Contemplative couple Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee have much to be grateful for in and around their Sag Harbor home.
At their Greek Revival retreat, the world-renowned yogis—whose full schedules keep them on the road up to 200 days a year—have found a true respite from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. But the house is more than a “recharging station” at which to cultivate Zen moments, the peaceful place is also a key gathering spot for friends and family, plus it’s not too far from their workplace and home away from home at Yoga Shanti.
“It’s a three-minute walk into the village but still a sanctuary where you can immerse yourself,” says Mr. Yee, whose Gaiam/Living Arts yoga instructional videos in the early 1990s helped to catapult the practice into the American mainstream. “It’s a place where we can sit and enjoy the haven of our own backyard, which is full of nature, even though it’s right in the bustling village. It’s the feeling of being in the country but still near a rich cultural hub. It’s a perfect slice of New York.”
The natural beauty surrounding the house is one of the many things that Ms. Saidman—whose history includes modeling, massage and a stint living with Mother Theresa at the Home for the Dying and Destitute in Calcutta—counts among her favorites. She’s particularly passionate about the flower garden, she says.
“I love the colors, the textures, how happy it makes me,” she says, noting that she still “gets butterflies” every time she comes back home and sees it for the first time. Finding ways to incorporate that feeling into her everyday life is paramount, she reports, adding that she’ll frequently wander out among the flowers with a cup of tea in the morning, or head outside to take work calls. She even holds meetings with her Yoga Shanti staff there on occasion.
Her husband also enjoys the surrounding beauty of the landscape, but his day begins and ends in the kitchen, he laughs. His most immediate go-to is the well used Vibiemme Domobar espresso machine.
“It’s the coffee maker, I’m a coffee guy,” Mr. Yee proclaims with a smile. “When you drag yourself out of bed … That’s the first place I’m headed.”
“It’s smell, the grinding, the pressing, the whole morning ritual,” he continues, adding that he likes to enjoy the java morning, noon and night, and even thinks about the very first sip of joe the next day as he’s preparing for bed in the evening. Once that initial cup has been made, the former gymnast and ballet dancer reports that he likes to take his delicious drink outside with him into the back yard so he can “sit and read and enjoy the beautiful haven.”
Yoga, is, of course, a passion for the pair. In addition to their studios in Sag Harbor, Westhampton Beach and Manhattan, they organize and run special retreats all over the world, have created a number of popular videos, and written books on the subject. They have also worked together to help create Urban Zen’s Integrative Yoga Therapist Program, Donna Karan’s worldwide initiative.
So it comes as no surprise that there’s a special room in the house for yoga. It’s upstairs on the second floor and is dedicated to the practice, as well as for meditating.
One of the home’s four bedrooms, it’s a generous white-walled open space marked by a hand-painted gold-leaf ceiling, a few woven tapestries and a small wooden chest on which sits a contingent of hand-carved Buddhas. On the sculptures, Ms. Saidman has lovingly draped rosaries given to her by her mother and Mother Theresa.
“We call this ‘the shrine room,’ but it’s really a sanctuary,” she explains, walking down the upstairs hallway and into the sunlit space. “It vibrates with power and energy.”
But, yoga doesn’t have to be confined to just one specific space, she adds after finishing a tour of the home. It can be practiced pretty much anywhere, Ms. Saidman says, pulling up the corner of a hand-knotted floor covering in the living room and revealing a surprise.
“There are mats tucked under practically every rug in the house,” she reports, smiling at her husband. “Just in case the mood strikes.”