fitness

Yoga with Adriene: Inside the life of Adriene Mishler, the most popular workout instructor in the world.

Adriene Mishler has been declared the “Patron Saint of Quarantine“.

With more than 100 countries living in some sort of lockdown, ‘Yoga with Adriene’ has made its way into millions of homes all over the world. The 35-year-old stretches tight bodies, builds strength from the living room floor, and repeats her mantra that has perhaps never been more pertinent: “Find what feels good”.

Her yoga isn’t about being the most flexible, or looking good in $200 yoga pants. Even her set up isn’t especially aspirational. Filming from her home in Austin, Texas, she has a mat, a few plants, and her mostly asleep blue heeler named Benji.

But type in the word ‘yoga’ into Google, and Adriene is your first result. The same goes for YouTube where she’s amassed 7.19 million subscribers. Her most popular video of all time is ‘Yoga for Beginners‘, which was uploaded six years ago. The 20 minute session has since attracted more than 29 million views, believed to be the most popular workout video on the Internet.

The million dollar question (literally – her net worth is estimated to be in the millions) therefore has to be: What makes her better than the others?

The Internet is overflowing with free exercise videos, never more so than at a time of widespread social isolation. Gyms are closed. Tensions are high. For some, time is available in abundance.

 

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NEW 35 MIN PRACTICE! YOGA FOR VULNERABILITY. It is through my experience with Yoga With Adriene that I have come to notice many times over that the awareness of my own vulnerability has made me more aware of others’ vulnerability and more loving and receptive in general. Today, I invite you to join me for this FREE & BRAND NEW 35 minute practice that will support you during this time at home in the world… And invite you to connect to your self on a level that feels suitable for wherever this offering may find you. Come as you are, I will meet you there – fully. #fwfgNurture #yogawithadriene #findwhatfeelsgood “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” @brenebrown

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Perhaps the most obvious answer is that Adriene is really, really good. She matches your breathing. Pushes you when you want to be pushed and lets you stretch when your muscles have begun to shake. Her practice is meditative – a form of mindfulness as well as a challenge for the body. She also offers an enormous amount of content, tailoring classes for all levels and all preferences. They include ‘Yoga for Back Pain‘, ‘Yoga for the Service Industry‘, ‘Yoga for Runners‘, and ‘Yoga for When You’re Angry‘. Her ‘30 Days of Yoga‘ challenge, with classes ranging from 18 minutes to 43 minutes, has attracted a cult following.

For Adriene, yoga isn’t about pushing yourself to your absolute limit or being the best or building a six pack. Quite the opposite. She encourages those practising at home to be gentle on themselves and know their own body. The biggest hurdle for a lot of people getting started with exercise, she says, is the idea that they have to be good at it. Many yoga instructors use their social media pages to contort their bodies into the most extreme poses, making yoga seem entirely inaccessible to the average person. Her message is simple. Just show up.

Notoriously private, Adriene doesn’t share a great deal about her life on social media. But here’s what we know about who she is, and how she came to be one of the most famous yoga instructors in the world.

Adriene Mishler’s rise to fame

Adriene was born in 1984 in Austin, Texas, to parents who were both actors. Her mother, Melba Martinez, is Mexican-American. She grew up interested in gymnastics and dance, and was 18 when she did her yoga teacher training. She tells Women’s Health that the first time she practised yoga she “cried tears of joy”, and ever since she’s been “obsessed”.

In her early 20s, Adriene starred in an indie horror movie that never finished production. She worked in theatre, film and television, as well as making some money off voiceover work. In 2012, she decided she couldn’t continue to juggle acting, teaching yoga, and teaching drama, and so was going to have to pick one.

Her business partner, Chris Sharpe, saw enormous potential in ‘Yoga with Adriene’.

The wellness industry was growing exponentially, and they both felt they could experiment with specific yoga key words that were trending on YouTube and Google.

 

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We begin week two highlighting the power of self-inquiry. I would like for you to consider the idea that our practice is not one of doing, or one of imminent mastery, but rather one of self study. This is key for the journey HOME. I said this journey would be transformational. Could be. Today, we pull back another layer of the onion. No need to think too hard or take copious amounts of notes – though you can! Just show up, get curious, and stay present. Inquire. Keep asking… What feels good? What doesn’t? What feels honest? Can we begin to close the gap between how we feel and how we want to feel? This time is about examining your self. It’s not about doing it right. When we approach the practice through the lens of self study, we find that we have everything we need to both gracefully and fiercely move toward what serves… And to move away from what doesn’t. Honor your inner voice. Celebrate the learning process. See you on the mat! #ywaHOME ???????????????? #yogawithadriene #findwhatfeelsgood

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For three years, she says she mopped the floors of a local yoga studio in exchange for free classes, while doing her YouTube channel on the side. But eventually, she tells For The Win, something “started to shift”. Yoga classes increased in price from about $8, to between $24 and $30. It became a form of exercise reserved for the elite, with yoga mats, tights and singlets all becoming absurdly expensive.

“I started to think that it’s not really fair that only wealthy people [get to do yoga] – and it seemed at the time that it was only wealthy, white people, because it was only getting marketed to them – and that got me really sad and kind of pissed off,” she tells For The Win. 

Along with Sharpe, Adriene committed to making regular, free, high quality yoga videos for a mass audience.

It worked.

Adriene Mishler’s personal life

In an interview towards the end of 2019, Adriene referred to being “newly single”, and spending a lot of time with her closest girlfriends.

She lives in Austin with her dog, Benji, and is mostly a vegetarian. Everyday, she tries to practice yoga and go for a run.

She still loves theatre and takes up the odd acting role. In 2013, she starred alongside Nicholas Cage in the movie Joe. But now she says she’s not interested in becoming “a famous actress”.

How does Adriene Mishler make money from doing free yoga videos?

In an interview with Paper Mag, Adriene says they have the “bare minimum” monetisation on YouTube videos. By that, she means every video starts with an ad (about 15 seconds or so), but your practice won’t be interrupted by ads. Additionally, some people sign up for a membership to her YouTube channel, which costs $9.99 a month and is a source of stable income.

If you haven’t tried Yoga with Adriene, here are some videos to start with…

You can’t go past Yoga for Beginners if you’ve never tried yoga before.

For more Yoga with Adriene, check out her YouTube channel.

Feature image via @adrienelouise

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