Cyndi Lee is the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her teaching offering. In 1998, she founded the OM yoga Center in NYC, which became a mecca for yogis worldwide. One of the most influential teachers in the U.S., Cyndi is known for her dynamic and contemplative classes; creative, safe and sane sequencing; smart and soulful teachings — all offered in a non-competitive environment of goodness.
Cyndi’s popular asana classes offer alignment based vinyasa with a dharma influence. Every class is different, designed to teach from the doing, and to relate to the very people that are in the room that day. Be prepared to move, to apply clarity to your alignment, to watch your mind, to sweat, to stay steady, to get bored and let go, to engage and be inspired.
How did all this begin? The daughter of a protestant minister dad and tailor/ceramist mom, Cyndi grew up in an environment that fostered creativity, play and spiritual seeking. Dancing around the living room of their Seattle home to “The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny” was not uncommon. Family vacations were divided between camping at La WisWis in the Cascade Mountains, picking blackberries along the Columbia River and summers speaking Spanish in La Ciudad de Mexico. By the age of eight, Cyndi had dislocated her left elbow twice because climbing trees, rolling down sand dunes, ballet lessons, skiing, and cheerleading were just some of the ways she moved on a daily basis.
Yoga seemed like a natural choice when she went to Chapman College in 1971. It was southern California in the seventies, after all! Upon completion of her MFA thesis on Women, Spirituality and Indian Dance at UC, Irvine, Cyndi arrived in New York as a recipient of an Art History Fellowship to the Whitney Museum of American Art. This was a wonderful opportunity but not enough cash so Cyndi began teaching yoga in Greenwich Village.
Soon she became a fixture in NYC’s downtown modern dance scene, choreographing and performing primarily in XXY Dance/Music and Cyndi Lee Dance Company/Big Moves, Inc. Cyndi also choreographed over 20 music videos for Rick James, Simple Minds, Appolonia, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and many more including Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” which won the 1983 MTV Best Female Video of the Year award.
After meeting her root guru, Gelek Rimpoche, in the late 1980s, Cyndi’s practice of yoga and Buddhism merged with her choreography. In 1994, “Dharma Dances” was her last concert, which featured Allen Ginsberg singing his own songs and accompanying himself on harmonium. She said good bye to the dance world and starting teaching yoga full-time.
After 15 years of running OM yoga Center, Cyndi closed the studio in 2012 to allow more time for deepening her own practice as well as focussing on teaching scenarios which can benefit from her integrated, masterful teaching. These days Cyndi offers workshops and retreats for women based on her New York Times critically acclaimed book, May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind.
Other popular workshops and retreats include Yoga Body Buddha Mind; Sanity & Sweat, and Finding Clarity, Strength & Stability.
As a master teacher, Cyndi also leads 100 hr., 200 hr., and 500 hr. Teacher Trainings as well as Meditation Teacher Training, Restorative Teacher Training and Pranayama Teacher Training. She works one-on-one, giving private meditation instruction and coaching for yoga teachers, in person and via skype.
When she’s not on the mat and cushion, Cyndi writes. She is the author and artist of Yoga Body, Buddha Mind; OM yoga Today; OM yoga, A Guide to Daily Practice; OM at Home, A Yoga Journal; and the OM yoga in a Box series. Cyndi is a contributing author to Will Meditation and Yoga Change My Life?; Joyful Mind; Joyful Wedding; and The Idiot’s Guide to Fitness and her work was featured in The Best Buddhist Writings of 2009.
A regular contributor to Yoga Journal magazine, Cyndi originated Yoga Journal’s Home Practice column, and been the year-long columnist for both the YJ Basics and the YJ Master Class columns. In addition to being featured on the cover of The Shambhala Sun, she has written two cover articles as well as their yoga column 2000-2003. Cyndi has written for Yoga International, Tricycle, Dance Magazine, BalletTanz, Cooking Light, Spa Finder, Seventeen, Natural Health, Mindful and Breathe.
Cyndi has been featured on ABC’s Early Show; Live with Reggie and Kathie Lee; CBS’s Good Morning, America; FCNN; and other television shows as well as numerous publications such as The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; Vogue and Time Out.