Getting to the Core with Sadie Nardini

On October 5-6, the inimitable Sadie Nardini will be gracing the stage of the MINDBODY BOLD Conference in Los Angeles. Such a deliciously unique yogini. Think Sid Vicious meets the Dalai Lama…in female form. Sadie marches to the beat of her own (punk) drummer and looks at yoga and life (isn’t yoga life afterall?) in a way that is intelligent, open, and totally accessible.

I had the honor of interviewing this maverick of the yoga mat and I know you will be as blown away and inspired by her responses at I am.

  1. You have a unique story about how you came to yoga. Can you tell me a bit about the circumstances that led you to yoga and how it helped you heal?

When I was a teenager, I was standing in the shallow end of a public swimming pool, and a big guy cannonball-jumped on my head from the side of the pool. It dislocated my spine in 3 places seriously and caused damage to my spinal cord. For a few years I was partially paralyzed, unable to control my breathing, and weak as hell. I had to fight for 10 years just to be a viable member of society, and yoga helped me to overcome the diagnosis doctors gave me, which was to invest in a wheelchair, because I was too far gone to probably ever heal. 

  1. You use food and diet as tools to empower your life. What are the cornerstones of the diet that you follow?

Well, I’m French, Italian and Native American by heritage, so I tend towards a whole-food version of those cultures. Some yogis are shocked when I say I love red meat and drink wine, and then of course, there are the fries…and butter….but most of my tribe of yoga and music lovers know that I recommend that whatever one is eating, they keep it clean. All of the most long-living, healthy populations in the world eat a balanced, local, fresh and mostly organic or naturally-grown diet including meat, cheese, wine, veggies, fruits, nuts and some grains.

But for me, when people ask me what my diet type is, I say “Sadietarian”. We all have something called ‘biochemical individuality’, and most people know deep down what diet is best for them uniquely. The problem is, we have often developed this ‘yogier-than-thou” attitude in the yoga community that tries to use individual ideas of morality to tell everyone else how they should eat, how they should practice yoga, how they should (or mostly, shouldn’t) be “yogic”. I say, hey–whatever gets you through this life with a little more conscious behavior, and tries to help the world while also helping and healing yourself is a pretty good balance to strike. Even if that way contains tofu. I don’t judge.

  1. I always say, no matter what the question, the answer is core. How do you define core for your Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga?

Haha! Love it. I also think that all roads lead to the core. But what the core is tends to be an area of partial knowledge for many yoga practitioners, including me, 10 years ago! So I studied for a decade with some of the top anatomy and biomechanics of yoga masters, and discovered a whole new world of what we now know is the whole body Core. Almost no yoga student or even teacher knows what it is, or can instruct through it in order, so I bring that teaching to people of any yoga style! It’s amazing to illuminate it for them, and have people realize that the way they have been craving to move in yoga but weren’t taught to, is actually the way we are born to move!

PS: On another, equally as important Core note, I’m at my local LA restaurant right now, having a Pinot Grigio and seltzer (separately), and the bartender and I are talking about relationships, and how she has been through a lot of toxic interactions and disappointment lately around them. I asked her, “what part of your own inner relationship is still toxic and disappointing?” and she knew the answers right away. I invited her to move into a period of time, at least 40 days, where she allowed no one else to try and fix her, but that she refocus on having a fun, creative and more healthful love affair with herself. Because once we learn to respect, love and honor ourselves within the Core Relationship, all others will transform as if by magic. I know. I met my soulmate and married him, but only after I righted my own Self, from the core, out.

  1. It’s clear that you take a comprehensive mind-body approach to health and wellness. If you had to choose one “tool” to help people to get past their mental blocks and challenges, what would it be?

Honestly? I would recognize that the mind makes an awesome secretary, but a horrible boss. I ignore most of what my mind says, if it’s making me anxious. I use another part of me, in place of my mind, called the Witness. Here’s how I get there:

My Sitting in Steve Meditation:

There’s a calm, quiet, place inside of you, and if you:

1) Close your eyes, and imagine you’re sitting in a comfy chair (I named mine Steve…no idea why), in a comfy, safe room, just chilling, and

2) Outside the door, your thoughts are happening, and other people’s choices are going on, and your emotions are flowing in and out like the tide, but that’s all outside your peaceful room, then

3) You can find and more easily sink into that Witness place, into your comfy chair, whenever you, or your mind lies to you and tells you that there’s anything to lose, or anything to be afraid of. Remember all your clarity and potential, and make your decisions from a clear and loving heart and core.

  1. You have dedicated your practice to inspiring others to positively change their minds, bodies and lives. So, what inspires you to be your best every day?

Suffering inspires me. I don’t like to do it, and I don’t like to see other people doing it, either.  That’s pretty much it.

  1. You’ll be talking about business and leadership success at the upcoming BOLD Conference in Los Angeles. Can you give me a quick sneak peak at one or two of your strategies for building a successful yoga business?

I won’t share any of the 10 Core Strategies to Success, because they each build on one another, and so they don’t make sense except in relationship, however, I can tell you that all successful business–and abundance in any way in life, relationship, finances, creativity and health– comes from the Core of a Leader, or individual who creates anything out into the world–and I will be inviting the leaders (and we all are one, in our own ways), to investigate where they are resonating off alignment with their stated goals, since we know that true success can’t come to people if they are not participating in it between them and themselves…and how to get back on track, fast. I look forward to expanding more on this with the attendees of the MINDBODY Bold conference.

Want to catch Sadie at the BOLD (oh…and Deepak Chopra and Jillian Michaels, too)? Please visit https://www.mindbodyonline.com/bold-mindbody-conference for registration and more information. See you there!

there are options

so…you say you really, really want to take my 200-hour teacher training, but you can’t afford it.

hey! there are options!

have you considered selling your organs? i’m sure you already know that you don’t need that second kidney. and your gall bladder…what does that thing do, anyway? have a gold tooth? you can melt that and sell it. there are even people out there who need new toes. maybe just a little pinkie toe?

or…if selling body parts is too gruesome, have you considered selling your actual body? you know what i mean. prostitution. if you look like most of the yogi/nis on instagram, certainly you could sell yourself on the street corner for a little while. over the course of the month before training, you’re sure to be worth at least $2500.organs

oh, you say you have too much respect for your body to do that? good for you! that is an important quality in a yogi/ni. ahimsa with a smattering of brahmacharya thrown in. good call. how about selling someone else, then? your firstborn? if s/he is young and cute, there are millions of loving parents out there who cannot have children of their own and would love and cherish yours if you were willing to sell.

but if you like (or even love) the little bugger, that might not be your best option. how about stealing the money from your mother’s underwear drawer? you know…that little wad that is crammed between the old pair of granny-pants with no more elastic and one lost ped sock from the 80s?

right…then there’s asteya. non-stealing. don’t do that. don’t steal from mom.

perhaps, though, to steal from a big bank would be okay. i mean, they’re such jerks anyway. remember that whole housing crisis thing? they did that! certainly they wouldn’t miss $2500. in fact, make it $3000, so you can buy some cool yoga pants, too.

not the rob-a-bank type? okay…so how about this…

you can borrow from a family member, a friend, or even (gulp) a bank. there’s credit and there are payment plans. you can drink less alcohol, do your own manicures, clean your own home.

or…you can just pay and know it will all come back in enormous dividends over the course of your career. usually, not committing to training is more about not wanting to spend the money vs. actually not having it. if you earn even just $25,000 a year for ten years as a yoga instructor (and chances are that you will earn a lot more), then you just earned back your investment 100 times over.

all i’m saying is: there are options.

if  you really want something, just make it happen.

http://yogathletica.com/200-hour-yogathletica-teacher-training-certification-at-red-diamond-yoga/

asana’s worst enemy

if you’re like most people on earth, you probably spend a good part of your life sitting around. sitting at the computer, at meals, while driving, watching tv, hanging out on the toilet, and whatever else you sit around and do.

and this may or may not come as a shocker to you, but sitting around is one of the worst things you can do for your health and your yoga practice. the biggest culprit, of course, being sitting at work (unless you’re one of those people who spends most of your time sitting around in the bathroom).

as a dedicated yogini who spends way too much time at my computer (like now, for example), i can tell you that sitting causes your hamstrings to tighten, which also has negative repercussions for your poor little low back.

but there are other risks that come with a very sitty, sedentary lifestyle such as increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and, according to the mayo clinic, even cancer. nuts Workplace Hacks

hold on one second…i need to get up and stretch…

okay. i’m back. and my back is happy and back in action.

it didn’t take much!

simply getting up once an hour (or, in my case about every fifteen minutes) and doing a stretch or two–or taking a little stroll around the office–helps to fend off the tightness and illness that sitting can bring on.

wondering what stretches you can do in heels and a dress, or a formal business suit?

well, i’m not talking full wheel here. think things like interlacing your hands behind your back and lifting up your arms to open the thoracic spine, doing wrist circles to stave off carpal tunnel syndrome, or just drop and do ten. joking about the ten…sort of…

two super-easy ways to keep active during the workday: always take the stairs instead of the elevator, and whenever possible, walk to your coworker’s desk instead of emailing when you need to talk to them.

once you’ve got the movement habit down, don’t forget to maintain strong posture at your desk. it’s so much easier to slump than sit up straight. and there’s a reason for that. sitting up straight requires muscles. core and lower back in particular. that’s good news and bad news.

bad because it does mean that posture takes work–and who wants work and work? but good because you are actually strengthening your core as you sit…and you have the added benefit of long-term stability for your lower back.

in my estimable opinion, the good far outweighs the bad. so, watch that posture! until it becomes a habit, consider setting reminders on your phone or computer…sort of like your mom, but without all the guilt.

so, that’s all fine and good, but perhaps the hardest part of spending a day at the office is all the bad, unhealthful, but oh-so-yummy food that’s lying around.

your first line of defense is a great offense.

Healthy-Dessert-Truffles.jpg

healthy vegan truffles! recipe at nuts.com!

your offensive team:

  • water. and lots of it. not only is it the healthiest thing in the world for you, but it also fills you up so you aren’t so hungry for all that other stuff.
  • healthy lunch. going out for lunch–or even worse, eating at a cafeteria–often leaves you without many fresh, healthy options. pack your own and you always know you are getting something nutritious.
  • healthy snacks. forget the chocolate, cookies, doughnuts and pastries that seem to be ubiquitous around every workspace. but you don’t have to forget to snack. snacking is a great way to keep your energy–and your metabolism–in peak condition. check out nuts.com’s healthy snacks page for all sorts of awesome recipes (including vegan ones!) that i would totally make if i ever stepped foot in a kitchen or could boil water without burning it.

and now,  you are armed and dangerous! ready for anything that comes your way! full wheel anyone?

 

E.T. Phone Home!

When I was a kid I was completely traumatized when a mean girl at camp saw my legs dangling over the side of the bunk bed and squealed loudly “Oh my God! You have ET feet!”

All in all, it was a very unimportant event in the history of my very eventful life, but somehow I still remember it to this day.

Why???

Some small (in many ways) and insignificant person said something mean to me 30 years ago and I’m actually taking time to write a blog about it today???

Well, I’m not writing for the reason you may think.feet

I’m not writing because it traumatized me for life and I can finally look at my feet again and say “I love you.”

I’m writing because this story tells a lot about us as human beings (or extraterrestrials, as the case may be) and how we react to criticism.

When someone says something mean to us, we cringe, get ashamed, take it deeply to heart, maybe carry it with us the rest of our lives. People who are told they are fat when they are teens tend to see themselves that way for their whole adulthoods…regardless of how thin they may get. Those who are told they are stupid or unable tend to underperform because they believe it.

And here is the irony: if someone says something kind to us, we dismiss it, hem and haw, deflect and say they’re just being nice. Compliments fall by the wayside like old tissues, only to be swept up by our insecurities and fears again.

Why do we do this?

Instead of dismissing the nice people as just being nice, how about we start dismissing the mean ones as just being mean? And instead of taking the insults to heart, how about we internalize the compliments?

Our lives would be so much better, so much more enriched, if we allowed ourselves to be empowered by others’ words instead of broken down by them.

I’m not talking about constructive criticism, of course. That should always be taken to heart and we all have room to improve. But it’s time we owned our beauty and our talents and our brains and our all around awesomeness so no one can ever take that away.

a matter of life or death!

this is the pose.

DSC_2614

warrior two.

one day–maybe five years ago–we were all in this pose. and something inside of me starting laughing. at myself. at the teacher. and at everyone around me.

here we were, a bunch of fully grown adults standing still like statues in some sort of superhero museum, taking it as seriously as if we were truly superheroes and if we didn’t bend our knees just so we would, in fact, fail to save the world from imminent destruction.

that was the day my whole view of yoga changed forever. the day that i woke up and realized that asana, while incredibly powerful, healing, and profound, is also sort of stupid.

there. i said it.

my whole life revolves around teaching this stuff and i love everything about it, but if i were an alien recently transplanted to planet earth, and dropped into a yoga class, i would probably let out a huge “wtf”…if my alien language capabilities allowed me that utterance.

after that revelation, it became very difficult to teach asana without a smile on my face and a laugh in my discourse.

some people take this stuff way too seriously. i used to, too. but now i look at my asana practice a bit differently.

now, it looks like this:

w2

listen, there are things in life that are truly worth furrowing your brow, hunkering down, and worrying about. like cancer, world hunger, terrorism…not like warrior two…or one or three or whatever other number you wish to insert here.

as far as i’m concerned, there is yin and yang energy to every endeavor in life. in asana, the yang is obvious. it’s the hard, intense work–both physical and mental–that goes into mastery. but there’s gotta be the yin, too. the part that relaxes somewhere, smiles, and is even willing to laugh…sometimes at yourself.

