NYTs Profiles Yoga’s “First Lady”

An article published yesterday in the New York Times named yoga teacher Colleen Saidman Yee the “First Lady of Yoga.”

Saidman Yee has brought to yoga “glamour, sensuality without the creepy overtones of recent yoga scandals, and unapologetic commercialism, endorsing wine and posing for Vanity Fair,” the article states.

A glimpse into Saidman Yee’s life reveals celebrity clients, endorsement deals, and a sometimes-tumultuous personal history. A model in the 80s (she still does some modeling for the likes of Eileen Fisher), Saidman Yee lived a wild life. Her relationship with Yee, one of the first superstar yogis, ended both of their previous marriages and caused waves in the yoga community. The two married in 2007.

Since then, the couple has to find a great deal of success and influence in the yoga world. They direct fashion designer Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program, make yoga DVDs, and teach at retreats and yoga conferences around the world. They also plan to open a new yoga studio in New York City. Meanwhile, although she may be known as half of a famous duo—Colleen and Rodney often teach together—she has proven herself as a talented and in-demand yoga teacher in her own right, especially for women.

But her life hasn’t always been all East Hamptons and luxury travel, the article says. She was a drug addict. She suffered a series of injuries—she was struck by lightning, had seizures, and broke her ribs—which ultimately led her to take her first yoga class. “I walked out and I felt high,” she told the Times. “Like everything was clearer and crisper and I could hear better. I hate the word spiritual, but it was a very spiritual moment.”

Whether you agree that Saidman Yee should be the “First Lady” of the yoga community or not, her story is an interesting example of how even the most well-known teachers have struggled. “Oh, my God, I am so not pure,” she said. “I never want to be called a guru. All I want to do is guide women into their own bodies so they can be more content.” Read the full article.