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  • Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and life you love. And today is a very special day because I get to introduce you to someone

  • who’s been a teacher and a mentor in my life. Colleen Saidman Yee is an internationally

  • respected yoga teacher who has been teaching since 1998. Before that she was a top fashion

  • model with Elite and Ford and also lived in Calcutta working with Mother Teresa. She’s

  • the founder of Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor and, along with her husband Rodney Yee, other studios

  • in West Hampton and New York City. Colleen has been featured in Vanity Fair, Yoga Journal,

  • New York Magazine, Oprah, Marie Claire, and in Allure. In her new book, Yoga for Life,

  • we learn about how she went from a rebellious young woman with a heroin habit to a globe-trotting

  • fashion model to, as the New York Times calls her, the first lady of yoga. Colleen, thank

  • you so much for being here.

  • It is my honor.

  • Oh, it’s my honor. So if you guys don't know, Colleen has been my yoga teacher for

  • almost 10 years now. Started taking class with you back in 2006 and, I have to tell

  • you, before I started practicing with you and then with you and Rodney, I liked yoga

  • but it wasn’t anything that I felt so drawn to, and you have been such a great teacher

  • in my life. Like, every summer when I come out to practice with you it’s like you help

  • bring me back to myself, and thank you for that. And I wanted to congratulate you. So,

  • Colleen, Yoga for Life. I read this book cover to cover. Brilliant, brilliant job.

  • Thank you.

  • It’s wonderful. And something struck me that you said right in the beginning. You

  • start off the book saying, “Know youre enough.” And you write, “I watch women

  • holding it together afraid that if they slow down everything will fall apart. I watch women

  • being ashamed that theyre aging and feeling unworthy of love. Women in my classes coping

  • with addiction and body and relationship issues, mother issues, competitive issues, and an

  • inability to tell the truth.” I read that and my heart simultaneously broke, because

  • I saw myself in it, and it opened up because it was such a sense of relief. When I read

  • the book I got the sense that you too are on this journey. How have you experienced

  • this idea of youre enough? Knowing youre enough? How does that make sense in your life

  • now?

  • So interesting, Marie. The first time I heard that phrase was actually a month into writing

  • the book and I’m like, “Who am I to write a book? I didn't even graduate college, for

  • heaven’s sakes.” And my agent was like, “Just every day sit down and write for an

  • hour, just any story you can think of.” So I’m like, “Alright.” We were in Paris,

  • London, Morocco, teaching around the globe. So I was doing that and I was hitting a wall

  • and music is my inspiration, always has been, always... especially lyrics. So I started

  • listening to this Jason Isbell song and the lyric was, “Cover me up and know youre

  • enough.” And I was just like, “Yes. Yes, were enough. I’ve been running for my

  • whole life.” You know, covering up or running or trying to show the world something that

  • I wasn’t for fear that I wasn’t enough. And it just, like you said, it broke something

  • open in me and I thought, “You know what? I can do this. I have stories to tell.”

  • And theyre everybody’s stories. Mine in some ways may be more dramatic or in some

  • cases less dramatic, but to have people know, A, theyre not alone and, B, they are enough.

  • And if we could break the armor at the very first line of my book it says that if one

  • woman would stand up and tell her story, the whole universe would break open. It’s just

  • like, yes. Tear the armor, show the world who you are, and give other women confidence

  • to do the same thing. Funny, I was scouring the internet one night when I was having a

  • hard time sleeping and watching YouTube videos and there’s this video of Fiona Apple, and

  • I was mesmerized. She was dancing and singing and it was really jerky. Like, it wasn’t

  • beautiful, it wasn’t graceful, but something in her touched me so deeply. It was like this

  • woman is wounded and she is not afraid to show that. I felt like it was like this beautiful

  • namaste, right? From my heart to yours. Here I am. I’m dancing. My dance may have a limp,

  • but the dance with the limp is almost more beautiful than a dance without a limp.

  • There’s... that’s what I get, that’s why I come back to your class and your work

  • again and again, because I constantly feel that okayness in my own self. Now, youve

  • been teaching for almost 20 years now? Yoga. When you were first getting your training

  • at  Jivamukti, you have a story in the book about the fact that you were so into this

  • training, yoga was such a huge breakthrough in your own life, all the other things that

  • you went through, and you walked in and you said, you know, “I just wanna do this for

  • my own personal development and my own practice. I don't wanna teach.” Tell us about that.

  • It was about two thirds of the way through the training and I just had this realization

  • of, “Oh, I’m not gonna do this. I am not going to get up in front of people and teach

  • yoga. That’s... I can’t. I’m not going to and I need to let Sharon and David know

  • that now.”

  • And what were the reasons?

