wrapping up sadie nardini’s 21-day yoga body adventure

wrapping up sadie nardini’s 21-day yoga body adventure

So this is it, my 21 days of following Sadie Nardini’s 21-Day Yoga Body are over. Am I any closer to understanding the mystique of the “yoga body?” Have I refined and developed my own “yoga body?”

As the title suggests, The 21-Day Yoga Body is a three-week plan that incorporates a daily yoga asana practice, meal suggestions, lifestyle tips and affirmations. In her book, Sadie offers a structure for each day with a focus sequence, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and a “daily action adventure.” The practices and meals are tied together with a theme and personal development goal.

I followed the asana practice quite diligently (I only missed two days, one of which included a three-hour workshop with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman), made most of the suggested meals, but didn’t really make the time for the daily action adventures. I also opened up a conversation about the “yoga body,” asking some of my favourite yoga writers and thinkers to weigh in. And of course, I blogged about the whole thing, posting daily updates on the IAYB Facebook page and tweeting about my adventures. I tagged Sadie Nardini in each tweet and she participated in a fun and supportive Twitter banter.

Now, anything with the words “yoga” and “body” in the title has the potential to be a body-shaming disaster. I’ll hand it to Sadie and say that there was practically no body shaming in the book or her practice videos. The language in both was clear and neutral, with no references to losing weight or “torching calories” during the asana practices. The daily actions were focused on practical steps that one could take in their life, and rarely referenced the body. The daily recipes included no calorie counts, and sometimes had recommended wine pairings.

Before vs. After

It’s not a personal transformation program without before and after shots, right? So without further ado, I unveil MY NEW YOGA BODY!

before-afterYou’ll note that it looks pretty much the same as my old yoga body. In fact, it’s quite possible that I may have gotten a little rounder while following the 21-Day Yoga Body plan. And my hair changed! (joking, I saw my hairdresser and got it cut/coloured.) Also, what is that lumpy stuff going on with my left hip? It must be all those chocolate smoothies that Sadie insisted I have for breakfast!

I don’t own a scale or take my measurements, so I don’t have any other more scientific basis of measuring my progress. It’s also worth noting that the “after” photo is a little closer and the lighting is different, which may account for the size difference.

Anyway, my external yoga body doesn’t look that different, but I have to admit that my inner body feels different. I feel stronger and more balanced. Having a project to focus on during the dreary month of November has kept my spirits up. Doing pretty much the same asana sequence day after day makes it easy to note progress in the poses, and I could see where I’d improved and refined.

Highlights & Lowlights

As I’ve noted before, the daily asana sequences were my favourite part of the program. I never know what to expect with my body: sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. A simple practice will end up straining my lower back, or a crazy vinyasa will be super empowering. However, my body really responded to Sadie’s Core Strength Vinyasa style, if only because core strength (particularly in the transverse abdominis and deepest muscle layers) is what I need to prevent lower back pain.

The daily menu plans were also transformative. I expanded my cooking skills and spent a lot more time in the kitchen. It was also a bonding experience for me and my partner, who loved everything I made and enjoyed the variety (and not having to cook, likely). The meals weren’t necessarily that different from what I normally make (Sadie’s recommended meals were generally pretty simple and whole foods-based), but it was fun to try new things. I also can’t believe what a relief it was to not have to think about what I would be cooking for dinner and just have somebody say, here try this.

While Sadie’s meal plan was detailed, it was also flexible enough that I could make adaptations without feeling guilty or like I was deviating. Some things (like green tomatoes) aren’t available in Montreal in November, and there were days when my body craved, say, a root vegetable soup instead of a mango salad. One one occasion, I had to sauté a raw pad thai dish because I just couldn’t fathom eating a plate full of cold, uncooked vegetables.

The daily actions and reflections didn’t resonate so much, or I just didn’t have time for them. There were some that looked fun, like rearranging my living room according to feng shui principles – but as if I have time to rearrange my living room on a Wednesday! Also, I would have liked to go on a date with myself, but it was a Friday and I’d already made plans with friends.

