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Rodney Yee is an American yoga instructor who rose to national prominence in the early 1990s when he began starring in a series of Gaiam/Living Arts yoga instructional videos and DVDs. More than thirty such programs now exist, selling in the millions worldwide.
Yee has also been featured on calendars, magazines and natural product advertisements; narrated meditation audios; written a book; and done extensive charitable work. He has made guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, PBS, and elsewhere.
Life and career
Rodney Yee was born in 1957, the Chinese-American son of an Air Force Colonel, and spent his childhood on military bases in Altus, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico. He was a gymnast during his high school years and later became a ballet dancer, performing with the Oakland Ballet Company and the Matsuyama Ballet Company of Tokyo, Japan. He began studies in philosophy and physical therapy at the University of California, Berkeley, though he dropped out in order to pursue ballet full-time.
Yee became a yoga enthusiast in the Iyengar school, but now teaches a blend of Iyengar Yoga and his own invented style. He began his Yoga teaching career at a studio called The Yoga Room in Berkeley; later, he co-founded the Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland.
Yee now teaches around the world at workshops, retreats, and conferences.
He has three children from his first marriage to Donna Fong, which ended in divorce in 2002. He married former model Colleen Saidman in December 2006. They live in The Hamptons. Both yoga instructors continue to pursue their own careers (Yee with YeeYoga and Gaiam; Saidman with Yoga Shanti) and in May, 2008 opened an online yoga club / virtual yoga studio together called The Gaiam Yoga Club.
Allegations of misconduct with female students
In 2002, Yee's reputation was tarnished by a sex scandal involving some of his former female students. A story detailing the scandal appeared on the front page of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle. Susannah Bruder, a former instructor at one of Yee's yoga studios, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit alleging that Yee and his wife, Donna Fone, terminated her lease after she accused him of carrying on extramarital affairs with female students. Although the lawsuit did not mention names, two former students subsequently admitted to having affairs with Yee.
Shortly thereafter, Yee was divorced from his first wife of 24 years and went on to marry Colleen Saidman, one of his students. Since dating students violates the precepts of yoga teacher conduct as defined by the Yoga Alliance, this led to division in Yee-oriented communities.
- Donahue, Dierdre. "Look at this man's body: This is what yoga can do for you." USA Today, April 24, 2002 (full text)
- Goodyear, Charlie; Marech, Rona (May 12, 2002). "Yoga guru in compromising position / Celebrity instructor Rodney Yee faces allegations of misconduct with students". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Goodyear, Charles and Rona Marech. "Yoga guru in compromising position: Celebrity instructor Rodney Yee faces allegations of misconduct with students"' San Francisco Chronicle, May 12, 2002 (full text)
- Pogrebin, Abigail. "An Illicit Yoga Love Story". New York Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Goodyear, Charles; ibid.
- Rodney Yee at the Internet Movie Database
- Gaiam Yoga Club featuring Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman
- Rodney Yee's website
- Rodney Yee's videos produced by Gaiam