COLLEEN SAIDMAN YEE
THE FIRST LADY OF YOGA, A BADASS WITH ENDLESS HEART, AND ONE OF OUR MAIN INSPIRATIONS …
No yoga teacher would be who they are without the experience of sitting humbly at the feet of their teachers to receive the transmission that comes through the process of the student-teacher relationship. This has proven time and time again to be a very tricky relationship - we are all human after all - yet it is the foundation of the practice.
We have decided to focus each month on a different teacher that has had a profound impact on us, so you know where the transmission we continue to pass along has come from.
The student-teacher relationship is the most important aspect of the practice because it requires a sense of humility, of being able to recognize that we still have something to learn. The quest is to find a teacher who you feel knows quite a bit more than you, but is still accessible enough that you can understand what they are teaching you.
We begin with one of our main teachers and dear friends, Miss Colleen Saidman Yee. A powerful world-renowned teacher, author, and mother who recently published an honest and revealing book “YOGA FOR LIFE” about the many phases of her life as a model, heroin addict, and yoga teacher, and how we can apply yoga to our own phases and our everyday humanness.
Colleen isn’t afraid to be human. She is authentic, loving, inspiring, and relatable, while maintaining this stunning allure that keeps us wondering what her secret is.
Here we sit down and get a little insight into her wild heart and what she has learned after decades with the yoga practice.
YFBP: What does bad mean to you?
CS: Bad has so many meanings. If I say that I have had a bad day, it was full of struggles and difficulty. If I say that I am wearing a bad outfit, it means that I am so rocking this get up. Bad is like the word “sick”. It can be used for both extremes.
YFBP: How have you carved your own path?
CS: By putting one foot in front of the other, being spontaneous, using primal gut instinct, and making a shit load of mistakes.
YFBP: How do you break the rules for your own good?
CS: I make my own rules according to my beliefs and what my internal meter tells me. We all know when what we do or say is not true or kind. That horrible feeling is when a rule has been broken. I hate the word rule. It brings me back to Catholic school.
YFBP: How do you blow off steam?
CS: Cry, binge watch Scandal or Nashville, lions pose over and over again. I wish I could say that I take off all my clothes and dance naked with the windows open and the lights on, but that doesn’t happen.
YFBP: What is your favorite travel memory/story?
CS: I got on a plane to fly to California for a modeling job. My boyfriend (who I ended up marrying and having a child with) had just told me that he wasn’t in love with me. The heart wrench that I felt was unbearable. For some strange reason I was upgraded to first class. I took my seat and there was an older gentleman next to me. We struck up a conversation (which I never do on a plane). He could see that I was upset. We talked the entire way. I felt like I was talking to an enlightened guru. He was humble and unassuming as he gave me gem after gem. I felt so light, strong, happy and blessed by the end of the flight. He signed a book and handed it to me. His name was Norman Cousins. He changed my life.
YFBP: How do you take yoga off the mat?
CS: By noticing when I am an asshole in life. I have also cofounded and codirect the Urban Zen Integrative Program which has, and continues to train hundreds of allied health care and yoga practitioners to care for themselves, loved ones and patients with modalities of in bed and chair yoga, restorative poses, breath awareness, meditation, essential oil therapy, reiki, contemplative care and nutrition. We address symptoms of pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, exhaustion and sadness.
YFBP: What have you gained from practicing yoga?
CS: Humility, fortitude, introspection, love and more flexible hamstrings.
YFBP: What is your current main message to the world?
CS: Stop trying to prove to yourself and others that you are special. Know that You Are Enough. I am not standing on a pulpit as I deliver this message. I am listening to words that I need to hear.
May you all find a teacher who speaks the language of your heart. Who can help remind you of your own inner wisdom and power, and who doesn’t judge you when you make a thousand mistakes.