Colleen Saidman Yee’s introduction to yoga was in 1987, at the urging of a roommate, who convinced her to attend a class in New York City. Soon after, her worn-out running shoes, her basketball, and her boxing gloves became things of the past. In 1994, after back surgery, Colleen’s commitment to her yoga practice deepened. A graduate of Jivamukti’s 1998 teacher-training program, Colleen opened her own studio, Yoga Shanti, in Sag Harbor, in 1999. She has taught several teacher trainings at Yoga Shanti, some with her husband, Rodney Yee.
The New York Times christened Colleen “The First Lady of Yoga,” in their recent profile of her on the front page of the Sunday Style section. She has also been featured in Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Oprah, Marie-Claire, Allure, and Yoga Journal. Before that she had a varied career: She was a cover girl, a student of shiatsu, and she lived in Calcutta, working with Mother Theresa at the Home for the Dying and Destitute.
More recently, together with Rodney, Colleen helped to create Urban Zen’s Integrative Yoga Therapist Program, Donna Karan’s worldwide initiative. She and Rodney are also authors of the Gaiam Yoga Studio, as well as several popular yoga DVDs. Colleen’s latest is “Yoga for Weight Loss.” Colleen currently lives in Sag Harbor.
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Rodney Yee has been curious about the mind and body for as long as he can remember. He was a gymnast, a ballet dancer, and a philosophy and physical therapy major. Following the thread of curiosity about mind and body, he took his first yoga class in 1980. He went to yoga in search of flexibility and found a practice that would turn into his life-long passion and career. In 1981, Rodney began to study yoga full time at the San Francisco Iyengar Yoga Institute and at The Yoga Room in Berkeley. In 1987, after becoming a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, he opened the Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, CA, with Richard Rosen and Claire Finn.
Presently, in addition to teaching at Yoga Shanti, Rodney leads teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats nationally and internationally with Colleen. In Spring 2007, Rodney and Colleen were co-chairs and panelists for the Urban Zen Initiative, a forum dedicated to integrating eastern healing arts into the western medical paradigm. They are now co-directing Urban Zen’s Integrative Yoga Therapist Program. Rodney has also been featured in over 30 Yoga DVD titles and numerous audio recordings with Gaiam. He has written two books, Yoga: the Poetry of the Body and Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee, both in collaboration with Nina Zolotow. Rodney and Colleen also present the Gaiam Yoga Club online.
Most importantly, Rodney and Colleen are raising and being raised by four awesome children, Evan, Adesha, Rachel, and Johanna. At this point in his life journey, Rodney realizes that Colleen and the kids are the real source of all of his yogic growth.
Susan “Lippy” Orem began practicing yoga when the thrill of bench aerobics was gone. Her first teachers were Sharon Gannon, Dana Flynn and Cyndi Lee. Her checkered past as a dancer in Las Vegas revues, Off Broadway actress, Ringling Brothers clown and sign language interpreter left her no choice but to teach yoga. She was too old to be a cowgirl or an astronaut. She was first certified by Cyndi Lee before there was an OM Yoga. She has been a student of Rodney Yee since 1996 and continues to be inspired by his teaching. She is proud to be part of the Teacher Training program for Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor and to assist Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman annually at Kripalu. Here in NYC Genny Kapuler and Carrie Owerko keep Lip’s feet steady on the path. The most influential teachers have been all the students willing to take this trip with her. Susan “Lip” is grateful every day that what she does is what she loves.
David started practicing at Yoga Shanti NYC in 2014 eventually earning his 500 Hr-ERYT. David managed Five Pillars Yoga on the Upper East Side and in the Hamptons for five years, mentoring three 200Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings and diversifying his own education with continued studies in multiple lineages, including Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar and Yoga Therapeutics. David is a Reiki practitioner, and Level II certified in Thai Yoga massage. He is a trauma-informed recovery coach and a Kriya Yoga initiate in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Today David designs landscapes and gardens on the East End of Long Island and lives in Water Mill, NY.
