Milwaukee Edition

Rodney Yee on Yoga as a Way of Life

Simple Strategies for Staying on Track

Renowned yogi and international teacher Rodney Yee, of New York City, has maintained an inspired yoga practice for 37 years while juggling career obligations, fame and family life.

While the benefits of yoga are increasingly well known—from stress reduction and pain management to a more limber body and inner peace—Yee is also aware of the challenges to maintaining a consistent practice. Here he shares insights on the pitfalls encountered by both beginning and advanced students.

“My advice is to first get rid of self-berating behavior, including judgmental inner dialogue. In many aspects of life, we are constantly measuring ourselves against a standard, which is a waste of time and energy,” says Yee.

With a professional background in classical dance and gymnastics, Yee decided to give yoga a try at a nearby studio when he craved more physical flexibility. “As many people do, I came to yoga for a reason. I was a dancer with tight joints. After the first class, I couldn’t believe how I felt. It was not at all like an athletic high; I had a sense of well-being and knew what it means to feel peaceful and clear.”

For people with jam-packed lives, finding time for exercise can be daunting. Yee suggests a relaxed approach to scheduling yoga into a busy day. “As the rishis [Hindu sages] say, we shouldn’t ‘try’ to meditate, not try to force a natural state. To say, ‘I have to do yoga,’ just puts another thing on our to-do list. Sometimes discipline is needed, but another part of discipline is not about force.”

You can blink and half your life is gone. You can’t always be busy, busy, busy; you have to decide how to fill your life.

Different approaches to yoga abound, and part of staying motivated may include exploration of a variety of traditions as individual needs change due to lifestyle, health, interests or simple curiosity. Yee reminds us to go with the flow and follow how we feel in the moment. “Different schools of yoga exist because each offers something different. There is a form for all of our moods and a practice for how you feel at any given time.”

Reflecting on how his own practice has evolved through the years, Yee recollects, “In my 20s and 30s, my yoga practice was arduous, including three to four hours of strong, physical work and a half hour of pranayama [breath work]. Then for 20 years, it involved a lot of teaching. Over the past 17 years, my practice has become more subtle, with a focus on sequencing and meditation; it’s about how to do this all day long in the context of my body and my life; about being both centered and in the world. In some way, we’re always doing yoga, as we already take 20,000 breaths a day. From a philosophical and ethical point of view, yogis have no choice but to practice.”

Rodney Yee YogaBecause many American women have found their way to a yogic path, men often assume it’s primarily a women’s niche. But yoga has been a male practice for nearly 2,500 years in other countries. Yee encourages men to not feel intimidated. “Why not try something that can help you improve your business, family life and even your golf game?” he queries.

While Yee believes in a no-pressure approach, he also suggests inviting ways to foster consistency. “If you are just beginning, set aside a half-hour before going to bed or get up a half-hour earlier. Also note that pain is less to be avoided than learned from.”

Wisdom can come from dedication to a yoga practice. Yee’s philosophy is, “You can blink and half your life is gone. You can’t always be busy, busy, busy; you have to decide how to fill your life. As spiritual teacher Ram Dass counsels, ‘Be here now.’ Train yourself to bring body, mind and heart together and fully drink from that.”

Learn more at

Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at

This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

A Local Author’s Journey of Healing From Grief

Wauwatosa author Mary Lou Bailey tells the tale of how she gained strength after a loss in her book, I Am My Own Rug, released this past November through Broken Wing Press.

White Conch Dharma Center Presents Tonglen Meditation Workshop

Domo Geshe Rinpoche, Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan tradition, will teach Taking Suffering into the Heart of Compassion–Tonglen Half-Day Workshop, from 2 to 5 p.m. March 10, at Unity Church, in Wauwatosa.

Sample the Area’s Best Chili While Supporting Independent Radio

WMSE 91.7 FM radio, a nonprofit, listener-supported radio service educationally licensed to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, will hold its 16th annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 11, at MSOE’s Kern Center.

Local Farmer Open House Educates on Farm-to-Table Agriculture

Few things are as delicious as locally grown farm-fresh food, and subscribing to a community-supported agriculture program brings that food directly from a local farmer to the table.

Drink a Little, Help a Lot Fundraiser to Help Children in Malawi

Milwaukeeans will have an opportunity to help support construction of a new school in the eastern African nation of Malawi through the Drink a Little, Help a Lot fundraiser, hosted by Milwaukee area residents Niyati Desai and Claire Lang.

Rise Yoga Studio Off ers Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga for All Abilities

Paula Evans offers a flowing style of yoga that connects the movement of the body with the breath. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sri T. Krishnamacharya developed Ashtanga during the 20th century.

Letter from Publisher

Today Milwaukee has a diverse, sophisticated palate that includes vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a range of international cuisines that were difficult to find in the area a decade ago.

Outpost Natural Foods

Now over 22,000 owners strong, Outpost is a testament to society’s shift toward healthy food awareness.

Leafy Greens Lower Risk for Heart Disease

Teenagers that eat few leafy greens are at triple the risk for enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle, reducing blood pumping volumes, than teens that eat greens.

Physical Activity Deters Alzheimer's

Walking, dancing, gardening and other physical activities significantly improve brain volume and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Gooseberries are Good for the Gut

Malaysian subjects with gastrointestinal problems had less pain, vomiting and sleep loss when receiving an ayurvedic remedy known as Indian gooseberry.

Saunas Lower Blood Pressure

Four to seven saunas a week halved high blood pressure risk in a study of 1,621 Finnish men.

Add your comment: