Sadie Nardini is no stranger to death. The 43-year-old has sustained a head injury, been wrongfully diagnosed with Stage IV leukemia and even died once in the ER. Not one to give up easily, Nardini's persistence to live a full and abundant life has led her on the path to rising stardom as an Internet-famous, internationally acclaimed yoga teacher.
Known as the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa, the Brooklyn-based teacher has also launched a slew of online offerings with the education platform Udemy, making her more accessible to her global audience than ever.
Nardini's unusual approach to yoga is unique, much like her platinum blonde mohawk and supercool rock star attitude. Inspired by an extensive study of martial arts, Nardini drew from the parallels that have long existed between yoga and Zen, with emphasis on the "deep core line" of the inner body.
But Nardini's anatomical focus on core strength isn't so much about getting six-pack abs as it is "igniting that ninja-like superhero feeling in our practice," in her words. Nardini will attest that when basic physics are applied to holistic, intuitive movement, yogis can become much stronger, burn far more calories and sustain less injury.
MindBodyGreen recently spoke with Nardini about yoga, death and ninjas. Here are five questions from that interview.
MBG: How did you decide that you wanted to become a yoga teacher?
SN: When I was 13, I had a severe spinal cord injury when a grown man cannon-balled onto my head in a swimming pool. It knocked me out and gave me seizures. After my head trauma improved, my doctors didn't know why I still couldn't move properly. My diaphragm was spasming all the time. I had panic attacks. I got really dizzy while walking.
I found yoga because I had to do something to move and heal my body. I was told that I'd probably have to be in a wheelchair and I would not be a viable part of society. I was told I'd have to get an easy job. But I don't take "no" for an answer very easily. I began practicing yoga, meditation, and eating better. I had to start with total restorative yoga, but I actually started to see an improvement in my breathing and in my nervous system. I thought that if I could change that a little, maybe I could change it a lot. For a decade, I did more every day until I could finally walk into what I thought was a gentle yoga class, but turned out to be Ashtanga.
After three years, I was able to do a whole class. [When my teacher] moved to India, she asked me to take over for her. I sort of got shoved into yoga teaching. It terrified me, but I loved it so much. But then I started injuring myself because I was doing strong classes and I didn't know anything about anatomy. I was frustrated with why I was getting injured and why my students were getting injured, so I studied intensively with anatomy masters like Leslie Kaminoff, Tom Myers and Paul Grilley.