It’s been a while since I stumbled across Adriene Mishler and her channel “Yoga With Adriene” on YouTube. Surprisingly, she is not as well known in Germany as I thought, because YWA is truly the mother of all yoga channels. As one of the first, Adriene started her yoga channel already 10 years ago, which she built up together with her business partner to make yoga accessible to as many people as possible. At that time, there were hardly any yoga videos, let alone any fitness influencers, and they didn’t really know yet if and how YouTube could be monetized at all. What started out as a sort of experiment has now grown into one of the largest, most inclusive, and most importantly, best English-language yoga channels in the world. Adriene has a whopping 11.7 million subscribers on YouTube (as of January 2023), 662 videos online, and a justifiably incredible 1,256,167,329 views.
Adriene is my best virtual friend
I don’t remember exactly when and how I discovered Adriene. Probably, like millions of other people, I was looking for a yoga video on YouTube. Of course, Adriene had a decisive advantage in being one of the first to recognize the potential of YouTube, which allowed her to grow steadily. But that alone does not explain why she is so successful and even after 10 years still THE yoga channel on YouTube and so loved worldwide.
In my opinion, it is Adriene’s calm, authentic and inclusive way of teaching yoga that makes her so popular and successful. You can tell that she loves and lives yoga and wants to reach as many people as possible with her videos and get them excited about yoga as well. That’s why you won’t find too spiritual, esoteric cranky statements in her videos, as the masses are rather less interested in the, by some yogis very overdone philosophy behind yoga, but more in the correct instruction of the asanas. Adriene, instead of an over-hyped guru, is one of us. A naturally beautiful, warm-hearted and empathetic young woman who never takes herself too seriously, but her viewers all the more so. You know Adriene can do much more on the mat than the “Downward Facing Dog”, but she really wants to include everyone and not overwhelm anyone. That’s why there won’t be any acrobatic poses in her videos that only pro Yogis can do. Everyone is welcome, young or old, beginner or super yogi, ultra-fit or with physical limitations, Adriene offers the opportunity for everyone to be part of a positive, mutually supportive community.
Adriene also has a pleasantly warm, slightly deeper voice that makes it easy to focus on the asanas and relax completely. Even though some of her videos are a bit more challenging, Adriene always wants to make it fun and enjoyable and can’t help but make bad dad jokes every now and then. Her sense of humor may be inappropriate to some yoga purists, but I find it lightens up the class and makes her all the more likeable. Also, her “assistant” Benji – her dog, who lies relaxed and sleeping next to her mat for 99% of the videos – may seem unprofessional to some. But I think Benji reflects very well how you feel during and after an hour with Adriene. Deeply relaxed and happy.
Adriene’s mantra is “Find What Feels Good” – FWFG, meaning that every yogi should do the poses in the way that feels good to them at that exact moment. Insanely wise advice, because yoga has taught me that the daily form is incredibly fluctuating. One day one side goes better than the other, another day you have great balance, and sometimes nothing works out at all. But that’s okay. That’s yoga.
In summary, Adriene just makes you feel very quickly like she’s your best friend or big sister, accompanying you safely and empathically through yoga class and sometimes even through a difficult phase of life. I can still remember finding a “Yoga for Depression” video of hers on a really bad day and literally forcing myself onto the mat. For the first time in my life, tears came to my eyes during yoga. Of course, Adriene can’t perform miracles either, but somehow her voice had something incredibly comforting and she helped me at least a little bit in that moment. There she was again, my best virtual friend Adriene.
I’m sure there are thousands of such stories and moments that people around the world have experienced with Adriene. I also love her because I am sure that she has positively influenced, improved or even completely changed the lives of many people. I also owe Adriene an incredible amount and have learned a lot from her. Her yoga style shapes my yoga classes very much and when I need virtual advice from her, I click, according to the motto “What would Adriene do?” on her channel and always find a solution or inspiration that helps me.
Of course, during the lockdown, Adriene’s channel was also a great support for many people who were sitting at home with no other way to keep themselves fit. When my gym closed and probably threw a lot of people into a “what am I going to do without the gym?” crisis, I knew this would last longer, so creativity was needed. In addition to my beloved Strong workouts, I knew it was a great opportunity to incorporate more yoga back into my workouts and work on some asanas and my flexibility. What can I say, since then I can at least do a somewhat unstable, ugly headstand 😉 so it’s never too late to learn something new…. But all jokes aside, again, I’ve been consistently practicing every day with a video from Adriene’s 30-Day Playlists. That has kept me sane and pretty fit. Probably true for millions of other people as well, because during the height of the pandemic Adriene’s channel and fame grew extremely fast.
If this all sounds too good to be true and you’re desperately looking for a point of criticism with Adriene, then perhaps the fact that it’s a mystery to me how her hair still sits perfectly at the end of a class and mine stands up in all directions, even though we did the same moves for 30 minutes and there was no editing in the video. But maybe I’m the problem here too, or Adriene’s hair and hair products are just out of this world. Since Adriene really does have a positive impact on millions of people, unlike the heavily made up, never-sweat fitness influencer barbies, and she does it without selling any questionable products and programs, let’s indulge her this little inhuman superpower.
A video for every topic or situation in life
Adriene is truly the busy bee among fitness influencers. Over 660 videos in 10 years means on average there was a video from Adriene more than once a week. That’s extremely productive, and Adriene could actually sit back and relax, because the videos are clicked over and over again, since the content in yoga rarely goes out of date. Of course, you can also see Adriene’s evolution from “baby Adriene” 10 years ago, to Adriene today. Still, unlike some other fitness guru, she is very consistent in her statements and teaching style, so the videos age well.
