Rodney Yee Can Speak About Diversity /// Colleen Saidman-Yee Just Wants to Know What Diversity Is

I think you should simply watch this first:

Now, the first thing that jumps out at me is how straight forward Rodney is when answering the question “Is there enough diversity in yoga.” He doesn’t dawdle. He doesn’t stammer. He gets right in the mix and convinces me that he’s actually thought about this issue of “Where are all the poor people?” more than once. In fact, I think he likes this subject a bit too much, as he won’t shut the hell up about it. But, ultimately, that might be a good thing. So, good on you, Rodney!

Colleeeeeeeeeeeen on the other hand. Wow! [Also, here, here, and here.] I actually had to pause the video about thirty seconds into her response as I curled up into the fetal position and wished away my embarrassment for her. What the hell are you doing, Colleen?

INTERVIEWER: “Hey, Colleen. Is there enough diversity in yoga?”

COLLEEN: “I actually think there’s too much diversity with all the yoga brands and such.”

INTERVIEWER: “No. I mean like, are there enough fat black dykes who do yoga?”

COLLEEN: “Yeah, well, like I said: Yoga is all one.”

Basically, what we are witnessing here is a classic example of I-have-no-real-need-to-examine-diversity-so-when-asked-about-it-I-define-it-in-such-a-crazy-way-so-as-to-talk-about-something-else. Awwwwwwwkward.

Now, we could easily wax endlessly on the subject of diversity, race, privilege, etc. But, in all honestly, most articles on the subject are straight up AWFUL. And, despite our interest in the subject, I have no reason to believe ours would be any different. So, we are letting you off the hook. The video, and the fact that we’re posting it here, says enough.



Note: Thanks to one of our readers for forwarding this along. A great find, indeed.


  1. Mat Witts

    “Systemic Racism” – sure – I stepped in some dogs really old doo-doo – and now it’s all over the kitchen floor

  2. The P

    Ooof!! Colleen’s been dipping into the Estancia on an empty stomach again

  3. Garuda

    “We have to change our habitual habits”~ Yeeeeeee

  4. Colleen reminds me of that chick back in Anthropology 101, who wanted so hard to come across as smart and erudite but still can’t hide her dumbness. Truly cringe-worthy.

  5. Thaddeus

    Okay. I’m all down with Rodney’s awareness and thoughtfulness regarding this issue. However, if we are all to agree that Colleen appears to be, oh how should we say, a little thoughtless on the subject, I think we might fairly ask: What the hell does this say about Rodney? I mean, the dude married her right? Isn’t there something in at least one of the Vedas about the company we keep being a reflection of us?

    So, while on the surface Rodney gets a pass here, I think overall my opinion about him remains unchanged…just another company man out shillin’ his wares.

    • I am of the very strong belief that people get into, and stay in, relationships with others for very complex and personal reasons. Partners fulfill varying roles, but hopefully not all of them.

      • Thaddeus

        Yeah…but if partner says stupid shit about something that is by her own account “really important” to you…one has got to wonder.

        On another note of wondering…Do we worry about the lack of diversity in Tango dancing?

        • Eh, people are strange. In intimate relationships, they let certain things slide in place of other things. It’s how we do.

          As for tango, it’s a valid question. The missionary approach of commercial yoga culture (and yoga culture in general) tends to equate yoga practice with “being saved.” As such, the practice is elevated to a level of “without it, you are worse off.” When that happens it creates an environment that says, “Well, if we have to have this thing in order to live, than no one should be denied access to it.” Yoga culture, in the way it defines yoga, creates the diversity/non-diversity issue. This is one reason why people aren’t writing blogs and starting websites critiquing “tango culture.” A.) Because it’s a non-issue. And B.) because it’s actually pretty diverse!

          Personally, I think once we drop the whole “without yoga your life is meaningless” BS, we can than drop the whole “if every fisherman in Guam doesn’t do yoga than we have failed” mentality. We need to take yoga off the pedestal, and widen the vision of “practice” to include ALL body-centered “spiritual” disciplines. Then it becomes more about psycho-spiritual-somatic education on the whole, and less about making it mandatory to have “YES” “NO” cards for assists in yoga classes.

          • Thaddeus

            “Yoga culture, in the way it defines yoga, creates the diversity/non-diversity issue.”

            I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think, in short, it’s even more insidious in that those who are lamenting the lack of diversity in yoga are, for the most part, only seeing “yoga” as “western yoga culture,” which arguably is quite myopic. I mean, how many “yogis” are there in Indian anyway?

          • Garuda

            Coincidentally I have developed a “new” Yoga System. One I developed after spending three seasons as a Fisherman in Guam. One thing is for sure. The ocean will provide if and only if you do my patented and protected sequence of Proven, Fish Providing Poses. It is being called Maha Garuda’s Guihan Yoga Flow. TM…’Open your Gills, Open Your Wallet’

