’s class. His Tuesday, 9:15 a.m., level 2-3 is at the far reaches of my practice, but I decide to go for it.

I’m a little sweaty when I get to the class. “I tell people not to come in here stinking,” Guru V says in his East Coast Italian-American drawl. He’s disarming in a funny way. It’s really inviting and part of why everybody loves him — that and the rock & roll. But don’t be fooled by his charisma. Guru V is a master and his classes are not for the uncommitted.

During the 90-minute class, my heart pumps like mad, threatening a brain hemorrhage as I test the limits of my burgeoning practice. However, the other people in the class seem to be doing just fine. Hmm …

Vinnie’s word of mouth has provided him a following of yogis as high-res as Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham, David Duchovny and others.

Vinnie practices Vinyasa Flow classes as well as Iyengar yoga classes at Yoga Works in Santa Monica and privately (of course). In addition to those classes, this squeaky-clean yogi has embarked on another journey. His latest endeavor is called “Recovery Yoga.” It’s a sort of hybrid yoga workshop for junkies. It’s a big hit, of course. Two things are never in short supply here in Los Angeles: yoga and junkies.


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