But that’s not enough for Adriene. Besides the constantly flowing YouTube income, the advertising deal with Adidas and other lucrative sources of income, Adriene does not rest on her success. There’s a video on her channel for just about every situation in life, and every month Adriene curates a new playlist on a particular topic and posts a free calendar of the playlist on her website. So you can watch a new playlist every month and actually do endless yoga with Adriene. So unless you’ve been on Adriene’s side from the very beginning and have really been consistent doing every video, it’s almost impossible to ever run out of videos with Adriene.
Nevertheless, Adriene uploads new videos diligently, usually on Sundays. The rhythm changes from time to time, but there is always new content from her. Of course, after a few videos you may say “But Mel, Adriene kind of always does the same thing!”. Yes, that’s true. Adriene certainly won’t reinvent the “standard poses” and certain asanas just happen to follow one another in flow. However, as a patient yogi, you know that it makes perfect sense to practice certain asanas over and over again and to deepen the practice. Nevertheless, I appreciate that Adriene always brings a little personal twist to certain poses or selects the asanas to match the mood or theme of the video.
The 30 Day Yoga Journey – Not A Challenge
Adriene also pioneered the now ubiquitous 30 Day Challenges. However, there are again a few pleasant differences to other yoga or fitness challenges. This is already noticeable in the name, because instead of Challenge Adriene calls her playlist Journey. I find Challenge generally inappropriate in the context of yoga. Yoga is not a competition, not even with yourself. It’s not about bending like a pretzel or beating yourself up if you’re completely inflexible or wobbly on any given day. Journey fits very well because the journey is the goal. After 30 days at the latest, even a complete yoga novice will see real progress in terms of balance and flexibility. The word Challenge tends to discourage, Journey invites even beginners to try yoga.
For Adriene’s loyal online community, which includes me, the 30 Day Yoga Journey every January has become a cherished tradition that I look forward to as early as December.
The Journey officially starts every year on 01 January, but Adriene is again very gentle and merciful with us, because the first video is not a yoga class, but an introduction or invitation to the new Journey. So all those who are still a little damaged by New Year’s Eve, can breathe a sigh of relief, it starts on the mat on January 02. I also find this extremely sympathetic, because let’s face it, even if you don’t literally party on New Year’s Eve as if there is no tomorrow, who feels like doing sports or yoga on 01 January? I usually prefer to start the new year relaxed, cozy and lazy.
With each new Journey, you can see how much work and effort goes into it. Every year Adriene chooses a new location, a new theme and shoots 30 new videos with matching subthemes. She really puts a lot of thought into the order of the individual videos and the structure of the yoga sequences so that the complete Journey makes sense and runs smooth. Especially beginner yogis, should find at the end of the Journey that Adriene has taken you by her virtual hand for 30 days and you have made real progress as a result.
On her website, Adriene provides the calendar for the Journey each year just before it starts, which I love as a very organized person because I like to know what’s coming up. In January, she then publishes a new video every day and afterwards the complete Journey is available for free as its own playlist on YouTube. Of course, it may be that you do not particularly like a certain Journey. In this case there are two perfect alternatives. Either you can simply pick another playlist of the last 30 days of Journeys or you can choose one of her monthly playlists with a certain theme. However, the videos in the monthly playlists aren’t shot specifically for that, but are just curated around a theme.
My personal favorite of the last few years was “Home”. As if Adriene would have guessed, this title ironically has something prophetic and has unfortunately aged badly in the context of the pandemic. Well, Adriene really couldn’t have guessed that a little over a year later we’d all really be sitting at “Home.” Very long and not entirely voluntarily. Nevertheless, I still recommend this playlist to you. I rediscovered it during Lockdown after finishing the then-current January Journey, and I can well imagine playing it again this year. “Home” really gives you a good, relaxed feeling of arrival and was just perfect for my taste to start a new year in a relaxed way.
CENTER (2023) – A 30 Day Journey
The current January Journey is called Center and the first videos are already online. Currently I’m about 2 days behind, but that’s ok. Most of the time I’ll finish the playlist in 60 days instead of 30. After all, this gives me a full two months with Adriene, which can also be considered an advantage. The videos are on average between 20 and 30 minutes long, so absolutely doable and good to incorporate into everyday life. So far I find the new Journey very well done and am curious what Adriene has come up with yet everything.
If you don’t like the Journey, you have a very large selection of older playlists. I can recommend “Move” as well as “Home” at this point. As mentioned before, I really liked “Home”, but in the end, as with everything, it’s just a matter of taste if a certain Journey appeals to you or not. Click through her channel, there really should be something for everyone.
At the end, I have two tips to get you started, stay on track, and keep it from becoming a burden. First, you can easily integrate the videos into your lunch break. Especially in the home office and generally for office jobs, the little time out for the head and stretching after sitting for hours is just perfect. In the office, you don’t even need a mat if you want to spontaneously join a video during your break.
Secondly, I ask you, don’t put pressure on yourself, but keep at it, because it’s worth it! Do the playlist at your own pace and don’t give up right away if you didn’t have time one day. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing yoga. However, when one day turns into several days, the risk of not continuing increases. That’s why two or three days off is ok, but after that, when in doubt, force yourself onto the mat, you won’t regret it. I have NEVER felt worse after a yoga class than before, even though I have had of course days on the mat, completely powerless, tired and unmotivated.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Adriene is just awesome and you’ll hop on the mat with her for at least one yoga class to see if she’ll also become your new virtual best friend.