Sadie Nardini never imagined her life as a successful yoga teacher, self-empowerment speaker, journalist and host of a daily yoga and lifestyle hour on Veria TV.
As a teenager, Sadie lived with a central nervous system illness that left her almost paralyzed for two years. Using a combination of diet, yoga and a lot of positive thinking, Sadie was slowly able to recover and move on from her illness.
Today, decades later, Sadie can freely twist her body into all sorts of asanas and is a leader in the yoga industry. At the Being Yoga Conference held at Omega, Sadie sat down with elephant journal writer Judie Hurtado and talked about her journey as a yoga teacher.
Do you remember teaching your very first yoga class 20 years ago? Were you nervous?
Yes, I was so nervous. I thought it was a disaster, but everyone loved it. I had been studying asana and breath work with my teacher for three years. I didn’t want to teach. I simply wanted to learn from her. When she decided to move to India, she asked me to take over her classes. At that point, I spent the next two months studying with her on how to teach.
When I taught my first yoga class, I was literally shaking in my yoga clothes. My teacher had given me a list of poses she usually taught in her classes. I pretty much read that list out loud the first class. I would throw in “breathe.” I just didn’t trust myself at that time.
For the next few years, I tried on different voices. I tried to emulate other teachers. Little by little, I began to find my true self.
However, it took me at least 10 years of teaching before I found my true voice. As a teacher, you need to find your message and trust your truth. You have to believe you have a valid place in the yoga community. You are just as important as Patanjali.
How do you calm your nerves before teaching?
I recommend that teachers have a moment of reflection before teaching. I take time to be alone and focus, usually on the subway. It’s noisy, but comforting to me. I take out my journal and write down my thoughts. Writing gives me structure.When you are teaching, it doesn’t serve the teacher to stay centered and focused to chat about mindless things with the students before class. If you want to ask about injuries or say a warm hello, lovely. Just be careful that you’re not scattering yourself right before you step into the teacher’s seat. Breathe, do sun salutations, or whatever it takes to get grounded and centered. If you can’t do this before class, when you come to your seat, pause. Close your eyes for a minute or two. This brings the attention in the room down. Your students will wait. When you are ready, open your eyes and say, “Welcome.”
How do you prevent yourself from getting burned out when you are making a living as a yoga teacher?
It’s physically and psychically draining to teach. Students can tell when you are drained. Drop the classes that don’t work and consolidate. Once you have increased your class size, negotiate a higher pay. Other industries negotiate, so why not yoga teachers? Some studios pay a flat rate per class. If you have a lot of students, ask to get paid per head. That’s what I did.
How do you build a following, or at the very least, get more students to come to your class when there are so many yoga teachers and studios around town?
It’s perfectly acceptable to want to gather your tribe. Be your unique self. Speak your truth. The best teachers are strong in who they are and they share it without caring about the outcome or what others think.
It also helps to get a good time slot. In the city, the 9:15 or 9:30 in the morning do well. A 6:30 evening class on a Monday is often the best class during the week. On a Saturday, 10-11:30 or noon to 1:30 work well. 2-4 in the afternoons works well on a Sunday.
If you can’t get a good time slot, then create your own studio. Teach at a church or at a friend’s apartment. Put up flyers. Spread the word about your class to anyone and everyone.
Any other tips?
Play music that speaks to you and lights you up.
It all starts and ends with you.
Eat what feels right for your body.
Allow yourself to be human.
Aim for balance, not perfection.
Eat chocolate, drink wine and dance every day!
Judie Hurtado has been practicing various styles of yoga for over 13 years but has always been particularly drawn to vinyasa. She is a Registered Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher and a Certified Kids Yoga Teacher. She is also a Reiki Master Practitioner and a Health and Wellness writer. She can be reached at email@example.com. Judie blogs about her health and spiritual adventures at www.judiesjuice.wordpress.com.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
Like elephant yoga on Facebook