Ten Things You Never Knew About Sadie Nardini. ~ Brian Williams

Via elephant journal
on Jul 30, 2012
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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

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38 Responses to “Ten Things You Never Knew About Sadie Nardini. ~ Brian Williams”

  1. Anne says:

    Thanks. I took a week long workshop with Sadie at Kripalu a couple of years back and I found her to be a kind, fun and inspiring yoga teacher. Nice post.

  2. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    To clarify my intentions in writing the piece…I wrote it in response to a lot of untrue, irresponsible name-calling and anonymous postings attempting to belittle her contributions and teachings. Also, I wrote it because she's my friend, and I love her, and I think that when you are grateful to someone, you should express your gratitude.

  3. Sadie Nardini says:

    Hi Brian, and all–

    Brian asked if he could "write something about me", but I never imagined this heartfelt lovefest. I am humbled to the core that another person was compelled to write down this many positive thoughts about his experience with me. I could be a better friend to you, see you more consistently, spend more quality time with you. But I now know I could also have done much worse:)

    Thank you with all my heart, my rockin' bro from another mo….you know I always have your back.

    In response to whomever asked "who cares?" I can only say that, as a public figure who reads a lot of opinions about herself, most of which are blessedly positive or at least constructive and respectful, but a few of which border on abusively negative, and always from people I've never met and who know only a sliver about me from something they read online, It's a gorgeous thing when someone decides to put the good out there en force too.

    So…why? Because if you have something born of love to say…why not express it? So often, we don't spread the love, but we loudly proclaim the negative, and voice criticisms to ourselves and about others. People love the snark…but how about honoring someone's honoring of another? Isn't that a beautiful practice, just to witness and be open for your own giving and receiving of joy?

    When is the last time we all wrote our friends or people who have meant so much to us exactly how we feel, critics be damned? When is the last time we told our Beloveds how much they have helped us, instead of picking on them for leaving the toothpaste cap off AGAIN, or not being attentive enough when they come home from a long day at work?

    Maybe taking a page out of Brian's book ain't so bad.

    Mad love to you all, &
    Thanks again, B…vino soon?


  4. Liz says:

    Great article and very true. Sadie is an amazing teacher and I have valued every class I have been fortunate enough to take:-)

  5. annikalei says:

    to rip off shakespeare, "the lady's best bud doth protest too much, methinks." to me, this is akin to propaganda, and as such, is rather meaningless to an outside observer. but here it is, on a public blog, and while i'm am all for telling people how much you love them, and why, i don't know why it has to be said here.

    sadie, i'm willing to bet that you are all these wonderful things and more, and you obviously have a fantastic friend who has totally got your back. however. you've chosen to exist and teach in a very public sphere, and with that comes great praise, great monetary reward, and sometimes great criticism. to choose the public path is to be okay with all of it – even the yucky stuff that people say. haters gonna hate, as they say.

    putting myself in this (highly improbable for me) situation, i have to say that my response would be to discourage the adulatory public piece, and instead just keep on keeping on. ultimately, we aren't defined by the words of others about ourselves, but by our actions toward others. all the rest is just noise.

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Lovely article, Brian! Loved it!

  7. paul says:

    I think most of the the negativity she gets is not so much about her as it is about a larger culture that the dislikers object to, and they find it easier to point at her as an example of this culture than do research and example the many others who do and have offered the same (including people they admire), as her personality is more flamboyant and direct than most people who have become public figures in a relatively small yoga world, making her a lightning rod of sorts.
    That aside, I enjoyed this testimonial, I need to write some for the people in my life.

  8. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Agreed. They may not speak directly about using yoga for weight loss, but their attitude is just the same.
    Of course, there is something wrong with the culture.

    In this article:

    "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."

    I also think Brian meant to say, "three times a DAY" and not "week". That seems to be the way the ex-dancers and anorexia/bulimia cases do things around the yoga shala … (assuming a degree of leisure time and energy many don't possess) …

    She used to sympathize with me when I had the problems with the greedy studio. It seems she has changed in a few short years. She is not greedy for students, only because she does not have to be.

  9. laghimayoga says:

    I love her too Brian and think she is insanely awesome! Thank you so much for writing this! 🙂

  10. Sara H. says:

    I'm unclear as to why so many are so quick to dismiss this as "propaganda" or something that is yawn-worthy. You knew when you clicked on the link that it was probably going to be a tribute to a friend. What's wrong with that? Gratitude is one of the most beautiful expressions, and I think this piece exemplifies that. It was a lovely tribute to a dear friend; we should all take from this a little inspiration to tell those we hold close how grateful we are for them.

