Want to be a Successful Yoga Teacher? Sadie Nardini Shares Her Secrets. ~ Judie Hurtado

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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 protected]. Judie blogs about her health and spiritual adventures at www.judiesjuice.wordpress.com.



Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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anonymous May 15, 2014 7:08am

I love her!!!!

anonymous May 14, 2014 8:24pm

Sadie is amazing…i am doing her Core Strength Vinyasa course at the moment and even though I have been teach for many years there is still lot's I am learning along the way. I love the journey with all its ups and downs. Staying true to ourselves is really the key just like Sadie said!

anonymous Feb 25, 2014 3:58pm

Hello there! This post could not be written

any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate!

He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.

Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

anonymous Sep 24, 2012 7:10pm

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anonymous Aug 27, 2012 7:20pm

[…] Want to be a Successful Yoga Teacher? Sadie Nardini Shares Her Secrets. ~ Judie Hurtado […]

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 6:45pm

Thank you Chuck!

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 1:41pm

Excellent article! Thanks Judie and Sadie!!! You touched on some great points to help teachers share the gifts of yoga with more people, and create abundance for themselves in an authentic way! I’m co-hosting the Yoga Business Summit where we are interviewing other successful yogis who are sharing their strategies to serve more people with the gifts of yoga, and get paid well to do it! It’s totally free- http://www.yogabusinesssummit.com
Thanks again for a great article Judie! Namaste

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 9:36am

Thank you Tanya and Maria! I really appreciate the feedback.

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 8:17am

Great article! Thanks Judie. You asked all the questions that new yoga teachers need answered. It was very insightful!

anonymous Aug 27, 2012 7:11am

Thank you for this! Excellent interview + points. They felt so real. Loved them.

anonymous Aug 26, 2012 8:31am

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anonymous Aug 26, 2012 5:47am

Thanks everyone for reading my interview and for your comments. I took Sadie's advice when I taught yesterday morning. I sat, closed my eyes and centered my thoughts for a minute or two before commencing class. I will admit that I wondered what my students were thinking, but I did notice a shift in the energy level. It was wonderful.

anonymous Aug 25, 2012 4:12pm

love the interview and Sadie's good advice about consolidating your work load. it's always tempting to take on more classes but she's spot on about dropping the classes that just aren't right and focusing energy on what's really working. Also…teaching from the heart and speaking your truth let's students feel your authenticity. That's hard in the beginning when your just trying to remember your sequence….Good tips…can't wait to hear more.

anonymous Aug 25, 2012 3:40pm


Great article Judie. My favorite teacher at my Y where I take class clearly takes the advice about being her unique self ,it's one of the reasons I love her class so much. Lisa makes us all laugh and her warmth and personality shines through each and every class. I'm in awe of yoga instructors' ability to move through poses with ease but when they can also bring their authentic self to class and give THAT to us it's such a gift. Lisa ends with an inspirational reading and "eat dessert."

anonymous Aug 25, 2012 2:01pm

Thanks for asking Sadie to address the burn out question. I have often found myself struggling to find the courage to say no to new opportunities when I found myself pushing to schedule it in, voice my desire for a livable wage, and value my time to work on me. It is encouraging to hear successful teachers relate their own stories and reinforce the "you are not the only one" feeling that creeps up.

anonymous Aug 25, 2012 12:11pm

Thanks for the interview and the excellent advice, Sadie and Judie. I have a new series starting in fall, so I'll keep this advice in mind.

anonymous Aug 24, 2012 11:14pm

Sadie's a very good teacher. I enjoyed meeting her and taking her class at Being Yoga – "yoga for weight loss" disagreements notwithstanding.

anonymous Aug 24, 2012 6:49pm

N in West Orange, thank you for reading my interview and for your comment. I started teaching last Fall. As a new teacher, I found Sadie's tips to be very helpful. In fact, I took her advice to heart. I've been wanting to teach a 9:30 am class but none of the studios have that highly coveted time slot available. A friend of mine has been wanting to take a morning class with me, so she came up with the idea of having me teach a class at her house. She emailed me the day after my interview with Sadie. We're starting to spread the word and gather students together for the class.

anonymous Aug 24, 2012 6:02pm

Thanks for doing this article. I found it helpful as a new teacher as it helped validate my feelings of nervousness before I start my class and work toward finding my teacher voice.
My favorite quote, "aim for balance, not perfection."
N-in West Orange

anonymous Aug 24, 2012 4:57pm

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