Relaxation is often last on the long list of things to do during the holiday season. Between menu planning and subsequent shopping, preparing for visiting family and other guests, now through the New Year will be packed with errands, events, and little time for the things in between. Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor however is reminding people to take a moment, and a breath, to set aside sometime for your own wellbeing with their annual Thanksgiving Day yoga class.
Colleen Saidman-Yee, owner of Yoga Shanti, and her husband, Rodney Yee, lead several classes, workshops, and teacher trainings at their studios in Sag Harbor, Westhampton Beach, and New York City, as well as retreats in the United States and around the world. For Thanksgiving, the yogis are giving students the opportunity to get on the mat and release for a couple of hours before the day’s festivities. “The Thanksgiving Day class is a ritual,” says Ms. Saidman-Yee, adding the class has been a staple at Yoga Shanti for 19 years. “Our focus is to be a sanctuary where we provide service to our local community year-round. Forced family fun and too much food can cause stress on the body and nervous system.”
Ms. Saidman-Yee’s yogic journey began in 1987, while she continued other forms of exercise including running, boxing, and basketball. After having to undergo back surgery, her practice deepened, ultimately leading her to take teacher training courses at Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City, where she graduated in 1998. Mr. Yee began his yoga inquiry in 1980 while he was a ballet dancer for the Oakland ballet and a UC Berkley student studying physical therapy and philosophy. Wishing to incorporate mind, body, and spirit into his life, he then began a career in yoga that has since led him around the world. Today, Ms. Saidman-Yee and Mr. Yee now run the three Yoga Shanti locations and various out-of-studio workshops and events.
The pair also created and direct Urban Zen’s Integrative Yoga Therapist Program, a global initiative by Donna Karan to transform care in hospitals through yoga therapy, Reiki, essential oil therapy, nutrition and contemplative care.
Through thoughtful movement, connection to the breath and body, and through meditation, participants are invited to join Yoga Shanti in a two-hour session Ms. Saidman says is the perfect complement to holiday indulgences. As an open class, all students of all levels are welcome to participate.
“The class will be an all-around class where we will focus on twists to massage the organs and intestines for optimal digestion,” explains Ms. Saidman-Yee. “We will also include standing poses for grounding, back bends for sustained energy and good feeling, and forward bends for calm introspection and relaxation. I personally find the forward bends the most helpful way to deal with the chaos and excitement of the holidays.”
Alignment, flow, and inquiry in a welcoming and uplifting space is at Yoga Shanti’s core. Regular classes include community drop-in classes, prenatal yoga, Urban Zen classes that incorporate the same healing methods as the therapist program, sweat, flow, and more. If you have never tried yoga before, the studio also offers a beginner’s class that teaches the foundation poses and movement techniques, along with basic anatomy and yoga philosophy.
As Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, this special yoga class will end with a meditation filled with gratitude. “Our mantra is: may all beings be happy and free and may our thoughts, words and action contribute to the happiness and freedom for all.”
The Thanksgiving Day class will take place on Thursday, November 23 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The class is $45 per person, and pre-registration is strongly encouraged at yogashanti.com.