To call Adriene Mishler an overnight sensation is to diminish the years the Austin-based yoga instructor has spent building her Yoga With Adriene YouTube channel; indeed, the time stamp on her first 30 Days of Yoga challenge video dates back to 2015. Mishler’s relaxed and relatable approach — she’s not precious about picking dog hairs off her yoga mat or breezily brushing off any mistakes as “being human” — and hyper-specific videos focusing on everything from lower back pain to virtual P.E. has long endeared her to practitioners around the world.
Over the last few months of quarantine, that popularity has only skyrocketed thanks to a new demand for at-home workouts, not to mention soothing ways to reduce pandemic stress. Along the way, Mishler’s racked up more than 8 million YouTube subscribers charmed by her friendly style, “Find What Feels Good” ethos and what she calls her “short and digestible” format.
“It just anchors you in something,” Mishler tells Yahoo Life of the workouts that have reached almost cult-like status amid lockdown life. “We don’t even care sometimes what you do on the mat, it’s just the fact that you showed up and checked in with that relationship with yourself. That’s enough. That’s the care. That’s all you need.”
To find out what Mishler needs — and what makes her tick, especially during the pandemic — Yahoo Life quizzed the yoga world’s girl next door about her wellness rituals, quarantine hobbies and rules for setting boundaries.
How are you coping during the pandemic right now? Are there any new hobbies or practices you’ve picked up?
“The things that used to work, or used to be the way that I tend to things, they aren’t actually working anymore. The number-one thing that I’ve been doing lately is just remembering to constantly check in with today. Even if it’s just like, I bought a bike. Cool. First new bike of my adulthood. I started a garden. Huge. I love gardening ... it doesn’t have to be a six-hour sesh. Cleaning things up, weeding, watering, little moments in the garden. Also walking — so basic, but you know, it’s so great to just keep in motion.
“I’ve really been enjoying the time with Benji [her dog] and my boyfriend; that’s actually been really lovely for me because I haven’t had that in many years. I’m often away. With all of the challenging things, those are the things I’m really relishing.”
So many people are turning to Yoga With Adriene during quarantine to create a positive routine and fill that well-being void. Do you have a Yoga With Adriene in your life?
“I can’t think of any one podcast or author or craft, but for me ... the dog is my pride and joy, and that sounds so lame. Oh my gosh, I’ve become that person. But I don’t have children yet, and I think the time with Benji, when I’m not on my phone and we’re walking or going to the park, is the one thing that if I don’t do that thing that day, I get sad. Even my boyfriend knows that my morning walk — or if I can’t do it in the morning, I’ll do it later — is kind of the thing that if I don’t do it, I get really bummed out. I feel it.”
Are there any rituals you follow to keep yourself feeling good?
“For the pandemic, I’m enjoying a slower-paced morning. It used to be that my schedule was done for me and pretty regimented. One of the things that I’m kind of getting back to is what I used to do when I started the channel, when I didn’t have a lot of responsibility or money. I had jobs, but life was very different. Presently, I’m allowing myself to enjoy the mornings and to prioritize all the things: [drinking] lemon water, coffee ...
“During the pandemic, I’ve been walking to the local coffee shop with Benji just because I know they’re struggling, and they’ve been writing little messages and quotes and poems in Spanish on the cup, and that has become one of my new routines. I’m always curious to see what’s it going to say. I’ve been taking Spanish also during this time so it’s a double reward because I get to then translate that.
“And then I try to get on my [yoga] mat every day. I was trying to do this ‘peace before screens’ — like getting on the mat before I looked at the phone or work Slack. And like anyone, some days I’m good about that, some days not so good.”
As a professional yoga teacher, how do you keep your personal yoga practice from feeling like work?
“It’s kind of always been this way since I started adding more things to my plate in terms of Yoga With Adriene. I can multitask, but that’s the thing: I don’t want to be in my practice lesson-planning, or going, ‘Ooh, I liked that.’ I want to escape and really get the benefits of my practice as well, so that is something that I struggle with.
“This is oddly cliché, but for me, Sunday is definitely my holy day. The video, the letter [to subscribers] — everything is set up to be sent off and be tended to without my hand, and on Sunday I do whatever I need to do. My ‘church’ varies from practice, to walking to the park, to online spiritual services, to deep-cleaning the house. That’s the one day when I know I can reset and do whatever I need to do. Even before quarantine, I was not making plans on Sunday unless somebody really needed me, but I have just magnified that for myself during this time. Otherwise, all the days bleed together. I’m not a mother, but as we all know, when we’re tending to something, we’re the last ones to eat. Sunday guarantees that I have a full day when I don’t feel like people are waiting to hear from me or there’s something else that I should be doing. So I kind of go hard on Sundays in terms of my practice.”
Do you have any other rules for switching off or setting boundaries?
“I really am blessed in that I do love what I do and I do think that — obviously, it may not be for everyone — it is useful, so that’s really lovely and a gift. And the [Yoga With Adriene] community’s so international, which is really awesome. The tricky thing about that those things is that I can always be responding to something. Fun, powerful, meaningful, special, kind — there’s always going to be something really lovely that I can be checking in on or responding to. People are practicing the videos at all times all over the world and commenting on them. So the tricky thing is setting up boundaries so that I’m not constantly on. I’m just responding, and it’s all good stuff — it’s not like my business email or my work Slack — but I could go for hours. I’m going to be honest, I have a team now — small — that’s helping me organize that ... We want to stay well in the helping of others, and I was not doing a very good job of that.
“It sounds very corny and cheesy but I’m very grateful for him. My partner, especially during this quarantine time, has been a really good guide for reflecting back to me, like, when it’s time to stop, or take the dog to the park, or cook dinner, or watch basketball. And I think a lot of the people who are close to me are good at reminding that I need to rest.”
What’s your definition of self-care?
“I work in wellness, so self-care is a big topic all the time. I’ve been thinking that one of the things that’s been really magnified during this time is that self-care isn’t just masks and bubble bath or even practice or ‘Treat Yo’ Self.’ And also self-care is not just for a certain type of people who can afford it. This time has really brought me back on home to this idea that self-care is really, genuinely for me, all about your relationship to yourself. Like, how is your relationship to yourself? Like if we got together and had a coffee and were old friends, you’d be like, ‘How’s your mom? How are things with you and your boyfriend?’ Self-care is like, ‘How are things with you?’ Like, the question you ask yourself. And it seems so obvious, right? But we lose that because we want to please others and we want to be successful ...
“Self-care really is about your relationship with yourself. And if that night you need a bubble bath, you need to tell everyone in your household, ‘Look, I’m going in here for five minutes.’ But then sometimes it’s like, ‘I need to pray for someone who needs something.’ Or, ‘I haven’t done anything creative for six months — I need to find some time for creativity.’”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“I’m really grateful to my parents for instilling just a loving [environment]. I always felt like they were cheerleaders for me kind of always not comparing myself to others, but doing things my way. The only tricks to that is you have to also learn how to be a kind and loving person [laughs] otherwise you’re just faking.
“But recently I’ve been thinking about our relationship to the future being so odd — let’s face it, some days are really troublesome, whether it’s due to the climate or just our dreams, our trajectories, the things we’ve set out to accomplish. Nobody told me this advice, but I think this advice found me recently and it’s been a good reminder, and that is: Everything I need, I already have.
“I’ve never been one to compare myself to others, so the minute that started happening in quarantine, I just [told myself], ‘Everything you need, you already have.’ And just trust. Don’t worry about what you don’t have or where you should be. Focus on the work. It’ll all be well.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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