  • Well, I walked into their office and it was... it was literally almost like they expected

  • me. Theyre sitting there and I’m going through my list of reasons why I just want

  • to let you know now that I have no intention of being a yoga teacher and these are the

  • reasons. I’m shy, I am not the one to get up in front of the classroom and speak my

  • truth or chant, because I am also tone deaf, so that’s just not gonna work here. And

  • I also have epilepsy, and you never know when a seizure is gonna come on. And can you imagine

  • how mortified I would be and traumatized the classroom would be? So I told them all and

  • they listened and they were very gracious and graceful. And so I left and about an hour

  • later I get a phone call. It was Sharon. Sharon Gannon, my... my teacher, my mentor. And she

  • said, “Hello Colleen, this is Sharon.” “Yeah, hello?” She said, “Youre teaching

  • my 6:15 class tonight. It’s already sold out and I’ll be taking the class.”

  • Forget about it. That’s insane. And what did you feel in that moment?

  • Horrified. Terrified. Just sweating. Like, just blind almost. You know those moments

  • when you actually can’t see, hear, think, feel? So I... it was three and a half hours

  • of prep and I went home and I memorized every single word. I still remember the sequence

  • to this day that I taught. I memorized every single word. I think it’s the most nervous

  • I have ever been. But I got up there, I remember Sharon was in the back right corner, I remember

  • exactly what she was wearing, it was just so surreal. So I taught the class and I walked

  • outta there high as a kite. It was just so... for some reason I don't love the word empowering,

  • but it’s the only word that comes to me right now is it was just so... I was like,

  • If I can do this, there’s a lot more possibilities in life that could open up.”

  • Because I’ve... I’d put myself in such a shell as a fashion model for so many years

  • and being exonerated for my external appearance that my internal life had gotten pretty dilapidated.

  • So to be able to stand up there in front of 75 people including one of the women that

  • I respect most in the world and teach a class and walk out and feel like I did a pretty

  • good job for my first class, it was... and I’ve had a lot of unnatural highs in my

  • life and this one was just... just amazing. Buzzing from head to toe.

  • So did you really believe when you walked in that room that you would never teach?

  • Absol... I knew I would never... it wasn’t even a belief, it was solid. It was fact.

  • I was never gonna teach.

  • Isn’t that so incredible that another woman standing up, seeing something in you beyond

  • what you could see in yourself at that point and then now I have the benefit and thousands

  • and tens of thousands and millions of people have the benefit of your teaching. That is

  • really, really...

  • Thank you.

  • ...incredible.

  • Yeah, she threw me off the cliff.

  • Yeah.

  • And she knew she had to do it right away or I was gonna turn and run.

  • Yeah. And that for me in my life too, so many times if I’ve been thrown in the fire is

  • when I discover my strength and it’s those people that are willing to push me off the

  • ledge that do it, it’s amazing. One of the other questions that I had was around your

  • experience with Mother Teresa, and it so warmed my heart that you were writing these letters

  • to her since you were a little girl and then 17 years later a letter came back. Can you

  • tell us about that?

  • Yeah. I read an article in Life magazine, do you remember Life magazine?

  • Yes.

  • Way back when. And it was pictures of Mother Teresa serving the poorest of the poor. And

  • I was, I’m guessing, 11 or 12 at the time and I have 5 brothers and was feeling very

  • overwhelmed and I was like, “Ok, this is the answer.” Looking at her, looking at

  • the peace and the love, and I was deep into Catholicism as a child as well. And so I just

  • wrote her letters and I told her all of my problems and I said, “You might think I’m

  • joking because I’m young, but I really want to work with you.” At the time I thought

  • I was going to be a nun. I hadn’t had sex yet, so the nunnery was still an option for

  • me. And I didn't hear back, I didn't really expect to hear back, and then I’d write

  • a couple more times, 54 A Circular Drive Calcutta, India. And then, yeah, 17 years later an envelope

  • came from a woman named Sister Priscilla and it said, “You are ready to serve the poorest

  • of the poor.” And I’m like, “Woah.” And it had just come at a time that I had

  • just broken up from a 16, 17 year relationship, so it was perfect.

  • And when you got there, that experience of actually doing the work, what did that teach

  • you?

  • Concisely it taught me that the only way to peace is through service. And the nuns taught

  • that day in and day out. Mother Teresa has this beautiful saying, apparently it’s written

  • in her chambers, and it says that the fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer

  • is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of

  • service is peace. And it was just so beautiful. The whole time I was there I had two dresses

  • and I’d wash one out every night and then wear the other one. And, I mean, coming from

  • the fashion world where it was all about makeup and designer clothes and the best hair, I

  • wasn’t ever really as happy as I was in India. I’d shaved my head, I was wearing

  • these really quite ugly, I still have them, theyre hanging in my closet next to my

  • other Herve Leger and whatever else. But I just found out that I could be happy without

  • all of that extra stuff. I still love the extra stuff, don't get me wrong, but there

  • is a place deep inside that can be touched and it is peace and it comes through service,

  • and that was the main lesson... I mean, at one point when I was in India I was working

  • at this home called Prem Dom and it’s mainly for the mentally unstable. And I was given

  • the assignment to wash a man that had elephantitis of the testicles, which is quite a chore.