Self-acceptance, Self-transformation & the Shadow Body

No matter how you look at it, any kind of program that promises to transform your body and life isn’t preaching acceptance. While I felt good after the daily asana practices, I noticed an element of striving in myself during the practice. I found myself thinking about what my body could become, instead of just being happy with how I am, right now.

This, I think, is the underlying problem with any kind of self-development program. I’m never sure of how to walk the line between accepting who I am, resisting a sort of discouraged complacency (i.e. i’ll never be able to change, so why bother?), and desiring to change the things I can change.

But my real purpose with this program was to unpack the concept of the “yoga body,” rather than transform my life (which is generally pretty awesome right now). At the end of the second week, I introduced another element into the practice and starting taking “awkward selfies” of my body during the asana practice. I posted these pics on Facebook, with no editing (aside from a little cropping) or photoshopping.

Like this:

myyogabody1

And this:

cobra-rear

If I’m going to embrace the idea of a “yoga body,” then shouldn’t I acknowledge all of its forms? Beyond the arm balances and lithe muscles? The human body is beautiful, but not from every angle. I consciously chose the “worst” angles, in an attempt to challenge the popular notion of yoga selfies. If a well-rounded yoga practice involves getting to know our shadow side, shouldn’t we also get to know our shadow body? If I’m going to talk the talk about diversity in yoga’s visual culture, I should be ready to step up with my own body, my own regular, imperfect, healthy, strong “yoga body.”

My “shadow body” is the parts of my body that I don’t look, the parts I will to ignore. Cellulite, rolls, lumps and bumps. I think we all have this “shadow body,” even the bikini beach body backbend beauties that we see all over Instagram.

Documenting my “shadow body” and posting it all over Facebook took a tremendous amount of courage, and left me feeling vulnerable, yet empowered.

And so…?

Regular IAYB readers know that Sadie Nardini and I have butted heads in the past with regards to her marketing and abundant use of “weight loss yoga,” “bikini body,” etc. Although I’ve never thought about whether I “like” or “dislike” her – a critique of somebody’s work isn’t a comment on their personality. (In fact, this is one of the problems with the yoga blogosphere, and how I’ve seen way too many times: “so-and-so may do yoga poses naked, but they’re so sweet/so nice/committed”). That said, I actually did grow to like Sadie over the course of this project, mainly through our fun and sweet twitter conversations. She has a good sense of humour, is supportive, seemed to enjoy my progress and is open to feedback. She has also created a very solid yoga asana system.

Given this history, I got the sense that some people were disappointed that I didn’t hate the book. That’s understandable. It would have admittedly made for a more spicy project if the program had sucked and I’d just complained the whole time. However, my goal is to be honest and thoughtful, and I can’t pretend to be snarky and hate something that I don’t.

bicep-kiss-resized

I did actually notice a change in one part of my body – my arms!

In short, I’m happy that I took on this challenge. It provided some structure and adventure during a historically rough month (November is never easy for me). I feel healthier and more in control of my life. It’s not the kind of thing I’d recommend to somebody who wants to get seriously into yoga, but it’s a great guide for, say, some soda-pop/takeout addicted 9-to-5’er who wants to make some positive changes in her life but doesn’t know where to start. It’s simple, concrete and approachable.

Just don’t expect a “yoga body” miracle after three short weeks!

The rest of the adventure:
the intro post
second week update
third week update

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  1. Great job Roseanne!
    Thanks for your thoughts and sharing your experience in such an honest way. I think a lot of books, diets, fads, etc. and such promise a magic-bullet solution, a one-shot deal solution and overlook the fact that it’s really an on-going process.

  2. I’ve always been turned off by her marketing, specifically, the short-term stuff which seems antithetical to the practice of yoga, most benefits of which obviously take some time to develop. How do you feel about her yoga as a long-term practice?

