Most of us walk an imperfect path through life. But even when things really veer off course, in the end it’s all about how we react and learn from our experiences.
Many fans of superstar yogi Colleen Saidman Yee will be surprised by the revelations of her own struggles on the way to spiritual and physical wellness detailed in her new book, “Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom,” out today.
In it, Yee opens up about her early rebellious years — overcoming a heroin habit, launching a modeling career — and personal tragedies, eventually emerging as a globally respected teacher and activist.
“We are often shackled by past experiences or the anticipation of future ones,” Yee says about allowing yourself to let go of what’s holding you back. “Remorse and expectation don’t allow you live in the present moment, and if you’re not alive in the present moment, then you’re wasting a valuable life — your own. Life becomes a blur.”
The “freedom” in the subtitle is about “waking up and being alert to what is happening now, whether it’s full of beauty or full of sadness. Freedom is being present to the full spectrum of humanity, and not running from it, or covering it up, which I did for a large part of my life.”
Part memoir, part workout guide, Yee’s book is about applying the principles of yoga to live in a more balanced way. “Yoga can bring you to that doorway by helping to clear out the body and mind. After that, it’s up to you,” she says. “If you want to do the work, walk through the door and reclaim your life.”
Besides on bookshelves, New Yorkers can also find Yee in person this summer at Solstice, a gathering of more than 10,000 yogis in Times Square on June 21, or at her studio in the Hamptons — hey, you have to relax to keep up all that partying, right?
Your summer vacation is oneof her busiest times of the year (and that’s after she and her husband, fellow celebrity yogi Rodney Yee, had traveled from Labor Day to Memorial Day). But if anything,classes are less hectic at herYoga Shantistudio. Students settle in for hour-and-a-half sessions instead of rushing to and from class. For July and August, the Yee throws open the doors and windows to let the energy flow in and stress float away on the breeze.
What does she love about summer?"What’s not to love? It takes two seconds to get dressed in the morning, and you don’t even have to bend down to put your shoes on — just slip on flip-flops and you’re good to go. Convertibles are almost like enlightenment. The farm stands are glistening with local fruits and vegetables, even though chocolate is our main food group. I know dermatologists will cringe, but I love the feel of strong sun on my skin.
"The light in the Hamptons is always beautiful, but summer evenings are surreally beautiful. Our four kids, ages 19-24, come home for at least some of the summer. We’re so happy to have the house full and loud.”
Beyond her studio, we asked Yee about her favorite places to unwind, recharge and reconnect away from the city.
When you’re seeking inspiration: "I go toLifestyle, a beautiful clothing store in Sag Harbor. Rodney goes toJack’s Stir Brew Coffeein Amagansett. Our main inspiration comes from the late-night clerk atKing Kullen; we have had many “A-ha!” moments during 2 a.m. runs for kombucha and Noosa yogurt."
When you want to relax and refocus:“Our batteries get recharged by being in our own backyard — me with a huge cup of strong black tea in my hand and Rodney with a cappuccino in his. We have a big stone Shiva statue on the patio that we stare at as we watch our breath and listen to the birds — and call it meditation.”
For a healthy and satisfying meal:"Breadzilla,Estia’s,La FonditaandHampton Chutney— all great for vegetarians like us. These are mainly lunch places; we rarely go out for dinner. Our dinners consist of peanut butter and avocados while standing around our kitchen counter."