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Rodney Yee: Biography of a Yoga Icon
“They call me a ‘yoga master,’ and I sort of laugh. What have I mastered? I don’t even know what that means. It’s just an ongoing exploration. The more you practice, the more you sense the infinite nuances. It’s an endless journey of your curiosity.”
– Rodney Yee
Rodney Yee first began studying yoga about 26 years ago while dancing with the Oakland Ballet and studying physical therapy — but his deep interest in the physics of the body was sparked many years before by his inability to top a friend's physical feats (watch our video clip for the story).
His search continued until he and a fellow dancer decided to try yoga. “When I took my first class, it was an enormous physical and emotional relief,” Rodney recalls. “Of all the physical disciplines, yoga changed my body the fastest. It also cleanses me emotionally and mentally. Each time I practice I feel as if I'm waking with a clean slate out of a deep sleep.”
While dancing with the Matsuyama Ballet Company of Tokyo, Rodney continued taking yoga classes. By the time he returned to the U.S. in 1983, Rodney was committed to sharing his knowledge. He began teaching at The Yoga Room in Berkeley, Calif., and later opened his own teaching center, Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, Calif., which he recently passed on to one of the co-founders, Richard Rosen. He has studied yoga in India with B.K.S. Iyengar, and philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.
Although he has studied extensively in the Iyengar vein, he relies strongly on his own practice, intuition, philosophy and spirituality to influence his teaching. The yogic experiences and lessons he loves to share are frequently interlaced with passages quoted from works by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and others.
Now one of the most recognized and popular yoga instructors in the world, Rodney Yee has been featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” CNN and PBS. His instructional programs are often among the top 10 fitness DVDs in America and include more than 25 titles. He's also co-authored two books with Nina Zolotow — Yoga: The Poetry of the Body, prasied for its thought-provoking student-teacher dialogs and artful black-and-white photography; and Moving Toward Balance, a step-by-step guide to an eight-week home practice.
Recent work from Rodney Yee includes his latest home-practice DVDs from Gaiam, including Advanced Yoga and the Yoga Now system with Mariel Hemingway. He is extensively involved in community and charitable programs and events, such as his recent projects hosting benefits and designing T-shirts with his son Evan to benefit Norbulingka Institute in India, supporting the preservation of Tibetan culture.
Rodney Yee has four children and lives in East Hampton, New York, with his wife, the yoga teacher and model Colleen Saidman.
Practice yoga with Rodney Yee on GaiamTV.com.