    • The unfortunate part is that the Long Term Yoga is the part she has not written yet. So surface for now, so much potential underneath, and out of view, for later … Like an iceberg …

  3. Nice and realistic! I love the “before” and “after” photos in particular.

    There’s no escaping the ambivalence that this kind of “yoga marketing” entails – yes, it will be profoundly helpful for some people, and yes, it also necessarily carries a certain amount of negative cultural baggage that has psychological repercussions on each of us individually by stirring up various body image neuroses.

    My sense is that Sadie Nardini squares that circle as well as anyone can, as she’s an excellent asana teacher; also really smart and independent-minded. I like and respect her despite my reservations about selling a “21-Day Yoga Body” (cringe). Big tent, etc.

  4. Great blog. I saw Sadie when she was releasing the book in Kansas City, MO. I was disappointed in the book mostly because you cannot transform a body in 21 days, and she admitted to being photoshopped. Great humor indeed. You can change your lifestyle, diet, relationships, etc., but to put the belief you can look like photoshopped Sadie in 21 days is just another yogi trying to make money in the skinny, diet, yoga realm. The yoga students I brought with me from my studio to this Yoga night/book release were really disappointed in unorganized event, the book and her stories of her challenges, (really, she’s a toothpick) and finally to say she likes her big butt too, that is where I lost respect for her as a teacher and yogi. As a person, I really don’t know her so this observation is strictly based on her Diet/Yoga world. I did not recommend this book to my students who didn’t make it and I do not have it on display in my studio. I don’t feel this is the type of message I want yoga students to resonate with. Thanks, I love reading your stuff 🙂

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for your honest comment. I wanted to write in and apologize for your experience that night. Unlike most other gigs I’ve ever traveled to teach, that one was a sh*tshow–no doubt about it. My team had really miscommunicated with the hosts about the event, without my knowledge, and I was told about 15 minutes beforehand that the students expected a 4 hour class instead of the 2-hour one we had planned. I did my best, but I see it wasn’t good enough for you. I’d love to offer you and your teachers free DVDs for your trouble, if you would like to email me about it.
      Also, I want to make it really, REALLY clear that the cover of my book WAS photoshopped. I asked them to put the boots from another photo of myself we took that day onto another photo of the rest of me. I liked those shoes better. My body looks like it looks on the book, it’s my natural body, and, thin or not, it’s not something I stress about perfecting.
      I understand if you don’t like whatever you thought I said, and I respect that–but I think you and I were not on the same page that night. If that was my fault, forgive me. I hope that you do read the book–you may see me in a different light if you do.
      Anyway–all blessings to you…
      Sadie

  5. wow this is a great recap of your experience. so happy to learn about the book and your effort.

  6. Well done, Roseanne!

    Bob

  7. Thanks for sharing your 21 days with us. And the vulnerability that comes with that; it’s appreciated.

  8. Hi Roseanne,

    I just wanted to write in and say THANK YOU for all your time and attention on the book, and on this review. I found it really balanced, funny, and authentic. Through this process, I feel I’ve gotten to know you better too, and I really appreciate the way you’re able to share your truth without being demeaning or one-sided. That is a rare talent, and speaks volumes about you.

    I got teary reading this last experience blog and recap, because I felt that you fully lived into the essence of the book, which is not about what weight you are or what the scale says or any of the other moronic messages we get, especially as women, about how we look from the outside. Yes, many people happen to lose weight on this program–especially the ones who were eating too much, or a lot of processed foods before they begin.

    And yes, I do value a healthy, fit body–but these come in all shapes and sizes, and are as unique to everyone as their fingerprints. Notice I always say “healthy–never “skinny or thin”. I would never. I wrote this book for the masses, yes, for many reasons–to reach both yoga practitioners and also people who might never be attracted to a yoga book written as an insider’s program, but also to try and re-empower as many as I could, if I could be a voice of a different kind, around body image, and reclaim the notion of a “yoga body” as something that is in harmony, happy and healthy on all levels–mind, body, spirit.

