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    Rodney Yee: the gymnast who introduced yoga into the daily life of the Americans

    17 June, 2018 804

    In the early 90’s, millions of Americans began to practice yoga thanks to the training videos of Rodney Yee.

    It all began in the late 80s. Rodney Yee, after leaving behind 8 years of professional dedication to ballet and as many as a gymnast, decides to try yoga to, once and for all, increase his flexibility and stretch his legs: “When I was very young I came to hate my body, “says Rodney Yee in an interview. His decision to abandon his promising career in classical dance did not exactly thrill his parents: “they asked me if I was crazy.”

    A few years later, in 1992, Yee became a star in the world of yoga in the United States: his videos “Yoga Journal’s Yoga for Meditation”, filmed in the Yosemite National Park, began to be distributed throughout the country and In a matter of months, yoga generated a strong demand in the United States.

    During the 1990s, “people started to stop seeing yoga as a strange activity,” says Kathryn Arnold, former director of Yoga Journal, who has worked with Rodney Yee all these years.

    Taking advantage of the pull, in addition to continuing to record yoga training videos (today the collection counts more than fifty; his video Yoga For Beginners was the bestselling Amazon in 2001 and his YouTube channel already reaches several million views) , Yee published in 2002 the book “Yoga: The Poetry of the Body” that was presented, among other places, at the emblematic television show of Oprah Winfrey.

    The key to the success of Rodney Yee

    After more than 40 years of experience in yoga, Yee has developed his own style, influenced by Iyengar Yoga and his experience with ballet. But perhaps the key to his success has been knowing how to introduce yoga into the lives of those who most needed it. This is the case of the Urban Zen Foundation project, created in 2007 along with his wife Colleen Saidman Yee and Donna Karan.

    “During the many years of my husband’s cancer treatment, I realized that our health system focuses on the patient’s illness,” says Donna Karan. “I think that the patient himself should be treated, not just a part of him, while we should also take care of our doctors and nurses due to the pressure they are under.” This is how the “Urban Zen Integrative Therapy” program was born, to respond to this lack in the health system, integrating specialties such as yoga, reiki, nutrition or meditation exercises for both patients and health staff.

    The project was born in New York, but only two years later, it began to expand to other areas of the United States such as California, Ohio or Illinois, currently already having more than 20 centers.

    A legacy in the world of yoga

    In addition to participating in the UZF project, in 1996 Rodney Yee opened his first Yoga studio in Oakland and currently runs two “Yoga Shanti” studios in New York with his wife and, last but not least, a few years ago engaged himself in carrying out his teachings to any point in the world through the Gaiam project: yoga sessions on streaming on demand.

    Besides all of this, they still have time to travel around the world teaching yoga in the best studios. In this case, both Rodney and his wife, Colleen Saidman, will be in YogaOne Sarrià on June 19 and 20 giving different sessions and offering their wisdom and experience to all attendees. Without any doubt a date that we will mark in our calendars.


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