(1) I probably have no business writing this post, all things considered. I don't know that much about ninjas (although I can at least claim an active interest in them; this blog, for instance, is named after one of my favorite kungfu movies, Ninja in the Dragon's Den. Also, when I was a kid, I wanted to become a ninja when I grew up. Well, I'm sure you know how that turned out...). I also don't know if being a ninja would make you a better yogi, or vice versa. But there are times when I just can't resist the urge to write about stuff that I know shit about. This is one of them.
(2) I have nothing against Sadie Nardini, either as a person, as a yoga teacher, or as a ninja(?). I have nothing against her as a person, because I don't know her personally. I also have nothing against her as a yoga teacher, because although I have never taken any classes or workshops with her, she seems to know what she's doing asana-wise; at least, that's the impression I get from having watched a couple of her videos, even if I really don't get the ninja connection in her yoga. But more on this later. And I don't really have anything against her as a ninja either, because, as I said, I really don't know enough about being a ninja to say whether she is one, let alone a good one. But I do think I know a few things about yoga; at any rate, I think I know enough to be able to be genuinely puzzled at the ninja connections that she claims in her yoga teaching. Again, more on this later.
Wow, that was a very long-winded couple of disclaimers. But I thought I'd put these out there, so that those of you out there who are fans of Sadie would (hopefully) refrain from leaving hateful comments or sending me hateful emails. Moreover, I of all people should know the pain of seeing one's own teacher trashed online. So I'll try to refrain from groundless trashing. No promises, but I'll try.
So what on earth is this post even about? You might be wondering. Well, it's probably best to start at the beginning. Yesterday, I read this very interesting post over at the Babarazzi about the supposed ninja credentials of Sadie Nardini... Well, as with anything of such a controversial nature, it's best to hear it straight from the proverbial horse's mouth. Here is Sadie addressing rumors about her ninja credentials:
Interesting. She says at 0:05--0:06 that she is a "baby ninja." But what is a baby ninja? Is it this:
Which one of these is Sadie?
[Image taken from here]
Well, it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to answer the question of what a baby ninja is right now. So let's move on to something else for now. Whatever the ultimate credibility of her ninja credentials may be, Sadie definitely makes an active attempt to incorporate her ninja wisdom into her yoga teaching. For instance, check out her famous Ninja Salutations:
A couple of things here. First, I fail to see what is so "ninja" about these yoga moves. I mean, she could easily cut out all references to the word "ninja" in her presentation in the video, and it would still make perfect sense. So what exactly is the concept of "ninja" adding to the yoga? Hmm... or maybe it is the invisibility of the concept that makes the yoga "ninja yoga" (after all, aren't ninjas supposed to have the power of invisibility)? Well, maybe... but wouldn't that mean that even I could be a ninja? After all, although I have yet to try the moves in the video above, I'm pretty sure they are not beyond my level of physical ability ("But ninja goes beyond the physical, it is a state of being..." I can already hear Sadie saying...).
All this is very puzzling and, frankly, way over my head. Well, let me show you some ninja concepts that I can understand. Here's my favorite ninja video. Pay particular attention to the first thirty seconds of the video, where he lifts up into handstand from Upavista Konasana and then proceeds to do a bunch of handstand pushups, all the while balancing on a bed of nails:
Pretty badass, eh? Hmm... I'd really love to see a video of Sadie doing that. Oh, and this brings to mind something else. A couple of years ago, I speculated that the secret purpose of Ashtanga practice may be to turn us into ninjas. This video may provide some indirect evidence of that: After all, as we can see from the video, being able to engage Uddiyana Bandha very, very strongly while lifting up from Upavista Konasana does translate into a very useful skill in the ninja world. In fact, for all we know, Kino might be a ninja. But of course, I'm also pretty sure that if you were to ask her directly, she would deny it outright.
"Ninja? What ninja?"
[Image taken from here]
Well... I'm actually pretty worn-out right now. All this ninja talk has given my brain quite a bit of a workout. Maybe I'll go see a movie or something. More later.