    In fact, I’ve always done this, sometimes not very well, often better than that, but always my goal is to lead people to the practice with any area that might interest them–even if it seems more superficial. But once they get there, they will hopefully find a much deeper realm–of confidence, self-actualization, and self-love. This, as you pointed out in your comments, is where it really gets juicy.

    That, and the chocolate smoothies;)

    Anyway, congratulations again for completing the program, and I would love to continue our discussions anytime.
    I look forward to reading about your next adventure.

    Namaste!
    Sadie

    • you’re welcome, sadie! and thank you for following along, being receptive, and engaging in the conversation.

      take care and keep on rocking in the free world!

    • Hi Sadie, I am a big fan! Lost 14 pounds with you in two months last years
      fyi hahaha . xoxo

  9. Congratulations Roseanne! Also- I TOTALLY see the muscles in the second picture- go you!

    I also love that the before and after photos are the same…. and that you did them 🙂

    What I have gained (vicariously) from your experience (through facebook, twitter and your blog) is an honest and open perspective and a better appreciation for Sadie Nardini and what she does and her books. I would say that I was honestly surprised that you enjoyed the experience and took a few moments to re-evaluate my knee-jerk reaction to her marketing strategies.

    Sadie: I truly am impressed with your responses and thoughtful comments that you have shared on Roseanne’s adventure. It has changed my initial (I will admit: judgement) of you and “your” yoga that you offer.

    So, although I may never purchase this book, I am now more open to Sadie and her style of yoga and am now most likely going to check out some of her videos… 🙂

    Thank you Roseanne!

  10. I’m not sure how I found my way to this site but I just wanted to say that I just saw Sadie live and in-person at the Yoga Journal conference and she was super cool. Very funky and real and even though I don’t know her in a real way, I liked her uniqueness. I would say that she doesn’t need to be Photoshopped but it wasn’t her “Yoga Body” that impressed me it was more that she wasn’t out there trying to be some uber-spiritual-yoga-snob…she was just herself. 🙂

  11. Thanks for this great honest review Roseanne! I took one of Sadie’s online TTs and really enjoy her approach to asana practice. Grounded, strength-based, alignment-heavy and (importantly!) – it makes me feel good.

  12. Absolutely loved reading about your journey. I haven’t practiced yoga in about 5 years and this sounds like what I need to jumpstart my routine. Especially since I do see myself as a “9-to-5’er who wants to make some positive changes in her life but doesn’t know where to start.” Thanks so much for this honest review!

  13. What a great experiment. Good for you for taking it on, for being honest, and for showing realistic before and after photos. When Rodney Yee and I were negotiating with our publisher regarding a second yoga book, they wanted a three-week program! Funny, that’s 21 days, isn’t it? Apparently that is the number to use if you want your book to sell. But we didn’t think that was long enough to get substantial results, so we bargained for the longest period they would accept: eight weeks. What we hoped would happen after eight weeks was that the person following the program would develop a new habit of practicing yoga at home (not become physically or otherwise transformed), but even then it was a rather arbitrary number. (A recent article in the NY Time discussed how it took four months of regular exercising to see changes in sleep patterns for people with insomnia, for example.)

    • P.S. I’m pretty sure you already had a yoga body when you started the program.

  14. Doing yoga has always been helpful for the people who have adopted it. It do benefits people’s mental health as well as physical health.

  15. Loved your commentary on this – and really enjoyed the awkward selfies 🙂

  16. Hi!! You look way happier on the after pic hahahahha. I personally love Sadie. I lost 14 pounds in 2 months with her videos on Youtube. My body seems lessed stressed out with her videos than with other programs. She flows and I really enjoy it. Sorry, I haven´t read the book but I am a big fan and have bought some other online programs.
    Do reconmend giving her videos a try.

  17. So sweet and honest, thank you! As a yoga instructor myself, it’s good to hear what other people think about instruction and works for them. Go on with your bad self and I love the self acceptance and positive energy! Thank you!

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