Jazmin, when not teaching or practicing yoga, is also a surfer, former circus acrobat, and art student turned local farm-girl in Santa Barbara, CA. Thanks to her mother, who insisted she do yoga, Jazmin has engaged in some form of yoga and meditation practice most of her life. Her early introduction to yoga as a young child taught her the importance of caring for the body and cultivating an open mind and heart. The deal was – she could be in the circus as long as she also agreed to keep practicing yoga and “learn the correct alignment”. Through yoga, Jazmin continues to uncover and refine what it means to live in alignment within herself, in relationship, and with the world. Jazmin completed her initial 200-hour teacher training in 2014 with Ganga White and Tracy Rich. She has been teaching yoga since. She felt she had just scratched the surface after her first teacher training. So of course, she dug deeper. She has since completed an additional 300 hours of advanced teacher training with Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee. Jazmin considers Rodney and Colleen her primary teachers and has studied with them since she was a teenager. Jazmin’s committed exploration of what it means to live close to the beauty of the human experience continues to evolve, breakdown, mature, and unfold, sometimes as a yoga teacher, always as a student.
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Sarah Halweil graduated from the Yoga Shanti Teacher Training Program in 2004. Previously she had practiced Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Jivamukti Yoga, but knew that she had found something special when she moved to Sag Harbor and started practicing at Yoga Shanti. “I was in awe in every class,” she remembers. “The chanting. The intelligent sequencing. The focus on anatomy. The spiritual education and guidance. It satisfied all of my yoga expectations, and all in a tiny, whaling town.”
Sarah strives to push the yoga practice beyond the classroom and into everyday life. “I feel grateful to be able to study with Colleen and Jessica, Rodney Yee and Manorama, and to share this powerful practice with others,” she says.
Sarah holds a BA in Environmental Science and Latin American Studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a BSN from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She is a labor and delivery nurse, and clinical coordinator for the Urban Zen program at Southampton hospital.
Leah took her first class at Yoga Shanti in 2001 and just never left. She completed Yoga Shanti’s teacher training program in 2004, the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program in 2010 and is now a mentor in the Yoga Shanti teacher training. Leah’s classes are beautifully paced, carefully sequenced, and led with delicate instruction. She is continually amazed by and delights in the glory of this practice. She is grateful to all the teachers and students of Yoga Shanti for years of conversation, collaboration and community.
Seamus grew up splitting his time in between New York City and the East End of Long Island. He continues to enjoy this balance between city and costal life today.
Prior to teaching yoga, Seamus worked primarily as a Recording Engineer. Starting as a Front of House Sound Mixer for a nationally touring band, then progressing into Studio Recording/ Editing/Mixing, then eventually landing in Television Production.
Seamus’s first introduction to yoga was an Ashtanga yoga class in North Carolina in the late 90’s. After his first class he was hooked. He since has spent time in the full spectrum of yoga disciplines, all leading to his primary love for Vinyasa Flow Yoga.
Throughout his professional career, like many practitioners, he had a “on-again/off-again” rela- tionship with yoga. He found himself sometimes practicing 3-5 times per week, other times not practicing for months. Eventually one thing became very clear. The more time he dedicated to showing up and practicing on his mat, the more balanced every aspect of his life became. Seamus completed his first 200-HR Teacher Training in 2015 at Yoga Shanti NYC and has since completed an additional 300HR Advanced Teacher Training at Yoga Shanti. He continues to be dedicated to the study, practice, and teaching of yoga.
Seamus’s classes are as fun as they are challenging. He teaches a Vinyasa Flow style, with a heavy emphasis on sequencing and music, alignment and flow, and an appropriate amount of inquiry into the practice of yoga. See you on the mat…
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Peggy Leder has been studying intensively with Colleen and Rodney for the past 5 years. She has completed 1000 hours of Yoga Shanti Teacher Trainings. As well as teaching at Yoga Shanti, Peggy has a private practice as an art therapist working with all ages. She is a photographer and loves to capture the beauty that surrounds her on a daily basis on the east end of LI. Peggy holds her bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of Vermont and her master’s degree in clinical art therapy from CW Post, LI University. Peggy resides year round in Sag Harbor, NY.