(Yogajournal) – For anyone who has ever thought, “If only my partner were a yogi…,” we asked six top yoga teachers to share what it’s like to live, love, and teach together.
Two guiding principles of yoga are self-love and universal oneness. Whether you step onto the mat to quiet your mind, awaken your spirituality, or strengthen your physical practice, taking care of yourself and your relationships with others is key to achieving a state of inner bliss. So, what happens when two open-hearted, niyama-abiding yogis couple up? We asked six high-profile yoga teachers who found love on and off the mat how they juggle work, play, and romance in the yoga studio.
Rodney Yee & Colleen Saidman Yee
Fourteen years ago, Colleen Saidman was just another student in Rodney Yee’s class. She resisted the attraction early on—they were both involved with other people—but eventually fell head over heels for her charismatic yoga teacher. “It wasn’t love at first sight,” she says. “I walked out of his class. Looking back, I think I was afraid of the energy and felt the need to run.”
To this day, Yee remains grateful that his wife decided to follow her heart not her head by becoming romantically involved with him. “Our love story happened in a flash,” he says. “After our friendship, a greater connection was revealed. Colleen touched my forehead and put a weird spell on me and now it’s stronger than ever!”
These days, they travel the world teaching together, sometimes blurring the lines between personal and professional lives. “Teaching with your partner has its pros and cons,” Saidman says. “There are more complexities that go into teaching with your love. There are three entities in the room: both people and then the couple. But we know each other’s teachings in our bones. We know how to pass the baton seamlessly, so there are no confusing contradictions.”
Another bonus is that teaming up allows Saidman and Yee to give students their undivided attention, much more so than when they go it alone. “Being a couple makes it way easier,” Yee says. “I love teaching with Colleen. It gives us both time to sit back and see the classroom. Therefore, we can more effectively teach and help the students.”
Eric Paskel & Rina Jakubowicz
At first glance, Eric Paskel and Rina Jakubowicz may seem like an unlikely match. He’s covered in tattoos and is partial to rock ’n’ roll and R&B in his yoga classes. She is a traditionalist who prefers Sanskrit chants.
Yet, ever since the pair first crossed paths at a Yoga Journal conference in Hollywood, Florida, they’ve been virtually inseparable. Three and a half years later, their relationship continues to flourish as they lead workshops around the world and teach side by side at their studio, Electric Soul Yoga, in Studio City, California.
“To be honest, I am the one who had the problem blending in the beginning, because I like structure and he is more of a loose cannon, which can give me anxiety,” says Jakubowicz, who relocated from Miami to be with Paskel. “Through the years, we have been able to adjust to each other’s strengths and weaknesses better so now we can both be free to be ourselves.”
Despite their vastly different teaching styles, Paskel says Jakubowicz’s reserved personality is the perfect yin to his yang. “Essentially, we laid out a calculated path where one step at a time we could learn how to work together,” he explains. “We are still learning! Teaching, lecturing, and leading alone is an entirely different experience. We forced ourselves to work together because we knew it would force growth and break attachments. The challenge really boils down to ego. Both of our egos took a few hits but it has created some really incredible experiences.”
Briohny Smyth & Dice Iida-Klein
Like Saidman and Yee, Briohny Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein first met on the mat. Love, marriage, and a booming business partnership soon followed. But, unlike Saidman and Yee, they have struggled to find balance between their personal and professional lives.
“I always wanted an integrated marriage, meaning working with my husband,” Smyth says. “Although I still think that is possible, where I went wrong was not realizing what Dice needed. I am a businesswoman and a yogi and I’ve spent the last decade building our business. Many parts of that business made Dice uncomfortable, and I didn’t understand what he needed. I just forged ahead with what I wanted to do.”
Although Iida-Klein declined to comment for this article, Smyth says that the couple is currently “taking time off to work on ourselves.” Despite the strain that their professional lives put on their personal relationship, Smyth says she still plans to teach with her husband for many years to come, regardless of their romantic status.
“Dice is a very physical person and his personal practice helps to center him and keep him clear,” she says. “Right now, for me, it’s the teaching of yoga that is helping me. Connecting with other yogis and seeing how yoga helps them, I am motivated to keep going and sharing my passion for yoga. We both have very different approaches but we love sharing how ultimately all paths lead to one truth, that yoga is the gateway to Self.”