  11. whitney m. says:

    @sara – so right. these comments just confirm my growing abhorrence at reading them anymore. more and more comments on articles and news sites are filled with snarkey BS. really, if it's so boring, or you don't care, why did you read it and then take the time to post. you must have something better to do.

    from what i can tell people have several reasons for taking time to click on an article.
    2.can't wait to sink their teeth into something they already have an opinions about
    3.or it's an accident and they end up reading about the kardashians instead of that article about greening up you life.
    4. they want to comment to make themselves either A. be heard B. feel superior.

    at least if your going to comment, good or bad, make it a useful.


  12. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    Hi Everyone!

    When my uncle died a few years ago, I carried around a lot of regret. I wished I had spent more time on the phone with him. I wished I'd made a point of visiting him every single time I came home. I wished I'd been in a position to afford to travel home to attend his funeral. I wished I'd told him how much he meant to me. He actually was like a father to me, and while I believe he knew how much he meant to me, I really wish I had said something.

    I wrote this piece as a love letter to Sadie. She is one of the most influential people in my life, and I wanted to tell her that in a public forum. Now rather than 40 years from now. As you all know, we only are guaranteed this moment. So why wait to tell someone how you feel?

    I chose to write a blog post because Sadie is a public figure. Much of what is written about Sadie is respectful and kind, as she stated. But there is the other side of the coin, and some of it has recently been unkind and disrespectful. Because it was published and public, I felt passionately about sharing my experiences, which have only been positive and loving, in a public forum.

    Yes, "haters gonna hate," but not being one of them, I wanted to celebrate!

    Thanks for reading, and I hope this piece might inspire you to tell someone you love what they mean to you. Write a love letter, make a phone call, or do something nice for someone you love.


  13. annikalei says:

    i thought my comment was useful. but i don't know if you're referring to me. i can't remember how i clicked on the link, but i didn't think the content of this "article" was anything more than a very lovely personal communication from one friend to another. its placement in the public sphere puzzles me, and i have to question the motives of those involved just a little. it has the feel, as have several other articles on here of late, of a spin-heavy advertorial, and i think elephant can do better with its content than stuff like this.

    that is my non-snarky opinion about the structure and content of the article – not a jab at ms. sadie nardini or mr. brian williams.

  14. Mamaste says:

    I love you, Brian.

  15. Sherry says:

    Well said, Sadie.

  16. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    This is very un-punk rock of me, but…

  17. Mamaste says:

    And I love you, chrispy…the love that is floating around…it's beautiful.

    I'm all for love, too.


  18. Love that Brian. We are so quick to jump on the negative band wagon. Criticism is great, but we need to spend time telling each other what we appreciate too.

  19. Love you Chrispy! haha! Pro-love is a good thing.

  20. __MikeG__ says:

    I do not doubt Ms. Nardini is a nice person. And personal attacks against her are out of bounds, IMO.

    Ms. Nardini has aligned herself with the fitness/weight loss industry on a marketing level. And as yoga becomes more commercialized there is a counter movement against that commercialization. I've never taken a class led by Ms. Nardini so I cannot speak to her teaching.

    The comment that "haters gonna hate" is an intellectually dishonest attempt to marginalize persons who disagree with Ms. Nardini's marketing message. Many of these "haters" have valid concerns as to how yoga is practiced and as to how yoga is marketed. Or even whether yoga should be marketed at all. Or whether Ms. Nardini is teaching yoga or calisthenics.

    To me, this article appears to be more marketing simply because Ms. Nardini is aggressively marketing herself. But maybe I am wrong, wouldn't be the first time. Even if I am wrong about the intention of the piece I still think this article adds nothing of real value for Ms. Nardini and certainly fails to address why many out there in the western yoga world dislike what she is doing.

