Yoga for Beginners: Advice from Colleen Saidman Yee

Writer, Maria Thomas, interviews yoga instructor Colleen Saidman Yee as part of Gaia's new guide, Yoga Foundations with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee. Colleen chats about all things yoga and a few of her favorite things. Plus, meet Colleen and Rodney.

Whether you're looking for beginner yoga poses or easy yoga poses, you've landed in just the right place at just the right time.

MT: What is your best piece of advice for beginner yogis?

CSY: Don’t set your expectations too high. Carve out 10 to 15 minutes a day four times a week. Start with asanas that won’t defeat you, like a couple of standing poses, child’s pose, simple twists, and baby back bends. Your body will feel relief almost immediately and your mind will love the clarity that comes with practice. Pretty soon you won’t have to force yourself to get on the mat at all—you’ll want to get on the mat because it’s a pleasure. Yoga will improve you and your relationships in ways that you never imagined.

MT: What’s the best piece of yoga advice you’ve been given, and from whom?

CSY: My father (who didn’t know he was giving yoga advice) has always told me during times of difficulty: "Honey, this too shall pass." He was giving me the yoga lesson that everything is impermanent, so live life to the fullest, and let go.

MT: What’s your favorite yoga pose, and why?

I love plow pose because tension tends to accumulate in my upper back, neck, and shoulders, and this pose releases it. Plow pose is also very calming; it helps my exhalation and turns me inward. I feel like I’m in my own little cocoon.

MT: Do you have a favorite yoga playlist? What’s on it?

  1. I Need to Wake up – Melissa Etheridge
  2. Just Breathe – Pearl Jam
  3. In These Times – Joan Armatrading
  4. Make You Feel My Love – Adele
  5. Knocking on Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
  6. Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
  7. Born to be Loved – Lucinda Williams
  8. Amazing Grace – Aaron Neville
  9. Life is Beautiful – Keb Mo
  10. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free – Nina Simone

MT: What are the top 5 things you can’t leave home without?

CSY: My phone, credit card, hair tie, pen, and Post-it notes.

MT: What are your favorite books (yoga or otherwise)?

Yoga for Life, of course! I also love When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron; Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; and my yoga bible, Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar.

MT: What are your favorite movies?

CSY: Like Water for Chocolate, Forest Gump, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Beautiful Mind, and Million Dollar Baby. But I have to admit I saw Trainwreck last night and laughed my butt off.

MT: What do you know for sure?

CSY: That I don’t know anything for sure. That this life is more miraculous and magical than we can perceive. And that we need to listen to our elders more. Namaste.


Yoga guides — they’re not just for beginners anymore. That’s why Gaia partnered with yoga pioneers Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee. Over the last 15 years, they’ve cultivated the best approach to foundational yoga.

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