  • And I’m watching the nuns and could tell it was a test for me, and I realized that

  • I was bathing God. And whatever you want to call God, it became a privilege and an honor

  • and I felt peace.

  • The next piece in the book that really got me was about this idea of impermanence. And

  • there’s something that you wrote that, again, was another moment, I’m reading it, and

  • I felt myself wanting to cry. “What’s the use of working so hard? Everything is

  • transitory. My yoga studio won’t last, my students will die, I’ll die. Why bother

  • waking up every morning and teach yoga? Why bother loving when our loved ones will eventually

  • be taken away from us?” And you shared that you come back to the Mother Teresa quote,

  • What you spend years creating someone could destroy overnight and create anyway.”

  • Yeah, but that’s the big yoga lesson, really. It’s everything that we put so much stock

  • in is transitory.

  • Yeah.

  • Right? It’s impermanent. And suffering comes from clinging on or pushing away the stuff

  • that’s just changing all around us. So what’s the point of doing anything then, if it’s

  • all changing? I mean, that’s like this big question.

  • I struggle with that. There’s sometimes if I’m pushing myself so hard and I’ll,

  • you know, crash in my bed and go, “What am I doing this for?” And that’s why this

  • passage moved me so much.

  • I think the answer to that is if you don't then you freaking sleep through this beautiful

  • life.

  • Yes.

  • All we have, like, all we have right now is this amazing moment between the two of us.

  • That’s what we have and that’s real and that’s now. Whereas if were thinking

  • about something that could happen tomorrow or something or some remorse from something,

  • were not awake, were not present, and then we end up, as Mary Oliver said, “What

  • are you gonna do with this one precious life of yours?”

  • Yeah.

  • And we do want to be awake for our life, we want to be present.

  • Yeah.

  • We don't want it to be a blur that we haven’t felt, seen, lived, touched, breathed, just

  • embraced and enveloped the moment whether it’s a moment of intense grief or beauty

  • or sadness or joy. It’s just... it’s the real stuff.

  • It is the real stuff and it is important. Every time I start to feel myself going to

  • that clinging, thinking about Josh or my family or planning for the days that inevitably you

  • know will come, and I come back to this work or come back on my mat on a class with you

  • and it feels like I get in touch with that peace, and that’s just so important.

  • There’s a Mark Twain quote that comes back to me. I’m a worrier. I am a big worrier.

  • I’m here to say I’m working on it, I’ve got the Catholic guilt thing going on and

  • I’m constantly what if whatever.

  • Yeah.

  • But there’s this Mark Twain quote and he says, “I am a very old man and I look back

  • at my life and I’ve had so many difficulties. Most of them never happened.”

  • Absolutely.

  • It’s like we spend so much, we waste so much energy and were tired enough. Right?

  • We don't need to waste energy there.

  • So the last thing I wanna go over with you, I think one of my favorite parts of being

  • on the mat and being in the class with you is always at the end you bring us home and

  • it’s the talk at the end and I feel like I walk out and the poses were great and the

  • asanas were great and the breathing was great, but there’s something that you always touch

  • in me and I feel like it’s in this book and it’s the Buddhist meditation about fear.

  • Would you read that for us?

  • Of course, of course. Just sit. Notice where you feel hard and sit with that. In the middle

  • of that hardness youll find anger. Sit with that. Go to the center of the anger and

  • youll probably come to sadness. Stay with the sadness until it turns to vulnerability.

  • Keep sitting with what comes up. The deeper you dig, the more tender you become. Raw fear

  • can open into the wide expanse of genuineness, compassion, gratitude, and acceptance in the

  • present moment. A tender heart appears naturally when you are able to stay present. From your

  • heart you can see the true pigment of the sky, you can see the vibrant yellow of a sunflower

  • and the deep blue of your daughter’s eyes. A tender heart doesn't block out rain clouds

  • or tears or dying sunflowers. Allow both beauty and sadness to touch you. This is love, not

  • fear.

  • Colleen, thank you so much for being here today, it was such an honor. Congratulations

  • again on your book.

  • Thank you.

  • For everybody watching, Yoga for Life by Colleen Saidman Yee. It is a fantastic, beautiful

  • journey and I highly recommend it.

  • Thank you, Marie.

  • Now Colleen and I would love to hear from you. If there’s one area of your life or

  • your body that would be well served by a little more attention or presence or love, what would

  • that be? Now, as always, the best discussions happen after the episode over at MarieForleo.com,

  • so go there and leave a comment now. Did you like this video? If so, subscribe to our channel

  • and we would be so appreciative if you shared this with your friends. And if you want even

  • more great resources to create a business and life that you love, plus some personal

  • updates from me that I only talk about in email, come on over to MarieForleo.com and

  • sign up for email updates. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the

  • world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll

  • catch you next time on MarieTV.

Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

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