          • The diversity/non-diversity debate about ethnic / gender ratios only raises its ugly head because the more self-conscious genres of yoga are incentivized for economic reasons to impress upon its devotees the importance of manipulating how out-groups are viewing them – homogeneity bias is what you look up here – but it’s still homogeneity bias even if you cba to do that. So, with social networks accelerating the distribution of competing brand visions for yoga – they can quickly reach a tipping point/saturation/maturity/maximum penetration (select your own cheeky, or alluring metaphor as appropriate here please) where they also run an increasing risk “falling off the radar” (guaranteed no more metaphors after this point) just as spectacularly when the inevitable controversies surface as a result of a lack of proper delegation of responsibilities and control when the business gets too big, too quick. What’s left is a difficult to manage set of challenges for what are mostly the well-intentioned but overly aspirational personality types signing up to a new age nobility, that most well-adjusted folk tend to want to avoid, (no – nobility is not a metaphor – read Bourdieu) and as we all have learned from the sterling work of @Babs and others – these “families” are as conspicuous as they are irritating. Inexplicably, they appear to have at least as many competence and discernment deficits as the folk they charge to teach. Even for higher caliber souls – a lot of this stuff seems to take years of earnest effort away from the cameras, studios and yoga teachers to iron out. So we are seeing mediocre people being thrust into the limelight who, on one hand are being encouraged to view their own family as diverse, creative, open, caring and generally virtuous but on the other are simultaneously escalating their commitment to yet more mediocrity in what generally amounts to nothing but a brand, (and that is what Colleen is probably failing to articulate here). But anyway – no one really knows what she is talking about – not even Colleen appears to have any clue about what her mouth is doing in this vid. (@Garuda – how about a neat joke here?) and of course, all of this “culture” turns out to be about as diverse, creative, open, caring and generally virtuous as working as a [ ? ] in a [ ? ] – oh – and Colleen – as far as the online yoga community goes, I think you will already know by now that your pink slip is in the post.

          • Thanks for the comment, manifesto! And, loved the link to your site. Interesting stuff.

  6. Sure he’s articulate and she rambles but there both saying the same thing. NOTHING.

  7. The P

    This is going around lately.

    Disclosure — I am conflicted about perpetuating the pretty female = really stupid stereotype. Then again I think (some) women in the public eye need to stop dumbing themselves down or at the very least consider how they speak in the public sphere on issues of importance. Perhaps this idea of women supporting women should also include women calling out women on perpetuating these stereotypes and encouraging better standards.

    • Oh, nooooooooo…. That was tough to witness.

      • The P

        Yeah, twas.. I can at least have compassion for Miss Utah in that she is young, inexperienced (not like she’s been in the work force for multiple years dealing with pay inequality) and she was in a highly stressful public speaking situation. I would be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she choked and encouragement to keep at it and improve both her knowledge and speaking skills if that was an avenue she seriously wanted to pursue.

        Colleen, on the other hand, I don’t know what to say. I can only hope that verbal diarrhea came from being half in the bag or perhaps a dangerously low blood sugar situation. If you are positioned as some sort of public face of American yoga you have to do better than that. Tighten up your act, sister.

  8. I had to stop watching when Colleen started talking, and just take your word for how awful it got. She doesn’t seem to know what diversity means! In 2013, how is this even possible?

    • Red

      JC – prob. because even though “2013” is the de facto standard use to indicate the current year it is another way that the subtle, but deeply ignored connotations of Western Christianity blinds us to the issue. In a similar sense, you could say yoga in America in “2013” has to be pretty much the opposite of yoga in Asia in the Iron Age in many conceptual ways like this. So, next time show how clever you really are by quoting the year in the Hebrew, Hindu, Ibibio, Iranian, Islamic, Jain, Japanese or the fifty or so other calendars still in use outside WordPress. That’s how that happens – a standard is either adopted or syncretized out of necessity (e.g. trade) or it just slips in, usually shortly after invasion by one empire/culture or corporate-owned operating system or another. Now moving from History to Sociology it turns out the ‘Tango’ community does have to cope with the same sort of angst that bothers some yoga peeps – even in a multicultural city like Toronto, maybe not a diversity issue as such – but an interesting problem of what looks like foot-related fascism: “tango is a passion that crosses all boundaries. Within the microcosm of the milonga, our only concerns are for compatibilities of dancing style, tango etiquette, musical tastes and … shoes.” Shoes? Seriously? I think I’ll stick with yoga thanks.

  9. yogadas

    Dear Babs,
    you’ve got some intelligent readers responding to your piece here, and I wouldn’t want them to think ill of you for confusing “than” and “then” twice in the same comment. I think I know what’s up with you (going back to the “irregardless” thing). It’s adult A.D.D. You (at least one of you) make mistakes that a person (or persons) as smart as you wouldn’t make otherwise, and it also explains your interesting battle with critique in general. You’re a nice person who has to keep things charged with negativity sometimes, not because you’re mean, but because you need the stimulus. That’s what people misunderstand about adult A.D.D. We don’t suffer from hyperactivity, we suffer from low stimulus. Due to a chemical deficiency, we need to charge communication so that we can stay interested. Naturally, yoga helps. But it’s also hard to keep practicing as much as we need to practice. An hour or two a day doesn’t cut it for us, and after a few decades of long, daily practices, it gets challenging. Hang in there. If you think I’m right, I’ll stop critiquing and just have your back from now on. If you think I’m wrong, I’ll try to shut-up.

    • Hey, whoever said we don’t love being picked on or challenged? We LOVE it!

      As for “then” and “than.” We will let those stand as a beacon of our own discredit. All hail wabi sabi.

  10. yogadas

    Okay. I’ll keep picking. Nice to have a friendly outlet for my issues. Thanks for playing. ws.

  11. I’m glad to see my video is still relevant although the consensus is the topic isn’t.
    If this isn’t an issue for you I can respect that. But I would like to see some change. At this point it’s even rare to see Indian people in a Yoga class. Something has to give. Yoga should be shared on a mass level in some way. What’s the worst that can happen? People smile more…

    Original post can be viewed here:


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