http://www.YOGAthletica.com

yoga for butterflies

it must be pretty comfortable to be a caterpillar. you get to wrap yourself up in a warm, soft cocoon and sleep for ages. pretty much my world’s greatest fantasy.

but then…there’s a choice.

you can stay cuddled in your comfy cocoon for the rest of your life until you die, or you can wake up and become a butterfly.

i don’t know about you, but i think butterflies are pretty damn cool. i vote butterfly. butterflies get to be all beautiful and surreal. they get to fly and flit and land on happy people’s noses.

and then, of course, they can also be eaten by birds, break a wing, or get trapped by an overzealous kid with an oxygen-deprived glass jar. yeah, being a butterfly has its downfalls, too.

butterfly meme

and, so, when faced with such a dilemma, it always helps to ask the age-old question: wwyd? what would yoga do?

the answer lies in the second niyama, santosa. contentment.

contentment can be a nuanced concept and should not be confused with complacency (the other “c” word that isn’t quite as kind).

santosa is the ability to accept and respect where you are in this life. you may not be as pretty, smart, strong, funny, successful, wealthy, or talented as you might hope and dream to be, but you are doing the best you can (damn it!) and that is as much as you or anyone else can expect. but…you still hope and dream. and you strive and stretch. and you experiment and explore because you know that with hard work and dedication (tapas!) you can be more and do more than anyone ever imagined.

you see, complacency is a nice way of saying lazy happiness. too comfortable to care. too tired to try. the complacent person is not a yogi/ni because s/he has given up on his or her dreams and full potential. the complacent one settles for mediocrity.

so while santosa/contentment is happy with how things are, it’s only because it knows that it is the best it can ever be. the yogi/ni is a person who gives 100%, 100% of the time. stand or fall, pass or fail, it doesn’t matter because the integrity is in the effort.

when it comes to asana, santosa changes the whole game.

with santosa, you accept there will be poses you can do and poses you can’t…yet. but you try them all.

with santosa plus tapas, you know there is a tremendous world of asanas out there. some of them will be easy and some hard, some invigorating and some downright frightening. but you try them all. and you never, ever give up.

slip into complacency and you stick with the same poses day in and day out because you know them, you love them, you’re good at them. but you never take a risk.

great things were never, ever achieved in this world by living in your comfort zone. all the excitement, all the challenge, all the risks, and all the incredible triumphs lie outside of your cocoon.

do you want to be good enough? or do you want to be great?

choose great. then break out of your cocoon, away from your complacency, grow some wings and fly. nothing will be impossible for you.

oh! my!! god!!!

we’ve all been there.

something terrible–or seemingly terrible–happens and we suddenly become very religious. we pray and pray to a god we only really talk to when something terrible (or seemingly terrible) happens. we promise him we will never sin again if he just fixes this one problem. we’ll give 100% of our income to charity and will never so much as ever think a mean or bad thought so long as we shall live.

and one of two things happens.

the problem is solved. and we exclaim “thank god!” and we go about our merry way. and 100% of our income doesn’t actually go to charity. and we think a lot of really mean and bad thoughts. and there are sins. but god couldn’t have possibly thought we were serious about all those things anyway, so who really cares? life is good.

or…

the problem isn’t solved. and we curse out god. how can god cause such terrible things to happen??? how can god allow cancer, war, murder, abuse, famine, earthquakes, floods, terrorism…and so on…and so on. that god! life is bad.

and then, life finds its equilibrium. for better or for worse. life does go on (until, of course, it doesn’t).

and we don’t spend too much time thanking god for the good and easy and normal times, because they are just good and easy and normal.

are we mindful yogis or are we reactive robots?

enter ishvara pranidhana. the last and most potent of the niyamas, ishvara pranidhana means complete submission to a higher power.

what does that mean for us in everyday life?

it means that if we submit to a higher power (and you can call that higher power what you want: god, jesus, buddha, krishna, muhammad…whatever…), we have to give that guy (or girl) full credit for everything that happens to us. the good, the bad, and the ugly. and the beautiful.

we can’t pick and choose what is god’s will and what isn’t.

yes, god is responsible for disasters and diseases. but also for sunsets, and sunrises, and flowers, and chocolate, and art, and babies, and love, and rainbows, and koala bears, and puppies, and yoga, not to mention oceans, and day spas, and good health, and happiness.

the good news about all that: when you hand it all–and i mean everything–over to a higher power, it makes it easier to accept that everything is going to work out in the end…and hopefully somewhere in the middle, too.

not to mention, if everything is done in the name of god, goodness and kindness will always prevail. mindfully dedicate this moment to a higher power and it’s unlikely you will use it for nefarious means.

think about it. and think about it often. get in the habit. at random moments stop yourself and dedicate that moment to god…see what happens.

oh…and don’t forget to say thank you to the big guy…because life is good.