Talk Shop and Get Real About Life, Romance, and the Business of Yoga
Photography by Kendell MacLeod
On location at Hard Candy Fitness Toronto
As in Hollywood, there are many bright and beautiful stars in our modern yoga sky, where fame is marked by one’s flexibility and social media savvy. But unlike the Hollywood hills, the romantic status of ‘gurus’ and teachers is of little interest to adoring fans and followers. Those holding the torch on a spiritual path tend to have fewer “disposable” commitments—at least theoretically.
In fact, we aren’t exaggerating when we say that, not only do just two people hold the affectionate and informal title of the First Couple (Colleen naturally filling the title of the First Lady), but they’re also the only couple in the running! No two people could better represent the positive influence of yoga on relationships than Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman–Yee.
The Couple’s Start
Rodney Yee (now 59) began his practice while deeply immersed in the discipline of Dance. An introduction to Iyengar Yoga captured his burgeoning interest in the body mind association with it’s own focus on precision and alignment. To this day, Yee considers it to be the foundation of his personal practice and teaching. Yee rose to national prominence in the early 1990s, when he began starring in Gaiam’s instructional yoga videos and DVDs. He’s since developed and sold millions of programs and books, and featured in calendars and promotional products galore. His affiliation with Gaiam, and now Gaia, continues to grow in strength and in scope.
Colleen’s entrance into the yoga world has a different narrative, as she was brought “kicking and screaming because I didn’t have time to ‘stretch,” she says. At 26 years old (30 years ago), she embarked on her teacher training in the Jivamukti tradition, which took place at a studio where her now-husband, Rodney Yee, was offering a workshop. The two met and have since built a relationship—and a respectable and benevolent yoga empire, of grand proportions. When Colleen met Rodney, she had already been teaching for some time at a studio of her own called Yoga Shanti and had such upscale clients as Russell Simmons and Christy Turlington. Some time into the relationship Yee introduced Colleen to Gaiam. Having been a fashion model since the 1980s, Gaiam’s use of Colleen’s services in their catalogue was a natural extension. She went on to model in one of Rodney’s DVDs, and from there Colleen’s own relationship with the company grew organically.
Mixing Business and Pleasure
Ever since that union, the couple has been virtually inseparable in the public eye, to the extent that their coupledom might be considered a brand in and of itself.
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