NEW KDHamptons Lifestyle Diary: Yoga Shanti Founder Colleen Saidman Yee
“I started my Hamptons journey part-time on Shelter Island in 1985, and fourteen years later I opened Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor and moved to East Hampton full time. In 2006, my husband Rodney and I moved to Sag Harbor and I know we are here for life,” shares world-renowned yoga teacher and author Colleen Saidman Yee [above]. Widely considered to be the heartbeat of the Hamptons yoga scene, Colleen and Rodney [below] inspire their legion of followers to live their best life on the East End. KDHamptons catches up with Colleen in this exclusive new lifestyle diary below.
KDHamptons: What do you love most about living in the Hamptons?
Colleen Saidman Yee: What I love most is the yoga community that has gathered around Yoga Shanti. Next to my family [daughter, Rachel, 20 & stepchildren, Evan, 25; Adesha, 22; and Johanna,19], it is the most valuable thing to me. I need to be surrounded by beauty, and nothing does that better than the Hamptons. The beaches, the light, the flowers, the dunes, the landscape, the produce, the birds, and even the deer light me up on a daily basis.
KDHamptons: Yoga Shanti is considered Oz for most Hampton’s yogis. How would you describe Yoga Shanti to someone who is not in the yoga world? What does it mean to you and Rodney personally?
Colleen Saidman Yee: All Yoga Studios are unique havens. I would describe Yoga Shanti as a temple without dogma. The atmosphere is friendly and accepting. The space is light-filled, beautiful, and ethereal (complete with gold-leaf ceiling). Your blood pressure drops just by walking through the door. The teachers are masters of this art form, and deliver their teachings in a very approachable manner. If intimidation was a factor, it dissipates the minute you enter the studio. Rodney and I feel blessed, humbled, honored, and incredibly grateful to take the teacher’s seat and to be amongst this amazing community.
KDHamptons: The Hamptons yoga scene can be intimidating to break into for beginners. What would be you suggested classes for a newcomer?
Colleen Saidman Yee: We have beginner’s classes every single day at Yoga Shanti. I would start there. I’m telling you, once you sign in, take your shoes off, get on your mat, and hear the voice of your teacher, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to begin this journey. We also offer Urban Zen classes, which are restorative, and anyone at any point in their lives can attend these.
KDHamptons: What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Colleen Saidman Yee: My guilty pleasures are many—among them, not setting an alarm, spending two hours drinking tea, shopping, eating chocolate and peanut butter, and watching “Nashville”.
KDHamptons: What does your perfect day in the Hamptons looks like?
Colleen Saidman Yee: Haha. I kind of just laid it out in my last answer. But I’ll make it Hamptons- specific: The perfect day is getting up after eight-plus hours of sleep, doing breath work with Rodney, grabbing my tea and, with no obligations on the calendar, sitting outside looking at my wildflower garden and watching the birds and bees living their lives. Then leisurely wandering up to the yoga room to do a sweet, slow practice, followed by a green juice at Juicy Naam and breakfast at Estias. After that, taking a sleeping bag and a pillow to the beach (unless it’s summer, of course), and napping while being lulled by the sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean. On the way home, indulging in a new pair of sweatpants at Lifestyle. At this point, we would take ourselves to a movie, buy a large popcorn with butter, and a large seltzer, find our seats, lift up the armrest between us, and cuddle up to be entertained. A drive to Long Beach to watch the sunset with a jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and a kombucha from Provisions is the perfect closing to a perfect day.
KDHamptons: Your love story with Rodney seems intrinsically tied to your persona and practice. Everyone loves to love you two, which is quite romantic. Do you have a couple tips for readers on how to make marriage work?
Colleen Saidman Yee: The dynamics of every marriage are so complicated and unique. I don’t think that I can give advice as a one size fits all. What works for us is holding each other accountable, and not shying away from conflict. It sucks at the time, but sometimes a rainstorm has to come in order to clear away building tension, and create a clearing for blue sky. The main problem is expecting a marriage to be like a fairy tale, and comparing it to other marriages. No matter how it looks on the outside, I believe that every marriage is hard work, and takes constant navigation and negotiation. Respect and communication are the key ingredients.