  21. annikalei says:

    well, it's nobody's fault but my own that i expected content deeper than a personal letter of appreciation. but this has served as a nice impetus to get EJ off of my facebook feed and to stop wasting my time clicking on articles that have little to no content, insight, or critical analysis of the yoga scene. the comments here just re-enforce the strange, insular vibe of the posting. it seems like you all could just get off the internet and make a phone call to tell each other this stuff. maybe play this song for each other…one of my favorites, actually, but i don't need to write a blog post about how much i love love 😉
    see you on the mat, everybody! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sF0RaIEVzY

  22. __MikeG__ says:

    You have no clue as to what any other person "knew" when the clicked on the link, other than yourself.

    Maybe this article is gratitude to a friend. It can also be read as propaganda.

    "Yawn" comments are crap, IMO. They add nothing but snark. Like or dislike the article? Then provide an argument.

  23. Bobcat says:

    Admiring certain qualities and hating some qualities of others exist together. When there is a strong preference for something there is an automatic aversion to its opposites. All the lovely qualities listed in the post can also point to what the authors dislike in their opposites. This is exactly what yoga practice when done properly allow practitioners to overcome.

    It's a privilege to teach yoga because you are in the position where people have to look up to you. Otherwise, they simply don't come to your classes. The more people attend your classes a greater responsibility to live and teach in ways that align with the heart of yoga. I can't judge Sadie as a person but I can choose to have a conversation, discuss and disagree with the way she teaches and how she reaches her audience because they affect how I may offer my teaching and how I learn.

    We can try to hangout with people we like or only agree with and do the things that we think is right but that only keep us in our comfort zone. I don't see great gurus or any yoga teacher more special than others. They are human with the same potential we have. Seeing good and bad and being caught in them is a human condition. Embracing it all is yoga. So, when the author accuse those who may disagree with his view to be liars I see he is caught. Anytime you have a definite idea about something it is a good time to get out of the comfort zone and explore the opposite plus the range in between. Life is never black or white.

  24. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    You see yoga here, I see it there, and somewhere in between is yoga. Thanks, everyone, for all the thoughtful commentary.

  25. brianwilliamsyoga says:

    Chrispy, Looking forward as well! Thanks for the support!

  26. ryan says:

    Taking no risks by putting this on EJ, where most of us are censored.

  27. whitney m. says:

    actually it wasn't. "articles" or "stories" or "blogs" or "whatever" are completely subject to interpretation. and your input was solid.
    but after the post below you kinda come across as a yoga snob. my interpretation of reading your comments is that yoga articles need to always have "insight" &/or "critical analysis". lighten up.

  28. annikalei says:

    Ouch. that wasn’t a very nice name to call me, whitney. for me, i just want an article on EJ to add something to the debate. this didn’t do that for me, and less and less does on EJ. Hope you at least enjoyed my inclusion of the country-soul artist Razzy’s masterpiece, “I Hate Hate.” how can you tell me to lighten up after watching that?!?

  29. arthur says:

    write an article, i'm excited already to read it

  30. arthur says:

    speaking of taking risks, you should write an article

  31. annikalei says:

    ha! i wonder what i would write about… but no, i think not. as the great groucho marx once said, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."

  32. gphase says:

    "haters gonna hate" – what a way to offend others in discussion and render your own argument pointless since "lovers gonna love".

  33. jack says:

    You got that right, ryan. This is site is lame. Go to yogadork for uncensored debate.

  34. thebabarazzi says:

    Brian: Would you mind clarifying specifically to whom you were responding and to what "untrue" statements you were attempting to correct? It gets a little messy with the generalizations.

    Much love,
    The Babarazzi

  35. __MikeG__ says:

    The first sentence of your post is an informal logical fallacy called Begging the Question.

    Every action by every person is open to question and critique. Ms. Nardini is no exception.

    I do not buy the premise that the more one practices yoga the more one will not care about the commercialization of yoga. For many people, the more they practice yoga the more they care about yoga and how it is marketed and taught in the West.

    I am happy to discuss issues with monks but I will agree with or reject their arguments based on the quality of the arguments they make. The fact that a monk is a monk carries no weight as to the validity of any argument Mr. or Ms. Monk makes.

  36. Thaddeus1 says:

    "If people are coming to her classes and returning and her business is thriving it's because people feel good and like what she has to offer. What room does anyone have to criticize that?"

    Do you think the same line of thought applies to drug dealers?

  37. Be. says:

    couldn't agree more with Brian.

    rock it.


  38. […] last one, featuring a picutre with arrows pointing to the breasts and butt of Sadie Nardini (his favorite target) was, I think, trying to compare body image with weightloss, saying they are […]

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