AUTHOR OF "YOGA FOR LIFE" & OWNER OF YOGA SHANTI
Colleen Saidman Yee is the author of Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom (Atria Books). She is also director and owner of Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and co-owns Yoga Shanti in Westhampton Beach and New York City. Articles about her have appeared in The New York Times, New York, Vanity Fair, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
How will you stay the best?
I keep the pedal to the metal. I have a work ethic that doesn’t quit. My father passed that on to all of his seven kids. He worked in a factory and was hell bent that his kids wouldn’t have that same life. He drove that into us day and night. He busted his butt to make ends meet, to ensure we got good educations. My five brothers and sister all have advanced degrees. I became a fashion model, then a yogi, but I’ve had his work ethic in every job I’ve held. As a model I never missed a casting. As a yoga teacher, I’ve only missed 3 classes in 17 years. One was when I had just found out that my brother is law unexpectedly dropped dead. One was when I had a severe case of the flu, and the last time was when I got the call that all children dread. My mother has been rushed to the hospital and probably won’t make it through the night. For the first 10 years as a teacher, I would spend hours planning every class. I would write down the poses and what I planned to say about them and how I was going to lead students in and out of them. I literally wrote a 90-minute script for each class. Then I would find a poem and a music playlist that went perfectly with the spiritual theme of the class. I am not quite as obsessed now, but I still plan my classes carefully. I live and breathe teaching. Sometimes I worry that I’ve become a boring, one-dimensional person. I am constantly going over yoga sequences in my head. Thank God I am married to a yogi [Rodney Yee]. He’s just as much of a workaholic and a yoga nerd as I am.
What fascinates you?
Other people’s stories. If I weren’t a yoga teacher, I would want to be an interviewer like Christiane Amanpour and Diane Sawyer. Singing also fascinates me. I can’t sing at all, but nothing touches my heart more than music, and a beautiful voice.