Sadie Nardini is like an older, wiser sister to me, even though we are pretty much the same age.
I’ve known her since 2001 or so, when I got dragged to one of her first yoga classes at The Movement Salon in the East Village. The first time I took her class, there were about four students, and the second time, it was just me and a friend.
Sadie taught the classes with so much kindness, grace, and humor that I felt I was hanging out with a very knowledgable old friend. She brought to those tiny classes the same energy, intensity and passion that she’d later bring to her sold-out classes. I’d only done yoga with VHS tapes at that time, and though I knew the idea of what the poses were supposed to look like, I didn’t really get the why. And I really didn’t understand the alignment of the spine, or how to breathe into a pose, or anything more than the basic outlines. Sadie took me under her wing, and taught those early classes just like they were private sessions. I felt as though my life changed, and I fell in love with yoga because of her.
So here are the ten things…
1. She inspired in me a desire to read everything I could get my hands on about yoga, and to become a yoga teacher.
I was honored to do my first (and two subsequent) teacher trainings with Sadie, and even more excited to be asked to teach in a studio where she was the director. I learned a lot working side by side with Sadie, and have been thrilled to be hired over and over again to work with her…whether as one of her main subs, an assistant on a retreat, a senior teacher and manager of the studio she ran on 5th Avenue, or director of her own yoga studio when she opened The Fierce Club in Soho.
Sadie asked me to go to Costa Rica with her as her assistant on a yoga retreat, and generously gave me a daily teaching slot on the retreat. The next year, encouraged by Sadie, I took my own group on the same retreat. When I wanted to bring Punk Rock Yoga to New York, Sadie encouraged me to do it, and has always promoted me as one of her favorite teachers. My career as a teacher exists because of Sadie’s guidance and wisdom.
Sadie has also been a real friend to me. When my uncle Larry died a few years ago, I was pretty broken up. Sadie was right there for me, giving up some much needed personal time to meet me in the city and drink with me (or nurse a cocktail while I guzzled a few,) and she listened to me talk about a man she’d never met. She helped me work through some guilt I had about not being able to be there for Larry’s funeral, and as she always does, made me feel better just by being there and sharing her hard-won wisdom.
When a student questioned my decision in teaching a yoga class especially for gay men, Sadie had my back. When people doubted the authenticity of Punk Rock Yoga, Sadie was one of the first to jump in and school them in what it truly is.
2. Sadie is always a loyal friend.
When the studio I worked at was struggling, and it looked as if my hours would have to be cut in order to keep the studio open, she volunteered to make up the difference in my pay out of her own pocket so that I could stay in my position without having to take on a part-time job. She’s been there for me whenever I needed her, for 10 years. She’s one of the first friends I made in New York, and one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful that she is part of my life, and am so excited for her success.
She’s had to make some tough business decisions, but they’ve ultimately been wise decisions, which were in line with her own personal integrity and her philosophy. I know there are people who disagree with some of her decisions, but I know that Sadie made them from the heart, after careful consideration and a lot of soul-searching. Sadie knows and teaches that if you are in a situation that isn’t serving you, you cannot serve others, and Sadie lives to serve and help others.
3. Sadie works harder than anyone I know.
She’s constantly studying yoga anatomy and looking for ways to deepen her teaching and refine her techniques. Her classes constantly evolve, and I’ve never seen her teach the same class twice. Her knowledge of yoga is vast. She has practiced yin yoga, kundalini yoga, vinyasa, and ashtanga yoga, and knows a lot about restorative yoga as well. She is kind and respectful to everyone she meets, and doesn’t gossip or talk shit about people behind their backs. If she has a beef with someone, she will tactfully tell them to their face.
4. She’s respectful of other’s beliefs.
5. She’s hilarious.
6. She’s actually pretty quiet in real life, and quite content to hang out over a glass of wine, just catching up with friends, not talking about herself at all.
She believes that she should be able to make a living doing what she loves (which she also happens to be really good at).
7. She’s a damn good cook.
8. She’s extremely well-read.
9. She likes a dirty joke, and a good horror movie once in a while.
She’s also one of the best karaoke-ers around. You have to witness her version of “Welcome to the Jungle” to believe it.
10. She has a sense of humor about herself.
She came to a birthday party of mine where one of my friends had a little too much to drink and spent most of the night flirting with Sadie’s boyfriend. Sadie just shook her head and smiled her Sadie smile. When I mentioned it to Sadie later, she just laughed and said “It’s okay. She was drunk.” She’s actually the kind of person most people want as their best friend. I’m just lucky enough to count her among mine.
Her yoga classes have helped many, many people change their lives. I’ve seen people get motivated and accomplish miracles of transformation after they became Sadie’s student. Sadie doesn’t take the credit. She has often said she’s just giving people tools to use. What they choose to do with the tools is up to them. I’ve seen people begin taking her classes with bodies that looked old and tired, stiff and bound. After practicing with Sadie, they walk with a different spring in their step and they look ten years younger. I’ve seen people who were constantly angry become lighter and happier. I’ve seen people who slumped around with no self-esteem develop confidence.
I’ve also seen Sadie talk to people who were too thin, and tell them they don’t need to be doing her class three times a week. I’ve seen her turn away people from classes she thought were not right for them. She is not greedy for students, and will not allow people to practice who do not need to practice her style.
So what I have to say to anyone that would question whether or not Sadie Nardini is a good teacher or a good yogini is this. She is fan-f*cking-tastic. She’s knowledgable. Her teaching is valid and consistent with yoga philosophy. She’s a real friend. She is loyal. And she walks the walk. Anyone who says differently doesn’t know her, or they are lying.
Take it from someone who has known her for over a decade.
Brian Williams, a NYC yoga instructor, has been practicing yoga since 1998 and teaching since 2005. During that time, he has been included on YogaCityNYC’s list of favorite classes, and has had the honor of his Punk Rock Yoga classes being named by Gibson Guitars as “one of three very rock and roll ways to stay in shape.” Brian teaches Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga in his public classes, and blogs about practicing yoga on and off the mat. He has studied and trained with Sadie Nardini, and has written the foreword to The Punk Rock Yoga Manifesto, a great guide to living your yoga practice, written by Punk Rock Yoga founder Kimberlee Jensen Stedl. Brian was the Director of East West Yoga and The Fierce Club. In addition to teaching yoga, Brian is a Reiki Master and Feng Shui practitioner. He is proud of his southern roots, and believes that the world around us can be vastly improved by being kind to others, and practicing little courtesies like saying “please,” and “thank you,” and by holding the door open for other people. He teaches independent yoga classes around NYC.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger